SmartScale Sustainable Scaling

A Proven Process to Achieve Accelerated Growth and Category Leadership

FortéOne is the Accelerator for Middle Market Businesses. Our SmartScaleSM process enables you to grow exponentially and build strong competitive advantage.

FortéOne is looking to partner with enlightened leaders who are inquisitive and recognize the value of collaboration. Leaders looking to accelerate their growth and maximize Enterprise Value over the next 18-36 months—either in advance of an exit or because they are committed to unlocking their long-term potential. Together, we will help you reap the benefits of scale via Category Leadership.

Are you motivated to change the game in your industry?

We create value in a different way. Our approach, called SmartScaleSM, accelerates the number and lifetime value of customers—resulting in exponential growth of EBITDA.

We create category Leaders. Conventional thinking often focuses on cost and capacity maneuvers to serve existing markets. That approach rarely produces a Category Leader. Category Leaders (think Apple or Amazon) capture 76% of their category value.

We are the answer for those searching for returns that separate them from the crowd. Our 150+ years of operating experience leveraged by our data driven proprietary process delivers exponential growth (versus 8-10% which is celebrated).

We align with our select group of exceptional owners. Our incentive-based fee structure, dedication to sustainability, and ability to deliver scale makes us the right partner for stakeholders who are focused on outsized long-term returns with downsized risk.

Why Scale?

  • Scale accelerates profitability
  • Scale generates its own capital for investment in sustaining the scaling process
  • Scale energizes the organization to become the category leader
  • Scale leads to category leadership, and category leaders capture 76% of category value [Source: Play Bigger, LLC]

“Growth Multiplies Enterprise Value at 5x Optimization of the Core Business.”  –[Source: Bain & Co. Analysis of 1026 companies]

Depending on the industry, each dollar in additional sales is worth five times more to the valuation of the business than dollars from improving operating margins.


Traditional business models can support rapid growth, but most can’t scale.

Scaling a business is more than incremental growth. It means having the ability to accelerate growth exponentially while minimizing your costs and maximizing your margins. It requires a data-driven category leadership plan and the right systems, processes, technology, and staff.

Category Leadership Effect

Achieving scale can’t be done with the traditional business model.

Traditional business models concentrate on the underlying business and operational improvements—which only deliver incremental gains to enterprise value. And their team of operational specialists all have one thing in common: they employ professionals who come from industry or traditional strategic and operations-focused backgrounds. These orthodox professionals bring a continuous improvement perspective—usually focused on achieving incremental gains.

In order to have a meaningful impact on earnings and growth, the business model needs to be transformed.

How do you achieve accelerated growth and scale?

The keys to accelerated growth and sustainable scale are how you:

  • create, change and continually improve your customers’ experience through business model, product and/or service innovations
  • understand client needs, purchase intent, and Lifetime Value, and
  • create and strengthen client relationships to unleash ever increasing customer lifetime value.

Most middle market business owners default to competing against industry rivals through pricing, product, and service enhancements. Better, cheaper, faster is no longer sufficient to achieve accelerated, growth and scale—and often leads to a race to the bottom.

Sustainable scale begins with redefining how you give your customers a better version of themselves by making their lives easier, more fulfilling, productive, and/or more profitable. Then, through a unique customer research processes, you are able to identify and focus on those customers and prospects who find your innovations essential and deliver the highest customer lifetime value. These customer relationships provide insight that fuels further innovation and enables you to build a loyal following that views your company as the trusted authority.

Loyal clients actively engage because they share your point of view—and believe the innovation you deliver improves both their business and their lives. As that point of view—or “category”—gets popularized, with you as the Category Leader, a powerful network effect takes hold that accelerates growth and scale, which is much more impactful than traditional marketing.

There are rich rewards for companies who become Category Leaders. For one, they earn over 70% of the economic value (read, profits) in their category.  Traditional strategy processes are not designed to build Category Leaders. To accelerate growth, you need a different path geared toward delivering unique value and creating a new category.

 We call this process SmartScale.

SmartScale requires a new perspective, insights, and agility. You will learn how to realign and re-prioritize your mindset, sacrificing some short-term gains to achieve accelerated long-term growth and build a unique category that delivers sustainable advantage.

