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How To Expand Your Business To 5 Times Its Size In 5 Years

Year 1: Define & refine what you do. Year 2: Expand your footprint. Year 4: Maximise profits & cash flow

Greg Fisher

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At the beginning of a new year many business people will take time to anticipate what lies ahead. The start of a new year is a great opportunity to re-establish exactly where you wish to go with your venture. Any business that is still operational at the beginning of 2010 must be doing something right because in these tough economic times many have fallen by the wayside.

Assuming you are still in business, this may be a great time for you to set some exciting growth targets and map out the next phases of development that will enable you to achieve those targets. I’m going to map out a plan for an existing business owner to grow their business to five times its existing size in five years (5×5). I’m talking about people with an existing business of between R2 million and R20 million in revenue who wish to grow to between R10 million and R100 million in revenue in five years.

To understand the principles and practices for growing a business rapidly, I have examined multiple different ventures from different industries in the US and South Africa and unpacked what they did over a period of time to expand their operation and grow both revenues and profits.

The plan outlined here has three distinct phases. In phase one, the focus is on clearly defining and refining who you are and what you do. In phase two, the focus is on expanding the footprint of the business.

In phase three, the focus is on maximising profits and cash flow from the business base. Although there will always be individual businesses that may do things very differently from what I outline here, the series of growth steps described have worked effectively across a broad range of businesses in multiple industries; they should therefore serve as a useful roadmap to empower you to grow your business over the next five years.

Month 1 – Month 18

Define And Refine Who You Are & What You Do

The first phase is about creating a solid platform for growth. Growing a business without a strong foundation is like trying to build a mansion in a marshland. Without a solid foundation the house will become more and more unstable as you attempt to make it larger and larger. The first phase for business growth is therefore about focusing internally: getting the people, the offering and the processes right before replicating and expanding them into new markets.

1. Build the right management team

People build businesses. Without good people in the management team the best business offering is unlikely to succeed and with good people in the management team even an ordinary business offering can be moulded into something of value. Jim Collins, in his book Good to Great, recognised that companies that made the jump from mediocrity to greatness first“got the right people on the bus” and then allowed those people to “figure out where the bus will go”. Therefore, if you wish to embark on an ambitious growth plan your first order of business should be to address the question:

Do I have the right management team to grow my business to five times its current size in five years? Are there any serious weaknesses in the quality and competence of your management team? Priority number one is to get the best possible management team in place.

2. Establish goals and checkpoints

People are inspired by ambitious goals.There is a very solid stream of academic literature that shows emphatically that goals influence behaviour. If you want to get your strong management team to perform at their best, work with them to set some inspiring targets for the company.About three years back I took a bunch of MBA students to visit Raizcorp, a private business incubator in Johannesburg.

As the founder, Allon Raiz, stood up to speak, he announced with conviction that Raizcorp would have 100 businesses in its incubator network within three years. At the time they only had 16businesses in the system and it appeared to be challenging just to look after those.

I was skeptical that they could scale as he described. A few days back, I met with Allon and he told me they now have96 businesses in the Raizcorp network. I have no doubt that he would never have grown such a “high touch” business so quickly without the growth targets he had in place. To grow your business, you need to have a clear picture of where you want to go and what it will take to get there.

Priority number two is to develop a clear ambitious goal for the business and define the checkpoints that will keep you on track to achieving that goal.

3. Define and refine the value proposition

For a business to be successful it needs to provide value to the customer. The value proposition of a business is the sum total of benefits which a vendor promises a customer will receive in return for the customer’s associated payment. If the value of the benefits you offer does not significantly exceed the cost to the customer, you are never going to create a sustainable business. The value proposition of your business should be defined and refined from the customer’s perspective.

You should be absolutely clear on what you are selling to the customer – Avis sells service and convenience, Fedex sells peace of mind and Nike sells an athletic image. What do you sell? Is it very valuable specific groups of potential customers? To create a solid platform for growth your value proposition needs to be tested. You should survey customers to ensure that your product or service provides the value you aim to deliver.

Priority number three is to define and refine your value proposition.

4. Bake the business model

Once you are crystal clear on what you sell (your value proposition), you need to figure out how you will make money from it. A business model describes your sources of revenue and the costs associated with generating that revenue. The first step in understanding your business model is to define your unit of transaction.

The unit of transaction for an estate agent is the sale of a house; for a consultant it is an hour of consulting time; and for a cell-phone company it’s a minute of airtime. Each unit of transaction will generate income and incur cost. You need to determine and test what you can earn and what it will cost you to deliver on each unit of transaction.

