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Lessons Learnt

Make a Difference Not a Deal, says Wayne Fyvie

If your presence does not add value to your clients, chances are your absence will have no impact either. This is how Wayne Fyvie from Green Office approaches business.

Monique Verduyn




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This Is the Part Where You Pretend to Add Value. That’s the irreverent title Scott Adams gave to a Dilbert collection exploring his familiar theme of sloth and indifference in the workplace. ‘Adding value’ is a buzz phrase, but what does it really mean?

Many business owners have no idea how to articulate value to their clients. According to recent research by Forrester, executive buyers believe only 8% of the sales people they meet are focused on adding value to their business. Yet it’s often cited as a key differentiator.

We-recommend-tickWe recommend: How To Effectively Nurture Leads Earned into Deals Closed

Define value on the customer’s terms

One entrepreneur who is proving that customer value is more than just a cliché is Wayne Fyvie, director of Green Office, a managed print services (MPS) company that helps customers reduce costs by making printing more efficient and streamlined.

That’s what has resulted in between 20% and 30% year-on-year growth since he bought into the business in 1999, when it was a humble cartridge vendor. Today it’s a national business with 165 employees.

“Begin with intent,” says Fyvie. “We are in a competitive market, which means that everything we do is about our commitment to creating real value for the customer and to packaging your offering around that. Sometimes, you cannot add value, and you must have the integrity to say so.”

Fyvie has built Green Office’s business model on the concept of customer value, with a focus on thinking strategically and selling tactically.

“We go through a lengthy process with each customer to assess their print environment over the period of a month. In the MPS space that is important because what people have and what they think they have are two different things.”

Assessing customer needs

The process is enabled by software that collects all the data about the number of devices, who prints what and why, and where the inefficiencies lie. At the same time, his team talks to the customer to ensure that they understand their business strategy and how Green Office can play a role in helping them to align their print needs accordingly.

Only then will they present a business case. That’s what makes it possible to promise a lot, and deliver even more. In many instances, they are able to cut a business’s printing costs by 50%, by introducing control.

Keep them coming back for more

Much of the marketing of MPS is focused on cost reduction, but it’s not only about financial benefits, says Fyvie. “Once you have saved the customer some cash, there must be other reasons for them to stay with you. We sell a service, not a box. What helps us to retain customers is the sales team’s capacity to continue to analyse and understand changing requirements.”

It’s that ability that turns his team into order makers, rather than order takers. He stresses the roles of training and technology in helping his team to create value for customers. In print, this is a strong advantage because it’s an environment that is open to abuse.

“Our sales team are highly trained, and backed by a print solutions team who analyse data and are able to flag areas of concern, such as a sudden spike in printing or an increase in the number of consumables ordered. We find out reasons for each situation and help clients to address any issues. We make the data work for our customers, and that is how we retain them.”

Get inside your customer’s head

Stand in your customer’s shoes to deepen your understanding of what they need, and be prepared to learn with them. This can give you a better idea of what they will need in the future too.

“You need to get out of the way to comprehend what your customer needs, rather than focusing only on your own offering. If you allow yourself to hear, they will tell you what you need to know,” says Fyvie.

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He and his team are better at finding where the business pain lies than customers themselves, and to then offer services that tackle inefficiencies directly. They take their products to customers based on what they know about the business requirements.

For example, he and his team are analysing the printing processes of more than 80 companies right now; when that’s done, they will be able to use the information to turn these companies into customers by showing how to streamline their print needs.

Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.

Lessons Learnt

7 Pieces Of Wise Advice For Start-Up Entrepreneurs From Successful Business Owners

Launching a business is tough, but with perseverance, a willingness to learn from mistakes and a focus on the future, you can turn your dream into a reality. Seven top South Africa entrepreneurs share their hard-won start-up lessons.

Nadine Todd




“What seems like an expensive lesson is actually the best thing that could have happened to you.” 

So you want to start a business? Seven successful entrepreneurs share their words of wisdom for start-up entrepreneurs

1. Offer advice and share your expertise freely

The more your clients are educated, the more empowered they will feel, and the more they will view you as a trusted advisor. I gave my clients material to help them develop the best labour policies and procedures. It didn’t make my service redundant — it built trust between us. — Arnoux Mare, Innovative Solutions Group, turnover R780 million

2. Stop planning and start doing

We all tend to complicate business with planning and processes. These shouldn’t be ignored, but you need to also just start — start your business, start that project, start walking the path you want to be on. — Gareth Leck, co-founder, Joe Public, turnover R700 million

Related: Watch List: 50 Top SA Small Businesses To Watch

3. Play your heart out and the money will follow

I learnt this valuable lesson when I was a student and busked at Greenmarket Square. You don’t stand with your hat, waiting for cash and then play — you play your heart out and the bills pile up in your hat. It’s the same in business. You can’t look at the bottom line first; it’s the other way around. — Pepe Marais, co-founder, Joe Public, turnover R700 million

