Leading a Growth-Stage Company through Dynamic Markets

6 suggestions… you can add to your arsenal of tools to keep things moving and to recession-proof your growth-stage company to face the constant evolution of dynamic markets.

Leading a Growth-Stage Company through Dynamic Markets

The hard thing about running a business is that it is just plain hard.

There is no real set-it-and-forget-it for most businesses. They take constant work and dedication.


While there are many reasons, one of the main challenges I am sure you are aware of is that the market is always changing. That pace of change requires constant adaptability to both survive and thrive.

For example, even a long-standing company like the McDonald’s franchise has had to significantly update its customer experience within the past 10 years to keep up with market dynamics. Ten years ago, customers had to stand in line and then someone would take their order in front of a loud, open kitchen.  Now, customers can order through their phone or at a kiosk, reducing the amount of time they spend in line and improving their overall experience.

Change is unavoidable in any market, but some markets experience constant, rapid change. These dynamic markets place unique challenges on growth-stage companies that—although they have proven their product in the market—are still experiencing intense internal change, as well.

As your growth-stage company is dealing with the external pressures of a dynamic market, you are also in the throes of hiring and terminating staff, navigating inconsistent demand for products and services, hoping that the investments you are making in the company to maintain the growth process are going to take effect, and overcoming the inevitable mistakes that come simply because you’ve never been here before.

A lot of what it takes to get through this stage is grit.

When you throw the market forces of an impending recession on top of this, everything multiplies.  Small cash-flow problems become big cash-flow problems.  Small product and service issues begin to ripple. The need to increase the speed of change goes up substantially as you attempt to be both proactive to get ahead of certain issues and reactive to respond to changes that you didn’t see coming.

Yeah, what we do isn’t for everyone.

As you know by now, there is no one-size-fits-all solution—no silver bullet, no counselor’s chair—that is going to fix any of these issues.  No amount of tears, slammed drawers, mental health breaks or sleepless nights are going to make it easier or better. But if your goal is to build something extraordinary, this is what it takes.

With full knowledge of this reality, I offer six suggestions from myself and others that you can add to your arsenal of tools to keep things moving and to recession-proof your growth-stage company to face the constant evolution of dynamic markets:

1. Don’t Panic

Stuff will happen. And stuff will continue to happen.  The worst thing that an entrepreneur can do – except when being approached by a bear – is to freeze. Think about the worst thing that could happen in your business and consider this: it could be worse, and people and businesses have come back from worse.

So much of how situations play themselves out is how you handle them.

We always have the option of fight or flight.  We can always choose the perspective that something is happening to us, but we also have the opportunity to see it as something that we have to overcome.  Your best bet is to acknowledge your fear, then get to work kicking butt.

2. Leverage Your “Superpower”

A friend of mine named Timothy Morgan of Giver Marketing recently gave me that piece of advice.   He pushed me by asking, “Rick, what is that thing that you do better than anyone else?”

He went on to say that when I am operating in my highest and best, [my translation] I am operating most efficiently and will be able to make the most impact toward my vision.  If I can spend most of my time in that space, then I can move the needle faster.

When I am doing the 100 things that I am allowing myself to get pulled into – to be helpful and supportive – then I am not truly bringing my A-game to the company.  In a sense, the company suffers as a result. Those other 99 problems are going to have to go away, whether they become somebody else’s problem, or I just think differently.

Keep in mind – like yours, my pursuit is relentless.

3. Be the Leader: Lead the Way

We know from COVID, when the proverbial fan was absolutely knocked off its axel, that our teams were looking to us for direction.  In the same way, our teams need true leadership from us today.  They need to know the truth – not idealism – so that they can make decisions for themselves.

They need to be able to be honest: are they willing to do what it takes to be part of something extraordinary, or are they looking for something that is a bit more passive? If they are ready to ride the wave with you, you need to be the leader that is worth following.

You need to remind them of where the company is going and why.  You need to show them progress toward the vision. You need to be transparent with them when Bobby got mad because of something, took his ball and went home.

Again, we are dealing with a dynamic business within a dynamic market. Everything that happens is amplified.

4. Don’t Wait for a Problem to Build a Life Raft

When you are in need of a loan to do something within the business, it is probably too late.  When you are in need of an employee because Bobby walked out and took his ball with him, it is too late to start looking for Bobby 2.0. When your supplier or manufacturer suddenly closes its doors, it’s probably too late to start working on a backup plan.

Your competitors will always be willing to take your (good, paying) customers. Gregg Harden, consultant and author of The Space Between Strategy and Execution, suggests that businesses should have at least three backup resources ready to go for your business-critical people and functions.

Further, consultant and AI architect Vince Weber suggests that your systems and processes need to be established in such a way that someone could be onboarded and working within a week.

So much for jumping off a bridge and building a plane on the way down.

5. Invest in your Customer Relationships

Your customers are the whole reason you are in business.  When a recession hits, when things change, you want your customers to feel that you are a critical expense, not something that is nice to have.

By taking the time to understand your customers and their needs, you can craft an experience or ecosystem for them wherein what you are offering is simply part of how they do what they do.

Does that mean you may need to be flexible if they run into challenges? Yes. You may need to do that.

If you want to build raving fans who will tell their friends and neighbors about what you are offering, I’ll double-down on “you may need to do that.”

Building relationships with your customers and creating ambassadors is like having money in the bank.  Be clear: you have to go get that money—it’s not going to run up to you and ask to be spent.  But if you have built well and carefully, it will show up for you.

6. Have Your Scale-Up/Scale-Down Plan in Place

Have a contingency plan in place that dictates exactly what to do in the event that things need to change.  Don’t wait. Don’t be reactive.  You won’t win.  You won’t hit the target.

What put a lot of companies out of business during COVID and other crises is that they didn’t have a plan in place. So many people who thought they could push through without a plan kept attempting to do business the way that they always had, sometimes holding onto people for longer than they should have and putting their businesses in dire financial straits.

With capital being so accessible, it is easy to get a loan to cover payroll, but without a plan in place that is being executed, you are just about guaranteeing that you are going to run into the same problem again. You need to know when and where to scale down.

Hint: marketing usually isn’t where you want to cut back.  It is akin to shutting your home’s water off to save money.

In the same manner, attempting to run your company for the long term without the right team members will keep you from delivering what you do at the level that you want to, whether it is keeping you from using your superpower, stretching your team members toward burnout, or simply not delivering what you say you are going to deliver when you say you will.

These kinds of things will always impact your business and its reputation.

Recession Proof Your Business

While this isn’t an exhaustive list, these are tactics you will want to invest time and effort into right now so that as things change, you are already ahead of the game. It is the wise person who prepares intelligently for what may happen.

If you are planning to build a company that is extraordinary, my advice to you is: Get ready.  Be fearless, but don’t be foolish. Problems are obstacles to overcome.

If you need help building business operations that will withstand the threats of recession and exceed the requirements for growth, feel free to reach out to Aepiphanni for our Operations Consulting services. We can help you with everything from business assessment to gap identification to planning and implementation and beyond.

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