Learning from the High Flyers, Part Two

Last week, I wrote about how any business – no matter how “Old School” – can benefit via emulating the strategies of “High Flying” companies in industries like virtual reality, wearables, 3D printing, autonomous driving, and more.

One reader whose opinion I respect wrote back…”Jay, loved the post and agree with the sentiment, but can you make it a bit more actionable? Perhaps offer some specific “high flying” ideas and examples applicable right away to companies in slower growth industries and markets?”

Of course!

Here are four critical business domains – financing, sales, organization design and goal setting where the high-flyers get it right:

Financing. Most companies in high flying industries raise money (and a lot of it!) on an ongoing basis.

Like Uber raising $8.7 billion over 7 years.

Or Airbnb raising $2.3 billion over 8.

Or Dropbox raising $607 million over 9.

They keep raising money because money buys speed. Speed of product development, of brand-building, of customer acquisition, of team-building and talent aggregation.

Now, for how long will they continue to do it?

For as long as they are in business.

Quite simply, investor promotion is a mission-critical process that should be undertaken by every company of ambition on an ongoing and continuous basis.

 

For smaller, less “glamorous” companies, look at it this way – if you go out and ask for money, you might surprise yourself and raise it. And if you can’t, it’s a canary in the coal mine – flagging needing to be fixed problems with your strategic model, your management execution, or both.

Sales.  Over the past 15+ years, advising hundreds of companies across diverse industries, I have seen a consistent, disturbing trend: The older, more “established” a business is, the less enthusiastic, inspirational, and “Big Deal Effective” is its sales approach and execution.

Yes, any sales team for any business, no matter the industry, would instantly perform a LOT better by just emulating the “Messianic Enthusiasm” of the high flyers.

Well, you may say, if my business, my industry, my product was as exciting as theirs, then I would be more enthusiastic too!

Hogwash!

Enthusiasm, at its heart, is a choice. Let’s have our salespeople be as enthusiastic as those at the High Flyers and watch results improve right away.

Organization Design. When it comes to how that “Collection of Humans” that make up how a modern business is organized, long gone and never to return are the days of all a companies’ people being W-2 employees working under a common roof.

Beyond a “virtual” workforce, beyond utilizing overseas development partners, best practices around modern organization design include “Scrum-like” reporting structures, all calls being done as video calls, always on chat, in-person meetings conducted standing up, no landline phones, “e-mail free” days of the week, and the complete elimination of office environments altogether.

Of course, not all of these approaches are appropriate for every business, but if your company is not growing then why not try everything and anything so that it does?

This is the high-flying mindset – to never be complacent or “me too,” but instead to strive for efficiency and creativity in all aspects of how a company is led and managed.  

Goal Setting: High flying companies set big and exciting goals, design bold plans to reach them, and then organizationally work, work, work to make them so.

Compare this with the approach at too many older line businesses. They set goals like “growing 5% next year” or “hiring a new salesperson” or “redesigning the email newsletter.”

Please.
In the famous words of Daniel Burnham – “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood.

Dream a little. Push the growth plan right to that edge of “Hot Air.”

My experience is that we are usually pleasantly surprised both by how close we come to reaching those “stretch” goals, and as importantly how much just going out on a limb a bit builds “elan” and confidence in the entrepreneur and the organization.

Financing, Sales, Organization Design, Planning.

Do like the high flyers in these business domains and soon enough your company will be one of them, too.

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