The FortéOne SmartScaleSM Process

We begin by working with our clients in the SmartScale lab to define the options for category creation by unlocking category-defining customer aspirations—wants that the customer may not even know about until you bring it to their attention.

We have a proven approach that unlocks a shared vision for achieving Category Dominance and commitment to working collaboratively to achieve Scale.

The SmartScale Lab is followed by very advanced customer outreach, research, and analysis to validate and refine the category. This research is an iterative process that leverages data, interviews, and analytics to reveal fresh insights and fuels our process for defining the Category and validating the value of these unique offerings with their customers.

Once the category is defined, we work with you, shoulder to shoulder, to implement the changes required to refocus your customer base and remodel the customer experience, to ultimately move you into Category Leadership—unlocking accelerated growth and sustainable scale.

This process is very different from traditional strategy exercises, 80/20 evaluations, or “net promoter” scores (NPS) research, because the insights and data required to build and lead a new category are not delivered through these traditional methods.

Components of SmartScaleScale has two complementary components:

  • Exponential Growth where revenue per customer (who is a member of the larger “community”) increases as the size of the community grows, while
  • Achieving Economies of Scale (proportionate reduction in costs per dollar of revenue gained by an increased level of sales)

When a company is scaling, it exhibits these seven dimensions:

  1. Unit costs decline as it grows.
  2. Product or service value grows as sales increase.
  3. Service costs decrease.
  4. Category dominance and rapidly increasing sales at higher margins from customer recognition of the company as the authority in the category.
  5. Operational costs decline as a percentage of revenue.
  6. Innovation is an integral part of the culture.
  7. Shared values and expectations as expressed through a structured measurement and feedback process.

SmartScaleSM exponential growth (“Scale”) is created through two changes

  • First, Transform the Customer Base: gain a deep understanding of our customer base to ensure that our unique offering is focused on those customers who place a high value on the offering and who deliver for us the highest lifetime value
  • Second: Remodel the Customer Experience: deliver a unique offering that makes it a pleasure for customers to use us and leaves them with a “Wow”

Transform the Customer Base, based on  Deep Client Understanding –  is a powerful, deep-insight deep-relationship process.  This continuum, and how we create a Category from Customer insights is  described on the Y axis below

SmartScale Model

  • This begins with knowing your audience.
    With deep-insight analytics, we gain a granular level understanding of our audience—enabling us to clearly define the “jobs” that our audience comes to us to have done.
  • With a clear, data-supported understanding of those jobs we can define our product and service offerings from a whole new perspective—not as a niche
    or market competitor—but as a Category Leader.
  • To be a Category Leader, we MUST become the Authority in the “jobs” that customers rely on us to accomplish. Being the Authority means engaging, educating, and attracting our audience into a community that is built around the category that we lead.

Remodel the Customer Experience – The “X” axis –– is built on capabilities that provide value to our customers.  The evolution of our role in the eyes of our customer is illustrated below – as we move from customer understanding to a position of Authority in our Community

Remodel the customer experience

The Capabilities around remodeling the customer experience that propel this change in how we are viewed by our customers include the following:

  • A customer-centric technology platform that facilitates fast, intuitive, and engaging interfaces, collects relevant information, and organizes it to support efficient, intelligent decision processes by both the customer and the company.
  • A smart customer experience that makes it a pleasure for our customers to interact with us, execute transactions, and allows us to collect information.
  • The ability to leverage precise customer insights, generated from our data that empowers us to quickly customize our interactions, products, product mix, and service to meet the “wants” of our customers … and leave them with a “Wow!”

And as we move to a position of Authority in our Category/Community, our average revenue per customer increases, as shown in the illustration below.

Position of Authority

The X and Y axis work together to generate exponential growth, which we call scale.

  • As we increase or expand our customers’ capacities to do the jobs they want to execute, they increasingly inform other potential customers about their positive experience. This causes growth to accelerate because it follows the laws of the network effect.
  • As the size of the community grows, the more valuable it becomes. As the authority that leads the community, we can use the data collected to identify more opportunities to serve the wants of our community.
  • As we identify more opportunities to satisfy community member wants… we scale.
  • As we scale, we are presented with the opportunity to innovate and evolve our business model.

When the X and Y axis work together the business model evolves.

