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The Hard Truth: How Devon Brough Learnt Saying “Yes” Every Time Will Cost You

Love Digital grew by 320% in it‘s first year by saying ‘yes‘ to everything. But it cost founder Devon Brough thousands and forced a re-think of how the business took on projects.

Monique Verduyn

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Vital stats

  • Company: Love Digital
  • Player: Devon Brough
  • Est: 2012
  • Contact: +27 (0)21 418 3044
  • Visit: www.lovedigital.co.za

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Sometimes you just have to say no. That’s what Devon Brough discovered in year two of running his own business, Love Digital.

The company’s turnover had rocketed to R3,2 million – 320% growth on the previous year. He had a partner on board and a payroll of R150 000, not bad for a one-man-band that he started in 2012 after moving to Cape Town.

Related: 3 Strategies for Raising Your Prices

But then he made a big mistake. His content production company took on a motorsport series with a budget of just R700 000.

“I had always believed that you should say ‘yes’ to every job, but that backfired. I realised that income does not equal profit, and that if the margins are not right, you should step away.

“Not only did we not grow the business, but we ended up having to pay between R30 000 and R40 000 a month towards the production just to get the job done. It meant that even though we had more than tripled our turnover, we were making a gross profit of just 50% before expenses on our work, and paying a big salary bill.”

Always check the budget

It was a frustrating year, but he learnt a key lesson: Every concept has a price tag.  “If a client doesn’t have the budget, then you need a different concept. It does not work to try to squeeze a bid idea into a small budget. All that happens is that you over-extend your business and you are left with cash flow problems.”

Devon-Brough

This error in judgement was compounded when a contract with a big media company failed to run its course, again because of budget constraints. “When you have a small business, you end up being the CEO, the administrator and the debt collector, which is a major challenge,” Brough says.

“I found myself fighting to get payment. In the creative field that becomes awkward. You work closely with your client and after a job well done you have to put your foot down and become the money chaser.”

Think bigger

His problem was solved when the business caught the attention of Ole! Media Group, which bought Love Digital in May this year.

The group, a R60 million business, is an umbrella for a bunch of digital media businesses that have an impressive array of big clients. What Brough got as part of the deal is peace of mind that has enabled his team of eight to agree on a target of R6,5 million this year.

“Managing money made me anxious and I was not playing to my creative strengths,” he says. “Now, we have all the tools we need to focus on growth, including a strong accounts department. I can be excited about my business, and my number one strength which is connecting with people and creating content.”

Brough says there is enormous opportunity for all the businesses in Ole! Media to flourish as they have big company infrastructure coupled with entrepreneurial vigour.

Related: How Saleable Is Your Business?

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

Increase Profitability

What To Look Out For When Seeking A Mentor Or Coach

There is value in choosing a mentor or coach to help you build your business, says Dr John Demartini. Here he offers some sound advice on how to go about doing this so that you benefit from the experience.

Dr John Demartini

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When I was in practice I noticed many doctors attempting to build a business would seek out mentorship from management consultants, from people who have already been down that path. And there’s wisdom from learning from foresight and not learning from trial and error. But there’s a pitfall – I noticed that not everybody is able to do or sustain the actions that these consultants would suggest. Where some would follow and immediately go and succeed, there were others who would sometimes feel self defeated because they couldn’t sustain the actions that the consultants would suggest and recommend.

So a small percentage would excel and do extremely well. But there were those who would spend their money on the coaching and they’d never get anything in return.  So the question is – what made the few excel with the help of a coach, consultant or mentor? And why is it that the majority of them didn’t do as well? And it boils down to how congruent the actions of the coach or consultant are with the values of the person that’s striving to build a business.

I have listened to numerous professional consultants all offering slightly different information about how to build a business. I have taken and learned from all of them. Some of them would suggest things I just couldn’t do – it just wasn’t me – and other things that I could do. And when I couldn’t do something, the coaches and consultants believed I just was not disciplined, not driven. They would imply that I didn’t have the drive… Their material works, but I wasn’t following it.

And those of you who have had the same experience will understand what I’m saying. And you need to know that the reason you don’t do what these coaches suggest is because it’s not aligning to your values. So you are labeled lazy, undisciplined, not driven. You are given these labels instead of realising that you’re self defeating because what they suggest is not congruent with your values. And so you go to different consultants until you finally find the one who matches, whose values are aligned with yours.

So it’s important to not envy and imitate somebody with a drastically different set of values. If you’re seeking a coach or mentor, make sure the coach/mentor has a value system that is closely enough aligned to yours or you will be setting yourself up to fail. Just because somebody is successful doesn’t mean if they are your coach or mentor that they will have the values that will lead you to that same form of success. You need to either shift your values to be able to succeed in their system or you need to find the mentor that aligns more with your values. Otherwise you’ll be beating yourself up thinking there’s something wrong with you when there’s nothing wrong with you. When you find the right mentor, you will take off.

So you either have to change your values to match the objectives of the coach, or change the coach to match the truth of your own values.

So the bottom line is, if you’re going to get mentorship, coaching or consulting from somebody, don’t just select the person because they’re successful. Select them because they’re successful and they have some alignment with your mission and your values. Make sure you select your mentorship and a consultant that is truly valuable to you; don’t live in a fantasy about who you are.

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Increase Profitability

The Link Between Scaling, Relationship Building And Technology

It is the first solution of its kind in South Africa, this platform supports entrepreneurs to effectively establish legal foundations in their businesses for optimum growth and overall business success.

