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How to Implement Ongoing Business Planning

Achieve your goals with a bold vision and effective, ongoing business planning

Greg Fisher

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OngoingBizPlanning

A very wise mentor of mine once pointed out that as individuals “we almost always overestimate what we can achieve in a single day but we usually underestimate what we can achieve in three to five years”. The implications of this truth are profound – we work from one day to the next struggling to get through disorganised, unfocused to-do lists but we seldom have a bold vision of what we could achieve in the medium term.

Many, many businesses and business units fall prey to this unfocused, misaligned approach to daily activity. Employees are just doing things the way they have always been done and managers are focused on small insignificant issues that make almost no difference in the bigger scheme of things. The challenge for you as a business owner or manager is to move your business past this myopia of unfocused activity to a place where people are working effectively toward a coordinated set of bold objectives that will cause your business to achieve more than you could ever have imagined in a three to five year period.

The single biggest factor that contributes to effective alignment of people and processes within a business is an effective planning process.

Many business owners write a business plan when they first launch their business but not enough managers and business owners effectively plan from one year to the next. Ongoing business planning is different to writing a business plan.A business plan is usually prepared when launching a business to lay out plans and convince some outsiders to fund or partner with the business. The practice of ongoing business planning is a critical part of the strategy formulation and management process in any business, no matter how mature the organisation is.

Ongoing Business Planning:

  • Is a process of constructive debate and discussion, in which managers consider different alternatives for the future of the business
  • Is used to get all the managers and employees aligned toward the same set of business objectives.
  • Should be done on an annual or semi annual basis with quarterly or monthly reviews.

An effective business planning process for a business of any size or age is dependent on three key factors:

1. Conscientious Preparation

The more conscientious managers and key employees are in preparing for the business planning discussion, the better the return on the process.

2. Active Participation

The more active managers and key employees are in participating in the business planning discussion, the better the outcome.

3. Specific Plans

The more specific and measurable the assigned tasks and goals that emerge from the planning discussion are, the better the return on the planning process.

These three factors – preparation, participation and planning – relate directly to the three key phases of a business planning process: input, interaction and output. Too many managers and business owners focus only on the interaction element of the planning process. They book a weekend away at a nearby resort or game farm, insist that all the managers and key employees show up and then expect the planning process to just unravel and pay dividends. Effective business planning is much more than a relaxed discussion over a few drinks at a nearby resort; it is a deliberate process that entails preparation, hard work and intellectual engagement in three key phases: input, interaction and output.

Phase 1: Input

Input is the work that is done prior to the planning session. It is the effort that people put into gathering data, reviewing past business performance, considering personal objectives and charging their minds so that they can effectively engage in the process of considering alternatives for the future when that time arrives. This phase of the process is critical and yet so few people do any kind of significant preparation prior to engaging in a business planning discussion.

Here are the key things that you should do prior to the session to ensure that your team is ready to actively participate in and contribute to a business planning discussion:

Ask everyone to write down his or her personal objectives and goals for the year

A business is made up of people and every person operates within their own set of circumstances. Therefore everyone has his or her own personal aspirations and desires and these should be considered in the process of coming up with business goals and objectives. This may seem like a soft, meaningless process – the ambitious business owner may say that they don’t care what other people want to do with their lives, but it is about making the business successful. Two things happen when you get people to think about their personal aspirations prior to the session, firstly they begin to develop a future orientated mindset, a mindset that is focused and excited about the future. Secondly, they being to think about how their personal aspirations may link with the business’s future plans. Thirdly, as you get them to share some of their personal goals with the group at the start of the session, you will be blown away by how some of them want to reach for the stars and in the process really make a meaningful contribution to the business.

Gather information on past performance

There is nothing worse than sitting in a business planning session and getting into an involved discussion about “why the second quarter sales were so poor” and not having the data and information handy to provide insight into your discussion. Assign a few people in the management team the task of gathering and summarising information about the performance of the business – try to get concise summaries of all aspects of performance – financial results, customer satisfaction, process efficiency, product quality and employee performance and morale (see November 2007 issue of Entrepreneur magazine for an article on performance measurement in all these areas).

Gather information on future opportunities and threats

In a strategy discussion, information is power. Therefore you want to have as much information as possible on future opportunities that may be discussed in the planning session. Create small task teams of two to three people to do some background research on new markets, new products, new service lines and competitors. Get each task team to prepare a concise, one-page report on their key findings in respect of each opportunity that they have been asked to research and to back the one pager up with more detailed information where necessary.

