I've been blogging for almost 4 years. I started off strong, like most bloggers, with several posts per month. Over the last year or so, I've settled into a once or twice per month rhythm. This is my first post in over two months. Not because I don't have anything interesting to say (although that is always debatable), but because we've literally never been busier. We're so busy, that sometimes I worry we're moving too fast. Let me explain.
In September we turned ten years old and announced our first acquisition, a company called Invoice Connection. Most people understand that the hard work with acquisitions occurs after the deal closes. You've got people, products, customers, facilities, all that need attention. We had a plan and we've been executing on it. So far I'd probably give us a B+ on our efforts.
In the fourth quarter, we've continued with our aggressive expansion efforts. We've announced new partnerships, signed dozens of new customers, and continue to grow aggressively. Just last week we moved into a new corporate headquarters (picture below, ain't she pretty?), launched a new product called Invoice Central, and biggest of all, closed on a second aquisition/merger that we will soon be announcing publicly.
All of this brings me to the title of this Blog post and something that I worry about a lot - "How fast is Too Fast?" Are we trying to do much? Are we stretching our organization too thin?
I've shared this concern with several people that I trust. Our VP of Sales/Marketing worries that we're not moving fast enough. Well he's just a sales guy (Oh snap!), what does he know? A long time friend and successful business person told me that we should always move just as fast as we can. Well that sounds good but what does it really mean? I spoke to a member of our Board of Directors and his quote was something to the effect "That's why you're paid to be the CEO, to figure these tough things out."
I believe there are no easy answers to the question of "How fast is Too Fast?" However, there are a lot of useful questions that we've asked to help figure it out.
- How fast is the competition growing? (This should be the bare minimum threshold for growth if you want to be the market leader)
- How fast are the industry leaders growing in other market segments that are comparable to our business?
- Is customer satisfaction steady or increasing?
- Is product quality high?
- Are people getting burned out?
- Are dates being hit?
- Do you have the right team in place?
- Are your internal systems keeping up?
- What's the ultimate goal? Slow and steady growth, life style business, IPO?
Billtrust has grown to be a very successful organization and how successful we become really comes down to balancing "How fast is too fast?" As of now, it's full steam ahead. We've got grand ambitions, and now is not the time to pause.