Do You Have What it Takes to be a Gazelle?

A “gazelle” is a company doubling revenues a minimum of every four years from a minimum revenue base of $100,000.

That doesn’t mean all gazelles are small…Apple became a gazelle when it introduced the iPod in 2001 after being in business for 25 years.

“I’m always amazed how overnight successes take a helluva long time.” ~ Steve Jobs

David Birch first introduced this concept in 1976 and then to a wider audience in his 1987 book, Job Creation in America: How Our Smallest Companies Put the Most People to Work.

While Birch estimated that only 4% of all US companies fit this definition, they are responsible for 70% of all new jobs.  The SBA wrote this in 2011,“From 1994 to 2008, the U.S. economy would have lost about 16.3 million jobs had it not been for the contribution of high impact companies (aka gazelles)”.

Gazelles create wealth and gazelles create jobs.  A true win-win.

So how do you become a gazelle?   Master the following and trust some good fortune will come your way:

People
Are the stakeholders (employees, customers, shareholders) happy and engaged in the business and are accountabilities clear?  As Jim Collins said, one of the first things companies do when they transition from good to great is get the right people on the bus and in the right seats.  Ask yourself this question, “Knowing what I know now, would I enthusiastically rehire every employee?” Do you know how your employees rate in culture and performance?

Strategy
Can you state your strategy simply and is it driving sustainable growth in revenue and gross margins?  Have you communicated clearly where you will play (target market) and how you will win (differentiated strategy)?  Are you nurturing your strategy and intentionally strengthening core competencies, differentiating activities, and your brand promise?

Execution
Are your processes running drama free and driving industry-leading profitability?  Flawless execution comes at the intersection of structure, discipline, and priorities. Can all employees answer whether they had a good week or bad week?  Do they have the data, reflection time, and resources to self-correct?  Inspiration is created when there is autonomy to use creative gifts and the discipline to do what is right – at the expense of what is easy.

Cash
Do you have consistent sources of cash, ideally internally generated, to fuel your business growth?  Cash is oxygen to your business.  You can survive with decent people, decent strategy, and sloppy execution.  However, you cannot survive a day without cash.  Are you and your executives regularly reviewing key performing indicators (KPIs) around cash flow and exploring cash acceleration strategies?  Analyzing the impact of every decision’s impact on cash is key to surviving as a gazelle.

To learn, more read Verne Harnish’s book Scaling Up – How a Few Companies Make it and the Rest Don’t.

To assess how your organization is performing across these four decisions click here.

To learn how Rise Performance Group can help you become a gazelle contact Mark Fenner at markf@risepg.com.

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