Are you prepared for rapid expansion?

We’re often so focused on our competition, and motivated to continuously out-perform, out-innovate and outgrow them, that we might forget to ask ourselves what makes the most sense for us as a company within the race to become an industry frontrunner.

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It’s the dream, at least to many, to overtake your competition and go from industry player to leader. Your margins are higher and you win more business. Everyone wants to work with you or for you, and you’re able to pay higher wages to top talent – thus continuing the cycle for possibly years to come.

Creating opportunity

This surge, as some industry insiders call it, can happen at strange times. We need look no further than some of the industries that have benefitted in 2020: supermarkets, tech, health care equipment, outdoor gear and more.

That said, many companies across myriad industries are simply in survival mode for now. But that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from a company that’s surging within a given moment.

Obviously, a company that experiences a surge probably didn’t arrive there by accident – even though market conditions or societal factors might have created an unforeseen opportunity within which they’ve begun to excel. Flexibility, confidence, foresight, innovation and culture are just a handful of qualities needed to even consider the possibility of a surge. Of course, products and services, timing, reputation, even a little luck also play a pivotal role.

Rarefied air

One thing you can do as a leader is carve out your own approach – maybe look less at what everyone around you is doing and more at how you’re positioned – especially as it pertains to opportunities that might pop up. Conversely, obsessing over your competition, as well as market share, can often get in the way of success – a path mostly lined with customers, service, value and trust. Companies capable of a surge are ones that exhibit an interest, a commitment, to these tenets more often than not.

If you’re an established company, you might be prone to avoiding risks. In fact, you might already have in place a sturdy risk-management process; perhaps you’re careful not to disturb your market position in the eyes of investors.

Ultimately, as the saying goes, you do you. But companies that surge often find themselves taking more risks – betting on new products or services in ways that can transform the business and catapult it to unexpected heights.

On those grounds, how are you positioned to scale up? Especially if it requires speed?

Scaling on almost every level requires some type of stretching – be it financial, workforce, management or structurally. All the more reason to maintain healthy relationships, open lines of communication, trust and a can-do culture built around respect and collective goals. Without these vital ingredients, any surge, much less a transformative one, is a pipe dream.

Along similar lines, is there a collective understanding of what products, services or even activities are replaceable? Especially with companies that have “done it a certain way” for decades, there can be a tendency to ignore the reality that some things simply don’t bring value anymore. Nothing could shine a brighter light on said reality more than a failed attempt to scale up, i.e. surge, because there are too many operational road blocks in the way.

Ultimately, do you have the stomach for it? There’s a lot of talk out there about wanting to be an industry leader, but it requires a level of focus and stamina that not everyone truly considers. It’s not always apparent that a particular moment of growth or expansion could in fact be a surge that propels the company into rarefied air. The ability to understand that holding the wheel steady for, possibly, quite some time, and sticking to the plan, is potentially the most crucial of convictions when maneuvering within the various complexities of a productive surge.