We talk a lot about sustainable growth at El Cap. What does this mean?
Sustainable growth means that all the resources needed to grow a business, whether that be cash, talent, distribution channels, raw materials, etc. can be acquired without outside financial support.
Note, this definition doesn’t say “to maximizes growth” it simply says “to grow.” The difference is important. There are clearly times when a capital infusion can meaningfully impact a businesses growth and ultimate value. What sustainable growth allows an operator is the power to take capital on their terms.
There are misconceptions about what else sustainable means. People often conflate sustainable with slow or small. But sustainable, particularly in B2B businesses does not equal small. Sustainability and massive outcomes are not mutually exclusive. Success in B2B is about execution, not chasing hyper-growth.
The most extreme form of this approach are bootstrapped companies. I've pulled together a few examples of B2B businesses that delayed taking outside capital for years, opting to sustainably grow and take growth capital only on their own terms. The outcomes speak for themselves.
Ten years before raising - $8B acquisition
Nine years before raising outside financing - $44B market cap
Eleven years before first financing - $2.6B market cap
Nine years before taking outside financing - $3B market cap
Six years before taking outside funding - $100B market cap
Four years before outside capital - $1.3B market cap
Bootstrapped for four years before raising - $7.5B acquisition
Five years before raising funds - $6B valuation