 

Phase 2: Interaction

The interaction is a conversation among managers about the future direction of the business. This conversation can be guided by a set of well considered questions. I like to think of the interaction as a funnel – it starts wide with many diverse viewpoints and perspectives and ends narrow with specific, measurable goals and assigned tasks. It is important to provide enough time to allow this to be a real, engaging conversation and not just a one-way information dump. It is also important to have enough time to get right through the funnel and to end the session with specific goals and assigned tasks. If you end midway, the entire process will have been a waste of time.

It’s useful to begin the business planning discussion by allowing everyone to share his or her personal goals and objectives for the year ahead. This is a great way for the group to connect; it puts everyone in a future orientated mindset and acts as an icebreaker for what is to follow.

There is no one set of perfect questions to guide a group through a business planning discussion; the questions for a particular discussion need to link to unique elements of the business such as business maturity, industry challenges and organisational factors. There is, however, a broad set of questions that can help guide a group through the business planning funnel. Here are some examples of questions that you may consider in facilitating a business planning discussion:

Broad business purpose: Why do we exist?

  • Whom do we serve?
  • What value do we deliver?
  • Why do we matter?
  • What is our ultimate goal?

Industry context: What is happening in our industry?

  • What are the industry’s strengths and weaknesses?
  • What key trends are affecting the industry?
  • What threats and opportunities are linked to the trends affecting the industry?
  • How are supplier and customer relationships likely to change in the next two years?

Organisational Context: Perform A Swot Analysis On Your Organisation

  • How has the organisation performed over the past year – what are the strengths and the weaknesses? Refer to reports on performance that were prepared prior to the session.
  • What are the specific opportunities in the year ahead?
    How should we respond to those opportunities? Refer to research that may have been done prior to the discussion.
  • What are the threats in the year ahead? How should we deal with these threats? Refer to research that may have been done prior to the discussion.


Business success recipe: How will the business create and capture value in the medium term?

  • What markets are we focusing on in the year ahead?
  • How are we different? Are we the lowest cost provider, do we have the best customer relationships, or do we provide the most innovative products or service?
  • How can we be stronger/better at our point of differentiation in the year ahead?
  • What are we not going to do in the year ahead?


Business goals, plans & assigned tasks: What must we do and how will we make it happen?

  • What are our specific three-year goals?
  • What are our specific one-year goals?
  • What needs to happen in the next 30 days to begin achieving these goals
  • Who is responsible for each of the assigned tasks?


Phase 3: Output

Without meaningful output, a business planning process will be remembered more for the snacks or the post-discussion drinks than for the content of the actual discussion. Turning the content from the discussion into meaningful output is critical to getting value from the interaction. Here are the key things that you should do after the discussion session to ensure that it translates into action:

Focus on the 1-Year Goals and 30-Day Tasks

The most important things to come out of the business planning discussion are the 1-year business goals as decided on by the management team accompanied by the 30-day tasks assigned to individual members of the team. The 1-year goals should be simple, specific and measurable. All the participants in the session should be able to explain what the goal is, why it is important and how one would know when it has been achieved. The 30-day action plan is there to create momentum and accountability from the business planning discussion. Holding people accountable to begin doing something within 30-days of the session ensures that there is immediate action, which then translates into ongoing momentum towards the business goals.


Create Something Tangible

Create a tangible one page document, poster or diagram capturing the essence of what was decided at the business planning session. This should be done as soon as possible after the session and it should be delivered to each person who was at the session within a week of the discussion. It is useful to make it look good and laminate it so that people put it on their pin board above their desk where they can see it all day, every day. When you deliver it to people attach a small note thanking them for being at the session and reminding them of their assigned task(s) from the session.

Some the most effective output documents from business planning sessions that I have seen include:

  • Cartoon drawings by a professional cartoonist depicting the main goals decided on at the business planning session.
  • A wine bottle with a custom label with the main goals inscribed on the label.
  • A laminated one-page A4 sheet with strategically chosen photos from the management team’s white water rafting trip that depict each of the business goals for the year ahead with the business goal embedded in the photo.