The mistake many of the early dotcom businesses made was to sell a service at a price that was less than what it cost them to deliver that service. For example, when selling groceries online,the picking and delivery costs proved to be more than the premium one could charge for the service. As the online grocery retailers therefore expanded their services all across America,so they lost more and more money because each transaction created a drain on the bottom line. When Scott Griffiths was brought in to radically expand Zipcar, the car sharing service in the US, he applied this philosophy:“Get the box right first, then build more boxes”.

He first reduced the size of the operation from three cities to one, and focused on earning profits on each hour of car use in the Boston market before expanding the operation into 14 other American cities. Zipcar went from a $3 million operation in 2003 when Griffith took over to a $100 million operation today. He was able to embark on this ambitious growth trajectory because he was confident he could make profit in each new market Zipcar went into. Priority number four is to define, test and refine your business model.

5. Solidify systems and processes

Business processes are a critical building block for growth. One of the most extreme examples of this is MacDonald’s. The reason that the fast-food giant has been able to expand into119 countries on six continents is that its operations manual is very specific in describing how a MacDonald’s burger gets made (no matter where in the world you are).

Effective business processes enable the replication of a value proposition and customer experience in multiple locations. Therefore, to create a solid platform for business growth it is important to design and implement simple, effective operational processes and to capture those processes in a manual so that others can implement the same ones in a different location.

In the modern economy, many processes are dependent on technology. It is therefore important to consider whether technology could make your processes more efficient or more scalable. Priority number five is to make your business processes slick, efficient and simple on a small scale before you roll them out on a large scale.

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Month 19 – Month 42

Expand Your Footprint

In phase two, the business focus shifts from internal to external. Phase one is about creating a winning business formula; in phase two the key question becomes “where else can we replicate our winning formula?” Phase two is about radically increasing the volume of transactions by moving into new territories or focusing on new customer segments. The practices outlined below are not in any particular order – all four should be seen as priorities for the duration of phase two.

6. Replicate the model

Seek out opportunities to replicate the value proposition, business model and business processes developed in phase one.

Look for new locations or regions in which you can operate and look for new customer segments that you can serve.Your priority at this stage must be (1) to identify new markets and (2) to develop a process to quickly replicate your model in the new markets you identify.

7. Empower individuals

Extending the idea that businesses are built by people (see priority one), it is critical in phase two to put people you trust in new locations and then to give them the space and freedom to excel.Managing people in this phase of growth is a paradox in that you want to control what they do to ensure that they effectively replicate the winning formula, but you also want to allow them the freedom to make decisions and respond to needs in the area of the market in which they are operating. In the Zipcar growth story the big breakthrough came when Griffiths put city managers in charge of their own profit and loss, and encouraged them to approach their cities as they saw fit. “We’ve been trying to create little entrepreneurs in each of the cities,” he says.

8. Market, market, market

During this phase of growth one of the key constraints is likely to be the market. Creating awareness of and desire for your product or service through promotion and advertising can help lift this constraint.

Many entrepreneurs promote their product or service early in the development of a business before they are ready to deliver on the demand they create and as a result they end up disappointing customers. Save your advertising spend for phase two when you have the value proposition, business model and processes right.

Only then can you effectively deliver on the increased demand you create and ensure good return on your marketing investment.

9. Go where others won’t/don’t

To generate significant growth you need to be prepared to move into unexplored territory. Cellphone networks MTN and Vodacom were able to grow at a much higher rate than their counterparts in other countries because they figured out how to sell to those that did not have a credit history using “pay as you go”.

Kulula.com focused on capturing customers that would not otherwise have flown. It was not overly concerned with stealing SAA customers but instead focused on those that would otherwise have chosen to use a car to reach their destination. This enabled Kulula.com to tap into a much larger customer base in growing its airline. Business growth is about having the guts and guile to go where others won’t.

10. Leverage learning across operations

When you have spread your operations across multiple markets, pockets of excellence are likely to emerge. Effective leaders are able to recognise brilliance and find ways to spread these valuable insights and practices across multiple locations.

Continuous learning and collaboration characterise the highly successful growth path of South African Breweries. The culture of the organisation dictates that it learns from what others in the company do well and, as a result, SAB has been on an ongoing path of continuous improvement for 25 years, reducing costs, increasing efficiencies and better serving its chosen markets.

All business owners can learn from SAB’s willingness to learn and share across the organisation.

