Being an entrepreneur and building a business that meets the needs of people looking for products to enhance their lives, doesn’t mean that you don’t have to be competitive, disciplined and have the business skills required to take your business to new heights.
In fact, says Chivas Regal, these are the basic requirements for anyone who is intent on entering the world of social entrepreneurship.
This is according to Shelley Reeves, Marketing Manager: Scotch Whisky at Chivas Regal South Africa, the company that sponsors the global Chivas Regal The Venture competition.
Social entrepreneurs from 27 countries have earned the right to pitch their business solutions aimed at benefitting society to an expert panel in New York and compete for a portion of US$ 1 000 000 in funding.
“When they return home, all these entrepreneurs, will have to concentrate on growing their businesses so that they are sustainable and become the powerhouses that do good in the future,” explains Mrs Reeves.
“But keeping a business on track for growth means never taking your eyes off the ball,” she continues, adding that the following should be considered:
- Stick to business basics and keep in place the business practices that got you going, as these are a solid base for future growth. Concentrate on quality, consistency and reliability.
- Create an effective company mission statement that sets your intended direction and provides you with a framework to ensure that you can take advantage of changes in the market place as they occur. The key to growing a business is making sure that you constantly keep pace with market changes.
- Focus on doing one thing excellently, rather than doing five things well. It is better to develop one product or service to its limits, than try and diversify and lose the focus on the product most valuable to the business.
- Build relationships with suppliers and customers that last the distance. The ability to deliver high levels of service means working with suppliers to ensure that they give their best, so your customers can get the best you have to offer.
- Create a productivity-based culture. Each team member must know what their jobs are, what their outputs should be and what they are accountable for. Looking at introducing incentives or bonuses for notable achievements will help keep people focused on performance. The ultimate aim is to build a workforce that enjoys what it does. This creates loyalty to the company, which benefits from a stable employee base and reduced staff turnover.
- Develop opportunities from within the company. Promoting people from within boosts morale and stops them looking elsewhere – something crucial for a small company where skills are not easy to replace.
Always keep tabs on costs. Having funds available in order to grow production when money is needed is essential. Losing track of what is being spent within the company is the easiest way to stop growth in its tracks.
- Ensure the systems and processes you use are the best possible and have the ability to grow with the company as it gears up. The better the company is organised, the more ready it will be to take advantage of opportunities as they arise.
- Constantly know what your competitors are doing. Good market intelligence means that you can meet and defeat competition in the marketplace. Being aware helps build creative responses to business challenges and can spell the difference between success and failure.
“The best advice about growth is that it should always be a considered, controlled process. Runaway growth in a company means placing people, services and quality under stress. Growing too fast can land a business in hot water as easily as losing control of finances can. Resist explosive growth and keep developing steadily if you wish the business to be sustainable well into the future,” advises Mrs Reeves.
A sound strategy for the future for The Venture finalists looking to enter global markets – no doubt, advice that will be considered by all the 27 finalists in the competition.
Winning the lion’s share of the US$ 1 000 000 prize will undoubtedly go a long way in helping the fledgling SMEs achieve global success, but maintaining and developing that growth rests on the skills and continued hard work of the founders.
“To ensure future sustainability and growth, all business owners need to be able to recognise valuable opportunities when they come their way, and have the knowledge and skills to exploit them to full advantage,” concludes Mrs Reeves.