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Performance & Growth

How To Scale Your Business Effectively

The framework is a questionnaire to help take out some of the guesswork, and I think it’s really effective.

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In the initial stages of a start-up, the primary goals are around defining the market problem, defining the value proposition and coming up with the disruptive innovation that creates a defensible basis around which to build a business. Eventually, and often very quickly, the objective then turns to a start-up’s ability to execute the business plan and having the right tools to scale.

An injection of growth capital is crucial for a start-up and venture capital investors’ eyes light up when they see start-ups with clear scaling potential. If you are looking to take on equity funding then at some point you are going to have to make a mind shift and be able to show your potential investors that you can scale fast and effectively.

It is the great start-ups of the world that know when and how to scale. Being the first to market with a new innovative product or business model just won’t cut it anymore.  It is those start-ups who master the art of rapid scaling that outlast the mediocre ones.

Okay, so you know you should look at scaling your business; but how do you know when and how to scale? Timing is very important. Too early and too fast could hurt your business’ cashflow and create unmanageable liquidity problems. Leaving it too late, could open the door for competitors to gain that hard-to-recover market share

Related: 15 Ways to Scale Your Business and Make More Money

A reputed website geared towards entrepreneurs, Start-up Secrets, developed a framework they call the “Deliberator’s Dozen”. The framework is a questionnaire to help take out some of the guesswork, and I think it’s really effective.

According to Startup Secrets, a business that is ready to scale can be characterised by the following:

  1. You can package your product or service and sell it repeatedly without major modification.
  2. Your marginal cost of customer acquisition is reducing.
  3. Time and cost for customers to adopt and deploy your product or service is lessening, and the engagement from your customers is increasing toward a long life-cycle value.
  4. The servicing costs for your customers are reducing.
  5. The upgrade cycle for your customer is shortening and the money generated from upselling is increasing.
  6. Your ability to meet market needs, innovate and create differentiated IP is validated by customers and partners who are themselves building on your products and services and investing in your ecosystem.
  7. You can develop disruptive and defensible business capabilities in things such as your go-to-market model.
  8. Your business model is showing real leverage and a potential path to profitability that will attract the funding necessary for continual growth.
  9. The time and cost involved to attract and get people on board in all major areas of the company to support productivity and growth (e.g. sales, services, R&D etc.) is coming down.
  10. Your management team is successfully developing and promoting people, resulting in a cohesive culture. They have the ability to effectively manage both obstacles and successes, and is respected as such inside and outside the company.
  11. Your market opportunity is continuously validated as large enough and is considered to be growing at such a rate that you will be able to meet stakeholders’ expectations for years to come, as you scale successfully.
  12. Even if you are “changing the world for the better”, you have learned not to “drink your own Kool-Aid” and instead validate your metrics from the outside in. Furthermore, you’re still excited to get up every morning and do it all again – faster, better, cheaper!

Once you have established that you’re ready to scale and have the funds available to launch your big market attack, you need to start thinking about exactly how you will do it.

Here are a few pointers to help you on your way:

Specialisation: hire and appoint experts

Typically, start-up founders are “jack-of-all-trade” entrepreneurs and usually try to do everything themselves at the start. This is fine for the beginning stages, however as the company develops and matures, the new levels of complexity require the founders to define and assign tasks more formally.

Founders need to be able to trust the individuals they delegate and cede tasks to, and employ and appoint specialist agents and employees to ensure effective scaling of the business.

It is pivotal to cultivate a healthy, formalised relationship between the company and its employees and agents (i.e. sales agents, franchisees, resellers and distributors). This entails the proper negotiating and signing of employment agreements and the appropriate SLAs (Service Level Agreements). As these agreements generally also protects the company’s IP, you can’t afford to not have them in place.

Related: How Maditsi Mphela Pushed Through Business Stagnation To Successfully Scale

Effective management structures

Again, start-up founders cannot possibly run every aspect of every department within a growing company. Founders need to carefully balance their desire to maintain control with the risk of being a bottleneck for effective information flow, decision making and execution.