Month 43 – Month 60

Maximise Profits & Cash Flows

Phase three of business growth is about extracting the benefit from your discipline and hard work in phases one and two. Once you have a winning business formula and you have replicated it in multiple markets for the relevant customer base, you need to ensure that you maximise profits in all your operations. This requires a focus on efficiency, collaboration and intelligent decision-making as you move forward.

11. Focus on efficiency

Once you have an expanded business footprint, it can be very easy to let costs spiral out of control. The typical trap is to add layers of managers to the organisational chart and to increase head office costs in an effort to better manage the extended operation you have created. Those organisations that successfully maintain profitable growth appear to fight hard against this temptation. They guard against extra costs and keep fighting to maximise the efficiencies of existing operations, seeking always to bring costs down and stretch profit margins.

12. Stick to your guns, guard against arrogance and exuberance

Because of the success of the existing operation it can be very tempting to take on more than you can handle. At this stage of the growth cycle, many business owners risk losing sight of what they originally set out to do because they think they can do more.

In spite of not having achieved their original growth goal, they set new overly ambitious targets to make their empire even bigger and better. But in an effort to expand beyond what is reasonable they kill the goose that is laying the golden eggs.

They are enticed into making unrelated acquisitions, moving into unrelated product categories, or increasing the cost base of the company to a level that is unsustainable for the existing operation.

The key to successful growth is having the discipline to see it through and to guard against the pride and enthusiasm that comes with success.

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

What To Measure To Make Sure Your Business Won’t Crash And Burn

Let your customers measure success for you and you’ll have a better idea of how to reach your goals.

Harry Welby-Cooke

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If you don’t want your business’s spurts of success to end up just a flash in the pan, you need to measure your business progress against your goals. This allows you to adjust your plans for future success accordingly. But how?

Back in the nineties, NASA designed an interplanetary weather satellite to orbit Mars. However, it deviated from its planned trajectory and was destroyed in the atmosphere, simply because of a minor miscalculation; a result of the NASA team and their contractor using different systems of measurement.

By the same token, business owners need to determine what metrics to use to measure their progress, before they can work out what still needs to be adjusted to get them to their ultimate goals. Many businesses know this, but many don’t know they’re doing it wrong.

Connect with your customers

Most organisations use the same key performance indicators such as sales, customer retention, and product quality to track their progress. What’s the problem with this picture? They’re measuring where they are now in relation to where they were before, leaving the question of where they want to be, and how to close the gap, to guesswork.

Related: Good Customer Service Is About Relating At The Same Level

Why waste time testing one strategy after another when you can find all your answers in one place: With your current and prospective customers? They’ll tell you exactly where to aim and what to do to get there. This is why customer surveys are the proverbial toolkit of business progress tracking.

A customer survey is simply a series of questions that you ask your customers, to gauge their satisfaction, so you can hold on to them and collect ideas about how to improve your business offerings.

There are a number of ways to distribute these surveys, but it’s no surprise that social media is trumping phone calls, text messages and emails as the preferred platform for customers to communicate with businesses and brands.

Engage with your customers

What you choose to ask your customers is entirely dependent on what goals you wish to outline and track. That’s the easy part, but it’s significantly harder to gauge the effectiveness of social media campaigns, because you need to know what to look for. You can measure awareness of your business using metrics including volume, reach, exposure and amplification.

Retweets, comments and replies will tell you how engaging your content is, and you can keep an eye on traffic by tracking URL shares, clicks and conversions. Plus, there is a plethora of additional plug-ins to this from ORM and sentiment tracking tools for deeper analysis of this data.

Related: Does Your Customer Service Care?

The catch is that in the past, businesses had to compete for space — on billboards, in magazines, during ad breaks on TV — but now it’s all about timing. So the first challenge is making sure your social media post questions are being seen by as many of your customers as possible.

On the flip side of the coin, people don’t have to have any previous experience with your brand to interact with you on social media, so another challenge is calculating which of your respondents are actually viable customers.

Leverage your data

You’ll need to tap into the analytics that speak to who your followers are, and then focus on finding ways of channelling them on social media, based on their geographical location and the kind of content they are most likely to consume.

Then test your social media measurements against your key performance indicators. Yes, we’re back where we started, but this time you’ll be armed with what you need to leverage this data, in order to achieve your business goals.

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How to Guides

How Do I Go About Valuing My Business?

Francois Otto, Head of Corporate Finance and Jonathan Wernick, Corporate Finance Transactor, Sasfin Capital give advice on how to value a business.

