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Lessons Learnt

5 Mega Lessons Learnt By OLC Experiential That You Could Leverage

When Offlimit Communications faced its first downturn after ten profitable years in business, its leadership team didn’t even question that they would turn things around and make them better. With resilience and determination, they analysed the business, made some tough choices and took action. Within six months they took the business from massive losses back to profitability, and a year later doubled their pre-losses turnover — all in the middle of a recession.

Nadine Todd

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1. You need innovation, anticipation and resilience

Innovation is all about looking ahead, but you also need to push your brain into the negative to prepare for anything. You must learn to anticipate what could go wrong and prepare for it. A certain amount of stress and having your back against a wall drives you. We need more of that if we want to achieve greatness, not less. Resilience is the mindset that can turn a negative into a positive. That’s been a huge life lesson for me. My number one mantra is to always look for a way to turn a negative situation into a positive. That’s where our biggest opportunities lie. — Jerome

2. Top leadership teams are balanced

Lisa is a top strategist, Garon is a production and logistics guru, Jerome is a quintessential entrepreneur, and their fourth shareholder and partner, Artwell Nwaila is a top-level creative. In OLC’s start-up days Jerome did everything, but while you can build a successful start-up like that, growth requires a balance of skills and expertise. You can’t build a high-impact business if you’re doing everything.

3. Be a caring organisation

Although we’ve always had a high-performing culture and can have tough conversations around delivery, we also genuinely care about our team. We make sure we’re perceptive and pay attention to everyone’s personal lives as well. You can’t expect your team to care about clients if you don’t care about them. — Lisa

Related: 11 Things Very Successful People Do That 99% Of People Don’t

4. Cross-border growth should be done strategically

Over the last year OLC has penetrated markets in Nigeria, Angola, Zambia, Cameroon, Mozambique, Namibia and Botswana. We identified our key growth areas, potential partners on the ground and which clients to farm in those areas before we made a move. Now we’re focused on getting all the great campaigns we are running to the rest of the continent through one point of contact project manager. There’s local follow-through, and our clients know that we have one view over everything. Quality and consistency are key. We can activate in five different African markets, but everything is coming from a central point. — Garon

5. Be quick and agile, but comprehensive as well

There’s no more space for companies that are small. If you want to make an impact in your market you need to be able to give a 360-degree offering to clients. This doesn’t mean you should lose focus. Stick to your space, but cover everything within that space. You also need to be able to make quick decisions that teams can immediately action. Whatsapp has been a game-changer for us. We don’t wait for diaries to clear to hold long meetings — if someone has an idea it’s sent out, opinions are offered, decisions are made and we hit the ground running.

“You can’t take it for granted that what you have today will be there tomorrow. We’re always identifying new assets, where we can leverage our current offerings into new territories or verticals and where we can add value.”

Nadine Todd is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Magazine, the How-To guide for growing businesses. Find her on Google+.

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Lessons Learnt

#Wealthiest List: 8 Self-Made Millionaires On How They Built Their Wealth

These inspirational self-made millionaires built businesses with nothing less than hard work and sheer determination.

Catherine Bristow

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1. Nick D’Aloisio Wrote a Million Dollar App At Age 15

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At the age of 15, Nick D’Aloisio wrote an app while sitting in his parent’s bedroom in the UK. At the age of 17, D’Aloisio sold his app Summly – a mobile news summarisation app to Yahoo for a staggering USD 30 million.

As one of the youngest millionaires, D’Aloisio is also the world’s youngest entrepreneur to be backed by venture capitalists – having secured seed funding from Sir Li Ka-Shing, Hong Kong’s billionaire, as well as raising USD 1.23 million from celebrity investors, including Yoko Ono and Ashton Kutcher.

“The number one thing I did that I think was wise was to get, through some of my advisers, was a Chairman; basically someone who was a very experienced business person, an industry veteran — Bart Swanson, who had been at Amazon and then Badoo. Then, myself and Bart really started finding people and growing the team.”

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7 Cannabis Industry Millionaires Making It Big In The Marijuana Business

These entrepreneurs have capitalised on a new market set to continue to grow rapidly as more countries legalise marijuana across the world.

Catherine Bristow

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1. Brendan Kennedy

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Brendan Kennedy worked on job sites as a carpenter to pay his way through university, with his eyes set firmly on becoming an architect, until the allure of Silicon Valley changed the course of his direction. While working at technology start-ups Kennedy began thinking about the possibilities that medical marijuana provided.

