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STS and Aurik

Build your business for an Extraordinary Exit with Aurik & STS EV

Join us for 55 minutes on 7 June to understand how to plan and execute a successful succession plan. 

Achieve an Extraordinary Exit with Aurik & STS Capital

STS and Aurik

Build your business to attract strategic buyers

94.6% of businesses started, fail to sell. A weak exit or hard closure of your company robs you of the opportunity to monetize your legacy.

Aurik and STS Capital have partnered to ensure that your business not only achieves a successful exit, but ensures your legacy through a strategic exit. 

Aurik is a business growth platform that works with established business owners & their teams to build their business to deliver growth & capital value. 

STS Capital are the expert guides that enable you to sell strategically to the people that buy strategically.

Join Aurik & STS Capital to understand how this powerful partnership can ensure that your business is built and positioned for an Extraordinary Exit.

Did you know:

1.3% of companies can survive without their founders. Businesses are not bought. They need to be built to be sold.

Leave this session understanding how to implement a single business growth system that:

  1. Resolves the 9 impediments to business growth and value 
  2. Builds in the 5 levers of valuation and exit
  3. Incorporates 4 types of business growth to maximize your company valuation
  4. Achieves maximum financial value by selling strategically to strategic buyers, and helps owners create legacy potential and actualize true potential value.

14th June / Online
11am EST / 4pm BST / 5pm SAST

Register here


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How productive is your business and why you should lose sleep over it?

Increasing your productivity should be a key focus as a business owner. It means you leave nothing on the table, maximizing your value all the time.

Pavlo discussed the difference between productivity and efficiency, and how to calculate your business’s productivity in this podcast from The Money Show:

Increasing your productivity should be a key focus as a business owner. It means you leave nothing on the table, maximizing your value all the time.

I recently met a manufacturer in the cosmetics and homecare industry. They make creams, ointments, soaps, and the like.

Looking to exit, a valuation of $20m had been offered and they wanted a view.

Their stunning, clean factory glistened with shiny machinery and equipment and a professional team gleamed with pride. The business owner felt that they could do better than the offer. We got to work.

After a day, we discovered that the business was running at 46% of its productive capability. After another day, we learned that the business enjoyed an 87% efficiency indicator.

What does this all mean?

Efficiency is about doing the same with less, while productivity is about doing more with the same. They are miles apart. Closing the productivity gap would add another $15m to the current offer based on the same valuation multiple. What’s best, is that I could be done in just 2 short years. 

How to calculate it?

Productivity measures the gross value added per worker

Productivity = turnover – consumption costs [(raw materials used in the production process + energy and materials + water + rates and taxes + consumables and packaging) + (services including sub-contractors + plant and equipment hire + tech, marketing, HR, accounting services + rent)]

Divided by workers [owners and employees all active in the business]

How to get it right?

  1. Mindset
  2. Awareness and attitude – a growth mindset is vital
  3. Respect time – invest it or spend it
  4. Leadership – less time doing and more time leading, mentoring, delegating

  1. Diagnosis
  2. Core, strategic vs everything and anything
  3. Outsource expertise
  4. Increase efficiency, and innovate activities

  1. Execution
  2. Team driven to institute
  3. Measured to manage

  1. Change
  2. Culture and ethos of who we are and how we do what we do
  3. Hire for it, fire for it, reward for it

Why action is critical to overcoming the anxiety caused by uncertainty

Pavlo identified the 5 biggest issues threatening the survival and growth of established business owner, due to Covid and the challenges of lockdown:

  1. Cannot get access to funding
  2. Struggling to find new clients
  3. Cannot pay rent/suppliers
  4. Motivating staff and ensuring performance
  5. Anxiety and fear which is largely oriented around uncertainty.

He has already shared strategies and remedies for the first 4 and now talks to the last concern – Overcoming anxiety in order to set strategy for the year ahead. Listen to these in the podcast or read on for the key takeouts:

A lot of business owners are looking for a path of action, to simply tackle that anxiety.

