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Growing Up in the 405

Oklahoma City has grown up a lot during the last several decades, and its businesses have grown up with it. 

I grew up in the 405, and I’ve witnessed firsthand the transformation of central Oklahoma. It has grown tremendously since my childhood, and the business community has played an enormous role in this growth. 

If you’ve been in business very long, you’ve probably heard the phrase “grow or die.” As someone who strongly identifies with the Small Giants Community a group of like-minded business owners and leaders that are purpose-driven, not profit-driven I’ve personally had mixed views and even some criticism of this phrase. But ultimately, I believe the statement holds true. (Even for us “Small Giants.”)

And, let’s face it, there are many ways to grow, but I’d like to explore some of the most common views on business growth, celebrate the progress of the business community in the 405 and challenge us to grow even more.  

Fast growth

“Life is growth. You grow, or you die.” – Phil Knight, co-founder of Nike

First, when we hear about company growth, it is often focused around this idea of “fast growth.” (Or, how quickly can we gain market share?) Although ‘fast’ isn’t the only way to grow, it definitely gets attention, creates momentum and can shift entire industries.

In Oklahoma, I’m not sure there’s a company that understands this better than Paycom. In 2017, Paycom ranked No. 2 on Fortune’s 100 Fastest-Growing Companies and has been acknowledged as one of the companies with the most consecutive years on the list, right up there with Amazon.

Fast-growth companies can shift industries. 

Long-lasting growth

I believe the next most common metric associated with company growth is around overall size blended with staying power. Let’s call this “long-lasting growth.” These long-lasting companies continue to scale through all seasons — sometimes fast, other times slow and steady, but ultimately long-lasting. And according to a 25-year study done by McKinsey & Company, the business sector overall contributes 72% of the gross domestic product in OECD countries, and corporations with more than $1 billion in revenue account for an increasingly large share of that. It takes companies dedicated to long-lasting growth to sustain that percentage of the GDP each year.

In the 405, we have some great examples of major long-lasting growth companies like Devon, Hobby Lobby and Love’s that continue to make a significant impact on the workforce, their industries and the community. 

Long-lasting growth companies can change the landscape of communities.  

More ways to grow

However, I believe this is only scratching the surface on how we can look at and measure growth. Companies can use many ways to grow, and it’s not always fast, but it’s clear that the speed at which our world is evolving requires constant assessment of our growth strategies. Leaders at companies have to decide what kind of company they are building and what that requires — More jobs? More locations? More training? More profit? More giving back? More community impact? Regardless of the metric, we must identify how we are to grow, and then pursue it with everything we’ve got. Because, after all: 

“If you are not growing, you are dying.” – Tony Robbins

Matt Stansberry founder, CEO and partner of Nominee, a brand consultancy

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