Sustainability May Not Be as Flashy, but It’s Just as Exciting

An image of a storefront, with "Digital Echidna" written on the glass.

When you look at the Growth 500 list, you see some eye-popping numbers -- triple-digit and even quadruple-digit growth, in some cases. And while I’m thrilled that Digital Echidna has been part of that list for the past two years, I also know there will come a day -- maybe soon -- where we’re no longer there.

I’ll be OK with that because it’s one thing to make a huge jump in revenue -- it’s something else to have sustainable, steady growth over the long-term. And that’s what we’ve worked long and hard here at Digital Echidna to develop.

Today, I’m en route to the Growth 500 CEO Summit. I’m looking forward to gaining insights from speakers and peers. I’m hopeful to be able to learn from those outside of our industry and try to apply those learnings into what we do.

In 2017, we first made the list with five-year growth numbers of 358 per cent. This year, we appeared on the list again, with 285 per cent growth over a five-year period. Triple digit growth is incredible and I’ve spoken several times about how appreciative I am of the people who have supported us over the years, and the amazing team we’ve developed that has fuelled that growth.

But what does the future hold? After all, it’s not reasonable to expect such dramatic growth every year?

I’d like to quote Nas from the Air Force One remix of Classic, where he rapped, “Oh, you went platinum? Yeah, that’s nice/Now let me see you do the same thing twice/Three times, four times, then a couple of mo’ times…”

It’s one thing to go from $1 to $100. That 9,900 per cent growth looks impressive. But to continue at that rate, you’ve got to go from $100 to $10,000. And the year after from $10,000 to $1 million.

Clearly, that’s not sustainable growth. And while the growth numbers look impressive, success can be driven by so much more.

Sometimes I feel like I’m an outlier in a digital industry that’s enamoured with massive growth numbers, flashy launches, and all sorts of bells and whistles. I’ve been decidedly more conservative in my business approach.

Sure, I’ve set aggressive growth numbers, but I feel they’re realistic. We have developed a strong, broad-spectrum team that has talented people along every touchpoint from initial sales, to account and project management, to creative, content, and user experience, to development, and, ultimately, long-term support. I’ve tried not to have all my eggs in one basket, but rather work towards diversification of the business and our client base -- giving us a multifaceted platform upon which to grow.

And that continues. We’ve long hung our hats on the Drupal content management system and that’s still core to what we do. But we’re also exploring new areas of growth that integrate well with what we do best.

It may not look as exciting, but, for example, going from $5 million to $5.5 million represents a 10 per cent increase. That number’s not as flashy as 9,900 per cent, but the end result represents far more success.

I’m proud of our growth to date. And it is incredible to see the eye-popping numbers like a five-year revenue growth of 285 per cent. But I’m equally as excited to have a company that will grow, sustainably, increasing in size, and offering long-term stability.

Sustainable growth. It may not be as flashy, but I’ll argue it’s equally -- if not more -- rewarding.

Questions Answered

How do you grow a business?

What are realistic growth numbers?