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Jam Media’s Biggest Lessons And How To Chase Growth The Right Way

While it’s every start-up’s aim to focus on growth, there can be pitfalls to chasing growth too quickly. Jess Mouneimne explains how she learnt the cost of a bad hire the hard way.

Nadine Todd

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Vital stats

  • Player: Jess Mouneimne
  • Company: Jam Media
  • Launched: 2013
  • What they do: Communication and brand development solutions
  • Visit: jammedia.co.za

What is one of the biggest growth lessons that you’ve learnt through Jam Media?

I absolutely think you can chase growth too quickly. You may think achieving a certain turnover target is possible through one or two simple moves. For us it was hiring a bigger team. I went through this process in 2014, thinking that quickly expanding my team would open up capacity to deliver to more clients.

I rushed into hiring and even though I thought I went through a thorough recruitment process, my new team members came and left within three months. They were integrated poorly into the rest of the team and I had not put the correct systems in place to manage a larger team.

Related: View Every Interaction Through your Brand Lens – It’s Significant Believes Kate Moodley

When did the poor hires become noticeable?

Poor hires aren’t always immediately noticeable. The individuals I hired were quickly accepted by our clients as their account managers. There was something I had liked in them, and our clients responded to this as well.

Unfortunately, while they were great with clients, they couldn’t meet deadlines and didn’t comprehend the work properly. When they suddenly left, there was a vacuum, leaving clients feeling uncared for.

When clients are shunted around from account manager to account manager and team members come and go, the result is a lack of trust that you have to work hard to win back.

How have your processes changed as a result of this lesson?

jess-mouneimne-jam-media

I have always known that I tend to be enamoured with people for the most random reasons. I’ve hired people in the past because they had grit or they were a friend, instead of how well they suited the position or the company culture.

I realised that I was too empathetic for my business’s own good, and that I needed an HR professional to assist in hiring.

This gave me a second opinion in all my hires. Unfortunately, I didn’t always listen to the advice I was given, and because we were growing fast I was in a rush and didn’t check references well enough.

I have also learnt that I tend to hire personalities very similar to mine, which is not what my business needs. I don’t believe there’s a magic recipe for hiring — it’s always a gamble — but if you take your time and do multiple interviews, you have a better chance of getting to the core of the candidate and finding the right fit for your business.

Related: Kay Vittee’s 3 Steps To Winning The Talent War

How did you resolve the situation and cultivate good client relationships as a result?

When it happened to us, I had to be honest, explain the situation and why it had happened and assure our clients that I would personally oversee their accounts until we found a suitable account manager.

My longstanding clients stuck with me and one or two who did not know our history chose to part ways with us. It was a rough time and the losses stung. Not only did I suffer the financial loss of the bad hires and time invested in them, but I lost turnover as well. I learnt a valuable lesson in hiring and growth. Staff are integral to your organisation’s success, and finding the right employees takes time and planning.

You need buy-in from the rest of your team as well. I now get as many team members as possible to weigh in on hiring choices so that there is support and accountability; I do multiple interviews and I check references thoroughly.

Related: Where Others Have Failed To Execute Prudence Spratt Have Hit The Sweet Spot

Do This

Growth requires a team, but rather take longer to find the right people than make bad hires who cost you money and just end up leaving anyway.

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

Lessons Learnt

(Podcast) ‘Bizarre Foods’ Andrew Zimmern: ‘I’m Addicted To The Hustle’

How this week’s ‘How Success Happens’ guest overcame personal struggles and built an empire.

Dan Bova

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I didn’t know what to expect when we scheduled an interview over breakfast with today’s guest Andrew Zimmern. As you may know, the chef, writer, restaurateur and TV personality made a name for himself traveling the world and eating some, well, bizarre foods on his hit travel/food show, Bizarre Foods.

Turns out our breakfast was pretty normal – we didn’t dig into a fresh plate of scrambled brains or anything – but the conversation was anything but typical.

Over the past couple of years, Zimmern has built a true empire around his name with books, TV shows, restaurants (including his new Twin Cities joint Lucky Cricket), and a production company, but as he very candidly told me, the road to success has not been easy. He has gone through a lot of personal pain on his journey, and he says it is a daily endeavour to keep himself moving on the right track.

As Zimmern explained, over the course of his life, he’s had problems with substance abuse, depression – even homelessness – and he was very open about sharing the lessons he’s learned along the way about coping and finding redemption. We also spoke about his dear friend, Anthony Bourdain, and about the struggles of feeling overwhelmed that most of us face.

Related: Gareth Cliff Shares His Tips For Starting Your Very Own Podcast

But don’t get me wrong, he’s really funny, too! There’s nothing “normal” about Andrew Zimmern. Hope you’ll enjoy our conversation, thanks for listening.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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How BrightRock Is Disrupting The Insurance Industry With These 2 Pivotal Strategies

Developments in technology, and clear communication are positioning BrightRock to disrupt their industry and transform the consumer experience.

