What is the Inc. 5000?
Inc. magazine, founded in 1979, is a monthly publication focused on growing companies. Its own history is rich with entrepreneurship – its founder was an MIT trained engineer who worked at Polaroid before starting his first company, Sail magazine. Sail was sold for $10 million, and the profits were used to found Inc. Since then, the magazine has been acquired twice – once in 2000 and again in 2005 (the price in 2000 was rumored to be over $200 million).
The magazine published its first list of the “Fastest Growing Companies in America”, the Inc. 500, in 1982. In 2007, the list was expanded to 5000 in order to give readers a “deeper, richer understanding of the entrepreneurial landscape”. Only privately-held companies are ranked, and the rankings are based on overall revenue growth over a three year period – so to be listed in 2014, you actually had to show growth since 2011.
2014 marks Atlantic BT’s sixth consecutive time on the Inc. 5000 list. Last year, we were inaugurated into the “Inc. 5000 Honor Roll” by making the list 5 times (not necessarily consecutively). I decided to do a little digging and uncover who has made the list consecutively – showing consistent growth in spite of, shall we way, inconsistent US economic growth over the last 6 years. Here’s what I found:
In the southeast US, 49 companies managed 5 consecutive Inc.5000 rankings in 2013. By 2014, 9 of those companies dropped off the list entirely, leaving only 40 to remain. Of the 40 remaining (showing 6 consecutive years of growth, like Atlantic BT), only 3 are located in North Carolina:
“It is exciting to see great companies like The Select Group and Bronto continuing to generate record growth year over year. We have worked closely with both companies on projects over the last several years, and have gotten to know them well. The Select Group and Bronto are captained by great leaders and are doing outstanding things for entrepreneurship and technology in the Triangle. They each are well deserving of the honor.” — Jon Jordan, CEO
What kinds of companies make up the Inc. 5000?
By revenue, “Health” companies make up the largest single category, with the “IT Services” and “Business Products & Services” categories following closely behind. By growth percentage, “Consumer Products & Services”, “Advertising & Marketing”, and “Software” round out the top 3. When scanning through the list of fastest-growing companies in our region, you can see those trends easily reflected – many companies with the highest growth rates could easily span multiple categories (one such company does B2B consulting around electronic medical record software, for example).
It’s also easy to see the “small business” representation – nearly half the companies on the list (47.1%) generated revenue of less than $10 million, and increasing that threshold to $20 million adds another 19.8% to the total. In other words, two thirds of the Inc. 5000 is made up of companies with gross revenues of less than $20 million in 2013.
What traits do Inc. 5000 companies share?
From here forward, research should be considered anecdotal – the results of creative Google work rather than in-depth interviews and surveys. Still, I think my conclusions would stand up to reasonable scrutiny (if someone out there would like to do the research).
Inc. 5000 companies are employee-focused
Many of the companies listed claim “Best Places to Work” (or similar) awards both before and after being honored by the Inc. 5000. Not all companies earned those awards consecutively – but by earning that recognition repeatedly over a span of 5-7 years, it certainly shows an emphasis on company culture and caring for employees.
Atlantic BT earned “Best Places to Work” two years in a row; Bronto and The Select Group are also multi-year winners.
Inc. 5000 companies are metrics-focused
Ask any CEO from the Inc 5000 (and certainly the Inc 500) if they have a dashboard of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and they’ll be able to point you directly to it. They may even be able to pull it up in real-time on their tablet or smartphone.
At Atlantic BT, we have done for ourselves the same we’ve done for our clients – we have recognized that profit is the result of clear goals and metrics. Not only do you need to capture the data, but it also needs to be the right data displayed in a meaningful way. Take our CQS service, for example. Every morning the average score and submission rate are announced at a daily huddle of the management team, and each week that same team at Atlantic BT views all scores for all active projects. We are never more than a click away from the numbers – whether that’s productivity across a project or client satisfaction across the company.
Inc. 5000 companies are strategically results-focused
It’s easy to be short-sighted when you’re results-focused and you have great access to good metrics. After all, the operation is humming along, profits are solid, and growth is steady. At Atlantic BT, and many other consistent performers among the Inc. 5000 Honor Roll, the leadership team is strategically results-focused. In other words, we use our metrics to forecast results well into the future, and then set a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal (or BHAG) that describes what Atlantic BT looks like 5 years from now. If we hadn’t set that goal (and achieved it) 5 years ago, we wouldn’t have been one of the fastest-growing companies in America 6 years in a row – and we have to continue to work towards a new goal if we want to keep the run going.
If you’re interested in being part of the growth, or even part of the BHAG, contact us!