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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?

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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+.

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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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