Amy Simmons, co-founder and CEO oft he Austin institution Amy’s Ice Creams, says you shouldn’t only be focused on fast growth.
Rapid growth is a sign of success in this country. How many units do you have? What are your gross sales? That’s never been what felt good to me about this organization.
I’m really conservative financially. I mean, I’ve started other businesses since Amy’s–I take risks. But I’m very calculated. Growing slowly doesn’t mean you’re stagnant. There’s tons of motion going on. A few years ago, we had a two-year battle with the shareholders whose growth plans didn’t align with ours.
It wasn’t enough to say we’re 28 years old, we have no debt, your return on your investment is phenomenal, we have a lot of national presence. They see that, and they want it monetized. They want the Starbucks model. We had 22 shareholders, and now we’ve pared that down to nine, and everybody is aligned.
My husband and I started a development company, and we’re creating these centers called Austinvilles. Each one is named for its zip code. We find an architecturally interesting, human-scale building and we open an Amy’s there and rent the rest to local businesses that have synergies with us and each other.
We all support each other. It lowers our risk. It promotes local entrepreneurship. And it preserves Austin’s history and character.
Amy Simmons is the co-founder and CEO of the Austin institution Amy’s Ice Creams.
Leigh Buchanan is an editor at large for Inc. magazine. A former editor at Harvard Business Review and founding editor of WebMaster magazine, she writes regular columns on leadership and workplace culture. @LeighEBuchanan