“I was really sceptical of medical cannabis,” he says. “It took a year of having conversations with patients and physicians and hearing the same story, repackaged but essentially the same, over and over and over again, where my scepticism eroded and I became a believer.”

In 2013, Kennedy and his partners applied for a licence from Health Canada and launched Lafitte Ventures, which was later renamed Tilray. Today, the company is a global leader in medical cannabis research, cultivation, processing and distribution.

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Scaleup Learnings From Our Top Clients – What The Most Successful Entrepreneurs Do Right

So, how do our successful clients move through these constraints to scaling up? We see four key drivers of success, and they are: people, strategy, flawless execution and finance.

Louw Barnardt

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You’re out of your start-up boots, staff is increasing, your client base is growing, revenue is up and you’ve proven your case to the market. Now it’s time to scale up. The challenges of this vital growth phase are different and it’s a time that demands different mindsets and different actions. In a world littered with small business failures, it helps to be well-prepared for scaling up using a proven methodology. At Outsourced CFO, we get an inside look at the success factors of our clients who are mastering the transition.

On the one hand, scaling up is a really exciting phase; this is what moves you into real job creation and making an impactful contribution to economic growth. On the other hand, it is really hard to scale up successfully. We see three major constraints that limit companies’ transition from start-up to scale-up:

Leadership

The business has to have the leadership that can take it to the next level. When you start scaling up, especially rapidly, the founders can no longer do everything themselves. The team must grow and include new leadership talent that can take charge and execute so that the founders are working on the business instead of in the business.

Infrastructure

The processes, procedures, networks, systems and workflows of the business all need to be scalable. This is imperative when it comes to your infrastructure for the financial management of your business. You’re only ready for growth when your infrastructure can seamlessly keep pace.

Market access

Scaling up demands more innovative marketing and storytelling so that you can more easily connect and engage with the new employees, clients, network partners, investors and mentors that need to come along with you on your scale-up journey.

Businesses that build a market conversation and a compelling brand narrative during their start-up phase are better positioned to have this kind of market access when they need to scale up.

People

It is critical to have the right people on your team. Our successful entrepreneurs have what it takes to attract, inspire and retain top talent. A strong team of smart, ambitious and purpose-driven people who love the company and want to see it succeed contribute greatly to a world class company culture. They are adept at communicating a compelling vision and establishing core values that people can take on. These entrepreneurs are tuned into the aspirations of their people and focus on developing leaders in their teams who can in turn develop more leaders.

Strategy

It is planning that ensures that the right things are happening at the right times. At successful scale-ups strategies and action plans are devised to ensure that the most important thing always remains the most important thing.

Strategy includes input from all team members and setting of good priorities for the short, medium and long term. Goals are clear and everyone always knows what they are working towards. The needle is continuously moved because 90-day action plans are implemented each quarter to achieve targets and goals that are over and above people doing their daily jobs.

Flawless execution

Top entrepreneurs are not just focused on what operations need to achieve, but how the business operates. They have the right procedures, processes and tools in place so that everyone can deliver along the line on the company’s brand promise. Frequent, quick successive meetings ensure the rapid flow of effective communication. Problems are solved without drama. There is no chaos in the office environment. Everyone is empowered to execute flawlessly to an array of consistently happy clients.

Finance

Everyone knows that growth burns cash. A rapidly scaling business faces the challenge of needing a scalable financial infrastructure to keep the company healthy. Our successful entrepreneurs pay close attention to finance as the heartbeat of the business, ensuring that everything else functions. They look at the tech they are using for financial management and for the ways that their financial systems can be automated so that they can be brought rapidly to scale. The capital to grow is another vital finance issue.

The best way to finance a business is through paying clients on the shortest possible cash flow cycle. However, when you are scaling up and making heavier investments in the resources you need for growth, it is likely that you will need a workable plan for raising capital. Our scale-up clients know the value of accessing innovative financial management that provides high level services to drive their business growth.

Navigating the scale-up journey of a growing private company is one of the hardest but most rewarding of careers to pursue. Having people in your corner who have been through this journey before helps take a lot of pain out of the process. No growth journey looks the same, but there are tried and tested methods that will – if applied diligently – lead to definite success. Happy scaling!

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