It’s often said that entrepreneurship is key to ensuring South Africa’s economic growth. I agree. However, I believe this doesn’t just pertain to starting up more companies, but also, very importantly, helping to scale businesses.
Words FR (Rhys) Robinson
Think about some of the business buzzwords in use today – innovation, disruption, niche players and engagement are just a few examples. In my mind, those all relate to having a real entrepreneurial mindset.
I believe entrepreneurship is more than founding and owning a business, which is what many people may think of when they hear the term. Entrepreneurship is much broader, however. It’s about identifying a need, taking risks and constantly filling gaps. The most successful leaders have a strong entrepreneurial mindset – they are driven to find new solutions to problems and to grab the opportunities that they see. They are passionate about always moving forward. That’s why I firmly believe that being (or becoming) more entrepreneurial is key for any organisation that wants to see the type of exponential growth we all dream of.
SECRETS TO SCALING
I can think of three things businesses need to get right when looking to scale, and these are the same no matter the industry, business type, or size. They are: heart, head and hands.
‘Heart’ issues need to be sorted out first. If your heart (read passion) is not invested in scaling, success is unlikely. Pursuing incremental growth is one thing. Chasing after exponential growth, whether that is achieving a milestone like doubling your turnover in a set period, or listing your entity, is quite another. Making giant dreams into a reality requires real commitment. Before even getting to the strategy or funding discussions, you need to ensure you have a relentless singular focus as a leader.
Next come the ‘head’ issues. Moving your business to the next level often means shifting your mindset from being in complete control to learning to delegate effectively. Exceptional leaders may be brilliant in their own right, but they get the best results as a team, each one playing to his or her core strengths. If you’re looking to scale, the best thing you can do is to surround yourself with a talented team of qualified, committed people that you can trust to take savvy business decisions. In a fast-growing organisation, you will not be able to be involved with every decision, so it’s best to broaden your leadership capabilities to allow you to efficiently scale the organisation.
Finally, businesses need to consider the ‘hands’ issue. By this I mean the on-the-ground challenges of exponential growth. These often relate to systems and processes. As businesses grow, the ability to fly by the seat of their pants diminishes and any chaos needs to be tamed into a semblance of order. This is often difficult for those with an entrepreneurial mindset, who can successfully ‘wing’ things, but it is vital for sustainable scaling.
Areas that typically need to be closely monitored range from the consumer to, stakeholders, strategic partnerships, finances and human resources, to name a few. In a nutshell, you need to build capacity to handle growth at every level of the business. This means empowering your people, building your ‘systems’ logically, and automating business processes.
You need to think a few steps ahead – boosting capacity just enough to handle moderate growth will mean scrambling to increase it again when you start to scale rapidly. This in itself could cause unprofitable delays. Consider the end point, map it out, and develop for that growth point.
With the above said, it’s also important not to delay until you attain perfection. You will make mistakes, even if you have the most perfectly designed plan and offering, along with the ideal team to execute. Include people that can walk this path and build the business and commit to the journey together.
AUTHOR l FR (Rhys) Robinson PhD is Executive Director, Infinitus Reporting Solutions (Pty) Ltd