What lies ahead is an extended period of uncertainty around Covid. Pavlo pointed to the time it takes to vaccinate people, when the vaccine becomes available – it is as slow as 4 people per hour, which means it will take a very long time for any vaccination programme to become nationally effective. As always, he reminds us to Expect the Best but Plan for the Worst!

The reason action it is important is because it puts you in control. Taking a view and acting to build your business towards a destination, despite uncertainty offers you a number of benefits including:

  1. Time – you can never get it back.

    When the lockdown happened, many people didn’t invest in growth, they learnt to bake bread and waited for it to pass. It was crazy, because for a business owner, the way you behave now, must build toward something in the future. At all times.

  2. Lead – you are the leader!

    The word comes from lædan, which means leading from the front, If you don’t lead in your business, who are your team supposed to look to?

  3. Act – the act of acting empowers you.

    So long as it’s directed, then over time it’s no different to compound interest and investing: it builds mass, and momentum.

  4. Energy agility

    It is so important to be growth mindset oriented all the time so long as you have control over the pedal, accelerator, steering wheel and rudder of your business. If you are, it creates a cultural mindset in the organisation that the whole team orientates around, and this puts you at the front of the market.

  5. Signals – how to identify the earliest signals of change and new change.

    Pavlo used an analogy of someone wanting to cross the highway. A BUSY highway. As a pedestrian standing still, all you see is a stream of fast moving cars. Whereas if you are in motion in the traffic – you see the gaps.

  6. No one cares – the brutal truth!

    If you don’t care, no-one else will, and if you have invested everything in that business, it is fundamental that you get out of the headlights and find a strategy to act.

In the next discussion, Pavlo will speak to the three strategies that he sees as critical to adopt to get you and your business on a positive trajectory to growth.



Reset Rebuild


Starting this Global Entrepreneurship Week, Reset, Rebuild and Reignite your business to win in the new year and beyond.

Join business growth specialist and author of Reset Rebuild Reignite, Pavlo Phitidis for a roundtable discussion on how to build a business that is not only resilient to crises, but takes advantage of the changes that they present.

Pavlo will be joined by Brent Lindeque, The Good Things Guy, whose mission it is to find the positives amid the negative. Pavlo and Brent want to discuss resilient mindsets that can turn challenges into opportunities, and they want your stories to unpack.

Tell us what you did to survive the Covid lockdown – or any crisis that faced you or your business – and you could earn your seat on the panel to discuss your  challenges and opportunities. Or just register to listen to the discussion and learn from those who have endured and come out winning!

The discussion will take place on Wednesday 18 November 2020 at 12h00 

It forms part of Global Entrepreneurship Week, and Bargain Books is offering 25% off all copies of Pavlo’s books: Sweat Scale $ell and Reset Rebuild Reignite for the week, 16 – 22 November.

Register HERE

business exit

Creating an exit roadmap

We spend years building a business to generate economy for ourselves. Mostly, we are undercapitalized and learn to do things ourselves. It becomes a habit. Then, of a day, we decide we want out. Or circumstances change and we want out. This is brand new to us despite the 10-20-30-40 years of investment work in our businesses. All your experience is in generating an income through your business, you have no experience selling it.

Understanding your exit roadmap early will serve you well. Listen to this podcast of Pavlo Phitidis’ discussion about business exit planning with Bruce Whitfield on The Money Show on 702 and CapeTalk:

Elements of an exit roadmap:

  1. Salable vs non-salable business

94.6% of all businesses started, fail to sell. Even the well-established ones. Think of it like a share you would buy on the stock exchange – what would you want from it?
You want to earn dividends each year hope, and when you are ready to sell it, you want to be able to sell it – for a capital gain. Your business is the same, it needs to demonstrate to a potential buyer the following:

  • Income growth
  • Capital growth
  • Tradability
  1. The buyer personas

Think of your potential buyer as a customer: That buyer needs to have a problem solved and different buyers have different problems, different skills and competencies.