A couple of people at top management can’t effectively supervise everyone’s increasingly specialized and complex day-to-day work; in such a system, accountability around specific goals become a challenge and employees find it hard to remain focused and engaged when they don’t have managerial guidance and processes in place.

Having the appropriate management structures and reporting lines in place, will relieve pressure from the founders and allow them to focus on more important high-level issues.

Company culture is key

The culture of a start-up is what keeps the employees motivated and on course. Company culture is not just about the game room in your building, free snacks or casual Friday. It is the unique way in which your team works together. It’s what your team believes in and what they value the most.

Make sure you have clearly defined your culture and that you regularly drip-feed it into everyday conversations and team moments.

A strong, growing company culture is especially important in the area of effective collaboration between departments, as well as the relationship with your agents.

In conclusion, the process of scaling a business is an art. Ben Horowits, well known venture capitalist, described it as ‘black art’, that needs a lot of challenging work and attention to get right. Scalability is not just implementing the right management tools and processes, but also having the right mind set.  It is a shift from a short-term focus, to a long term, bigger-picture vision. Be clear on what you want to achieve and always think big. Set periodic goals, push towards meeting them and keep your employees motivated for the future you have envisioned them for.

Dommisse Attorneys Inc. - a fully specialised corporate finance and commercial law firm, with a strong focus on providing start-ups with the legal support they need to achieve their business aspiration and vision. Jack O'Reilly is a commercial law associate at Dommisse Attorneys and forms part of the Start-up law team.

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Performance & Growth

How To Survive Exponential Change In Your Business

How to get out of the habit of thinking small, and start thinking in giant leaps for radical – and profitable – change.

Matt Brown

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I recently went to a meet and greet session at a company that turns over R13 billion a year. As I was introduced to other executives, I was referred to as ‘the guy who is at the pinnacle of podcasting in South Africa’. This kind of feedback is truly humbling, but after hearing that, the only question I had on my mind was: “But for how long is anyone or any brand at the top of any market?”

The Challenge of Change

Change is no longer happening in a linear fashion; it’s occurring exponentially. We love linear thinking, because we have been conditioned to think in small steps (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) but we totally suck at exponential thinking (1, 2, 4, 16, 32, 1 024). To a greater and greater extent this is the world we are heading into.

Almost inevitably, markets that used to be relatively predictable are winding up in an entirely new paradigm and some of the world’s largest and most reputable companies have been caught unaware. The main culprit? The exponential growth surprise factor.

For example, in 2012, Toys R Us was a $12 billion company with a retail footprint comprising 1 600 stores. In September 2017, they filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy… only five years later. The message is simple: Innovate or die.

But more importantly, there is a new challenge facing all entrepreneurs today: How can you prepare yourself and help your business survive in an exponential business world?

Related: Asking The Wrong Questions Will Break Your Business

Here’s a four-step process that can help you get started.

1. Look out for the Warning Signs

In my experience, the warning signs of disaster are present in every industry one to three years before disaster strikes. Ironically, many businesses are simply not paying attention to the warning signs in their market — or even worse, do not know what warning signs to look out for.

Because all industries and businesses are subject to different warning signs, a simple, yet highly effective way to know when your business is in the throes of a critical warning sign is when something within your industry doesn’t make sense.

When a linear industry is on the verge of disruption it generally manifests into something that doesn’t make sense for the incumbents in that industry.

In 2008, when blockchain technology and the Bitcoin first manifested itself, it didn’t make sense to many in financial services. Fast forward to today and there are over 1 000 cryptocurrencies that you can actively trade and the promise of the decentralisation of all industries — not just the financial services industry — is very real.

So, if something new enters your industry and it doesn’t make sense to you it’s time to apply step number three.

