The opportunities for Finnish companies to grow and succeed depend on their leadership and financing. Leaders need to support innovations and promote sustainability. Capital is needed to scale and speed growth.
Many of the top speakers at Nordic Business Forum confirmed that innovations lead to various kinds of good things in companies. Innovation can be linked to customer loyalty, choosing a different segment of customers or, for example, saving time.
At Springvest’s side event, billionaire Sara Blakely told the audience she wanted to create a product that people did not know they wanted but that they could not live without. A product that can be sold to millions of people and makes them feel good. The innovation of women’s modifying underwear – shapewear – has grown up to the huge business that is Spanx.
Springvest is looking for growth companies, which are responsible for and strive to make the world a better place. They often do this by creating solutions that are energy saving, environmentally responsible, secure, or that promote health. Springvest raises millions of euros of capital for these types of growth companies in separate investment rounds.
From bold innovations to growth companies
In many industries, innovations do not take place inside companies, because people are afraid of the “cannibalization” of their own business. Thus, the best ideas and inventions are often born in startup companies, which have a brave and supporting culture for innovations.
To allow startups to grow, venture capital or angel investors are usually needed, as are societal supporting structures, like Business Finland. At the next stage, with investment rounds, it is possible to grow the business to a scale where giant companies start showing interest and, in turn, help grow the business born from innovation to a global scale.
Quite often, unlisted companies, which are growing fast, are for sale. It is an alternative to most growth companies that are seeking an exit. Innovativeness and the capacity to scale are separate skills but, in growth companies, you need both to a certain point.
So as not to risk the speed of growth, many unlisted growth companies also need long-lasting capital. Crowdfunding can be a tool for growth companies to attract a lot of owners, which can also be very useful when companies are considering listing; this being, naturally, the other exit alternative.
Innovations are not born without blunders
New innovations are born through trial and mistake. Company leaders need to build a culture that tolerates, allows, or even celebrates failures. George Clooney said that he has learned most from his massive failures. There are only two options: you either stop and feel sorry for yourself, or get up and try again.
Leaders need to create a sensitive and sustainable organization, which understands and supports innovations. However, leaders themselves also need to find time to create ideas and innovations.
The success of innovative teams depends on psychological security. Risks can be taken and it is okay to fail. Sara Blakely said that, as a director, she wants to stay vulnerable and constantly embarrass herself. You cannot be afraid of failure; difficult times in life are a hidden blessing.
You should live like an entrepreneur: Take risks and do things a little differently. Failure is at the core of entrepreneurship. The only real failure is not to try.
Responsibility and effectiveness are starting to emerge
Successful companies and their leaders are becoming more responsible and sustainable. In the future, being genuine and vulnerable as a leader will be more and more important.
For Sara Blakely, being responsible means giving part of the profits back to women. Not every woman has the same opportunities, mainly because they were born in the wrong country. Sara is committed to pledging half of her fortune to charity.
According to George Clooney, responsibility is starting to show in the business world. If given the choice from which company you can buy, people choose the socially responsible one. The one fighting for a good cause.
People can influence and defend things they consider worthy by either buying or choosing not to spend. An investor can support things s/he considers important by investing in sustainable and responsible companies, whose innovations make the world cleaner, healthier, or safer.
This article was contributed by #NBForum2019 partner Springvest. Written by Päivi Malinen, CEO of Springvest Oy.