These 5 Golden Questions Ensured Year-On-Year Growth for One Way Up Productions

These 5 Golden Questions Ensured Year-On-Year Growth for One Way Up Productions


Vital stats

After graduating from Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism with a Masters in Digital Media, and working for Al Jazeera in Qatar and other international media organisations in New York City, Zaheer Cassim struggled to find a job in South Africa.

Related: How To Take Your Business To R8 Million And Beyond

Then he read an article about iPads being used to educate learners in the townships. He turned that into a video and sold it to the Mail & Guardian and caught Apple’s attention in the process.

He teamed up with fellow Columbia graduate Dave Mayers and in 2012, they launched One Way Up Productions. Since then the business has grown by more than 100% each year. Cassim says this impressive growth is the result of five questions he always asks:

1. What are you spending your money on?

We have never gone on a spending splurge. We don’t believe in over-capitalising too quickly, and we apply a huge amount of discipline when it comes to spending.

Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of splashing out when they make a profit. We invest it right back into the business to make it financially strong. Also, be accountable to your accountant.

2. How professional is your attitude?

Spending time in the US taught me how critical professionalism is. In South Africa, in our industry, that is sorely lacking.

We have differentiated ourselves by being well-prepared, always arriving on time, dressing appropriately, and adhering to our rules for client etiquette. In addition, I value each and every one of my clients, from the smallest to the biggest.

3. How well do you treat people?


I believe in being respectful to everyone, from the cleaner to the CEO. Why? Because people judge you on how you treat others.

When you make a point of greeting and getting to know everyone in your client’s business, your life is made that much easier. You become part of the company, and the employees will do everything they can to help you.

4. How well do you pay your people?

We have kept our business small, and we work with a team of carefully selected freelancers with whom we have built great relationships.

You really do get what you pay for, and we pay our people very well. In return, they ensure that they give us their best work. Your workers are not mostly costs that detract from profitability – they are the engines that drive revenue growth.

5. How are you marketing your business for growth?

For many small businesses, public relations is just an additional expense they don’t want. I believe PR is one of the most cost-effective methods to raise awareness about a business. Small businesses have tight budgets and will typically get more for their money when choosing PR over advertising.

When a client sees third party coverage of your services, it works as endorsement and your business gains credibility. Our consistent public relations programme has also built general awareness of our services and brand, and it supplements other direct marketing and advertising efforts.

It gives a level of visibility which can also make your business appear larger and more established than it may be, helping to secure more customers.

One good media placement can lead to a substantial increase in sales and tremendous growth, and because many entrepreneurial businesses have a unique story to tell, like we do, they are interesting to the media. Our PR representative has helped to open many doors for us.

Related: Marketing’s Best Kept Secret

Monique Verduyn
Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.