The player: Rozlyn Stanton
The business: Cost Concepts (2008)
The concept: Specialists in uncovering hidden costs in companies.
Contact: +27 (0)11 024 8906 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Rozlyn Stanton always wanted her own business, so when she spotted a gap in the market for revealing hidden expenses that cost companies thousands, she took her big leap and left her secure job as a research analyst.
“I had started saving money as far back as university and I would look for businesses for sale. One day I saw a concept and it planted a seed, so I spent the next year and a half researching the idea while still working so I could start my own business instead of buying one,” she explains.
The business model
Cost Concepts involves analysing the little expenses that take their toll on a business’s profit margin. “Companies always have their eye on big expenses like production and labour, but when the little expenses like stationery, telecom, equipment hire or cleaning services aren’t managed properly they can amount to R100 000 per annum of lost savings. Cost Concepts works on a percentage per yearly savings basis unless no savings can be found, then there’s no fee,” saysStanton.
Hard lessons learnt
Like many entrepreneurs, Stanton was able to work as a consultant in her previous field of expertise while she generated a client base for Cost Concepts. “I only got my big break six months in and started breaking even after 18 months, so those consulting jobs were essential for staying afloat because even though the business wasn’t heavy on capex, the money I’d saved up wouldn’t have been enough,” she says.
“Before starting my business I also spent a lot of time researching the ins and outs of cost saving and upskilling so I could do the job, but I didn’t pay enough attention to the business strategy, numbers and upskilling my business acumen. So I haven’t developed a system for acquiring and spreading knowledge beyond what I pick up haphazardly and store in my own brain,” she says. Aware that this problem has hindered the growth of her business,Stantonsigned up for the Microsoft Women Entrepreneur Development Program which equipped her with the knowledge to take her business to the next level.
The plan of action now is to prioritise strategising, whereas in the past it was put on the backburner in favour of managing immediate operations. Because of the nature of the business, repeat business is also a problem and continually sourcing new clients is time consuming and unsustainable. “As I go forward instead of doing the leg work all the time to find new customers I want to develop a working relationship with clients so they consult me whenever they want to make purchases, change equipment or service providers,”Stantonsays.
“I’m also building annuity into the business model by adding an HR function. Cost Concepts’ online leave form is a way of removing time consuming activities from businesses, but it also acts as a cost saving device by preventing too much leave being approved because of lack of monitoring,” she explains. This service is provided free to companies with less than five users, and a monthly premium is charged for up to 50 users.
“Doing research is absolutely essential for having a solid business plan, but being naiive helped in my case because knowing the numbers would have been daunting and maybe if I had known I wouldn’t have even tried,” Stanton laughs.