  • The private buyer – an individual who wants to buy a business. Typically they work through a business broker to find a business that fits their own abilities and resources.
  • Management buy-out – this is seen often in professional services, where you generate income and value by selling time – medical, legal, architectural firms etc.
  • Family – the first generation sells to the next generation.
  • A business – where a business sees value in acquiring you.
  • A JSE listed business – these form the majority of buyers of private businesses. They look to acquire growth in revenue, innovation, or skill and capability, which often means they want you in it.
  • A foreign owned business – a multinational looking to gain a foothold into Sub-Saharan Africa but these are few and far between until we welcome foreign investment.

Identify who the most likely kind of buyer would be for your business, and think about what they would want, and how you should build your business to suit their wants and needs.

  1. The hurdles

It is very rare to get an outright cash offer for your business. Pavlo shared the story of an American business owner he worked with, who got this right. He did medical assessments for insurers and over a period of time he realized it wasn’t scalable as he had to do each patient visit. So he harnessed technology through Amazon, Instagram, Facebook, Google and used all of that data to create a risk profile for individuals, which he provided to the big insurers. When he was ready to sell he got a once-in-a-lifetime offer of $180million. But that was extremely rare. Most of us will not secure such a simple payment.

So who is buying what?

  • Private money – if you are selling to a private individual, how much can they put down and how much can they borrow from the bank? The need to borrow, especially in our current economic climate, caps these buyers at around R15 million for private money.
  • Business money – Between R12 million to around R30 million, a private business could leverage funds to buy you.
  • Corporate money – given the compliance, risk and legislation around transactions, one that doesn’t give them a business that generates at least R50 million plus, is not going to justify the pain of acquiring you.

This leaves a no-mans land between around R25 million and R50 million where there is no-one who wants to or can buy your business. And it’s important to know that, as you grow your business towards an exit


Kill your business cholesterol, before it kills your business

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner][vc_column_text]As a body grows and develops it also slows down. The years of life and living bear down on it and lying in bed for an extra 5 minutes rather than springing into action the moment the alarm sounds becomes tempting. An extra slice of cheese or a spoonful of ice-cream after dinner and a hard day also feels like a well-deserved reward. Cholesterol builds and if not checked, it’s the death knell that you often regret most when it’s too late.

It’s a terrible analogy to contemplate when building and growing a business, especially if you plan to exit it one day for a capital profit as your just reward for all the risk and sacrifice it took to build.

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST FROM THE MONEY SHOW ON 702 & CAPETALK HERE[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner][vc_column_text]


1. In the beginning

In the beginning, you are in control of everything. You especially keep your attention on all things that bring money in and take money out. Sales matter enormously as do expenses. All your suppliers that you work with you get to know personally. Who are they, what value do they offer, what is the deal that you have with them and most importantly, spending as little as possible for as much as possible is as vital as getting sales into the business.

2. Then you grow

As sales come in and you get traction in the marketplace, complexity and activity both increase. Your attention moves onto the bigger cost items. Rent, people, vehicles, computing, software and the like. If you are in manufacturing, machinery and equipment as well as stock and inventory in other businesses. This matters because if you don’t buy right, you can’t sell right…right? The smaller ancillary expenses and consumption items fall out of your purview simply because you don’t have enough time. they are also hard to find in the avalanche of admin that governs and everyday growing business. In your mind, they are small costs and often difficult to understand. Do you truly understand your medical aid or cell phone contract? Such services are deliberately bundled and complexified to keep your attention on the idea that it’s just, say R52 per month. When you are spending R300k per month, you must focus on the big-ticket items. People tell you it’s the pareto principle, the 80% of your costs lie with 20% of your suppliers – focus on that.

3. Complexity builds stress that narrows your focus further

Nobody ever built a business by focusing on the pennies people will tell you. Unless you are Sam Walton, founder of Walmart or, Phil Knight, founder of Nike or, Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon. And the list goes on because many pennies make a pound and so it grows from there. But the problem remains this. With more growth comes more complexity and opportunity and that, if managed well becomes more growth leading to further complexity. This cycle stresses you out because it’s a lot more to deal with in far less time than you ever had. You try bringing in people to help and even software too. Often that serves only to increases stress and complexity. Oh, and with your growth, where you now sit 50 times bigger than you might have been a few years back, those small expenses have grown too, not only in size, where the R52.38 is now R552.38 but there are more of these small, noisy little expenses. Your time scarcity sees you double down on the Pareto principle further feeding a false sense of belief that the leak is just that, a small leak if it exists at all. After all, it’s just one tiny spoon of chocolate ice-cream or a small slice of cheese, you say in the back of your mind!

