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Good Strategy Beats Bad Growth — Every Time

Growth might be one of your key proxies for progress and your entrepreneurial success, but there is such a thing as bad growth — and it should be avoided at all costs.

Kevin Mackenzie




As an entrepreneur you probably have this inbuilt belief that unless your business is always growing revenue and profits it’s somehow backsliding.

You spend significant time thinking about how you can attract new customers, enter new markets, introduce new products, increase margins, buff up the bottom line, improve your differentiation, and be more innovative, all for the purpose of growing and hopefully increasing the value of your business.

Growth is one of your key proxies for progress and your entrepreneurial success.

While growth is undoubtedly a necessity and medium-term requirement for sustainability, not all growth is good.

Growth that fails to improve your medium-term cash flows and generates returns on investment commensurate with the risk you are taking with your capital is destroying value.

Bad growth is surprisingly pervasive. Many companies are growing revenues yet their net cash positions remain unchanged, margins are flat or declining and returns on capital are way below realistic shareholder expectations.

What’s the alternative? Good strategy!

I would argue that as an entrepreneur one of your most important jobs is to make sure that you’re addressing anything in the present that’s affecting your ability to address these three areas.

1. Stay relevant in your customer’s eyes

When the products and services you offer start becoming less relevant to your customers, your business has a significant strategy problem. No amount of differentiation, customer service and operational excellence helps.

2. Stay differentiated

In a crowded market the margin tends to follow the most differentiated offerings. A relevant product with little difference is left with very few strategic options.

3. Your ability to produce sufficient returns on capital

Your products may be relevant and have differentiation but your underpinning cost structures are robbing you of capital value.

Strategy’s job is to address the challenges to overcome or move you along the path to solving any relevancy, differentiation and value inhibitors. When growth is viewed through the strategy lens it becomes valuable only if it makes your business better.

Related: 4 Silent Business Killers

Good strategy vs. growth aspirations

Actionable steps to integrating good strategy with your growth aspirations.

  • Build a strategic balance sheet. Document core products, customers, profit pools, markets, differentiation and competency systems you use to operate. What is the ’cold light of day‘ state of your business? Good strategy starts here, not with your envisaged future growth position.
  • List all the things that are encumbering your ability to stay relevant, differentiated and value accretive over the next 12 months. Be specific. These can range from customer perceptions or changing buying criteria, lack of skills in key areas, new competitors, inflated cost positions, poorly performing channels, and fragmented systems.
  • Establish proximate and prioritised 12 month targets that, if met, will put your business in a better position. This may mean not trying to take on more customers but rather improving your logistics process channel development and management skills.
  • Create growth targets but view them as directional intent. De-emphasise the financial elements and focus on commercial positions that, if attained, would make your business more relevant, a differential which would significantly up the chance of being more valuable.
  • Think competency systems and how you can develop and expand them. We can only do what we can do which in reality is a big constraint on your strategy options and growth. What competencies, if you heightened, deepened or expanded, would give you more options? If you are struggling to implement within five medium-size customers, how can you successfully sell and implement in three large customers.
  • Focus your efforts on your core business. Figure out how you can expand it outward in small incremental steps, slowly expanding and stressing capabilities. This approach leverages what you have learnt, understand and have foundation skills in.
  • Lastly, manage your targets through small focused projects. Ratchet down on expansive outcomes. Your project teams are usually resourced with staff that have ongoing operational responsibilities. A string of continual small wins in pivotal areas of your business builds momentum and underpinning capacity.

Kevin has 19 years of diverse entrepreneurial and consulting experience. He is the founder of Conversations in Growth a boutique consultancy specialising in the understanding of and working with strategy in practice. CIG has engaged multiple management teams, of various sizes and industries. CIG has developed a robust and practical set of thinking tools, frameworks and insights required to engage and operationalise strategy. Kevin founded and manages Floyd's 99 and Kevin guest lectures on growth strategy at Gibs and the CT Graduate School of Business as well as delivering talks to management teams busy with their strategy formation and management process. Contact Kevin here.


