Posted: February 01, 2012
Defining the Essential Elements for Growth and Success
ACG Special SectionBy Lisa Ryckman
Ayuda Management Corp. has grown 7,000 percent since 2007. ReadyTalk has more than 5,000 customers in 70 countries. Imperial Headwear, closing in on a century in business, cranks out 10,000 caps a day.
What's their secret?
Ask the leaders of Colorado's hottest companies for the five essential elements for growth and success, and you'll probably get six.
Or seven. Or four.
At Ayuda, they talk about the "four D's: desire to be the best; determination to succeed, even in the face of rejection; dedication to customers and employees; and daring to take risks to further our goals and dreams."
Clearly, that's been a winning formula for the 10-year-old company, a provider of services in general contracting/construction management, construction-defect repair, homeland defense consulting/security system design and installation, environmental consulting and staff augmentation.
Ask Ayuda co-owner Sonya Yungeberg, and she'll tell you she puts trust-building at the top of her list.
"Build trust with your clients through frequent and relevant communication," says Yungeberg, who serves as executive vice president and chief operating officer. "Be honest and do what you say you are going to do. Bend over backwards to finish what you started; the end of a project is as important as the start."
Providing quality services and focusing on existing clients are two other key elements, Yungeberg says.
"Quality is defined by the client and their end goal. Listen to your clients and adapt your services to their needs. Boilerplate execution can lead to unhappy clients," she says. "Focus as much or more attention on servicing existing clients than selling new work. Repeat business and referrals are always easier to get than new clients through cold marketing."
CEO Dan King of ReadyTalk, an audio and Web conferencing provider ranked as one of the nation's fastest-growing technology companies for five years running, looks at his product through the customer's eyes.
"One essential element to our growth has been our consistent effort to gain clarity on how it is that we create value for our customers through our product and service offerings - what it is about our offerings that makes them unique and gives both customers and prospects a strong reason to spend their money with us?" he says.
Imperial CEO Doug Kelly agrees.
"You need to have a product or service that brings value and purpose to your consumer," he says. "It's a competitive environment, so your company must provide good service. It's too easy to seek out alternatives."
Kelly rounds out his list of essentials with a fair price for value received, meeting customer deadlines and embracing social networking and online sales opportunities.
"You need to be proactive with your accounts/customers with your communication," he adds. "Be proactive - not reactive."
Finding, nuturing and keeping talented employees ranks high on the list of key elements for Colorado companies experiencing both explosive growth and incredible success. At Rivet Software, a pioneering financial reporting services firm that grew 1,140 percent in one year, they talk about "The Rivet Mullet" - business in the front, party in the back - which encourages employees to work hard and gain inspiration from time off.
At Delta Dental of Colorado, which provides dental services for 1 million Coloradans, CEO Kate Paul talks about the team spirit and the staff's dedication to the company mission. "People are connected to one another," she says.
ReadyTalk's King says his company is committed to creating an environment where the best can give their best. That commitment has earned the company recognition as a great place to work from ColoradoBiz magazine, Inc. magazine and Winning Workplaces.
"We are really focused on understanding people's natural talents and how they will complement the manner in which we get our work done," King says. "We are also really focused on creating and sustaining a culture that is built around employee engagement.
"One of the key questions we ask ourselves is, why would a highly talented individual want to come work here as opposed to any of the other companies in the area? And why should they stay?" he adds. "Getting the answer to that question right has a huge impact on our ability to continue to sustain profitable growth over the long term."
At the Odell Brewing Co., the company has gone from the three Odells - Doug, his wife, Wynne; and his sister Corkie - working in a converted 1915 grain elevator to a 45,000-square-foot facility and 66 employees. Their people are the key to their success, Corkie Odell says, and they're big on offering opportunity: Anyone in the company who wants to brew can take a crack at it through a pilot brewing system, which gives them a chance to create a beer and name it.
Ayuda's Yungeberg also puts employee empowerment on her list of keys to growth and success - "Never hesitate to reward employees or end a relationship that is not mutually beneficial," she says.
But her final essential is honesty.
"Everyone makes mistakes. It is what you do to correct mistakes that define you," Yungeberg says. "Be honest, do the right thing, and don't walk away."
Lisa Ryckman is the online editor at cobizmag.com.