2. Ask Why

If you ask a group of incredibly smart people to solve a very difficult problem and they can’t seem to solve it, you may find that they don’t lack collective intelligence, but perspective on the problem itself.

Whenever this eventuality occurs the best thing to do is ask “why” repeatedly until you find the perspective that you need to make new decisions in your business. It’s one of most powerful yet completely undervalued questions that any business leader can ask.

3. Act

Almost all success in business comes down to execution. Toys R Us didn’t act. When all is said and done, they simply did not believe in the Internet and they paid the highest price. In an exponential world, the ability to not just act but to act quickly is priceless.

Related: 5 Answers From Digital Kungfu On Why Podcasts Are Your Best Self Development Tool

4. Move forward

No industry is immune. Let’s take podcasting for example. Our data shows that the addressable market for podcasts is already 16 million people; 50% of all podcast consumption growth over the last five years has happened in the last 12 months; and media consumption is shifting faster than we think into the on-demand space.

To address this exponential shift in media consumption, the Matt Brown Show is evolving from a podcast into a fully-fledged new media company. So, my question to you is simple: How is your business preparing itself for the future? EM


IN YOUR TOOLKIT

Get some perspective

the-innovators-dilemma-when-new-technologies-cause-great-firms-to-fail-by-clayton-christensenREAD THIS: The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail, by Clayton Christensen

While decades of researchers have struggled to understand why even the best companies almost inevitably fail, Clayton Christensen shows how most companies miss out on new waves of innovation.  His answer is surprising and almost paradoxic: It is actually the same practices that lead the business to be successful in the first place that eventually can also result in its eventual demise. This breakthrough insight has made The Innovator’s Dilemma a must-read for managers, CEOs, innovators, and entrepreneurs alike.

ASK WHY

Drawing from Matt Brown’s article, start implementing quarterly meetings that review the biggest challenges the company is facing, and start asking the question ‘why’ of even the most basic tenets that are being taken for granted.

The idea is to find a new perspective of the same problem.

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Performance & Growth

Too Big For Your Boots?

How to manage the complexities of a rapidly expanding business.

Greg Morris

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It may come as a surprise to many, but too much success too soon can result in a company’s failure. That’s often because the company out-runs its ability to sustain and control that success, and a decline follows.

Say, for instance, that an organisation reaches increasingly higher sales targets, but its infrastructure doesn’t scale at the same rate. Inconsistencies and weaknesses begin to appear in its management systems. Quality suffers, and, eventually, the positive trend plateaus and tips downwards.

The answer? Don’t misjudge the impact that business and management can have on realising a sustainable growth strategy. The systems you have in place today may not work when addressing new challenges – or, they may make it next to impossible for you to meet them.

Related: The Most Common Mistake with Global Business Expansion

If your organisation is on a growth path, consider these six elements:

1. The right talent

Develop a management system that measures accountability against specific standards and ensures that the quality of your products and services doesn’t waver. As service quality often depends on human capital, you’ll need the right mix of people at every level.

Give non-management employees the autonomy to contribute positively, and recognise them for it. They’ll reward you with good outcomes and ensure that the foundation of your growth is that much sturdier, while developing a robust working environment.

Identify the people in your organisation whose roles will be most affected by your expansion, and enable them to take initiative outside of their standard work requirements. This way, they’re more likely to get involved and help you to create new cross-organisational systems that address tasks in parallel.

2. Controlling quality

It’s easy to lose track of quality when your business is growing speedily, so give the task of maintaining quality to a loyal management team. Assign them the responsibility for overseeing everything from product development to internal systems and manufacturing.

It’s also important for you to remember that service-based organisations face quality concerns as they grow, and that finding the right talent (see Element #1 above) can be as limiting as a blockage in a production line.

Related: 6 Signs That You Should Stop A Business Expansion In Its Tracks

3. Processes that scale

Make sure that your processes and projects are executed in the same way every time. Don’t let your systems become un-scalable; establish which ones are most likely to come under strain as the company expands.