Follow Up

Following up on what people have been assigned to do in the business planning discussion is absolutely crucial. If you have assigned tasks to be completed in 30 days then check in with each person after 15-20 days to see how they are doing and if they need any additional assistance in getting their task done in time. Then schedule a discussion with each person after 30 days to get feedback on the completion of his or her assigned task and to discuss the next phase in the process of working toward the stipulated goals. Continue your follow-ups and discussions with individuals from the management team on a monthly or bi-monthly basis and plan for the entire team to reconvene on a quarterly or six-monthly basis.

There is no doubt that the process of business planning takes time and effort but it creates massive amounts of leverage to achieve business goals that would otherwise  have been considered impossible. Business planning is not a document, or a once-off discussion or a weekend away. It is an ongoing, deliberate and focused effort over an extended period of time that enables alignment of people’s thinking and action within a business organisation to ensure that the whole is much greater than the sum of the parts.

Greg Fisher, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Management & Entrepreneurship Department at the Kelley School of Business, Indiana University. He teaches courses on Strategy, Entrepreneurship, and Turnaround Management. He has a PhD in Strategy and Entrepreneurship from the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington in Seattle and an MBA from the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS). He is also a visiting lecturer at GIBS.

How to Guides

15 Of South Africa’s Business Leaders’ Best Advice For Your Business

15 of SA’s entrepreneurs have already made the mistakes. If you heed their advice, you’ll avoid repeating the same blunders.

Nicole Crampton

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Natasha Sideris
Stephan Ekbergh

Stephan Ekbergh

Do you want to hit that R100 million mark in turnover? Do you want to make a name for yourself as one of those that made it? If you want to streamline your path to success read these insights from some of SA’s leading businesspeople, you’ll be richer (and wiser).

These 15 South African business leaders have already circumvented start, and growth hurdles and built-up their R100 million business. It’s always a good idea to listen to the advice of established, successful entrepreneurs, especially when you’re just starting out, or are experiencing growing pains, or even if you can’t figure out why your business isn’t growing.

Learn the secrets, top-tips and best advice for your business from 15 of South Africa’s biggest business leaders. You know their advice is going to apply to your context, market and customer base, because they’re operating in the same local market that you are.

Here is the best advice for your business from 15 of South Africa’s business leaders:

Best Advice 15: Go all in

Nadir Khamissa and Shaazim Khamissa

Nadir Khamissa and Shaazim Khamissa

Vital Stats

  • Player: Nadir Khamissa and Shaazim Khamissa
  • Brand: Hello Group (includes Hello Mobile, Hello Distribution and Hello Paisa)
  • Established: 2005
  • Visit: hellogroup.co.za

Hello Mobile achieved 718% growth from 2010 to 2015, while Hello Paisa achieved 1100% growth from March to October 2015. These next-level growth entrepreneurs disrupted international calling, telecom distribution, money transfer and low-cost banking across Africa and Asia.

It wasn’t an easy journey for these two brothers, R6 million in seed capital turned into R30 000 after some early, expensive mistakes. But they persevered, and today Hello Group is changing lives at the base of the income pyramid.

Best Advice For You

What do you do when your first business idea is a failure and you’ve lost all your money? According to Nadir and Shaazim Khamissa, go back to the drawing board.

“We needed to make sure we created value, differentiated ourselves and knew why people would buy our product,” explains Shaazim. “This meant challenging all of our own ideas and making sure that only the best survived. It’s a process we still follow today and is part of our DNA.”

This won’t be easy, you’ll need to be able to critically evaluate your own ideas, admit when they’re flawed, listen to other people’s opinions and move on quickly when something isn’t quite right.

Related: Hello Group’s Initial Product Failed The Night Before Launch. Today They Are An Industry Disruptor

Best Advice 14: You can still launch without being fully funded

Natasha Sideris

Natasha Sideris

Vital Stats

  • Player: Natasha Sideris
  • Brand: tashas
  • Established: 2005
  • Visit: tashascafe.com

Natasha Sideris overcame the challenges associated with starting a restaurant to create a brand that is utterly unique. Like other successful franchises, tashas grew from a small sole operation into a large organisation.  

With 19 locations, including 2 in Dubai and 1 in Abu Dhabi, tashas has started its journey to become a global franchise. But it hasn’t been an easy journey, trying to get a hold of funding was a serious obstacle for Sideris.

