My career path has been described as “quirky (in a good way, of course)” and circuitous. Does this upset me or make me pause? Not at all. I’ve had the fortune of meeting and befriending several very successful founders. If I had stayed at one job the whole time, I wouldn’t had multiple exposures to a very similar story.
The main thread of my career has been on the analytical side, having done everything from running companies, business forecasting (my mainstay), supply chain, marketing, financial analysis, programming, and much in between. Because I’ve usually worked with $300M+/year companies, I’ve been exposed to an interesting vantage point, due to my proximity to both executives and the gory details of the data. If an executive has a question about the current state or future direction of the business, people like me are usually the ones they ask first.
The range of $100M to $300M is typically where a company evolves from being a reflection of the company founders to something much larger, usually without the originating founders. The suits, MBAs, and process guys roll in to scale the business. Most of the time, “becoming a billion dollar company” becomes the next goal. So, at this stage, it’s a lot like finishing a movie and moving on to its sequel. It’s also a great opportunity to meet the company founders and really understand what it takes to grow a company to such a size, while also being a part of the “maturity phase” of a company.
From my interactions with several successful company founders I worked for – and which I will be at some point, mark my words – the main thread is that persistence, luck, and flexibility are the keys to surviving the roller coaster of reaching $100M+. If you know you have a winner on your hands, can get a little lucky, and more importantly, simply stick out the inevitable ups and downs, you are bound to get successful. The surprising thing is that this is very simple guidance that can be put into practice immediately if one has the discipline to do so. Good luck.