Sasfin

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Francois Otto, Head of Corporate Finance and Jonathan Wernick, Corporate Finance Transactor, Sasfin Capital give advice on how to value a business.

If you have ever thought about raising capital for, or selling, your business? Perhaps one of the most difficult questions you have had to ask yourself is “How much can I sell my business for?” Regardless of what anyone tells you, determining the value of your business is a subjective process.

The value of business in one person’s hands can be completely different to another. However, there are a variety of methods to determine the value of a business. Some methods are fairly simple and others are a bit more complex.

Perhaps the simplest method that can used to value your business is to determine its Net Asset Value (“NAV”). This simple method entails subtracting the value of the liabilities from the value of the assets.

Related: Raising Capital Through A Black Economic Empowerment Transaction

Another method that can be used to value a business is to apply a specific multiple to a financial metric. This method is referred to as a comparative valuation or “MULTIPLES” approach. For example, a company’s net profit could be multiplied by a specific number to give you a value of the business.

The number which you multiply the earnings by is referred to as a “Price Earnings” or “PE” multiple. The size of this number will depend on the business in question, for example its growth prospects, its size and the industry in which it operates, just to name a few.

The final approach that can be used to value a business is the discounted cash flow (“DCF”) method. This method adopts the philosophy of “Cash is King”.

Under this method, the business is valued using cash flows that the business is expected to generate. Cash flows can take the form of future dividend payments or, if the business pays a small or even no dividend, cash flows can take the form of profits generated by the business after adjusting for future capex, investments in working capital and taxes payable.

As this method values a business using the cash flows it is expected to generate in the future, a discount needs to be applied to these future cash flows (to reflect the uncertainty thereof), the size of which increases the further out in the future the cash flow occurs. The aggregate value or sum of these discounted cash flows represents the estimated value of the business.

Related: Here’s How To Value Your Business

The three valuation methods (NAV, MULTIPLES or DCF) mentioned above can yield different values for a business and deciding which method to use will often depend on the purpose of the valuation as well as the specific business being valued.

This exercise is normally the first step in raising capital or selling your business, to provide the owners with a sense of value. This value is theoretical until such time as a willing investor agrees to a transaction.

This is where a good adviser will assist the owners, through effectively marketing their business, to optimise the value achieved by the owners with the added benefit of ensuring the terms of a transaction are fair to the owners (e.g. reasonable earn-out conditions and warranties).

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How to Guides

How You Can Use Your Creditors To Fund Your Business Growth

Everything you need to know to keep your cash flow positive, use your creditors to fund your business, and make your numbers work for you.

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The success of a business is often judged by its rate of growth and its number of employees. The problem is that both a business’s rate of growth and its size come with their own demands and consequences, which are often ignored in the pursuit of more and more growth.

The reality is that not all growth is created equal. If your business doesn’t have scale, you can end up growing yourself into trouble — or even out of business.

Even more important is positive cash flow. Is that great new contract bringing in money, or costing you money? Shouldering an upfront cost for growth down the line is all part of the growth journey, but only if the numbers make sense and you know when your investment will turn to profit.

Here’s the secret to growth: It can be self-funded. Yes, there are venture capitalists, private equity firms, angel investors, bank funding and a host of other ways to access finance — but you can grow a large, successful organisation without any of these.

The trick is to know your numbers. Here’s how you can practically apply the rules of positive cash flow to your business.

Related: 6 Ways To Make Your Business Look Big While You’re Still Growing It

The Power of Cash

In 2012, Amazon’s share price was $173. By 2016 this had grown to $725. Walmart, arguably the biggest retailer in the world, went from $59 to $70 in the same period.

But take a look at Table 1 for the revenue growth of both companies between 2003 and 2012 (a trend that has continued).

revenue-growth

How can Walmart’s stock price have hardly increased, while Amazon experienced impressive growth over the same period, despite the fact that Walmart’s revenue growth far outstrips Amazon’s (in absolute, not percentage terms)? Is Walmart’s stock undervalued, and Amazon’s overvalued? Even accounting for growth off a low base, how can we explain this?

The share price is simply the net present value of future free cash flows generated from the efficiency of an organisation in managing cash to generate more sales.

In other words, Jeff Bezos’ focus on his cash conversion cycle has meant his business is incredibly cash-positive, which has in turn positively impacted Amazon’s stock price. Although Amazon is a highly unusual business with its negative cash conversion cycle, and its actual liquidity is somewhat contested by the investment community, it’s a great example of getting customers to fund growth.