4. Cholesterol, unchecked, generates the heart attack

With further growth, the cholesterol builds and as it does, it slows your body. The many, many small expenses, many for services you no longer need nor use add up to a chunky R50,000 monthly. Sure, your business now generates 100 times what it was several years back, but that bleed is a shock to you. You are furious and angry both at yourself and your team who are now largely looking after all the costs outside of the pareto margins. An investigation begins and you further discover that your team involved in procurement are missing obvious negotiation advantages that could have saved over R500 000 over the last 18 months. The cholesterol has built and set in and a makeover is needed before it kills your business, and you in the process.

This happens to most fast-growing businesses. Especially if its leaders have a big vision and are driven to grow and manifest the vision. The pareto principle is used as a constant reference to focus on what matters. Don’t sweat the small stuff is what most would say and often, those who say it, well, it’s not their money that is bleeding out the business.


1. Develop a procurement strategy

Allocate all your procured items into one of three buckets – strategic and core, strategic and non-core, non-strategic and non-core. Once done, set quality, delivery and risk measures on them all.

2. Turn it into a system

Determine the times and activity schedule along with checklists to procure the inputs across the three buckets.  This includes how often you buy, at what standard of quality, from who, on what contractual terms and how often will you review it.

3. Train and capacitate

Train your staff in procurement on the system because now you have a system to train people on. Remember, staff have mostly not been through a process of starting something with nothing and so their skills in negotiation and understanding of its importance in cashflow will be limited, you need to pick the right staff in procurement and mentor their performance.

4. Structure and motivate

Create incentives by setting budgets and link the procurement buckets. If you have well-defined standards and performance expectations in procurement, any outperformance might well be incentivised but beware, the wrong behaviour within the wrong bucket can harm the business. for example, squeezing your insurance costs by dropping the standard of cover can cost you your business.

5. Hire and fire

Hire the right staff in the first instance and fire those that break with system. Procurement is prone to corruption and a well-designed system to bring your procurement strategy to life should be severely enforced.

We work with established business to build business systems across the entire scope of business activities. Systems deliver certainty, without which cholesterol can build. If it doesn’t kill you, it will slow you down and in the fast paced, competitive economy we live and play it, that could see your business being one of the 94.6% that are started but never succeed in a sale.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Bring your business into the 4th Industrial Revolution

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner][vc_column_text]4IR was a huge topic before covid-19 hit, and the lockdowns forced us to face the digitisation of our businesses, urgently.  Working remotely has accelerated the pace at which we 4th industrialised our businesses and if you aren’t quite sure what to digitise or how to do it – read on.

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST HERE[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner][vc_column_text]

It’s about technology enablement.

In its simplest form, it’s about enabling the performance of your business through technology. This includes software, hardware and connectivity. Technology doesn’t make anything happen. Technology enables something to happen. To do so, its needs to be developed, programmed, connected and ‘switched on’! Imagine you have a bakery and make 1,000 loaves of bread a day. You have three options in your baking process.

A: Get up at 3am to mix the dough, switch on the oven, load the baking trays, put them in the oven, take them out at 6am, pack them onto your shelf and serve customers from 6.30am. Or….

B: You can instruct staff to do it for you but run the risk of wrong ingredients, missed steps in the baking process and enidng up with either inconsistent quality or the bread being late for the 6.30am deadline. Or…

C: Program the oven to switch on automatically at 3am, have the ingredients to make the dough decant into the mixer in sequence. The mixer blends and produces the dough which automatically empties into baking trays that slide into the oven and remain there until the bread is baked. At that point, the bread is conveyed into a vending machine that allows customers to pay using their debit card or phone. With each sale, your bank account linked to your accounting software updates your financial position in the business.

Technology, properly designed and connected, automates the entire process using software and hardware (baking equipment, conveyer belts, vending machines etc).

