6 Things That Happened After We Made the Inc. 500
I used to dread that moment at parties when people ask you what you do for a living.
Over the years I had a variety of answers, and they tended to change depending on who was asking. I’d say, “I’m a blogger.” (This got plenty of blanks stares when I started in 2010.) Or, “I write about personal finance.” (Buzzkill!)
As we started to get bigger, I’d say I “run a small internet company at home." (Believe me, people think you’re a drug dealer.)
But my answer changed last August when The Penny Hoarder was recognized by the Inc. 500. We were named the 32nd fastest-growing private company and the No. 1 fastest-growing private media company in the United States.
I could finally say, “I run a media company!” A magazine said so. Boom.
But that wasn’t the only thing that changed. And some of the other changes were really surprising.
1. It changed our recruiting power.
After acqui-hiring a content management firm in July 2015, I decided to open a physical office space. While our traffic and revenue numbers were strong, we didn’t have a lot of name recognition. This made recruiting difficult.
For those first few months of hiring, we relied on our personal networks to get people to join the team. There was a lot of grinding and selling folks on the company because no one had heard of us.
Then the Inc. 500 happened.
We noticed an immediate uptick in the number of applicants we received. We also started getting more applicants for higher-skilled, higher-salaried positions.
It was exciting! And while it doesn’t mean we hired all those people, it felt good to be wanted and attract professionals with specialized skills who could help us grow.
2. I got a lot more emails.
I mean, a lot.
Since the announcement, I received about a thousand emails congratulating us on the achievement. I also received notes from business services companies, job seekers and more.
Lots of people wanted to get together and chat. Which is great! Some of the meetings were fruitful, but I had to be careful. I could spend my whole day -- and then some -- meeting people, and then I’d never work on my business.
Networking also doesn't come easily to me, so I made a deal with myself: I’d have coffee with at least one new LinkedIn contact every week.
I ended up meeting a ton of awesome entrepreneurs in town, got to practice my elevator pitch and even found a few employees this way. Needless to say, it also helped me get better at networking -- I now have up to four or five of these meetings a week. (It’s a lot of coffee, I know!)
3. It changed the way we were seen locally.
When the Inc. 500 recognized us, we’d had an office for less than a year in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. At the time, we were kind of under the radar in our own neighborhood.
That changed after the announcement when the magazine also noted we ranked No. 4 out of all Florida companies on the list. The local press jumped on it, and the regional coverage helped us greatly. The city and chamber of commerce started actively trying to find out more about us.
Surprisingly, it also helped us with our new office! We were having a bit of an uphill battle negotiating a multimillion-dollar lease because developers in the area hadn’t heard about us. The Inc. announcement and further local coverage changed things: We didn’t share the press with them to gain leverage, but it organically found its way… and we started being courted by them.
4. People with deep pockets wanted to invest in us.
Venture capitalists started reaching out about investing in the business. It’s not something we’re seeking at The Penny Hoarder -- we’re proudly bootstrapped -- but for those looking to be funded, it’s a good list to make.
5. It helped our credibility.
It’s not something I can tangibly say, but the announcement did help legitimize us; it added a layer of credibility to what we were doing.
We updated our branding to include the honor, and we added the recognition to our website footer and media kit. It didn’t hurt our business development department to share the news, either.
The announcement was also a pathway to more press and award opportunities. We’ve since been recognized by Entrepreneur for having a top culture.
6. It opened the lines of communication to other business owners.
After the the list went live, I attended the Inc. 500 conference with a couple members of my team. It was an incredible event, one of the best I’d ever attended.
I didn’t walk away with any new business opportunities, but I did get the chance to talk to entrepreneurs from a variety of industries. It’s always helpful to find out what others are doing in business, and I’m grateful I had the chance to learn from a room full of people!
Have you ever made one of “those” lists? How did it change your business?
Kyle Taylor is the founder and CEO of The Penny Hoarder, one of the largest personal finance websites with 15 million-plus monthly readers. In 2016, the Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder the 32nd fastest-growing private company and the No. 1 fastest-growing private media company in the United States. You can read his latest article here: "Popping Bottles: The Penny Hoarder Ranked No. 2 on Entrepreneur’s List of Best Cultures.”
Image credit: Inc. 5000