Fast-growing companies describe their breakthrough moments

The signs that rapid growth is imminent take many forms — a surge in orders for some companies, an internal system showing signs of strain in others. Whatever the first symptoms, the common realization at these hypergrowth tipping points is that “business as usual” won’t work anymore.

To better understand these breakthrough moments, we are meeting with amazing leaders of small to midsize businesses at the Inc. 5000 Conference and Gala, collecting their experience and advice.

Some of the lessons we’ve heard so far apply to businesses of all types:

Embrace systematic thinking

Every growth story has involved some degree of systemization where an existing approach just won’t work anymore. Business leaders told us about homegrown fulfillment approaches straining under a spike in orders and one-off service approaches that just could no longer keep up.

Whether it was the sports apparel company that could no longer fill orders from mom’s garage or the industrial equipment manufacturer losing sales because it couldn’t meet delivery demand, when these business owners saw the signs, they sprang into action to upgrade and change old approaches to support the future.

Breakthrough key to success: Look for signs of growth and act quickly to revise the way things have always been done.

Use setbacks as a springboard

Lost customers, missed opportunities and other growth-related setbacks encourage the people running successful hypergrowth companies to do better. Where some might be discouraged and falter, these entrepreneurs patiently made changes.

In these moments, successful leaders destined for hypergrowth used the information they received through these setbacks to determine where changes needed to be made.

Breakthrough key to success: Keep the faith and use short-term failures as a source of information, not a sign that you should give up.

Stay open to people and new leadership

When large-scale growth is underway, seismic modifications may be called for. In some cases, this means a change in leadership. Some hypergrowth companies made the leap by bringing in new leadership with industry or operational expertise — for example, bringing in experienced sales leadership to build out a new team or an executive with deeper knowledge of new technologies.

To support this change, those already in place need to believe in a new approach and not cling to the way things used to be.

Breakthrough key to success: Stay open-minded to the changes in leadership and teams required to capture growth opportunities.

Rely on technology to scale

Deft sales management, order fulfillment, financial tracking and marketing are pillars of successful growth. These functions typically outgrow the systems they were built on, and companies that have deftly handled hypergrowth recognize that tapping cloud technology to scale is essential.

Embracing systems that allow for mobile connectivity, robust customer relationship management, and better order and supply controls helped them avoid the next bumps in the road and manage their resources effectively.

“Technology is key to having everything centralized,” and “Identify technology to make processes more efficient” are just two of the technology-or-bust messages from these hyper-successful entrepreneurs.

Breakthrough key to success: Keep technology at the center of growth changes.

Over the course of the conference, we’ll be meeting with business leaders from all industries, hearing the stories of their breakthrough moments and growth successes. We’re eager to share them with you.