Breaking through the Growth Barrier
Booom. Did you hear it? Yet another up-and-coming business has invented a new operating model, out-maneuvered the experienced players in its category – and within the blink of an eye broken through the metaphorical “Growth Barrier”, turning into another economic Wunderkind that’s considered to be worth billions before it even rang the bell of its own IPO.
I like to draw this analogy between the “Sonic Barrier” and business growth. Why, you might ask? Because the “Sonic Barrier” is a term that describes the sudden increase in aerodynamic drag experienced by an aircraft when it approaches supersonic speed of about 767 mph. And when it breaks the barrier, sonic booms generate enormous amounts of energy, sounding just like an explosion.
One might say that resembles what is happening in today’s market environment quite frequently: entrepreneurs that are bold enough to challenge the conventions of entire categories are accelerating their businesses’ growth so quickly that the sound it makes when the news of them hitting their first billion-dollar evaluation breaks must resemble that of a sonic boom, both in volume and reach. At least I imagine that is what’s being heard in the boardroom of their more traditional competitors...!
It seems to happen all the time lately: Airbnb turns the hotel category on its head, Tesla plays with decades of automotive conventions, the likes of Uber and Lyft dared to re-invent personal transportation, Snapchat changes the way people communicate, and Pokemon Go needs no more than a few weeks to enlist millions of people and businesses around the world on a hunt on fictional cyber-creatures.
The question is: What separates the businesses that do break through the Growth Barrier from the ones that never reach it – and what is that powerful fuel that helps them accelerate fast enough?
Here’s the answer: