The Ecommerce Influence Stage: Growing from $50 to $100 Million and Beyond
Whether your business began two years ago or it’s a global staple that’s been steadily growing for 25 years, we find that most ecommerce companies go through the same stages of growth. If you’ve conquered the Survival Stage ($1 to $10 million), tackled the Health Stage ($10 million plus), and are scaling far beyond the $50 million mark, you have reached the Influence Stage.
Note: Depending on the size of your business you may be way beyond this mark. The point here is that you are highly profitable, highly mature, and have abundant resources. For your brand this could be $100 million or $100 billion, but typically it’s not below the $50 million mark.
If you own or happen to work for a business that has made it to this point of growth, you’ll find the company transitioning toward innovation and influence. You’ve grown hard and fast, and the market clearly wants your product. As a result, your brand has been established as a clear player (and likely a leader) in your space. To drive this growth, the team has grown, key leadership has been put into place and systems have been optimized so they can scale efficiently. It’s especially important to note that the day-to-day operation of this organization is officially larger than any one person, including its founder(s). Your business is a well-oiled machine, and it takes a considerable crew to keep it running!
So what’s next?
When it comes to running a business, there is no such thing as staying still. There is growing and there is declining, with no in between. So let’s focus on how companies of this size can continue to grow.
It’s a good idea to ask yourself a few questions.
- How do you protect your position in the marketplace as other brands create knockoffs and try to compete with the product that has made your business so strong?
- More importantly, how can you use your position to make a huge positive impact on the world?
- At the end of the day, do you want to coast and then decline, or do you want to keep building exponentially?
We’ve put together a list of five things you don’t want to miss if you want to propel your brand from $50MM to $100MM and beyond.
1. Re-clarify your mission and vision.
The mission and vision for your company are what got you to this point, but in the hustle of it all, this driving force can become stagnant. Maybe you’ve drifted away from that focus, or maybe you need to rethink it in a bigger way. Without a doubt, you’ve done a lot of hiring since the beginning, so some people on your team might not feel crystal clear on the mission. Now is the time to reinvigorate your mission and vision, thinking bigger than ever before. Make sure it touches every aspect or department of your organization so that everyone is on board and crystal clear on their focus.
2. Innovate, again and again.
It’s tempting to get comfortable with the market share you’ve achieved, but don’t settle here! Stagnation could be your biggest threat at this point, so avoid the mentality that you can coast because your position is secure. There are many examples of major brands that fell from success because the disruptor became the disrupted. Think TiVo or Windows. Don’t let it happen to you!
Winning in ecommerce is not just about understanding the business you’re currently in, but also understanding the business that you’re becoming. The only way to do that is through R+D and innovation, and you now have the resources to fund those! That R+D process will keep your brand pushing out improvements on existing products as well as brand new products for your customers to get excited about. After all, your innovation is what made customers buy your product in the first place and it’s what will keep them as fans of your brand.
3. Plan your exit strategy.
Whether or not you are building this business to be sold, you need to think about it as if you are. Aligning your company and putting it in a good position for acquisitions will help you make the right decisions in the long run. Have you thought through what a strategic exit would look like? Even if you would rather not exit, one team can only take your company so far. Eventually, you may need to partner with another organization that has more experience or resources to help carry it further.
4. Consider acquisitions
It can be cheaper to buy than to invent or create something from scratch, so be on the lookout for smaller brands that you could potentially acquire to help accomplish your business goals. Look for brands that are doing great things and that would help you offer a better product, a new product line, or better service to your customers. Keep in mind that this brand will need to align with your product and mission so that incorporating it into your brand is a seamless experience that only benefits for your customers. If not, your customers probably won’t accept it.
5. Maximize your influence and impact
Your brand has influence and resources in the marketplace and that means you have the power to impact the world for the better. How do you do that?
Give back to the world or even just to your community, not for marketing purposes, but in genuine places that make sense for your passions and your brand. Find a cause your company can get behind and start donating or partnering with them!
Create an amazing workplace that allows people to grow. Ask your team for honest feedback and then use your resources to pour back into your employees. Investing in your team is always an area for major impact!
Be the best leader you can be, whether you’re the founder, CEO, or department head. Your leadership sets the tone and trickles down throughout the entire company so it’s crucial to lead them well.