4. Manage cashflow

Numbers never lie. When your company is growing, beware of the danger of spending more than you can afford. More oversight or adjustments may be necessary to increase effectiveness, quality, and sales.

When determining if you’re going to front-load your capital investment, be confident that cash is coming into your account as a result of the investment. Remember that cash profits and accounting profit are very different. Cash profits are your bread and butter.

If you aren’t positioned to finance your own expansion and you require outside funding, carefully consider the pros and cons of getting into debt, as well as the length of the loan and interest rate.

Related: Expansion Funding Options For Your Growing Business

5. Finding investors

Conduct detailed research into potential investors, as each will have sector or industry interests, investment mandates, and value preferences. Pinpoint these, assimilate with them, and make sense of them before engaging.

Then, make the effort to thoroughly evaluate the potential investor. Do this by first determining where your interests are aligned and then uncovering:

  • The source of the investors’ capital
  • Their investment track records
  • The returns that they usually aim for
  • Their traditional risk profiles
  • Their investment mandates.

6. Communicating culture

Spend as much time determining, sharing, and entrenching your company’s current and growing culture as you do addressing your growth strategy.

With each new stage of growth, commit time and resources into making sure that the cultures of different departments don’t implode when put together – impacting on customers, important employees, or worse.

Make your employees aware of what the future will hold, how it is likely to affect them, and what the bigger picture looks like.

In essence…

No matter the size of your business or what your growth plans are, expansion can expose you to a host of risks. These may be existing problems that worsen, or new ones that are uncovered for the first time. Either way, it’s crucial that you identify them, prepare for them, and make plans to protect yourself in the face of growth.

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Driving Your Business Growth Towards More Customers

Designed to help its customers get the most from their businesses through the right telematics solution, New WEBFLEET can help you reach your customers quicker, get more done, improve efficiencies, save costs and boost your revenues.

TomTom Telematics

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Europe’s highly regulated operating environment has made telematics ubiquitous in business. On the one hand, this means industries across the spectrum have become safer, more efficient and highly productive across the EU. On the other, it’s much harder to stand out from the crowd when everyone follows the same best practice standards.

“We don’t have those same stringent regulations in place,” says Justin Manson, Sales Director, Africa at TomTom Telematics. “Our clients have realised what a huge competitive advantage this actually offers them though.

“Locally, everyone understands the role that telematics plays in tracking what your drivers are doing right and wrong, and use it as a tool for encouraging good driving practices, but there’s so much more to this solution, and we’re making it our mission to help business owners really use it to their benefit.

“When deployed across the organisation to its full capabilities, a telematics system can radically improve productivity and workflow. Done correctly, a business can save up to 10% on its bottom line, and redeploy that cash into the company’s growth, thanks to drivers reaching customers quicker and getting more done. The right data also increases productivity and ensures better turnaround times.”

Thomas Schmidt, MD of TomTom Telematics, loves visiting South Africa for this very reason. “Because so many business owners aren’t using telematics to their full extent, there’s such a huge opportunity for us to assist businesses in their growth here,” he says. “We deliver a high-value stack of products that can change the way companies operate, and most importantly help them save money and make money. The challenge for us is educating our customers so that they understand what our solutions offer, and the incredible impact they can have on a business. We consistently improve these solutions based on customer feedback as well, making them very much from customers for customers.

Related: Why Your Fleet Management Plays a Pivotal Role In Your Business

“Anyone can buy a map for less than R100. Why invest in such expensive devices? The answer is because we’ve developed solutions that change lives. With the right data — and access to that data — you increase safety, simplify your business, drive efficiencies, increase your output and customer service, and ensure you are always productive and reliable — across the organisation. And that impact can be measured, and given a real ROI value.

“Imagine the impression companies that operate at that level make on their industries. They stand out from their competitors. There is so much room for growth in South Africa as we deploy these solutions.”