Best Advice For You

“Money helps, but you can get very far with hard work, tenacity and ingenuity. Don’t let money put you off. Too many entrepreneurs feel that they can’t pursue their dreams because they don’t have money. That’s just not true. If you’re willing to work extremely hard, you can make it happen,” explains Sideris.

“A lack of money can often be a good thing, since it forces one to think creatively,” she continues.

Related: 5 Lessons From tashas Founder Natasha Sideris

Best Advice 13: The power of marketing

Grant Rushmere

Grant Rushmere

Vital Stats

  • Player: Grant Rushmere
  • Brand: Bos Brands
  • Established: 2009
  • Visit: bosicetea.com

Grant Rushmere engineered Bos Ice Tea for stratospheric growth, which required a ballsy optimism and willingness to go big or go home. “From the beginning we jumped in with both feet. We approached retailers and secured contracts that we knew we wouldn’t be able to sustain down the line if we didn’t get funders on board, but it was a calculated risk that we were willing to take,” says Rushmere.

Best Advice For You

In their first year, Rushmere and Bowsher, his partner, spent as much on marketing as their turnover. “We knew we were tapping into a health trend, but this didn’t mean we should scream health from the front of our packaging, and in our marketing messages. If you do that, you lose all sense of fun. You want your consumers to feel a little naughty; like they’re having fun,” explains Rushmere.

This might sound counter-intuitive to you, but from a brand’s perspective, an emotional hook is much easier to defend than a functional hook.

“By tapping into emotions, what the brand stands for and how it makes you feel, you give the brand a voice; you’re not just selling features and benefits. If you take a functional approach to marketing, you’re basing everything on the fact that you contain less sugar than other soft drinks. What happens when someone comes along with even less sugar? You’re suddenly dead in the water,” advises Rushmere. 

Related: Grant Rushmere Is Going Bos With Iced Tea

Best Advice 12: Like who you’re hiring

3 Way Marketing

3 Way Marketing

Vital Stats

  • Players: Tom Goldgamer and Danny Aaron
  • Company: 3 Way Marketing and Benater Production Group
  • Established: 2008 and 2012
  • Visit: 3waymarketing.co.za

Danny Aaron and Tom Goldgamer launched their business in 2008 with no grand strategy, five-year plan or a physical product. They started with an idea, a few business philosophies and a willingness to take on a lot of risk.

“We operate in an industry that changes frequently, so strategising too far ahead is difficult and often counter-productive,” says Goldgamer. “But we knew we needed strong foundations if we wanted longevity and growth, and so we focused our energy on developing business philosophies that we could implement across our various companies.”

They now have a turnover of over R200 million, with staggering year–on-year growth.

Best Advice For You

Conventional business practice says hire for skill. Goldgamer and Aaron have done the opposite. A large portion of their early hires were friends or friends of friends. Everyone had strong referrals and they only hired people they liked.

“We hired people who we thought could help us grow the business, not necessarily because they possessed the right skills, those could be learnt, but because they had the right attitude,” says Aaron. Today, those early hires are managers, instilling company values in their own teams, hiring based on values and continuously focusing on upskilling.

Related: Less Than 10 Years Got 3 Way Marketing Crashing Through Glass Ceilings

Best Advice 11: Make fewer mistakes than your competition

Stephan Ekbergh

Stephan Ekbergh

Vital Stats

  • Player: Stephan Ekbergh
  • Company: Travelstart
  •  Established: 1999 (Sweden), 2006 (South Africa)
  • Visit: travelstart.co.za

Stephan Ekbergh recently sold 49% of his business for R648 million, but at one stage he had to lay off 34 of the company’s 40 employees. Ekbergh founded Travelstart in Sweden in January 1999. In 2002, after a few very bumpy years, the tide turned, and Travelstart started to become exceptionally profitable. In 2004, he decided to move to Cape Town and launch Travelstart here.

Best Advice For You

You’re going to make mistakes, but so is your competition. If you’re on the ball, you can benefit from every mistake they make. “The difference between failure and success often lies in making fewer mistakes than your competition. You need to ride in the slipstream of your competitors and wait for them to mess up. Over the years, we’ve made some good decisions at Travelstart, but at least some of our success is attributable directly to the mistakes of our competition,” says Ekbergh.

