Have you heard the latest business adage: Flat is the new up? The general economy is in a slowdown, no doubt, but there are a number of companies -- 100 -- that proved their mettle with outstanding growth between 2006 and 2008. The average company on our list had revenue of $192,764,257, and the average rate of increase was 87 percent. That's impressive by any measure but perhaps even more so when scores of these integrators' customers are pulling back on IT expenditures and some have even declared bankruptcy. Here are five ways that these high-growth companies have succeeded in uncertain times -- and how you can too.
1. Help customers drive down their own costs.
This is the most popular way for Fast Growth companies to sell their services to existing clients and to attract new ones. Nearly 69 percent said that while the general economy is in a slowdown, they could grow by doing work for their customers to meet the challenges of this environment, such as helping them cut their operating costs. "In light of recent economic conditions, our clients across the globe are looking inward with a focus on how they can optimize business processes to increase operational efficiency, cost savings and gain a competitive advantage," said Eric Berridge, co-founder and principal of Bluewolf (2009 Fast Growth No. 79). "We are helping them to retool core business processes around demand generation, sales force automation, opportunity management and customer service."
2. Partner with top-notch vendors.
Brand recognition goes a long way, particularly when customers are leery of opening their wallets at all. Offering companies household names is a way of cementing stability in customers' minds. The top vendors among the Fast Growth VARs are Microsoft, Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, EMC, Dell, Oracle/Symantec, Sun and NetApp. That doesn't mean new vendors and technologies aren't welcome; 35.7 percent said they are actively seeking new, innovative or complementary vendors to add to their portfolios.
3. Look at the federal government market.
With stimulus money available, now might be a strategic time to look at the government and education arena. Slightly greater than 32 percent of respondents said the federal market contributed more than 20 percent to their revenue; 24.1 percent said the same about the K-12 education segment. And, despite the meltdown in the financial sector, accounting/banking/financial was responsible for more than 20 percent of growth at 29 percent of companies. Next year could obviously show a far different picture.
4. Focus on your target market.
Know your customers better than anyone else. You are not the only one looking for new clients; the competition is too. "In order to enable fast growth in a down market, solution providers need to stay closest to their most valuable asset -- their customers. This commitment allows us to be viewed as a true trusted partner, not just another vendor," said Daniel DiSano, president and CEO of Axispoint Inc. (2009 Fast Growth 100 No. 28). "Only if your core clients are strong and you have exceptional customer retention by delivering superior care and utilizing technology to solve their most complex problems can you ever be in a position to achieve exceptional growth."
5. Prepare customers for when the tide turns.
"Our job will be to help clients tap into new and emerging markets with solutions that maximize efficiency and still provide high performance," said Bob Cagnazzi, CEO of BlueWater Communications (2009 Fast Growth 100 No. 1). "Consolidation and virtualization will remain important, unified communications will remain important and will grow as businesses better integrate collaboration into their business processes. Video will also continue to grow because of the decreasing costs in this area and the ability to greatly reduce costs and improve collaboration."