From Business Player To Company Coach

From Business Player To Company Coach


All growth entrepreneurs have the same vision: Global domination. We want to take over the globe, change the course of human history, and make a dent on the surface of the planet.

In truth, growth entrepreneurs are the ones that change the world. They build high-growth businesses and often reshape countries, communities and people.

But here is the thing that few will tell you: Growth is painful, risky, uncertain, scary and complex. Growth is the surest way to a heart condition caused by stress.

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Growth is unforgiving, brutal and harsh. Stick it out, though, and growth is the ultimate thrill: A rollercoaster that can match the thrill of pursuing an aggressive growth strategy – and winning – is yet to be created.

So how do some entrepreneurs successfully grow their businesses beyond themselves? How do they tackle the growth journey and succeed? Are those who succeed at growth the special, talented few? Do you need an MBA to become a growth entrepreneur?

No. You simply need to make the ‘shift’. This is often the hardest thing you will have to do in your life as an entrepreneur.

It requires that you acquire a new set of skills and competencies that are based as much on human intuition as they are on scientific method.

To successfully grow your business beyond yourself towards a lasting legacy, you must make these two essential shifts:

1. Focus


At the start-up level, we are focused on proving our business case, ensuring short-term financial sustainability and building a robust product. We are not concerned about broader issues of general management and achieving results through other people.

At start-up level, we are the scorers in the game. We are the strikers who rely on defenders capturing the ball from the opposition, passing it to the centre-wingers, who then dribble past a few players to finally pass it to us for the goal.

So, whilst we are focused on proving the business case, we perform specific operational tasks that often have very narrow consequences.

When we grow, we are forced to shift our focus. We move from being the player in the field to the coach of the team.

We now have to develop the skill of selecting and performance-managing a team that we believe will best enable us to succeed. We set the strategy. We develop the tactics. We create the vision.

When you grow, your thinking must migrate from being an effective striker to an inspirational coach. Players don’t play for teams, they play for coaches. Employees don’t work for companies, they work for entrepreneurs.

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2. Level of Thinking

Start-up entrepreneurs are often thinking at a very functional level. They are thinking about tasks, trouble-shooting, focusing on ‘right now’ goals and actions. Growth entrepreneurs are forced to elevate their thinking to a more strategic level.

You start looking at the forces in your environment, and thinking how to best leverage them for your benefit.

Growth entrepreneurs are thinking about new markets, new products, increasing per-customer turnover, maximising asset utilisation, flexing budgets and building teams. You can’t expect to be the CEO of Pick n Pay if you continue to think like a spaza shop owner.

Shifting your focus from delivering to creating an enabling environment where your people can deliver is the step-change you need to make to become a growth entrepreneur.

Our challenge, as growth entrepreneurs, is that we are forced to move from being a player on the field to the coach on the side-line, all the while ensuring that the players understand the strategy, believe in the vision of the team, and see themselves as a real part of it.

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Don’t be a player. Be a coach.

Vusi Thembekwayo
Mr. Vusi Thembekwayo has been an Independent Non-Executive Director of at RBA Holdings Ltd. since May 14, 2013. Mr. Thembekwayo has already collected numerous accolades and awards as businessperson, entrepreneur and international public speaker. Mr. Thembekwayo completed a PDBA and a course on advanced valuation techniques with the Gordon Institute of Business Science and completed a Management Acceleration Programme (Cum Laude) with the Wits Business School. His speaking achievements include the international hit talk “The Black Sheep” which he delivered to the Top 40 CEOs in Southern Africa, addressing the Australian Houses of Parliament and speaking at the British House of Commons. To add to this, Vusi speaks in 4 of the 7 continents over 350 000 people each year.