Related: Five Keys To Unlock Massive Leaps In Profit

The Cash Conversion Cycle

We agree that it takes money to make money. A business, even one with a tight, scalable business model, will consume more cash in its growth phase than in its steady state, or execution phase.

But, you don’t want to ever spend more money than you need to — or can reasonably afford to. This is true whether you’re self-funded or spending someone else’s cash, but particularly if you’re funding your own growth. Dealing with unplanned funding can be costly, time-consuming and it hampers growth. It also bogs you down in stressful admin when you could be focused on the elements you love and that excite you.

There are two questions that you should have asked yourself as you embarked on your growth journey (note: if you’ve never asked these questions, you need to surround yourself with like-minded business people who can help you find and ask them):

  1. For what period of time is my money tied up in inventory and other current assets before customers pay for the end product or services?
  2. How much cash do I need to finance each unit of sale and what is the amount of cash generated by each unit of sale?

I guarantee you that Jeff Bezos knows the answers to these two questions. Not his accountant or financial director — Jeff himself. You can’t abdicate the numbers of your business to someone else. Understand the difference between delegation and abdication. You don’t need to be doing your business numbers but you absolutely need to know what they are. This is one of the most important metrics of your business.

Let’s go back to our example of Amazon (see Table 2): Bezos’ cash conversion cycle (measured in days), oscillates between -40 and -8 days. That’s the secret.

In other words, Amazon uses other people’s money to fund its operations. That’s an extremely valuable business model, as its share price demonstrates.

Walmart’s cash conversion cycle is also a very respectable 11 days. As a business model it’s not quite as valuable as Amazon’s, but there’s a reason why Walmart is an international leader in its industry. It takes this behemoth organisation just 11 days to convert $1 into something worth more than $1. It then recycles that original $1 a further 35 times per year. Walmart’s margins are not high, but the compound growth is very powerful, as we’ll see later.

Let’s Get Started

starting-to-fund-a-business

Step 1: Understand your business

To better understand the components of your operating cash cycle and your cash conversion cycle, take a look at Diagram 1.

cash-conversion-cycle

Operating cash cycle (OCC) is the period of time between when you start the assembly of all the required inputs into your production line, and cash comes back into the business as payment for the sale. Remember, if you’re a B2B business, there’ll be a delay between when the customer starts using your product and service, and when payment is made as well. This difference is referred to as accounts receivable days. Likewise the time between when your production starts (having received inventory) and the moment your business pays for this inventory, is the accounts payable days.

Cash conversion cycle (CCC) This is the period of time that working capital is tied up. It’s the time between when cash was converted into one of the inputs for your production line, and when the product is converted back into tangible cash, handed to you when customers pay you in real money. It’s the difference in time between your operating cash cycle and account payable days.

Self-financing growth rate (SFG)

This is the crux of this article. Your SFG rate is the rate at which growth can be sustained by cash generated by your business without any external funding.

Related: Why The Climb To The Top Is The Most Critical For Your Growth

Step 2: Working out your cash conversion cycle

Where can you access the figures you need to determine your own OCC, CCC and SFG? First, use data spanning a 12-month time period. This has two advantages: You have a better chance of sourcing accurate data if it comes from a signed off financial statement, and you can dampen the noise caused by seasonality.

Work with your balance sheet and income statement.

Working out conversion days from balance sheet

Asset ZAR amount on (000) Equivalent days Liabilities ZAR amount on (000) Equivalent days
Cash 10   Accounts payable 99 Calc A
Accounts receivable 384 Cal B Loan

repayments

50  
Inventory 263 Calc C Current liabilities 149  
Current assets 657   Retained earnings 183

 

 
Plant & equipment 25   Capital contributed 350  
Total assets 682   Total liabilities 682  

 

Working out conversion days from income statement

IS line ZAR amount on (000) Day equivalent Ratio
Line ZAR amount on (000) Day equivalent in (000) Ratios in %
Revenue / Income 2 000 = 2 000/365 = 5 479 100
Cost of sales 1   200 = 1 200/365 = 3 288 60
Profit 800   40
Operating expenses 700 = 700/365 = 1 918 35
NPBT – net profit before tax 100   5

income-statement-valuation

Based on the above example and figures, we have determined the following information:

  • This business generates R5 479 of income per day at a cost of R3 288 per day.
  • Calculation A: We owe a total of R99 000 to our suppliers, which at
    R3 288 per day is ~ 30 days from
    99 000 / 3 288
  • Calculation B: We are owed R384 000 from our customers, which at
    R5 479 per day is ~70 days from 384 000 / 5 479
  • Calculation C: The amount of inventory we have paid for and need to turn into a sold product in equivalent days is ~ 80 days from 263 000 / 3 288.

