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One of the topics that I am asked to advise or lecture on the most frequently relates to distinctive facets of “Entrepreneurial Growth and Marketing“. Throughout the past few years, there has been a dynamic and noteworthy uptick in the demand from my clients and audiences to compare expanded characteristics and traits of founders / leaders / entrepreneurs as their organization shift from a focus of “growth” to “sustainability”.

Any true entrepreneur will tell you that the characteristics that distinguish them from other business leaders aren’t positiveor negative; they just “are”.  There is something notably different about the “Entrepreneurial DNA“. Common adjectives include fearless, visionary, experimental, energetic, innovative, passionate and dedicated. Any business leader would be flattered with such labels, but the reality is, when it comes to long-term staying power of the business in question, those qualities simply aren’t enough. Timeframes for strategy and execution differ from entity to entity, but there are clear differences in expectations when it comes to entrepreneurial and executive roles as an organization transitions its priorities from start-up / growth mode to long-term sustainability.  In the current environment, status as a visionary, innovator or developer of a product or service is nothing more than the base price of admission. Those that want to launch into the next phase must implement a generalist mindset that appreciates all aspects of the operation.

According to the Small Business Administration (www.sba.gov), there were approximately 30 million small and emerging businesses (defined as having less than 500 employees) in the U.S.at the close of 2017.  Notably, only two-thirds of emerging business entities survive beyond the benchmark of 2 years in business, only half of all businesses survive 5 years, and only one-third will survive the measure of “sustainability” – 10 years of operations. There are no shortcuts when it comes to leadership. The truth is that there are dozens of considerations that entrepreneurs, managers, and members of the c-suite need to prioritize if they want their organization to join the exclusive “10 year survival” segment.  Characteristics of leaders in each of these phases doesn’t always come naturally to entrepreneurs, but they can be learned.  Or achieved with with the right training.

The following summary is a tool from Escalate Solutions that entrepreneurs and c-suite leaders can utilize as their organizations evolve through their business life cycles – from Formulating/Start-Up mode to Short-Term, Mid-Term and Long-Term aims. Critical focus areas for discussion include Culture, Brand, Objectives, Mindset, Methodologies, Means of Growth (including Sales, Marketing, Business Development), Outputs/Measures, Engagement, Leadership Style, Operational Fundamentals, Approach, Tolerance/Survivability, Differentiators, Responsive, Resources andOpenness to Change.

Consider the following…and let us know if we can help guide you through your conversation.

Category Characteristics of Entrepreneurs / Leaders in Start-up, Emerging, Growing Organizations Additional Requirements for Leaders / Founders of Sustainable Organizations
Culture Defining, Testing and Applying Corporate Culture Utilizing Corporate Culture as the Fundamental Element of Sustainability
Brand Establishing Identity and Brand Value Leveraging and Furthering Brand Value
Objectives Short-term Product, Service or Solution-Oriented Long-Term Value-Oriented
Mindset Entrepreneurial Minded Able to Maximize and Balance Both Entrepreneurial and Corporate Perspectives
Methodology Impulsive, Unpredictable, Open to Emerging Disciplines and Schools of Thought Regarding Business Practices Due Diligence, Establishes Own Disciplines and Schools of Thought Regarding Business Practices
Means of Growth Focus on Core Competency, Product Refinement, First Impressions, Acquiring New Customers Focus on Leveraging Core Compentency, Expanded Offerings, Exploring New Markets (Organic, Horizontal, Vertical Expansion)
Outputs / Measures Frequently Relies Upon Vanity Metrics While Formulating Worthwhile KPI’s and Other Actionable Metrics Develops Relevant Outputs, Reporting Procedures and KPI Metrics that Accurately Reflect All Aspects of Strategy, Objectives
Leadership Engagement Hands-On Leadership, Involved, Dedicated, Impactful, Time-Intensive, Energetic, Passionate Delegating, Structured, Organized, Invested, Efficient, Productive
Leadership Style “Do It All” / “Anything & Everything” Mentality Focused, Specialized, Productive, Outsourcing, Delegating
Operational Fundamentals Flexible, Utilizes Unorthodox Toolkits / Solutions Strategic, Operating with Clearly Defined Processes & Procedures
Approach Visionary, Innovative, Risk-Tolerant, Fearless, Imaginative, Inquisitive, Experimental, Imitative, Iterative Visionary, Innovative, Proven, Experienced, Balanced, Cross-Disciplined, Sets the Bar
Tolerance, Survivability Thrives in Chaos, Volatility Prioritizes Control, Security, Stability, Structure, Crafted / Adapted Process, Comfort Zone
Differentiators Inspiring, Resilient, Ambitious, Persevering, Tech Savvy Experienced, Diverse, Focused on Manageable Processes / Approach / Methodology, Invests in Technology, Demands Management Team with Broad Skill Set, Intolerant of Single-Minded, Myopic Business Leaders
Responsiveness Reactive, Urgent Deliberate, Planned, Flexible
Resources Resource-Limited, Social, Engaged, Personal Invests for the Future, Big Picture-Oriented, Involved, Impactful, Established Resources, Networked, Philanthropic
Openness to Change Views Pivoting a Probable Threat or Failure Views Pivoting as a Probable Opportunity