- Company: Ask Lebo
- Player: Lebogang Mokubela
- Est: 2013
- Visit: www.asklebo.co.za
Ask Lebo is Lebogang Mokubela’s second business venture. His first, an event management company, failed because he had no proper structures in place, and poor financial management.
These were business lessons that he didn’t fully comprehend until he joined Perx Agency to pay the bills while he got his second business off the ground.
“I was suddenly exposed to the inner workings of a successful SME. It was such an amazing learning curve to see and understand the mistakes I’d made while running my own business,” he says.
It was then that he started thinking about the difference between a business model, and a business plan.
“As start-ups, we often confuse the two,” says Mokubela. “We think a business plan is something we do before we launch the business, and then we forget about it. Instead, the opposite is true.
“You need to develop your business model, but the point of the business plan is that it should be a living, evolving document. It’s all about how you manage your company, and how you adjust to changing market conditions.”
It was with this in mind that Mokubela launched Ask Lebo, a business consultancy that trains start-ups and assists them with the management skills they need to run a successful business that makes it past start-up phase, from management skills, money skills and getting the marketing right.
3 start-up management musts
1. Look at your expenses versus income
It sounds obvious that you shouldn’t spend more than you earn, but too many start-ups either don’t know what their expenses are, or they don’t track if their suppliers are performing well, offering value adds, or charging reasonable prices. Pay attention to every line item.
2. Look at your clientele versus your staff complement
This can go two ways. Either you have too many staff for your clients, or you have too many clients for your staff. Both can damage your bottom line. You don’t want too many employees.
Start-ups should find people who are passionate, willing and able to work hard and put in that extra energy. If you have too many employees, they can become complacent.
On the other hand, if you’re keeping things so lean you’re losing clients due to bad service, you’re not doing yourself any favours.
3. Do your market research
Business isn’t about what you want to do, offer or create. It’s about what the market wants. Understand how people buy, and what they want, and then adjust your offering accordingly.
This is where a living business plan is so important — you need to give yourself the room to make changes if necessary. Don’t talk features when selling; instead demonstrate what your offering means to their life.
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These inspirational self-made millionaires built businesses with nothing less than hard work and sheer determination.
1. Nick D’Aloisio Wrote a Million Dollar App At Age 15
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.”
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.
1. Brendan Kennedy
- Company: Tilray
- Website: https://www.tilray.com/
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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