On 29 October this year, we celebrated six years since Funda disbursed our first loan. In that time a lot has changed, the business has grown, we have pivoted our service offering, moved offices, rebranded and learnt a lot along the way.
So, here are my top six business lessons learnt, six years on.
Plan with an end in mind, then check, adjust and change as required. Don’t be afraid to change the plan or direction to stay relevant. Break it down into manageable chunks, involve key stakeholders and reference previous projects for experience.
In business things don’t always go to plan, this needs to be accepted and requires adaptability, measuring and monitoring key areas – along with knowing when you’re expecting to hit key milestones. Keep in mind there will always be someone prepared to do it cheaper, but rarely with similar outcomes.
Tip: Involve experts early for specialised tasks.
If you’re not passionate and invested (both personally and financially), you will not make it through the hard and challenging times. Your mindset matters.
If you want others to believe in you and your business, it needs to start with you. The passion to achieve your vision and goals is a non-negotiable.
Continue to invest in and educate yourself with industry/job relevant content and whatever it takes to keep you mentally fit.
Find a release activity that requires total focus – this will give you a break from running continuous business scenarios in your head.
Tip: You are your businesses greatest advocate don’t keep it a secret, be proud of it.
Confide and collaborate with positive friends, associates and mentors from diverse backgrounds.
Sometimes they will have previous experience in a situation or will be able to see the obvious issues that you have overlooked whilst working in the business, not on the business.
Consider all advice and opinions – both good and bad. Understand that some will be good and some may be irrelevant, but it ends with you what to take onboard to implement.
Tip: Don’t waste your own or anyone else’s most valuable asset: TIME. Waiting to hear what you think you want to hear instead of accepting relevant criticism will hurt your business.
Waiting for the perfect timing, conditions or just plain old procrastination, is the greatest theft of time and can quickly kill the momentum and motivation you need to be quick but measured with a new product, process or systems release.
Test and win or test and fail, treat failures as a lesson learnt and an opportunity to analyse downfalls.
Fail fast and move on quickly, concentrate and optimise on the wins.
Tip: You never lose- you just learn. Yes, sometimes it maybe an expensive lesson but it would be worse if you kept doing the same thing over and over? Experience is the stuff you get when you don’t get what you want!
Your people are your greatest asset. Treat them well and fair, with direction, support and education where required to enable them to grow personally and professionally.
Hire key people that can tell you how to do their job and that have the right attitude to assist with growth and efficiencies within the business. Reward your people well, it may not just be all about money for some, be flexible with time and make time for some fun activities to get to know them. Involve your team in the journey with open communication of your vision, this will assist with goal alignment of business units.
In a lot of cases they are the face or voice representing the business to the life blood of the business: the customers. Your people need to believe in the business to represent it.
Customers should be the centre of the business’s goals and outcomes to ensure relevance and therefore continued business growth. Tip: You don’t need to be the best or smartest person in the team, delegate well and fairly to get the job done by the best person.
- Cash: know your numbers.
Cash is king. We hear it every day – the stories of businesses with great turnover but no cash. The talk at the BBQ is always around the big number, how much is being turned over, not how profitable the business is. Unfortunately, without profit there is no cash.
Alternatively, often we see profitable businesses where the cash is tied up in receivables, stock, assets, seasonal fluctuation or expansion.
Always monitor and measure your cash flow and forecast for fluctuations.
I would also like to take a moment to thank our customers, suppliers & backers who have helped to made Funda what we are today.