For South African businesses looking to grow, here are three steps that will ensure sustainable growth in 2017, and the years to come.
“The secret to sustainable growth is to spend your time on what adds the most value to your business and delegate or outsource the rest,” says Evan Carmichael – a Canadian entrepreneur and YouTuber who’s net worth is around USD5 million.
For South African businesses across all sectors, how do we ensure sustainable growth in 2017, and years to come? South Africa’s economy looks a bit more promising compared to 2016’s 0.1% growth, according to CNBC Africa’s report, with an estimated 1.1% growth forecast for 2017.
As a business software supplier for South African businesses for over 18 years, I’ve seen many businesses rise and fall, and I’ve asked myself why some of our clients are able to expand and remain profitable - even in the face of trying economic circumstances - while others in a similar industry end up closing shop.
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What do they do to keep their businesses geared for growth?
Here are a few tried and trusted approaches that worked for them, and will work for you:
1. Embrace new things
If you’re still using spreadsheets to manage your tasks, production and accounts, you are greatly capping your business growth. Introducing new technology and software into your business can be disruptive at first, as you and your team get to learn how it works, but ultimately it will improve productivity and should help you streamline operations.
At times, business software is priced so exorbitantly that it almost eliminates the benefit, but don’t let this put you off investigating in new technology to improve efficiency in your business, as not all ERP systems cost the earth.
Give your teams the right tools to do their jobs quickly and accurately and you will reap the benefit of more work getting done and fewer balls being dropped. Try Slack for internal comms, and QuickEasy BOS for everything else, like quotes, stock management, job tracking, accounts, CRM, and more.
2. Find the heartbeat
Vision is incredibly important for your team’s focus, productivity and morale. Knowing why they get up in the morning and come to work will give your employees determination and buy-in to your business and your business goals. The ‘why’ of your business cannot simply be ‘to make money’ - you need to dig a bit deeper than that.
Not to sound cheesy, but your vision is the kernel, the life blood, that beats at the heart of your business. It’s what sets you apart from the pack. If you haven’t yet, check out Simon Sinek’s ‘Start with the why’ TED talk. Once you have distilled this, communicate this clearly to your team, and let it inform every business decision you make. If you need help refining and articulating this, contact a business coach to help you unpack and communicate your vision, and give you a roadmap to success.
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3. Focus on what works
Have you ever heard the story about the fish that swam really well, loved its job (swimming), and found great purpose in swimming? Unfortunately, the fish’s manager noticed it didn’t fly very well. He was concerned that the fish was not the epitome of a ‘well-rounded’ employee. So, the fish was sent on expensive flying courses to try to improve its complete lack of flying skills, and sat through countless pep talks to try to cure its lack of motivation to want to fly.
This took time, effort and considerable company resources. In the end, all that happened was that the fish - who naturally excelled at swimming - now felt like a complete failure compared, lost confidence in its value to the company, and never really made much headway with the flying thing.
The crux of the story is that we should focus our effort and time on what we do best, and delegate the rest to others wherever possible. If you as the business owner are bogged down with admin and paperwork, instead of focusing on growing your business, 2017 is the year to hire an admin intern or invest in software that will take care of the drudge work for you, so that you can focus on what you are good at.