Les Echos - 17 april 2001, excerpt
The seven necessary thresholds of growth
If growth is not always easy, it is sometimes because it happens too quickly. Growth takes time – any company must cross seven different thresholds. That is what is suggested by an analysis by Nicolas Rousseaux, head of the consulting firm Mediation. Nicolas Rousseaux looked at “adolescent” start-up companies – those that have grown but are not yet fully adult, or “grown up” as he puts it. “They are start-ups that have managed to survive. By definition, they have had to undergo rapid growth, in terms of financing, staffing, even their market offering. We need to identify the major difficulties, the major cultural shocks that face such companies and are specific to them as they become ‘grown-ups’.” (…)
1. From entrepreneur to manager. In undergoing such rapid growth, a start-up sooner or later faces the need to structure itself. The entrepreneur has to learn how to manage a growing team, put in place cost-control procedures, delegate power. (…)
2. From sole individual to social entity. Growth in staff numbers is difficult, in that it deprives founders of the personal control of their ideas, while at the same time conferring anonymity. (…)
3. From idea to brand, from innovation to banalization. In its first year of exsitence, a start-up works at bringing to market the innovation that warranted its creation. It must then face up to the commoditization of its initial idea it it becomes accepted in the marketplace.
4. From independence to accountability. The management team are initially charged with creating the conditions necessary for implementing their project. In a second phase, they must account for their actions and results in order to survive. They must prove that the innovative approach they are taking is viable, since they depend for financing on their shareholders and creditors: they must submit accounts.
4. From anonymity to credibility. A recently formed enterprise that is developing a novel approach faces a double problem: it is unknown, without any references, and is providing a new service or product that comes with no guarantee of efficacity, trustworthiness or suitability.
5. From birth place to growth place. Moving from the premises where it was created to a necessarily more impersonal premises changes an enterprise’s entire complexion.
7. From supply logic to demand logic. The supply logic is inherent to a start-up because it is using a novel approach. It creates a need with its supply. (…)