Game-changing solutions

As an organisation, TomTom Telematics is focused on continuous growth and innovation as well, constantly learning from market conditions, its customers and industry needs to improve its product offerings.

The result is the launch of New WEBFLEET in February 2018. “We’ve increased the value we offer our customers,” says Thomas. “We’ve collated data from hundreds of thousands of customers around the world who gave us their feedback through surveys, and New WEBFLEET is a window into easy-to-use, smart fleet management that is a game changer for companies.”

“TomTom Telematics is in the business of helping businesses,” agrees Justin. “Our goal is help our customers master their challenges. The right data at your fingertips will help you change the way you operate. That’s our goal. How much cash is being left on the table in an organisation because of inefficiencies?”

Introducing New Webfleet

The smartest way to manage your vehicles and mobile workforce

tomtom-telematicsTomTom Telematics’ state of the art Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) fleet management solution, with best-in-class user interface, is inspired by two decades of working together with customers to achieve more for better fleet management. New WEBFLEET is everything you need to manage your vehicles in the cloud, in real time. It allows you to monitor reports and dashboards, manage orders/workflow, and improve driving behaviour, safety and service, helping you save fuel and reduce costs.

Best-in-class user interface

  • A future-proof platform with a completely renewed interface, based on the latest HTML5 technology and driven by continuous innovation.
  • Simple and clean interface, with minimised clicks for faster working.
  • Intuitive functionality, means it is more accessible for greater impact across your business.
  • User rights management and state-of-the-art data handing ensures the highest level of data privacy and data security.
  • Fast access to the right information.

Related: Fleet Tools Will Help You Get More Done In Less Time

Map view

Know where your vehicles are and where they have been. Different map options such as Google, Google Street View or satellite map are enriched with traffic information, giving you a more detailed view on what’s happening on the roads. Toggle between different types of information on the map such as traffic, addresses and areas and create specific views, so you only see the information you need.

Dashboard

New WEBFLEET’s dashboard gives an overview of performance at a glance. Up to 27 KPIs can be used to track the performance of vehicles, individuals, benchmark teams or give a simple overview. This helps you to track real-time performance against your pre-defined KPIs.

Reporting

New WEBFLEET gives you instant access to the information that matters, meaning you can spot trends over time and use real-time information to make smarter and more informed decisions. You can instantly download or schedule reports to help you stay on top of everything — from fuel efficiency and legal compliance to quality of service.

Manage on the move

New WEBFLEET is optimised so you can manage your fleet on any device by entering WEBFLEET through a web browser or by downloading the WEBFLEET Mobile app on your smartphone.

Send routes direct to drivers

  • Plan accurate routes in New WEBFLEET by adjusting multiple variables such as location, time of departure/arrival, traffic and vehicle type.
  • Get a choice of alternative routes, as well as suggested fastest route with traffic.
  • Customise your route by simply adding new waypoints, or dragging and dropping existing waypoints on a route. Then choose from guided or forced route* options.
  • Send planned routes directly to a TomTom PRO driver terminal to keep your drivers on the right track.

Related: Time Is Money And It’s Time You Saved Both When Running Your Fleet

Personalised Map views*

  • Create your own saved map view to reach information you need fast.
  • Switch between vehicle groups or areas, without needing to adjust the map filters and zoom levels. n

Personalisation

Many ways to customise WEBFLEET to suit individual requirements from personalised views to adding information to make what you see more informative on one page.

Plan a route the way you want it

Use multiple variables (including waypoints) to give fastest or most efficient routes.

Access WEBFLEET

Across different device types, allowing you to always stay on top of business.

Simple, clean and easy to administer

Toggle between views to get the right information to focus on the task in hand. Get the right information to the right people at the right time, keep data secure and in the right hands.

Send routes to driver terminals

In real time, ensure drivers follow or avoid specific routes.

Visit telematics.tomtom.com/tellmemore and follow us on Twitter @TomTomWEBFLEET

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