The Mindset of a High Growth Business owner

The six components of a high growth mindset

A research piece by Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) to investigate whether there is such a thing as a ‘mindset of high growth’.

While research into growth has historically focused on locating it in certain types of businesses, experts have recently concluded that it can happen in any business. As a result, the focus has shifted towards the role of the entrepreneur.

It is against this backdrop that the mindset of high growth study began. Research involved in-depth interviews with a group of 30 high growth entrepreneurs, followed by surveys covering a much larger group. This research revealed the six components of the high growth mindset.

Market expertise

Selling is at the heart of market expertise. While it might be understated by high growth entrepreneurs, their stories tell us that the ability and need to sell are seen as givens. Proficiency in selling is not just about making new sales though. It also means understanding and navigating the market you operate in. Market expertise implies a high level of skill and ease in the selling role and growth entrepreneurs cognitive processes are always geared towards making sales.

Business vision

Entrepreneurs with business vision have a clear view of growth potential and a broad understanding of how this will be achieved. They are also confident of achieving it, without necessarily knowing how it will happen in practice. Rather, this determination drives them to find out how they’ll achieve it. While growth and vision are often closely aligned by policymakers, entrepreneurs with business vision believe that forward movement for the business as a whole is more important than growth for growth’s sake.

Active decision-making

In layman’s terms, this component boils down to choosing how you think. Growth entrepreneurs are able to identify the pitfalls of entrepreneurial decision making and have learnt to moderate it. This can involve selecting a thinking strategy or drawing on the moderating influence of others. Another dimension of the active decision-making component relates to following through on ideas by committing to decisions and supporting them with action.

Growth drive

While the business vision component of the mindset reflects a need to avoid growth for growth’s sake, growth drive is all about business growth. Increasing the size of the business is a distinct and important aspiration. This might be driven by a need to achieve or a sense that growth itself is a measure of success. It could also reflect expectations and values held within entrepreneurial networks and by entrepreneurs themselves. In this competent, growth in its own right is a positive thing.

Sales drive

This component is distinct from market expertise, being less reflective of current expertise and more indicative of a recognition that it is important to plan for and achieve sales in the future. Unsurprisingly, this component is particularly obvious amongst growth entrepreneurs within retail businesses. Again, it is worth recognising that all growth entrepreneurs see sales as a given, while also stating that sales drive exists more as a precursor to market expertise than a critical part of the mindset in its own right.

Innovation drive

Across the board, growth entrepreneurs realise the importance of innovation to their past and planned trajectories. Often this relates to new products and services but frequently to new markets. While innovation is a strong theme amongst growth entrepreneurs, it apparently makes the least contribution to the growth mindset. One possible reason is that innovation may play a stronger role in entrepreneurs’ identities than their mindsets.


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