Our original ‘as-is’ timing diagram now looks like this:

cash-cycle-advice

We still need to account for operating expenses, including salaries, utilities, rent, marketing costs and so on, and we can safely assume (but check this for your business) that bills arrive uniformly over the 150 day OCC period, meaning some will be paid immediately (day 1) or have to wait (day 150). On average this is 75 days.

You should now interpret the information as follows;

  • The OCC is 150 days, but because the business has 30 days to pay its suppliers, the CCC is 120 days. In other words, cash is tied up for 120 out of 150 days (80% of the time).
  • In terms of operating expenses, we assumed a uniform distribution over the period whereby some creditors would be paid immediately and some would have to wait for the 150-day cycle to finish. On average, this leaves us with 75 days or 50% of the OCC.

Related: Mobility, Security And Your Business

Step 3: Unlock capital in your business

We now know for how long our cash is tied up, but we still need to determine how much is tied up. Using the ratios in the original income statement, we can now answer the following: What amount of cash is needed to finance each unit of sale, and what is the amount of cash generated by each unit of sale?

Cash conversion at work on your IS

Income statement line Per ZAR with CCC factoring effective per ZAR
Revenue/Income 1,00    
Cost of sales 0,60 80% (120/150) 0,48
Operating expense 0,35 50% (75/150) 0,18
Total costs 0,95 Cash tied up per 1 ZAR of Sales Revenue 0,66
Profit before tax 0,05
Free cash generated per ZAR of Sales 0,05 Cash needed for each OCC 0,66

Putting it all together

Let’s look at what you now know about your business:

Self-funded growth rate

The cash generated from 1 ZAR of sales By looking at the income statement ratio 0.05
The time in days of your OCC Calculated from holdings inventory days + accounts rec days 80 + 70 w= 150
The CCC time to cycle cash used in the OCC Calculated from OCC – accounts payable days 150 — 30 = 120
The cash tied up in each OCC for a 1 ZAR sales income Restated IS with CCC factored in for OpEx and inventory 0,18 + 0,48 = 0,66
Your per cycle growth rate Free cash that can be added to the OCC cash requirement 0,05 of 0,66 -7,57%
How many cycles can be completed in a year? Days in year available divided by OCC 365/150 = 2,43
Assume a productivity factor for safety 90% as a reasonable contingency for strikes etc 2,43 x 0.9 = 2,19
Compounded annual self-funded growth rate (1 + SFG) OCC cycles – 1) = (1 + 0,0757) 2.19 – 1 = 17,3%

Driving growth in your business

So, how can you use this information to drive growth in your business?

First, your debtors book must exceed your creditors book. Then, if we just shorten our accounts receivable days from 70 to 30 days, the following would happen:

  1. The OCC is now 150 — 40 = 110 days
  2. CCC is 110 — 30 = 80 days
  3. Cash needed for cost of sales is 0,60 X 80/110 = 43 cents
  4. We have not targeted operating costs yet, which remain at 18 cents
  5. Round everything up and we now need 62 cents instead of 66 cents (6% improvement)
  6. Your per cycle growth rate is 5 cents/62 cents = 8% growth rate
  7. How many cycles can you do in a year now? 365/110 = 3,3 cycles; up from 2,43!
  8. This is a 36% improvement
  9. Add a contingency of 95%, which gives us 3,13 cycles
  10. Compound this over a year: (1+ SFG) nbr of cycles — 1) = (1 +0,08) 3,1 -1) = 26% from 17% originally.

That’s 9% growth and nobody noticed a thing!

Related: Jason Goldberg Asks Are You (Realistically) Ready To Scale Your Business?


Key takeaways

  • That large corporate account that you cherish and that one of your sales executives is overly proud of landing may well be destroying value in your business. Why? Because large corporate accounts tend to get over-serviced (and I doubt you allocate those costs properly) and tend to pay you late.
  • Growing with a greater number of smaller customers, steadily over time, within your means and without being bullied delivers more value and less stress.
  • There are easy and clever ways to add lots of value to your business, that cost very little to implement, but you do require an understanding of how cash gets tied up.
  • Delegate, don’t abdicate. No entrepreneur is ever great at sales, production, operations and cash management, so get people who can complement your skill set, and allow you to do what you enjoy. That said, you can never hand the numbers over to someone else. Receive assistance if you need it, but know your numbers!

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