A week today I attended an event called Be More Gazelle - How to grow your business at speed...
I’ll start with a confession… before this event I had no idea what a Gazelle was. Obviously I know it's a kind of deer like mammal but in business terms, not a clue! It turns out I probably should have done because it’s exactly the kind of companies I work with. According to The FT it's an extremely fast growing company (20% + YOY) that maintains consistent momentum.
Are you a secret Gazelle? I can’t be the only person that doesn’t know what one is?!
The event was run by Upstream – a fab initiative that's aiming to redress the silicon roundabout East-West imbalance and make Hammersmith and Fulham the best place to do business in Europe. What an exciting vision! Are you in the West of London? Look it up and get involved. There were far too many business advisors there and not enough actual businesses and I'd love to feel as though I was part of a growing and thriving community of great businesses.
The event was a panel discussion led by the wonderful Sophie Devonshire from The Caffeine Partnership with two supremely knowledgeable paragons of the start up world Kirsten Connell MD of Cylon and Thomas Mahon VP of High Growth and Entrepreneurs at Barclays.
It was quick fire, hugely insightful and very inspiring - here are my key take outs:
Luck and timing – Getting it right has a huge amount to do with both luck and timing. For a runaway, smash all expectations success, you need to launch at the right time, in the right place, with the right product, to the right market. There needs to be a need and you need to be there to fulfil that need with a product that people want. It sounds so simple! It's really not but it's worth really putting your idea through those filters before you waste time and money on it.
Capital efficiency – To grow quickly, you need to be able to do it without spending huge amounts of capital on every growth step. You need to be able to exploit economies of scale and have cost effective access to the assets - either people, production capacity or materials that you will need to grow.
Scaleability – your business needs to be scaleable. You can’t grow to £1m turnover and 20% growth year on year if you can’t produce the stock or the market isn’t there or it’s going to cost you enormous amounts of time or money every time to bring a new customer on board.
YOU – it starts with you. It really, really does. You drive the values, the message, the product and the business. Leadership is everything you do. Beyond that, investors invest in the people you choose to bring into your team and vision you set out to achieve. You need to be credible, clear and investable.
There are three essentials to remember:
You need to have operational excellence. You need a simple idea and processes that can go on repeat. Your business basics need to be absolutely bullet proof.
Bring the best people possible on board. They will make or break your business.
Invest in your leadership skills - you are the key to your own success. Success is not a panacea, there are plenty of stories of people who achieve incredible success and then fail because of one bad decision or wrong move.
Investment and Funding
98% investment attempts fail. The panel was made up of people who support funding rounds every single day - the above advice is theirs. Follow it!
Investors invest in all of the above plus expected returns and the associated vision - you need to know where you're going, how you're going to get there and what the outcome will be before anyone is going to give you any funding at all. Sure, there are plenty of investors out there who want to see small businesses grow but not out of the goodness of their hearts - they want at least some confidence that their investment is going to pay off.
This is some fantastic advice from people who really know their stuff and no matter what stage of business you're at these are the things you should be thinking of. The points about leadership specifically are, for me, absolutely key and never to be underestimated. It's scary to think how much influence YOU have over your business success but also exciting and motivating if you have the right support.
With all this in mind, I'm giving away 3 free coaching calls to discuss how you can Be More Gazelle - you can book yours HERE.