Related: Inside The Mind Of The Travelstart Risk Taker – Stephan Ekbergh

Best Advice 10: Your customer is the boss

Peter du Toit

Peter du Toit

Vital stats

With no experience in publishing, Peter Du Toit built up the biggest single-copy-sale weekly publication in South Africa. Soccer Laduma has a turnover of R90 million, 3.4 million readers and some of the most loyal customers in the country.

Best Advice For You

Du Toit’s first rule is that he’s not the boss. The readers and online users are always the boss. “No one works for me. They work for the reader. It’s an important mind-set, because it means that everything we do is with the reader in mind,” says Du Toit. “What do they need from us? What do they care about? Are we delivering on those needs?”

Even though the reader is the boss, Du Toit has implemented a system to ensure everyone works towards keeping that boss happy, he labelled them his six golden rules: Planning, planning, planning, preparation, preparation, and preparation. You can use these six golden rules to ensure your team works towards keeping your consumer happy.

Related: How Soccer Laduma Scores In More Than One Way

Best Advice 9: Stick to your guns

John Nicolakakis

John Nicolakakis

Vital stats

  • Player: John Nicolakakis
  • Company: Roman’s Pizza
  • Established: 1995
  • Visit: romanspizza.co.za

John Nicolakakis took over the reins of Roman’s Pizza from his father. He had only one goal: To create the biggest pizza brand in SA. With R1 billion in system-wide sales, the company’s aggressive expansion plans have never wavered.

Best Advice For You

Nicolakakis developed a specific business plan for Romans Pizza; have high-quality product with a low price. To do this he decided not to offer delivery services throughout the whole brand.

“I don’t believe the South African market suits a delivery model. Urban areas are congested with traffic, and suburban living means that a delivery radius needs to be quite large. It’s expensive to offer; even if it’s marketed as ‘free,’ that service has to be built into the product’s price point. It’s also difficult to deliver a hot product that’s as good when it reaches its destination as it was when it left the store, and there will always be incorrect orders.”

Even though he’s lost business to customers who want delivery, he’s stuck to his guns and refuses to budge on his price just to capture the delivery market. Once you’ve decided on something, whether it’s for financial reasons or based on what you offer your customers, you should be resolute in your decisions, after all, you made them for a reason.

Related: How Roman’s Pizza Got A Great Big Slice of Success (Over R1 Billion Of It)

Best Advice 8: Build positive relationships

Tshego Sefolo (founder and CEO) and Londeka Shezi

Tshego Sefolo (founder and CEO) and Londeka Shezi

Vital Stats

  • Players: Tshego Sefolo (founder and CEO) and Londeka Shezi
  • Company: Agile Capital
  • Launched: 2016
  • Visit: agilecapital.co.za

Hard work, determination, drive and discipline are the habits of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and you need to study them. Tshego Sefolo and his business partner Londeka Shezi recently raised over R500 million in capital to launch their private equity firm, Agile Capital.

Building market trust and credibility to make his dream a reality has been 14 years in the making for Sefolo, and worth every second.

Best Advice For You

“My role was to identify opportunities for the business, but on a personal level I saw it as the start of my own foundations and networks. Investing is all about building and leveraging networks. Sustainable relationships allow you to identify and then tap into opportunities. Integrity is incredibly important in all business dealings, but it’s integral to the private equity space,” says Sefolo.

Through his positions over the years he came into contact with the business that would eventually found Agile Capital. Because he built up trust and integrity he was able to realise his dream.

“It takes time to build up trust and integrity in the market place, so I knew that this was a long-term commitment. That was okay, I wasn’t in any rush. The right foundations have been fundamental to launching Agile Capital.”

Related: Tshego Sefolo On Living The Dream

Best Advice 7: Don’t be afraid to fail

Brian Altriche

Brian Altriche

Vital stats

  • Player: Brian Altriche
  •  Company: RocoMamas
  •  Launched: 2014
  •  Visit: RocoMamas.com 

Altriche has taken RocoMamas from three stores to 49 in 18 months, and is spearheading South Africa’s renewed love affair with the burger. Even though he has achieved success, his past is riddled with failures. His first franchise left him in debt, he lost almost his entire life’s savings on the stock market, he got squeezed out of one business and sued by Red Bull in another, and the list goes on.

Best Advice For You

“Failure is part of the equation of success. I call them my fabulous failures. You can’t achieve greatness without failures and risk,” says Altriche.

