Through surveys and available data, we've examined hundreds of small businesses and come away with six archetypal sets of practices and characteristics that we believe are representative of most growth companies operating today.

The qualifications were simple: Companies had to be domestically owned, privately held, for-profit and have shown net capacity growth over at least two years, with an employee size in 2015 of 10 to 1,000.

Below, we examine the traits of Best Practicers, one of the six archetypes of the Entrepreneur360™ Performance Index. To see the other five archetypes, click here.

These star companies do everything evidence-based management wisdom says they should do and achieve everything they’re going for. They set high-growth targets and are confident of hitting them. They are employee champions, staying highly attuned to staff needs and input and promoting more agile, decentralized decision-making, as well as innovative and proactive action. Company cash flow tends to stay strong. They’re able to time their expansions well, and they keep up with changing customer needs and potentially disruptive technologies. It all pays off: These firms report not only sustained but especially rapid growth, and almost no problems in any area of management or performance.

Key characteristics

  • Best Practicers tend to be in rapid-growth industries, and are mostly national and international in focus rather than local or regional. They are also more likely to be urban-based.
  • Avoiding top-down, command-and-control management, they emphasize empowering employees through distributed decision-making, transparency, sharing information and frequent, deep communication both up and down in the organization.
  • They are big on rewarding employees, by sharing profits, promoting from within and emphasizing good benefits, good quality of life and a positive work environment.
  • They set high growth targets and make a point of clearly communicating those aggressive plans to employees, customers, suppliers and even the local community.
  • They see fast growth as a competitive edge in its own right and are driven to constantly increase market share.
  • They seek to be both brand leaders and innovators, and encourage risk-taking.
  • They rely heavily on internal metrics and external market research.
  • They expand proactively, without waiting to book the orders that would necessitate it.
  • They give to charity for its own sake, and not just to help the company grow.

Takeaway

The conventional wisdom isn’t always right, but in the case of management best practices, it seems spot on. The formula isn’t a secret: Pursue aggressive growth; lavish care and attention on employees; set up nimble and broad-based decision-making processes; embrace change and disruption; stay on top of data; and communicate with customers and suppliers.

Apptopia

Founded: 2011

Business Type: Mobile

Website: https://www.apptopia.com

BombBomb

Founded: 2006

Business Type: Marketing

Website: http://bombbomb.com

Dumbo Moving and Storage

Founded: 2006

Business Type: Transportation

Website: http://dumbomoving.com

H &F Bread Co.

Founded: 2008

Business Type: Food

Website: http://www.hfbreadco.com

iCracked

Founded: 2010

Business Type: Service provider/Repair

Website: https://www.icracked.com

Instructure

Founded: 2008

Business Type: Software

Website: http://www.instructure.com

Kavaliro

Founded: 2010

Business Type: Staffing

Website: http://www.kavaliro.com

Myriad Mobile

Founded: 2011

Business Type: Mobile

Website: http://myriadmobile.com

Orases

Founded: 2000

Business Type: Design

Website: http://www.orases.com

Reed Manufacturing Co.

Founded:

Business Type: Manufacturing

Website: https://www.reedmfgco.com

Site Work Solutions

Founded: 2005

Business Type: Construction

Website: http://www.swsgc.com

Stellarware Corporation

Founded: 1997

Business Type: Design

Website: http://www.stellarware.com

Videon Central

Founded: 1997

Business Type: Manufacturing/Software

Website: https://videon-central.com

WebDevelop.com

Founded: 2006

Business Type: Web development

Website: http://www.webdevelop.com

Work Market

Founded: 2010

Business Type: Staffing

Website: https://www.workmarket.com

Read more about each archetype:

For Entrepreneur360 'Data Champions,' Success is Steady, Plotted and Planned

What Entrepreneur360 'Controllers' Know: Watch Markets and Keep the Customer Happy

How Staying in Front of the Pack Helped the 'Forward Thinkers' Nab a Spot on the Entrepreneur360

Growing Against the Grain: Meet the Entrepreneur360 'Contrarians'

Confident and Sales-Focused: A Look at the Entrepreneur360 'Classics'