Chances are, you’ll need more than one technique to keep your company growing. Over the course of 20 years, Liz Elting’s and Phil Shawe’s company, TransPerfect, has grown to $342 million in revenue with 2,200 employees worldwide. The company provides translation and discovery services to law firms, healthcare companies and other businesses in which speed and accuracy are critical.
Surprisingly, the one strategy they didn’t use to grow was seeking outside funding. They grew organically, by reinvesting profits in their company. “Revenue is vanity, profit is sanity,” said Elting, Co-CEO TransPerfect. Full disclosure: They did start a separate company at the height of the dot-com bubble; that company did have outside investors. They have since bought out the investors and merged the company with TransPerfect.
Here are five strategies that helped TransPerfect grow:
1.) Pleasing customers: It’s not just about offering quality products, continuously improving them, and providing great customer service. TransPerfect builds deep relationships with its customers so it can anticipate customer needs. If you’re listening really well, you’ll see opportunities early, said Elting.
2.) Acquiring companies: Sometimes, to meet customers’ new needs, you have to buy a company that has the skills required. TransPerfect bought four companies last year. When you know what additional needs your clients have that you can’t currently meet, then you have a filter for selecting acquisitions that will complement your services. The companies Elting and Shawe bought expanded TransPerfect’s expertise in translation, electronic discovery, and litigation support.
3.) Expanding geographically: With 75-plus offices around the globe, you’d think that TransPerfect had the world covered. Not so. Last year, it opened offices in Buenos Aires and Copenhagen. So far this year, they opened offices in Johannesberg and Vienna.
4.) Creating a culture built on merit: Compensation, promotions, and perks are based on results. Because of this policy, staff is motivated and engaged. At TransPerfect, people often start right out of college and work their way to upper management, said Elting. Employees really like working in a meritocracy, she added.
5.) Never stop learning and networking: Elting is a voracious reader of business books. She also credits clients, industry experts, and staff for keeping her in the know. Networking happens everywhere for Elting. She networks with fellow speakers at conferences and people she meets at charity events.
Elting also has good advice about attitudes women must change in order to grow their companies, ways to increase your company’s visibility, and why being tough isn’t the same as being a bitch.
What strategies can you use to grow your company without outside help?