Company Posts

A World Of Opportunity Awaits With Peli Peli

Business ownership has always been the entrepreneur’s way of shaping their future. If you’ve always wanted to experience life in the US, this is your chance.

Peli Peli




Global media has been reporting that the chances of non-American citizens being granted access to move to the US are getting slimmer with the new administration. However, there is still one channel of access that allows people the opportunity to relocate that hasn’t been amended by the presidency.

The EB-5 Visa programme was created by Congress in 1990 to stimulate the US economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. Under a programme initially enacted as a pilot in 1992, and regularly re-authorised since then, investors may also qualify for EB-5 classification by investing through regional centres designated by USCIS based on proposals for promoting economic growth.

The question most commonly asked by foreign investors is where to start selecting a relatively low-risk company to invest their money into. One such entity that has been granted designation under the EB-5 programme is the restaurant group Peli Peli.

Built-in success

Peli Peli is a South African cuisine restaurant that has gained incredible traction in the competitive American restaurant industry. They currently have six successful branches opened in the Texas area. Peli Peli Vintage park, which opened in 2009, generated revenue of $5,3 million in 2016.

Related: The Pros & Cons Of Owning A Restaurant Franchise

Peli Peli Galleria opened in 2015, and had $5,2 million revenue in 2016. Peli Peli Kitchen, their first fast casual concept, opened in October 2016 and reported revenue of $2 million in 2017. Peli Deli, a downtown fast food casual lunch concept and Peli Peli Cinco Ranch, which opened in February and July 2017, respectively, are both showing incredible growth to match their predecessors.

At least two more locations will be opening in 2018, and as all new Peli Peli locations have historically generated positive cash flow within the first year, the company expects to increase its revenue exponentially.

The power team behind the brand

The restaurant chain has garnered popularity, and won a multitude of awards, including Best Service & Best Atmosphere — Readers’ Choice Award (Houston Press) and 2013 Diners’ Choice Award winner for the Top 100 American Fare Restaurants in the United States (OpenTable). Peli Peli is also rated in the top ten in Houston, Texas (which boasts over 12 000 restaurants) on both Tripadvisor and Yelp.

The Peli Peli trio who own the business are Chef Paul Friedman, Thomas Nguyen and Aiki Tran. These three dynamic businessmen have their own share of accolades to speak of. Chef Paul, who is a born and bred Joburger, has been a contestant on Cutthroat Kitchen for multiple episodes on the Food Network. He won the People’s Choice Award and was placed third as a judge in the Gumbo Smackdown 2014. He received the 2013 Chef of Chef Awards in the 9th Annual Houston Wine and Food week, as well as being the 2013 Cadillac Culinary Master. He was also one of 60 Houston Chefs to be listed in the book Best Chefs America.

Thomas Nguyen, who is Chief of Marketing for Peli Peli, graduated from the University of Texas School of Law and was a former litigation attorney. He was the Houston Business Journal’s 40 under 40 award recipient in 2015 and an EY Entrepreneur of the Year Gulf Coast finalist in 2016 and 2017. He was Entrepreneur of the Year — Houston Asian Chamber of Commerce and is also a freelance writer for the Houston Press.

Peli Peli’s CEO, Aiki Tran, has over 12 years of experience in restaurant technology and won the 2007 Entrepreneur of the Year award — Houston Asian Chamber of Commerce. He was responsible for streamlining the technology infrastructure for franchises such as Popeyes and Wings, Pizza N Things. He also became the number one reseller of Aldelo and Dineware POS systems in Texas, with installations in over 200 restaurants.

Related: The Only How-To You’ll Need To Start A Restaurant

Joining their ranks is South African Ryan Stewart. Having owned 16 restaurants throughout the country, he is also the CEO and co-founder of the Mozambik restaurant chain. Ryan has 17 years’ experience in the industry and is being brought on board by Peli Peli to assist in their revenue and store location growth.

