What was the no.1 factor of growth for your business?
Giving to others. WP Engine has been blessed with a rich and diverse community of customers and agency partners whose loyalty and advocacy we work hard to earn every day.
We do this by using our core values as a roadmap for the situations we encounter. These values include notions like “customer inspired” and “do the right thing”. Taking action on these values often leads us to support customers in ways that don’t always present a clear benefit to our business, but do present a clear value to those we serve.
Ultimately our mission is to help our customers win online, and one of the biggest keys to our success is that we give everything we have in that pursuit. By focusing on giving to others and earning their loyalty and advocacy, we’ve been able to retain and grow revenue in ways “optimizing our funnel” never would. You can often drive your business further faster with your heart than with your smarts.
What was the biggest growth challenge? What lessons did overcoming it teach you?
Scaling a business is difficult. Scaling a purpose is even harder. We’re overwhelmingly proud of the work the people of WP Engine have done to scale our systems and teams, but the true challenge in scale is nurturing a culture of purpose that permeates every corner of your business and unites those you serve.
One of the key moments for us in scaling our culture of purpose occurred early in WP Engine’s existence. In 2013, just 3 years after being founded, Heather Brunner joined WP Engine as CEO. This was during a time of extreme growth for the company. We were moving from a stage of huddling around a desk in a co-working space to needing to grow our team. Fast.
I worked as a consultant for WP Engine back in those days, and I remember being able to taste the sense of purpose in the air. It was incredible. I also remember wondering “Will this actually last?”. As Heather tells this story, she too pondered on similar points. How would she, as a leader, help WPEngine grow as a business and not just preserve a culture of purpose but nurture one that lives and evolves. Cultures aren’t made, they’re lived. From my view, Heather went about scaling a culture of purpose in two key ways.
The first way was to convene everyone in the entire company to work together to create WP Engine’s Core Values. These values are the blueprint that help define our sense of purpose and the framework we apply to our decisions and actions.
The second way Heather has helped scale our culture of purpose is in her role as “Chief Repetition Officer”. As a member of the senior leadership team, I can attest that we all share this role and remind each other of it constantly. Ha.
By repeating and reaffirming our commitment to our core values every day it allows us to nurture a culture of purpose that is more than words written on a list, but rather a living part of our business that provides value to the business that effort and intellect could never do alone.