Solve for growth


o one-size-fits-all strategy exists for growing a business. One maxim, however, holds true: Every growth success story is a leadership success story.

"Growth is the greatest leadership challenge," says Benjamin Jones, the Gordon and Llura Gund Family Professor of Entrepreneurship and faculty director of the Kellogg Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative (KIEI). "You have to think strategically to determine the right direction for growth, think operationally and financially to meet your growth targets, and think organizationally to understand your internal capabilities and how to preserve key aspects of your culture."

One big challenge leaders face is recognizing where external market conditions and internal operations come together in a profitable way. Maintaining quality as you scale is key to ensuring that what you promise customers connects to what is possible.

"Rapid growth is very exciting, but you must pay attention to your capacity to truly deliver it operationally in a way that won’t tarnish the brand," Jones says.

Finding that balance is an exercise in good leadership. Here, four alumni share how they overcame the many challenges they faced while growing their businesses.

NEXT: Sticking with your core »