Most companies today are Suppliers or Modular Producers. Execution of the SmartScaleSM process, over time,  propels companies to own and lead a business Ecosystem. Ecosystems position the company as hubs within networks of customers, suppliers, and producers of complementary services to provide a significant competitive advantage—resulting in category ownership.

Thriving Ecosystem

Specifically, ecosystems:

  • Streamline customer journeys and deliver superior customer experiences
  • Provide access to data and community knowledge through which to strengthen customer loyalty


Reduce interaction friction and provide insights through which to increase customer lifetime value

How is FortéOne Different from Traditional Consulting?”

At FortéOne, our mission is to build middle market companies into Category Leaders. Why? Because Category Leadership is a more profitable and sustainable strategy.

In fact, our collaborative and long-term partnerships generate outsized returns for stakeholders and pays for itself through the growth that is generated.

By employing our customer-centric, data-driven process, SmartScaleSM companies reach and then accelerate scale—scale that unlocks outsized value for stakeholders through category leadership.

FortéOne’s process starts with a SmartScale Lab session, where we strive for each of our participants to dream big and identify radical new ideas so that epiphanies come to everyone in the room.

SmartScale is built on a simple yet massively transformative exercise: get leaders to think deeply about how they would marshal the unconstrained forces of disruption to put themselves out of business, then generate a wider set of options to rebuild their future-ready organization and its business model, and apply that to rethink the business strategy, tactics, and model.

We endeavor to ensure that our participants are not trapped in a kind of backward-looking, inside-out thinking that leads to incrementalism, or worse, complacency.

During the Lab, participants will identify the core drivers for achieving exponential scale, confront their perspectives, ideate, collaborate, and arouse fresh insight into the category that they can lead.

Our research, years of successful implementation, and ongoing fieldwork have shown that only after you have launched a disruptive attack on your own organization can you really understand how to defend it, fortify the core business, and generate that wider set of strategic initiatives that will propel the organization forward to a SmartScaleSM Breakthrough.

So how did we get here?

What we have found is that most companies are forced to choose between growing organically, growing through acquisition, or delivering increased returns through process improvement and cost containment, but are not able to decouple from traditional cost value creation ratios.

Ratios predicated on things like:

  • Distribution Costs
  • Raw Material Costs
  • Production Costs

They can continue to sell more and gain economies of scale through faster production equipment or larger buys of materials or products, thereby spreading the fixed costs across more units. But that doesn’t really create outsized returns. Companies that “Survive and Thrive” reliably deliver increasing value in the marketplace.

And that is why traditional thinking will never produce Category Leaders like Amazon or Apple.

Mark Jacobs, SmartScaleSM expert, dealt with this problem at the American Productivity and Quality Center where the focus was on benchmarking and defining best practice, but not asking, “How does that create exponentially more value?” The discussions were centered on what makes a product faster, cheaper, better (code word for more consistent), but that doesn’t always translate to make the Customers “Love it more.”

So unlike traditional operations consulting firms who have cost takeout and incremental improvements at the center of their universe, our focus is the Customer and giving that Customer a better version of themselves.

Here’s the problem…. Faster, cheaper, better is not a strategy, it’s a tactic.

And often it ignites a race to the bottom.

Mark happened on the beginning of the solution while working on an analysis for a company, where he found out that “Faster, Cheaper, Better” wasn’t important. They realized this when a person they were working with explained what actually happened in the day in his life using the product. It opened their eyes to all of these ancillary benefits they could deliver… and they were easier to deliver than the main product!

We start with, “What is the day in the life like for our Customers?”

We then break that down into specific jobs to be done, which leads us to information around how to make the users life better—or as we prefer to say, how to give our customer a better version of themselves.

Once customers experience a better version of themselves, they stand on a new plateau where they gain a new perspective. New perspectives open the customers eyes to even greater opportunities (and expectations). And from those newer expectations, we start the process all over again—continuing to make their life better.

Reliably delivering a “A Better Version of Themselves” is what gives us the opportunity to create category leadership. And as the data consistently proves, Category Leaders exponentially outperform their nearest competitors in terms of sustainable scale, profit and shareholder value company life and shareholder value. In fact, “Category Leaders capture 76% of the value of their category.”