Failures are teaching moments that can help you learn to navigate future business opportunities.Yes, they hurt, but if you didn’t experience them it wouldn’t change your thinking and help you to make a break-through, or at the very least progress.

“I opened a Longhorn Steakhouse in Pretoria. It was a lead balloon,” he says. “My gut told me the location wasn’t right, but I didn’t listen. On paper it looked great, a good suburban, high-LSM area. Once I opened, it quickly became apparent that there were no office parks in the area, which meant no lunch trade, and the residents were primarily retirees whose kids had left the house. This was not the right demographic for my steakhouse.”

He immediately approached Fats Lazarides, who had five Ocean Baskets. Altriche became his first franchisee. “I opened in Southgate. The lessons I had learnt were valuable with the second business. Thanks to Ocean Basket I paid off my debt, had a nice living wage, and walked away with R240 000 in profit when I sold it in 1998.”

Related: RocoMama’s 7 Lessons To Remain On Top Of Your Game With Customers

Best Advice 6: Aim for the stars

Manny Rivera

Manny Rivera

Vital Stats

When Manny Rivera launched Planet Fitness 20 years ago, he was fresh from New York, having married a South African girl. He was in his early 20’s, had no credit record, no assets and no money. And he had one goal: To take on the Health and Racquet Club to become the biggest health and fitness brand in the country, and he achieved it.

Now, he’s in a position to open a club every month for the next five years, despite the recession.

Best Advice For You

Michelangelo says: “The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it’s too low and we reach it.”

Don’t settle for a business idea or opportunity because you think you might not be able to achieve it. Aim for the moon, and if you don’t land it, they say “at least you’ll land among the stars.”

“Take on the big player. Believe in yourself. Know you’ll build a big business that’s profitable. If you have the passion and you’re able to reverse engineer your success with a step-by-step growth plan, you’ll reach your dream,” says Rivera.

Related: 7 Profound Business Lessons From The Founder Of Planet Fitness

Best Advice 5: Actively seek growth

Nicholas Bell

Nicholas Bell

Vital stats

  • Player: Nicholas Bell
  • Company: Decision Inc
  • Launched: 2008
  • Visit: decisioninc.co.za

Successful businesses are formed through a series of challenges and solutions. Nicholas Bell doesn’t deal with challenges as they arise though. He sets goals, and determines what is currently stopping him from achieving those goals. Then he puts a strategy in place to eradicate any and all obstacles.

Nicholas Bell founded Decision Inc and within 2 years he had achieved R1.6 million in revenue. Eight years later, Bell hit R100 million, and now his sights are on a R1 billion business that will show a 10x return.

Best Advice For You

“I don’t ever want a challenge to slow me down,” he says. “You can let a setback derail you, or you can use it as an opportunity to learn and carry the business forward. I believe it’s important to dissect everything — even opinions and advice I don’t initially agree with. Mentors have taught me that it’s important to be adaptable and that nothing in business is hard or fast. We’re constantly faced with new sources of data needed to grow our business, and I’ve learnt that the only real question is whether you’re willing to use that data to drive the business forward.” 

Related: How Nicholas Bell Got 10x Growth Right And Sky Rocketed Decision Inc

Best Advice 4: Don’t divide your focus

Marnus Broodryk

Marnus Broodryk

Vital stats

  • Player: Marnus Broodryk
  • Company: Beancounter
  • Launched: 2008
  • Visit: decisioninc.co.za

Marnus Broodryk was a self-made millionaire by the time he was 24. He founded Beancounter, but that wasn’t his only successful business, “I also got involved in a frameless glass company, a construction company, and bought a vegan restaurant,” he adds.

“It was a good experience, and I was particularly proud of some of the individuals I’d helped during those years. I lent one construction worker R20 000 to start his own business, for example. Today he employs 200 people and has the biggest road maintenance contract on the N3.” 

Best Advice For You

“I knew that I wanted to build something big, and I was never going to do it like this, with my focus spread across so many different businesses. I sat down and asked myself, ‘where’s my biggest opportunity?’ The answer was clear. The Beancounter. We’d made progress, had the right foundations, could drive it — and the market was ready,” says Broodryk.

“In 2008, when I launched the business, cloud technology didn’t exist yet, but we had a vision. By 2014, real-time information was now possible because of the cloud, and it was affordable and accessible for SMEs,” he explains.