4. Love learning lessons

What seems like an expensive lesson is actually the best thing that could have happened to you. I wasn’t paying attention to my partner or my books in our early days, and I didn’t realise the debt he was putting us into. We ended up owing R1 million. In hindsight, it was a cheap lesson to learn. Imagine if that happened today? The fallout would be much greater. We have 19 stores and nearly 100 staff members. It would hurt everyone, not just me. — Rodney Norman, founder, Chrome Supplements, turnover R100 million

5. Landing an investor starts with your story

A great story and data are the two golden rules of attracting an investor. You need both if you really want to access growth funding that will take your business to the next level. — Grant Rushmere, founder, Bos Ice Tea

Related: Watch List: 15 SA eCommerce Entrepreneurs Who Have Built Successful Online Businesses

6. Offer solutions

If you’re not solving a problem and creating value, don’t ship it — throw it away. That’s cheaper than selling a bad product. — Nadir Khamissa, co-founder, Hello Group

7. Small, clever decisions lead to big profits

One of the most important lessons any business owner can learn is that success on profit is nothing more than the accumulative sum of rand decisions. Lots of small, clever money decisions lead to big profits, and without the disciplines of frugality, money gets lost. It’s that simple. Question every single line item on a quote. Do we need it? Can we get it cheaper? This is what it’s about. — Vusi Thembekwayo, founder, Watermark

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Lessons Learnt

Here’s How Bosses From Hell Helped 6 Entrepreneurs Grow

From control freaks to being unco-operative, founders share what they learned from their worst boss.





In business, sometimes the most valuable lessons come from the worst teachers. We asked six entrepreneurs: What’s the greatest thing you learned from a bad boss?

1. Bring everyone in

“A former boss was very hierarchical and discouraged collaboration. Everyone reported directly to her, and interdepartmental meetings were practically prohibited. It meant that only our boss had the full picture – we missed a lot of opportunity for alignment and cooperation. Today at our company, it’s a priority to hold regular team meetings and foster a strong culture of collaboration. It’s crucial that our team members weave collective sharing into the fabric of their day-to-day interactions.” – Melissa Biggs Bradley, founder and CEO, Indagare

2. Be vulnerable

“Don’t be afraid to show your emotions! I worked for a partner at McKinsey who was an incredible person but an awful manager because he kept his feelings bottled up. After a client presentation went awry, our team didn’t know where we stood with our manager. It was tense, awkward and demotivating. Showing vulnerability and letting others know when you’re genuinely upset can help everyone externalise their emotions, build trust and reassure employees that they aren’t alone. It sends a clearer message than stone-faced silence.” – Leo Wang, founder and CEO, Buffy

Related: 5 Factors That Make A Great Boss

3. Lend a hand

“I worked for someone who would never help out the junior staff with their work, even if he was finished with his own – he’d simply pack up and leave early. I now make an extra effort to ask my staff if they can use a hand when my own workload is light. It’s created a culture that feels more like a tight-knit team and less like a hierarchy.” – Adam Tichauer, founder and CEO, Camp No Counselors

4. Move as a group

“When I was a nurse manager, I had a boss with no experience in healthcare. She wanted to change our process for keeping patients from getting blood clots. I knew it was a mistake, but she insisted. Ultimately, the change failed. It taught me the importance of empowering staff to speak up. At Extend Fertility, we collect feedback from customers via surveys. Results are shared with our staff, and together we develop action plans to address negative experiences. It’s the employees who interact with patients on a daily basis who have the best solutions.” – Ilaina Edison, CEO, Extend Fertility

5. Trust your team

“I once worked for a woman who joined our team after I had been working there for a while. Every time I stood up, she’d ask me where I was going, whether it was to the bathroom or to the printer. She had a fear of not having control over my time and work. As a young adult, this behaviour really demoralised me, especially since I had excelled at the job for years prior. My leadership style is less neurotic. Once my team members have my trust, I’m pretty hands-off.” – Denise Lee, founder and CEO, Alala

Related: 5 Leadership Questions Every Boss Should Ask

6. Respect others’ time

“Early in my career, I had a project manager who’d wait until the very last minute to review work, then convey lots of new information and requests. This happened at the end of the day or, worse, after hours, when I was home. It was demoralising, inefficient and disrespectful. In my career, I’m conscious about reviewing work in a timely and complete way so my team can successfully incorporate my feedback without generating a last-minute crisis – or lingering resentment.” – Kirsten R. Murray, principal architect and owner, Olson Kundig 

This article was originally posted here on

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Lessons Learnt

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

Consistency is a big part of succeeding. The top 1% of performers in the world know this is the secret to their success.

John Rampton



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Becoming wealthy and leaving an impact on the world is not an easy feat. If it were, everyone would go around doing it. At that point, it would not be much of an accomplishment at all.

Rather, being extremely successful requires an extreme amount of work. Especially when there is nobody looking. The best people have developed habits that help them reach their goals. These routines are not necessarily challenging to form, but they take consistent effort over extended periods of time. Creating these tendencies in your own life will propel your success.

Here are 11 things, that 99% of people (myself included) do not do, but really should.

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