From David to Goliath: How Entrepreneurs Overcome the Challenges of Company Growth

“From David to Goliath: How Entrepreneurs Overcome the Challenges of Company Growth,” a report released by Credit Suisse and Dr. Helena Yli-Renko, Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the University of Southern California, provides an intimate look at the challenges and triumphs of 13 successful entrepreneurs across the US and Latin America. The report highlights these high-growth entrepreneurs and traces the trajectories of their respective companies—which have created jobs, introduced innovations and transformed entire industries. It also examines entrepreneurs’ responses to common business issues.

The report categorizes enterprises into two camps: David and Goliaths, depending on their size.

Entrepreneurs, the authors found, have common challenges that they must address: people, financial resources, business networks and environment jolts.

High-growth entrepreneurs have shared approaches to meeting these challenges:

  • People: The popular conception of entrepreneurs is that they are lone wolves — fiercely independent individuals seeking to forge their own paths. In reality, successful entrepreneurs tend to be collaborative and humble, skilled in communicating their vision and in getting other people to help them. High-growth entrepreneurs are persistent, but not bull-headed. They are highly responsive and adaptive (“There is No ‘I’ in Team” Principle).
  • Financial Resources: High-growth entrepreneurs are extremely resourceful when it comes to capitalizing their growth– often through unconventional means (“Bird in Hand” Principle).
  • Business Networks: Entrepreneurs’ networks are multidimensional—they include friends, family advisors, customers, suppliers and even competitors. These diverse networks provide checks and balances for entrepreneurs to adjust their personal approach, their business model or both (“It Takes a Village” Principle).
  • Environmental Jolts: High-growth entrepreneurs have a “little engine that could” mindset. They have little fear of failure. Persistence is their most defining trait. Experienced entrepreneurs excel in turning the unexpected into the profitable (“The Lemonade” Principle).

However, the most surprising finding of this research, according to the authors, is that smaller companies failed to perceive larger, more established companies as threats—but rather as motivating forces.

According to co-author Yli-Renko, “The key lies in viewing entrepreneurship and company growth as a learning process where entrepreneurs continually hone their ability to make decisions in rapidly changing, uncertain environments. Entrepreneurs should be viewed as problem-solvers and improvisers, making use of whatever resources they have.”

Please click here for a copy of “From David to Goliath: How Entrepreneurs Overcome the Challenges of Company Growth.”