What It Takes To Build A Sustainable Business

What It Takes To Build A Sustainable Business

Managing Partner at UXReactor, on a mission to force-multiply business impact through human-centric strategy for all types of organizations.

My co-founder and I did not start our company to make a list. We started it to create a business that would make an impact. As entrepreneurs, the bottom-line aspiration is to be effective and be impactful. 

It is an honor to receive the 2020 Inc. 5000 recognition, as it is given to the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. To me, it is like any other award: It feels good when you get it, but it also puts a lot more pressure on you to continue that momentum. 

After five years and a notable journey of growth, I want to share with other business owners some lessons that we have learned in building “the firm.” Our company is founded on three core philosophies that serve as guiding principles for us.  

1. Start with sustainability in mind. When my co-founder and I began thinking about building a company, one of the core tenets we had was that we didn’t want to build a firm that would go away because one founder went away or one team member went away. Therefore, we heavily invested in people, processes and capabilities, which allow us to create a sustainable and scalable company. We live by the “one for all and all for one” motto.

2. Build it to win it. Build it for impact. We did not want to start the company just to build another design firm. Our vision was to start a firm that redefined the profession and how the practice of UX experiences can truly transform businesses. We built the business from the ground up with a global impact in mind.

3. Do it the right way. This is easier said than done. As I’ve always said, we should never take $1 that we don’t deserve, and we should never charge $1 less than we deserve. For us, this involves consistently driving value for our teammates and for our clients and partners who have trusted us to solve their deep and meaty problems. A lot of people are involved in the journey, and it is all about value creation.

Starting a business has its low and high moments. I remember when the company was just starting in 2015, my teammate and I were sitting in a windowless room. The challenge we were facing at the time was building our portfolio. Facing a difficult decision, I remember telling our first client, “Just give us the work and pay us whatever you want to pay us.” We delivered the work and received our company’s first check. Holding the check in my hand (which I still have to this day) was a tremendous moment of joy and pride because it was the first time we were paid for the value we had created.

Of course, the company grew from that moment, making more with less effort. However, our approach, dedication and attitude remained the same by really engaging deeply with our clients and focusing on driving value for their businesses. That’s why sustainability and impact are such key components of our company’s mantra and mission. It comes from repeatability, from being deliberate in how you’re doing it and being consistent in what you’re saying and what you’re doing.

As parting thoughts, here is some advice to you as your embark on your own five-year journey:

• In Silicon Valley, it is common knowledge that only one in 10 new businesses succeed. The statistics are stacked up against you, so if you are going to build a business, build it to win it.

• In the valley, there are more companies solving “lifestyle” problems versus “life” problems, the latter including global issues, such as health care, education, finances and more. If you have one chance to build a business, what do you want your legacy to be?

• If you do it right, everything will follow. And to do it right, it all comes down to the best people, the best process and a good environment.

• Invest in people who are committed to your company’s mission and culture.

• Successful companies and entrepreneurs also must keep writing new “chapters” for the business. The strategy that gets your business off the ground initially won’t be the one that can sustain your business over time. Focusing on the long term, what should be the next chapter of your business?

• The risk of an entrepreneur is overstated. The cost of experimentation, especially in today’s world, is low where data, tools and mentors can be more easily secured. So, if you really want to do something today, now is the time to do so. Build something impactful because the world needs it.

For all of the founders, entrepreneurs or aspiring entrepreneurs, there is no better time to build a business than now.

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