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From chasing growth to scaling with purpose - the next decade of startup success

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by Startacus Admin

chasing growth scaling with purposeAs we reach the close of 2019 and prepare to enter a new decade, Gabriela Hersham, Founder & CEO of Huckletree, shares what she has learned working alongside entrepreneurs that have successfully scaled-up...

The new year will see startups assess a wealth of opportunities to grow and expand. Over the past decade, there have been cautionary tales of growth ambitions getting tangled up with ego. As we reach the close of 2019, it has become clear that whilst you need a healthy dose of bravery, a strong value system at the core of your business is Gabriela Hershamincreasingly important to keep the scale journey as steady as can be.

This decade has certainly been all about fast-growth, but in 2020 we’re entering the decade of consciousness, where companies are becoming increasingly aware and active about the impact they’re having environmentally and on their people. And with 77% of people saying they have stronger emotional bonds to Purpose-driven companies, companies are forced to define a clear set of values to be able to scale.

That being said, you cannot simply jump on zeitgeist conversations or causes. A company’s purpose needs to be authentic and integral to the business. It should be a rally cry, something that gets people excited and ready to take off.

There is no perfect formula for scaling and during the process you will encounter some missteps, but it’s important to take these as learning curves for how you can better improve in the new year.

Working alongside entrepreneurs that have successfully scaled-up having clearly defined their purpose, here is what I’ve learned. 

The power of earnt advocacy

Whether it’s with your customers or employees, showing them what your business believes in helps to create an incredible amount of goodwill, respect and advocacy.

Your values need to be consistent and present across all of your practices - from the large business ambitions to the minutiae of the office life. You can’t just talk action, you need to enforce it. Good examples that come to mind are Patagonia and LEGO, where purpose is at the heart of everything they do.

With Huckletree, our purpose of inspiring bravery and courage for our entrepreneurs to drive industry change is reflected in our the next decade of startup successservices and workspaces offerings. Now, some of our very first Huckletree members are our ambassadors, alumni and advisors - you can’t buy that type of advocacy, you need to earn it.

Social capital is just as valid and valuable as venture capital

For startups especially, social capital is just as valid and valuable as venture capital. The people you work with, the people you choose to do business with, the values you breathe and uphold, and the lines you draw in the sand is reflective of the type of company you’re building and the impact you wish to have.

This especially goes for the young talent entering the workforce in 2020, where ethical business values are paramount. To attract younger professionals to your business, they need to believe in what you’re creating and believe that their work is meaningful, and not simply a means to an end.

Start before you’re ready

Ahead of the new year, it’s important to establish your purpose early. When hiring talent, you can quickly gauge that person’s understanding, motivation and belief - more importantly, you will know if they share the same values. Having these expectations in place means you can hold their behaviours and ideas accountable to that first conversation.

startup to scaleupThe ‘process’ of formulating a purpose doesn’t need to be daunting. Make sure you’re having upfront conversations with your co-founder or your leadership teams about your ethics, values and your non-negotiables, and where you believe the company can have the most meaningful contribution.

This will help you navigate the changes that need to be made in the new year. Make the small changes first, but implement them fast to show people you’re being real with them.

Once these are cemented, have regular check-ins throughout the year to assess how you’re tracking alongside your purpose, highlight the proof points straight after they happen, and celebrate people who embody it. 

What got you here today, won’t get you there tomorrow

To help refine or change (if necessary) your business purpose, it’s important to reflect. Talking openly about what you’ve learned builds so much trust, and I believe, inspire your people. Be prepared to shake things up, break old habits and formulas that may have worked in the past, but won’t necessarily help you with the future.

I can only speak from what we’ve seen in our community of over 2,000 startups, and from my own experience, but scaling comes with hard truths, lightbulb moments and brave learnings, but never mistakes. If you see them as just mistakes to forget about, then you’ve already failed.

Article written by Gabriela Hersham, Founder & CEO of Huckletree.


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Published on: 20th December 2019

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