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Three Keys to Scaling High-Growth Companies with Jonathan Seliger

Three Keys to Scaling High-Growth Companies with Jonathan Seliger Three Keys to Scaling High-Growth Companies with Jonathan Seliger
CEO Coaching Int’l

Guest: Jonathan Seliger, a coach at CEO Coaching International. Jonathan is an accomplished Chief Executive Officer, Senior Advisor, and Investor with over 30 years of experience. Having lived and worked in Asia for the last 30 years, Jonathan brings a global perspective to the challenges of scaling a business to BIG.

Quick Background: Even if your company is global, business is always local. Your strategies for attracting and retaining customers have to be customized for each individual market. What unites your plan of attack from town to town, state to state, and country to country is the consistency of your company’s values, the strength of its brand, and its ability to execute, no matter what.

On today’s show, Jonathan Seliger shares his strategies for expanding a brand’s reach, effectively managing growth challenges, and ensuring that scaling efforts align with long-term profitability and sustainability goals that will Make BIG Happen.

Three Keys to Scaling High-Growth Companies from Jonathan Seliger

1. Study your market(s).

Jonathan cut his teeth growing luxury brands in China and Asia, a complex and highly competitive space where he had to contend with fragmented market sectors, social and political challenges, and an enormous demand for knockoffs. Leading through these conditions taught Jonathan the importance of maintaining a clear focus on the business’ specific goals and the best strategy for achieving them.

“The way I always started was through learning,” Jonathan says, “doing some basic things like intensive and thorough consumer insights, really understanding what the total addressable market is, who your key competition may be, what are the market trends and customer preferences. Really knowing your customer or your channel or your distribution as well as you possibly can. And then using that intelligence to really define your go to market to the best of your ability. What your product market fit will be. What is your proof of concept going to look like? How are you going to structure your go to market? What are the most effective marketing channels? The whole ‘soup to nuts’ has to start with a deep knowledge and understanding of your customer and your channel.”

One of the challenges of scaling is figuring out how what you know about one market does and doesn’t apply to your next target. Feeding various datasets into AI could help CEOs identify overlaps as well as knowledge gaps that you need to fill in. It’s also important to allow for some flexibility so that as you advance into a new market you can adjust to conditions on the ground.

“I think you always have to pivot and change to your local market,” Jonathan says.” “Some of the analysis that we did on China probably isn’t as important in the U.S., which is a much more evolved and mature and sophisticated marketplace. You don’t need the analysis paralysis to launch your strategy. I think you can be a lot quicker. I think the key is once you and your team agree on what you’re going to do and you put the strategy in place, you just have to stay nimble because things change. You’ve got to put in a core value early on that you’re able to pivot and not get bogged down in your initial strategy if it’s not working.”

2. Maintain discipline.

Once you’ve mastered individual market data and built out a plan, it’s time to put the blinders on and get to work. It’s easy to get distracted on the way to BIG, whether you’re chasing shiny objects, dreaming up new SKUs, or putting out imaginary fires. Achieving scale requires the CEO to stay focused on what the company can control and executing on those action items, every day.

“It comes down to consistency and discipline,” Jonathan says. “If you’re in a consumer-facing business, like I was, and you’re looking to scale, first and foremost, you have to ensure you’ve got your cashflow and that you’re funded. But I think the consistency from a brand perspective is super important. It’s really important that you have consistent brand values that pass through all of those markets.”

In Asia, Jonathan was working with very strong brands with global appeal, like Coach New York. But he had to figure out how to leverage that appeal in specific markets, and in ways that he could control. For example, Jonathan notes that social media influencers became a force in Chinese marketing about a decade before the rest of the world. Once he’d convinced the brands he worked with that influencers could open up a whole new audience in ways that were consistent with the brand’s messaging and values, conversion rates skyrocketed.

Of course, in China, so did knockoffs. Jonathan let phone calls to the police deal with crooks while he doubled down on what was making his brands worthy of imitation in the first place.

“It was a constant battle,” he remembers, “but I think over time, just consistent brand-building, getting share of voice, getting your message across about the authenticity of your brand, you’re going to build a loyal franchise and loyal customers who will come for the real thing. That having been said, when ecommerce came into play in China, counterfeits and smuggled items were almost twice the size of my legitimate market. It’s just something you have to live with.”

3. Review and recalibrate.

Scaling 5X or 10X is the kind of goal that can inspire a company to challenge and even transform itself. But on the way to BIG, you might outgrow some of your best-laid plans. Or, if you reach the end of the quarter without reaching your short-term targets, you might have to reexamine some fundamental misassumptions about your company. Do you really have the best people working for you? Are you tracking, measuring, and managing the right KPIs? Is your AI Roadmap leading you towards better data and more efficient planning? What’s getting between you and BIG and how can you plan to grow through it?

“At CEO Coaching International, we really encourage all of our clients to not only do an annual plan that is high-level and strategic,” Jonathan says, “but then also to revisit these plans every quarter. What’s working, what’s not working, what can we do different? And then, as you scale that down to the lower levels, it’s by initiative: What’s working, what’s not working on a weekly, if not daily, basis? In all of the businesses that I’ve run, that discipline of constantly looking at your metrics and assessing what’s working and what’s not working, I think has been one of the keys to scaling.”

Top Takeaways

1. Learn everything about each market you want to target.

2. Scale consistently via how you do business and the values that define your brand.

3. Be humble and flexible when your plans need revising.

How to Scale at Speed – CEO Coaching International’s Meghan Watkins reflects on the 5 factors that helped her quickly scale her businesses from startup to $100M+ in revenue.

5 Keys to Scaling a SaaS Business – CEO Coaching International’s Patrick Eldon discusses the strategies and key metrics CEOs should follow all the way to BIG growth.

About CEO Coaching International

CEO Coaching International works with CEOs and their leadership teams to achieve extraordinary results quarter after quarter, year after year. Known globally for its success in coaching growth-focused entrepreneurs to meaningful exits, CEO Coaching International has coached more than 1,000 CEOs and entrepreneurs in more than 60 countries and 45 industries. The coaches at CEO Coaching International are former CEOs, presidents, or executives who have made BIG happen. The firm’s coaches have led double-digit sales and profit growth in businesses ranging in size from startups to over $10 billion, and many are founders that have led their companies through successful eight, nine, and ten-figure exits. Companies working with CEO Coaching International for two years or more have experienced an average revenue CAGR of 31% (2.6X the U.S. average) and an average EBITDA CAGR of 52.3% (more than 5X the U.S. average).

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