Creating a new business is hard, but launching a high-growth startup is even more challenging. High-growth founders must rapidly attract a paying customer base, mobilize a scalable business model and lead people inside and outside the business to achieve more than they think possible.
These kinds of startups must do more with less, and they must do it faster. Thus, the entrepreneurs behind these fast-growing companies must possess a unique set of skills. They have to become “expert generalists.”
Ironically, expert generalists are discouraged by most schools and universities, which teach students to become good at one skill or discipline. Yet expert generalist entrepreneurs thrive because they can manage the big picture and inject themselves in all aspects of a business for short periods of time to create or rebuild strong value.
To become an expert generalist, you need four skills: a laser focus on macro and micro; an eye for needs, solutions and revenues; relentless dedication; and an affinity for market testing.
Laser Focus on Macro and Micro
This means managing and empowering others to achieve the “big picture” strategy, while getting into the trenches to identify and create processes that repeatedly succeed in each aspect of the business. Expert generalists also must empower others to use the processes and their own creativity to achieve success.
Essentially, entrepreneurs must have the ability to understand and build every aspect of their business, while walking the line between micromanaging and empowering their staff.
Eye for Needs, Solutions and Revenues
This next skill is especially rare, as the entrepreneur must identify the greatest customer need at a given time, the solution that can most easily and quickly be produced, and the maximum amount of money that a customer is willing and able to pay repeatedly for that solution.
It’s not easy to train the eye to evaluate all three steps from the outset, but this is required to achieve high growth from the start.
This is the absolute refusal to quit. It’s the complete commitment to find any excuse necessary to win. This seemingly obvious skill is actually hard to implement, as it requires aggressively pushing forward while being able to identify (and avoid) cliffs, dead ends and landmines. Relentless determination happens to be closely related to the final skill.
Avid Market Testing
High-growth entrepreneurs test every idea early and often. Avid testers don’t wait for perfection. In fact, they barely wait for functional, and this approach provides immediate feedback as to an idea’s viability. As is probably evident by now, the expert generalists are often completely consumed by their mission to make their company successful. Most entrepreneurs choose not to focus on high-growth startups as they want to enjoy the many other aspects of their lives and not just be in their business 24/7. Rather, they decide to pursue high growth later in their business’s lifecycle, when they have more people and resources.
However, for those who are driven toward this type of venture, whether by nature or by desire, possessing these four skills is crucial to achieving high-growth success.