Related: Self-Made Millionaire At 24 Marnus Broodryk On How To Build A R1 Billion Business

Best Advice 3: Anything is possible if you get started

Rodney Norman

Rodney Norman

Vital stats

  • Player: Rodney Norman
  • Company: Chrome Supplements and Accessories
  • Launched: 2009
  • Visit: www.chromesa.co.za

When Rodney Norman was 21, his first business ended up R1 million in debt. He owed too much to suppliers to continue trading. Ten years later, Chrome SA has a turnover of R100 million, he still works with all his previous suppliers, a testimony to how well he handled the situation.

Best Advice For You

“At 21 I had this enormous debt. It was a defining moment for me. I could call it quits, or get stuck in and make it happen. I managed to pay it back in two years. That’s all it took. I just had to start. So how could I do it? The answer: Slowly,” says Norman.

His first step to fixing the problem was to speak to all of his suppliers. He explained the situation, and that he would be fixing it and paying off the company’s debt, he just needed time.

“I made small deposits consistently, and that was enough. As long as it was being paid, and the needle was moving, everyone who I owed money to was happy. That’s the secret: Consistency. Don’t avoid the tough calls; take them and face the music.”

Because of Norman’s actions a few years later when he started Chrome SA, all of his previous suppliers were happy to work with him again. He earned their trust, and trust can make or break a business.

Related: At 21 Rodney Norman’s Business Owed R1 Million. Today He Has A R100 Million Turnover

Best Advice 2: The wheel keeps turning

Sisa Ngebulana

Sisa Ngebulana

Vital stats

  • Player: Sisa Ngebulana
  • Company: Rebosis Property Fund
  • Listed: 2011
  • Visit: www.chromesa.co.za

When Sisa Ngebulana left Mthatha to pursue his dream he had high aspirations for himself. He didn’t know what path his career would take, but he did know he wanted to achieve greatness. When he listed Rebosis Property Fund in 2011, it was the first black-managed and substantially held property fund to be listed on the JSE.

He is also founder and CEO of the Billion Group, a commercial and retail property developer that will spend in excess of R35 billion over the next ten years on its current projects. The journey wasn’t an easy one, but he says an entrepreneur needs to take the hard knocks, learn the lessons they bring you and forge ahead with a positive attitude. That is the entrepreneurial way. That’s the real secret to success.

Best Advice For You

Just when you’re at the top you find yourself R30 million in debt and need to regroup and start again. Ngebulana says that success is cyclical, you can be abundant one minute, and have nothing the next, but if you keep moving forward, you can build that abundance again. You just need to get started and then build on each small success.

“The coal mining business was a financial blow, but it was also a blessing in disguise. It forced me out of employment, if it hadn’t, I might still be employed today, and I would never have achieved what I have through the Billion Group and Rebosis. ”

Related: Persistence Can Beat Any Odds Says The Founder Of Rebosis Property Fund

Best Advice 1: Run a tight ship

andrew-brand-99c

Andrew Brand

Vital stats

  • Player: Andrew Brand
  • Company: 99c
  • Established: 2008
  • Visit: www.99c.co.za

Andrew Brand learnt to build an advertising agency that cares more about customer supplier awards than glittering design awards. It’s a foundation of a 300-employee strong business with a turnover in excess of R175 million that was only launched because Checkers was willing to give a two-man agency a chance to improve itself. And it’s how a business that launched just as the recession hit, not only survived, but thrived.

Best Advice For You

One of biggest factors separating corporates from smaller entrepreneurial businesses is cash flow. But, while corporates have healthy cash flow to work with, the ability of a start-up to run lean is invaluable as the business grows. This is because you’ve built into the business’ DNA to be careful with expenditure.

“We needed to hire a team, purchase equipment and find premises. We also couldn’t afford to run with fewer people than we needed, and so our first round of hiring was over 30 people. We haven’t stopped growing since, and I believe in investing in people. That said, there are many ways you can run a lean organisation without skimping where it matters. Don’t be a bloated, top heavy business. Rather invest in the core of your business. What will enable you to offer your clients the best service possible? That’s where you should be investing,” advises Brand.

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How to Guides

How To Make Better Business Decisions That Drive Productivity And Profits

Here are a few ways to enhance your decision-making skills.