Your path to the US

With the combined talent, brainpower and experience of these four businessmen, it’s no wonder Peli Peli is achieving success. The investment required to qualify for an EB-5 Visa through Peli Peli is an amount of $500 000 and is structured as an equity investment at risk. It entitles the foreign investor to permanent residency, and within two years of living in the United States, a green card for the investor and his/her dependents.

For more information on how

You can be a part of the EB-5 Visa programme through Peli Peli.


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4 Ways To Find Your Own Business Style

The only way to develop a business style is step-by-step over time.

Timothy Sykes




Finding a style in finance will define how you react to changes and how you approach new situations. It’s as important in business as it is in stock trading. Developing a business style and developing a stock trading system are extremely similar pursuits.

But I’m not going to pretend that it’s easy to do. It will take time and you do have to be willing to work at it.

Here are my four ways of finding your own business style.

1. Get rid of your expectations

You can’t force anything to work. It’s necessary for you to be flexible when it comes to finding a business style. Begin by letting go of any expectations you have before trying a new style.

Prior to attempting a new style, you have to be willing to go into it with no expectations. You never know what you’re going to find.

Related: 8 Steps to Building Your Business According to the Lifestyle You Want

2. Track your movements

Some things are going to work and some things aren’t going to work. I always tell my students in the Tim Sykes Millionaire Challenge that they should keep records of the things they’re doing. Keep these records as detailed as possible because attempting trial and error can quickly lead you in circles.

Don’t fall into the trap (as I did in the beginning) of trying the same thing multiple times because you never tracked the results.

I keep large spreadsheets with notes of the various styles and systems I’ve tried in business. Business mistakes can be costly, so you need to do everything you can to avoid making them.

3. Look at what others are doing


I refuse to believe that someone is doing something truly unique. The moment someone makes a breakthrough in business there are a hundred people replicating the same things. And that can be a powerful tool. Consider what others are doing and see whether you can learn something.

It’s why I also advocate finding a mentor to help you out. They’ll be able to help you out and you’ll benefit from their enhanced experiences in business.

Again, track what you’re taking from other people so you know whether something is working.

Related: I Started Saying ‘No’ To These 6 Things. My Life And My Business Got A Lot Better

4. Refine what you do

Rarely will anything in business work the first time. However, your first attempts will give you a good benchmark as to what you need to do next.

You should never be satisfied with what you have, even if it’s working. Always work on improving your business style. I believe this is the most important thing because it also teaches you how to adapt to changing conditions over time.

Last Word – Constantly Growing

There’s no step-by-step guide for how to develop a business style. The only way to do it is to obey the fundamentals and then develop everything over time.

Even though the process is long, you’re guaranteed to learn a lot of lessons and gain from a huge number of experiences over time.

This article was originally posted here on

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6 Questions You Should Be Asking When Coaching

Top athletes have coaches because they’re winners. Business leaders should be the same.

Nadine Todd



Dr Marshall Goldsmith

Whether you’re a CEO looking for a mentor, coaching your management team, or structuring a coaching programme for your managers to implement, there are six questions that can help anyone get better at anything.

The expert

Dr Marshall Goldsmith is a best-selling author and world-renowned business educator and coach. He has coached top CEOs, including Alan Mulally, former President and CEO of Ford Motor Company.

The key to a successful coaching programme is simple dialogue and establishing responsibility. The person being coached must understand and agree that success lies in their hands. They must take responsibility for their actions.

Related: How Business Coaching Can Help You Achieve Your Goals

The method

Once every few months, have a direct coaching session. Ask (or answer for yourself) these six questions:

  1. Where are we going?
  2. Where are you going?
  3. What are you doing well?
  4. Do you have suggestions for my improvement?
  5. How can I help you?
  6. So you have suggestions for me?

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