10 Lessons Learned from 2017 Top Inc. 5,000 Companies

10 Lessons Learned from 2017 Top Inc. 5,000 Companies

When you see a company that has achieved an annual growth rate of 2,000 percent, 15,000 percent, or even 50,000 percent, you pay attention. Everyone wants to know their secret.  This level of success comes with many lessons that other companies — from startups to established businesses — can learn from.

Here are ten of those high-growth companies from Inc.’s 2017 Hot 5,000 list of private companies that offer critical lessons:

  1. Doing good and making the world a better place actually pays off.

Companies used to think everything was about profit. If there was anything left over, some could go to a local charity. Now, there are socially conscious companies focused on solving social problems.

This year’s Inc. list is filled with companies seeking to lower energy consumption to reduce emissions and help the environment like EnviroSolar Power and CalCom Solar. Then, there are numerous companies seeking to provide other services that create a better quality of life like ALL4 and g2 Revolution.

2.  Don’t count industries out as dead; they are only being reinvented.

It’s not always the best thing to listen to experts who determine when an industry is on its last legs or has actually died. For example, many investors determined that the travel and hospitality industry was too mature to experience any real growth potential. However, Inc.’s list has over 50 examples of travel and hospitality companies that prove them wrong.

Instead, these travel companies illustrate the innovation that is alive. And, entrepreneur mulling over an idea for a “mature” industry should continue pursuing it. Under Canvas creates luxury camping experiences while Tailgate Guys provide amenities for unique tailgating experiences at sports events. It’s high-growth companies like these that prove that there are numerous niches and specialized opportunities.

3. Security is on everyone’s minds, and it should be on yours, too.

When you look at a list of 5,000 growth companies like the one created by Inc., it tells you about on what is on the audience’s minds. This list contains a wide range of security companies that are some of the fastest growing businesses. The focus on security is obvious in the number of new companies on this list that have only emerged in the last three or four years.

Both consumers and businesses are concerned about security as you should be with your own business if you work with data or handle any online or mobile transactions. Also, if you exploring a direction to go with your startup, you may want to consider the security industry because it appears to have endless growth potential. For example, companies like PhishMe have realized the need for threat management software while Cyber Defense Solutions is filling the demand for more security layers for online businesses.

4. Industries are being revolutionized by technology, forever changing how they may work.

Numerous hot growth companies prove that no industry is immune from being revolutionized. You must always pay attention to up-in-coming businesses in your area of business. If you don’t, you may discover too late that you are no longer relevant.

For example, real estate companies that have stuck with their traditional model are shocked by new ways of working. They realize it may mean they no longer have an audience. Companies like eValuation Zone and Agentology are putting technology to work to show that the traditional real estate process is no longer working. Look into your own industry because you may find that more effective models are about to replace you.

5. Traditional businesses can adapt and become relevant.

In returning to the example of real estate, some companies get that traditional is going away and respond with a pivot to how they work. If you are in a traditional business model, this should give you hope that you can survive the disruption by changing now.

For instance, Big Block Realty is a traditional real estate firm but one that is experiencing incredible growth because of changing its business model to focus on a creative culture and service experience over commissions and high sales volumes. Then, there are companies like Welltok that are proving that healthcare could be fixed and become a collaborative model between patients and physicians.

6. Long-established brands are falling behind on growth goals.

In just looking at Inc.’s fastest growing companies, one thing really stands out. There are no major retail brands that are experiencing the growth rates like these on the list. In fact, across the 200 retailers listed, none are instantly recognizable unless you are an online retail shopping maven. No established brand is leveraging marketing and branding or delivering the customer experiences that today’s audience expects.

For example, the top retailer on the list earned a 12,000 percent increase in their growth over 2016’s results. This company is Reverb.com which operates an online marketplace for buying, selling, and learning about new, used, and vintage music gear. Today’s consumers are looking for distinct products and memorable experiences rather than generic items designed for the masses.

7. There’s always room for improvement and growth will be your reward.

Manufacturing focuses on enhancing quality, safety, and overall performance. They know it will help scale up on operations.  On Inc.’s list, there are companies like ShipHawk, which is using technology to drive greater efficiencies for its customers in terms of shipping and logistical costs.

8. More growth companies are delivering solutions in the form of products or services AND valuable content.

Today’s audience wants to feel empowered through information that they can apply in their work and personal lives. That’s why more companies on this hot growth list are positioning themselves as thought leaders and highlighting their content.

In response, companies like Revcontent (also a high-growth advertising and marketing company on the list) are emerging as a better way for brands to deliver content and engage with audiences. Offering high-performance content has accelerated Revcontent’s 2,000% growth since 2013. Brands from many sectors can reach audiences with content, including financial services where consumers are seeking advice on how to make better decisions about their money.

9. Every industry has room for growth when it seeks out niche areas.

Media again is an excellent example of this lesson. Real growth is coming from specialized niches. Each of these niches actually has a significant audience size to fuel growth. For example, Marijuana Business Daily is one of the fastest growing media companies because it is serving an industry that is rapidly becoming mainstream. Look within your industry and start exploring those niches to see how you can exploit the opportunities there.

10. The growth is not all due to consumers. B2B and B2G opportunities may soon surpass B2C.

Many companies only focus on consumers.  In reality, Inc.’s list illustrates that B2B companies are some of the fastest growing. This is alongside those companies that are also providing solutions for government applications and organizations. It is worth considering these areas for your future startup to yield even more opportunity than fickle consumers.

That’s because businesses and governments tend to stick with companies for far longer than consumers. Some key companies proving that include FedBiz IT Solutions and TalentRover, both of which understand the strategic value of working with other organizations over consumers.

This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.

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