Nicolene Schoeman-Louw

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The challenges and opportunities of this new world and that the world is more connected than ever. The constraints of distance is no longer applicable and as a result business has little constraining borders. Networking is therefore still a component in key relationship building.

It brings me to my real point – in a world so busy and connected, what we cannot make more of is time and time, unlike any other commodity is invaluable when it comes to forging important relationships and sustaining them. So, if technology can break barriers when it comes to legal cost and time spent on it… why not? Especially when so many have experienced the consequences of not documenting the most important relationships in their business.

The SchoemanLaw SME Self- Service DeskTM is the ideal tool for any member-based organisation wanting to capacitate and empower members. It is an affordable and reliable online solution for start-ups and SMEs, where Users can customise and download their own contracts online and in minutes. It is the first solution of its kind in South Africa, this platform supports entrepreneurs to effectively establish legal foundations in their businesses for optimum growth and overall business success.

The following documents are examples of those available on the platform (currently hosting over 35 documents / agreement types):

  • Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure Agreement (“NDA”)
  • Independent Contractor Agreement
  • JV Agreement
  • MOI and Shareholder’s Agreement
  • T&C’s
  • Supplier Agreement
  • Letter Demanding Payment
  • Various HR Documents and Company Resolutions
  • BBBEE Affidavits (EME and generic QSE)

and many more!

Prices range from R195 and R895 per document if downloaded on a pay- as- you- need- basis or R249 / R495 per month on a subscription basis, this is over 75% less than usual rates if traditionally drafted by an Attorney. What is more, Users have the support of a Law Firm not only having created, but who maintains the platform and supports each User. We even offer customisable solutions. So, there support and a solution for any business regardless of size and industry are on offer.

The platform is easy to use, no prior legal training is required, and Users are supported through help texts, free podcasts, videos and training events. In the case of a legal incident occurring, you can consult with an attorney with the click of a button.

The platform is also ever evolving and completely customer- driven.  Documents are added as and when customers request them. All the documents are also frequently updated to ensure that they align to the latest best practice. There is no need to leave your legal needs unattended ever again!  The SchoemanLaw SME Self- Service DeskTM  therefore ensures that SMEs are no longer invisible and capacitates them to free up time needed to build relationships, grow and scale their businesses.

Empower your business today, go to: https://www.schoemanlaw.co.za/online-legal-services/

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5 Winning Ways To Strengthen Your Bottom Line This Year

Let’s get down to the nuts and bolts of your profitability.

Revel Africa

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The beginning of the year is upon us, and the question everyone is asking is, “How are we going to make this year more profitable than 2018?” Break away sessions to strategies are always good, however, the most effective organisations know that the best ideas didn’t come from high-level planning, rather, they come from the field.

1. Your winning market

The saying goes, ‘The riches are in the niches.’ This year, stop spreading your sales focus thinly across several markets. Review your data on the which niche or subgroup of buyers make up your best customers. Then laser focus your best sales efforts and talent on these prospects this year. If you don’t have data on your buyers, then make a commitment to invest in your CRM software this year, so that next year your focus can be accurate.

Related: How Excellent Customer Service Affects Your Business’ Bottom Line

2. Your winning product or service

Don’t let chance dictate which sale you focus on, rather identify which of your products or services has the highest margins. Your data will tell you which products or services you should focus your sales efforts on this year, and which you should phase out, or simply terminate immediately.

3. Win more customers

You have a big budget for your lead generation, but invest more this year on optimising your lead conversion rate. No matter what industry you are in, or if you convert leads digitally or face to face, your ability to turn leads into sales is a potent leverage point to increase profits. For example, if you increase your conversion from 20% to 25%, that 5% increase in conversion will lead to a 20% or more increase in profitability (assuming your costs stay steady.)

Consider a sales coach to refresh your sales team’s conversion strategy, or review your digital data, landing pages, and automation strategy with a reputable digital marketing agency.

4. Whittle down waste

One immediate way to see your bottom line improve this year is to keep a tight rein on your sales team giving out discounts and freebies, and on your production team’s unregulated wastage. You’ll be surprised when you add it all up how much profit you’ve lost this way. Set boundaries over what is and isn’t okay for your sales team to do during the sales cycle.

Rather create bonuses or value adds that they can add in that have high perceived value but low cost of goods sold. For example, you might offer two free training classes to a new customer when they buy a year’s subscription to your software service.

A training class has a high value, but likely costs very little to add more seats to the room. As far as your production team goes, if you haven’t already, you should invest in business software that tracks productivity in your team, as well as in your machinery and equipment, to improve efficiency and reduce wastage. This alone is worth the investment costs of the software.

Related: Strong Company Culture Fattens The Bottom Line

5. Say ‘No’ to scope creep

Scope creep is when your customer alters the scope of your product or service after the initial agreement of work has been signed off, but with no alteration to the initial quote.  It is excessively common and can be very detrimental to a bottom line in service businesses.

This year, be clear about what is and isn’t on offer in the quote, and if there are any adjustments down the road, inform the client upfront of these additional costs. Wait for approval before starting the work. Be clear about prices for common extras that clients may want and let them know you’d be happy to provide these additional items for them at these pre-agreed prices. This could also be an opportunity for gentle upselling.

With this in mind, may 2019 see your bottom line grow from strength to strength.

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