Monique Verduyn

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Vital Stats

  • Players: Sean Hanlon, Leopold Malan, Schalk Malan, Suzanne Stevens
  • Company: BrightRock
  • Est: 2011
  • Visit: www.brightrock.co.za

BrightRock was started around a dining room table in 2011 by four people with years of industry experience and — importantly — a diverse set of complementary skills.  They wanted to make changes to an industry with an age-old methodology by allowing customers to co-create a solution that precisely meets their individual needs, and adjusts as those needs change. Today, BrightRock is the fastest-growing insurer in the intermediated individual life risk market. It also provides underwriting management services to funeral parlour businesses and, more recently, has entered the group risk insurance market, offering its needs-matched approach to employees.

The founders of BrightRock, established in 2011, knew the life insurance industry all too well, and they found its methodology wanting. “Traditional life insurance lumps all the individual’s needs into one policy,” says CEO Schalk Malan.

“It’s a methodology that has been around for centuries. We started afresh and looked at how we could design life insurance based on individual requirements. Our cover is designed to exactly match each specific financial need. Because there is no waste, it’s more cost efficient and sustainable. And if circumstances change and our customer needs more cover, it’s easy to get it because needs-matched design enables the policy to change in line with changing needs.”

1. Embracing digital technology to provide needs-matched insurance

Suzanne Stevens, marketing executive director at BrightRock, points out that this type of innovation achieves efficiency (cost savings) and effectiveness (higher returns). “By harnessing digital technology, we have made our operations more efficient, and aggressively lowered costs by up to 30% for our customers. Every rand they spend with us works harder for them. That’s the benefit of a solution designed around the customer.”

BrightRock’s founders took a similar approach. ‘We ditched legacy thinking in favour of creating a product that is intuitive and easy to navigate. An enormous amount of time and effort went into writing and designing that system, and creating the optimal customer journey.”

Related: How BrightRock Is Rocking The (Industry) Boat In Only 5 Years Since Launch

Unlike clunky legacy systems, BrightRock’s platform is modularised, and was built according to the agile principle of rapid delivery cycles. The result is a technology stack with longevity, that is also flexible enough to be tweaked when needed.

“The advantage of the technology available today is that you can plug things in and pull them out as required,” says Suzanne. “That’s one of the enablers of a truly disruptive mindset. To step away from accepted norms and find new solutions requires curiosity and creativity, as well as a lot of courage to go up against large incumbents in the market. There is always resistance to new technology, although we are fortunate in this country to have one of the most innovative insurance sectors in the world.”

2. Effective communication is critical

These disruptors have set themselves above the rest through one surprisingly simple tactic —  effective communication. They agree that it simply doesn’t matter how world-changing your product or service is if you don’t communicate it to the right audience at the right time. New companies that fail to communicate their remarkable new development will quickly be pushed aside by other disruptors. Without a clear communication strategy that reaches the audience in the industry you’re trying to disrupt, you’ll set yourself up for failure. A key question to ask when you are developing your communication strategy is simply whether people understand what you do.

“Because the premise for our product was fundamentally different from anything on the market, communication and clear messaging were critical to convincing our clients to put their trust in us,” says Schalk.

“It was especially important to educate insurance advisors so they would understand what we were doing, why we were doing it, and how it was better than the other options available. That was key to disrupting the individual life market.”

Currently, BrightRock employs 380 staff, has experienced 40% year-on-year growth, and has an annualised premium income of more than R1,3 billion. The company has recently entered the group risk environment with a similar offering that addresses many of the same shortcomings of traditional group risk products. “The inefficiencies of the structuring of group products has meant that, to remain competitive, insurers have cut the benefits offered to employees, undermining their sense of financial security. Change is needed, and we believe our needs-matched philosophy positions us to change the group risk market too.”

‘We ditched legacy thinking in favour of creating a product that is intuitive and easy to navigate. An enormous amount of time and effort went into writing and designing that system, and creating the optimal customer journey.”

Unlike clunky legacy systems, the BrightRock’s platform is modularised, and was built according to the agile principle of rapid delivery cycles. The result is a technology stack with longevity, that is also flexible enough to be tweaked when needed.

Related: BrightRock’s 5 Entrepreneurial Tips For Start-ups

This iterative, modular approach typically begins with defining the strategy and programme plan upfront, delivering a core capability fast so it can provide benefits immediately, and then continuously improving with regular, incremental capability improvements to achieve the objectives of the strategy. It’s an approach that fosters closer collaboration between stakeholders, improved transparency, earlier delivery, greater allowance for change and more focus on the business outcomes.

“The advantage of the technology available today is that you can plug things in and pull them out as required,” says Suzanne. “That’s one of the enablers of a truly disruptive mindset. To step away from accepted norms and find new solutions requires curiosity and creativity, as well as a lot of courage to go up against large incumbents in the market. There is always resistance to new technology, although we are fortunate in this country to have one of the most innovative insurance sectors in the world.”

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Lessons Learnt

The 9 Obsessions You Need To Have To Become A Self-Made Millionaire

Here’s how to stay focused on your millionaire goals.

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The ones who succeed weren’t handed a golden ticket; it wasn’t chance that helped them cultivate their fortune. To reach millionaire status, you must be driven to reach your dreams. You must be obsessed in order to be successful.

These are the nine obsessions that give every self-made millionaire an edge in creating success and wealth.

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