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Running a business requires some fairly particular skills. You are expected to be a project manager, financial guru, administrative champion, staff motivator and then some.

Your personality and determination will be constantly challenged and you’ll be exhausted. But you may never be too tired or too overwhelmed to grab opportunities and steer your company in the right direction.

Making the best decisions for your business is possibly, standalone, one of the most difficult things to tackle. You’re expected to make decisions that will drive productivity and profits, but which will keep your operation stable. Sometimes opportunity knocks at the worst times and you have to wave it on by as it passes. However, this type of situation can be mitigated if you have strong decision-making skills.

Nurturing your ability to make informed and smart decisions is something you should begin focusing on right at the start. Before you’ve opened your business’ doors, you should have honed in on this skill.

The best way to foster strong decision-making skills is by reading, researching and empowering yourself with a broad spectrum of business knowledge.

Related: What Tinder Can Teach You About Better Strategic Decisions

Follow entrepreneurs who you respect or who have failed and returned a more powerful force in their industry. Considering many of the great, well-known entrepreneurs out there have suffered incredible failures, there are a variety of personalities to choose from.

Make sure you pay attention to how they remain ready, and at the helm at all times, to make decisions that will benefit their business.

Here are a few ways to enhance your decision-making skills. 

Learn how to make quick decisions

Really sit and think about all the variables you must consider before making any business decision. Unpack the areas in which you have ample knowledge and expertise and those in which you don’t. The areas where you lack knowledge is where you should focus your attention.

Gain some topline knowledge about everything that affects your business. From which internet service provider is considered the best to what courses you might send your staff on to upskill them. And making decisions about your staff in any capacity is often considered a quick decision. The staff member in question often wants an answer, and soon.

You need to learn to trust your gut so that these types of quick-fire answer situations are handled seamlessly and timeously.

Consider attending short courses on various aspects of the business that are out of your realm of expertise. For instance, participating in a human resources and legal course will assist you with your hiring and firing procedures.

Related: 3 Unusual Ways You Can Make Better Decisions

Practice mindfulness

mindfulness

Mindfulness is such a trend at the moment that it’s bordering becoming a marketing buzzword. But the concept makes sense and has helped many people in their personal lives.

Practicing mindful eating will assist with a healthier lifestyle, being mindful in your relationships will bring about more peaceful interactions and so on. Being mindful in your business is important too.

Mindfulness applied to a real time business environment means the business owner makes decisions based on what actually makes sense for the business in that moment.

Many business owners have a tunnel vision approach to their goals and focus far too much on not upsetting the marketplace, making up numbers and ensuring they look like a burgeoning enterprise.

When in fact, they’re making decisions based on external (possibly unimportant) factors and therefore not thinking first.

Transformation, innovation and the possibility of being disruptive are all restricted.

Enrol the help of those you trust

Just because you are the business owner doesn’t mean you’re the only one capable of making a good decision. If you’ve employed staff then you will know you’ve had to learn to trust that they too have your business’ best interests at heart.

Related: The 3 Decisions That Will Change Your Financial Life

When faced with a big decision, bring the top level staff together and put the concern to them. Ask them to assist you with breaking down the options and even create business plan templates for each option and potential outcome. Have your finance person factor in all expected profits, losses and risks.

Have your marketing person consider campaigns they’d like to see roll out for each option you have and enlist the help of your project manager to estimate deadlines and responsibilities. In this way you’re able to take a more pragmatic approach to making a big decision.

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How to Guides

How To Say ‘No’ At Work (Infographic)

Don’t let this two-letter word scare you.

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saying-no-business-leadership

Whether you’re trying to impress your boss or you fear you’ll let someone down, saying “no” at work can be hard. But it shouldn’t be.

Too often, people burn themselves out by agreeing to take on more tasks than they can handle. However, overloading yourself with work can reduce the quality of what you produce. If you’re too busy, you may also miss deadlines. In those cases, the person you’re working for likely would have preferred that you had just said “no” from the start.

Don’t feel bad or guilty about saying this two-letter word. If you want to build a great career, you’ve got to get used to it. There are plenty of perfectly good reasons to say no to someone – it’s just a matter of how you say it.

Related: How To Say No Nicely

Check out Business Backer’s infographic below to learn how.

1484251407_say-no-at-work-infographic

Related: Here’s Your Next Move When Your Customer Says ‘No’

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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