Importantly, understanding how your business works is the first step to understanding how to use technology to make it work better. Read more on embracing technology in your business.

It’s about connectivity.

Affordable, reliable, super-fast connectivity like that promised by 5G, is vital to the 4th industrial revolution. The many devices’ communication with each other through software and algorithms all require connectivity at speed to create a smooth, frictionless experience for a customer.

It’s about creating scale.

Scale means that you can do a lot more of what you are doing at a consistent level of quality, experience and certainty. For example, if you are a baker making 1,000 loaves of bread a day. Scaling will allow you to make 10,000 loaves of bread a day. To get this right however, it means that not only should you be able to bake an additional 9,000 loaves of bread a day but also sell them too. It also means you need to be able to fund the growth you achieve through scaling. Scaling goes beyond technology; it needs the entire system of business to scale too.

It’s about predictability and certainty.

In the baking example, it’s easy to see where the most predictable and consistent level of performance would be achieved. These outcomes allow any business owner to focus on growth rather than daily operations dealing with a litany of relentless urgent matters.

It’s about specialisation.

Given the intimate understanding of your business required to enable its performance through technology, a narrow focus on who you serve is important. If you are trying to be all things to all people, the likely automation of your business processes will be limited. A comprehensive adoption of technology means that you specialise on a niche customer group, understand them deeply, design your business to solve problems and then, invest in automation to execute that solution.

It’s about a business environment conducive to technology.

None of this can happen in an environment that has unpredictable power supply, scarcity in skills, weak business growth funding and understanding and unworkable and or inconsistent legislation. Getting this right requires stability in the business environment given the investment required to get it done. Legislation, standards setting, and policy need to support and enable the process. In addition, business needs to be allowed to do it. I was speaking with an Uber driver who said technology is the thing that will cost jobs for those being retrenched and the same technology created one for him and his family. Tolerating this uncertainty, accelerating policy to make the 4th industrial revolution possible are vital features in this environment.

It’s about starting.

In its simplest form, start with a social media profile that works for your business. Build a website. In these two acts alone, you have tech enabled your shopfront and a path and journey to it. You can make all the bread you want but if a customer doesn’t know about you, it’ll never turn into cash. If you don’t know how, ask Google or YouTube, many there do, and share the information freely.

At Aurik, we embraced technology and have digitised over 289 processes in our services businesses. We grew, staff whose functions were replaced by technology were relocated to other parts of the business that needed their skills and time and our clients have enjoyed a service experience that is rated consistently above 94,2%. It is a vital component of building an Asset of Value and beyond doing it for ourselves, we do it for over 500 businesses today. Let’s work together to get your business built efficiently so that you can scale, grow and exit with a tidy capital profit sometime in the future.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row]


People power or hinder a business’s growth. And the people suited to your business today, might not be the right people tomorrow. What should lead and shape your people strategy and how you get it right is a complex problem. It’s one that is made a lot simpler if you have a clear strategy, know your business well, operate good systems and have time to source and select the right talent.

talent 2

1. Growth and complexity

As a business grows, it becomes more complex. This complexity can be exponential and brings with it tremendous risk. It can also be manageable and bring with it opportunity for employees. Complexity is seeded when you do not have a clear positioning; compounded when you don’t have strong systems; and is accelerated when you add people to the mix.

2. Simplify before people

Having a clear positioning allows you to develop simple, stable operating systems to deliver consistently on that positioning. Having simple systems allows you to best understand what talent your business needs to operate. The systems also enable you to train, measure and retain or let people go when you make a hiring error. They also give your people a fair chance to succeed and thrive. People work best when they understand the function of work they need to perform, are capacitated to do it, understand how their effort adds value to the business and are recognised for their contribution both in pay and applause.

3. Growth changes a business

A well-positioned business, supported by good systems, operated by capable people will grow up to a point. Just as a human body can only bear so much weight. Before you can apply more weight you need to strengthen the muscle and bone structure. Should you fail to do so, the body will collapse under the increasing weight. A business is no different. As it grows (weight), the business (body) needs to be strengthened to bear the weight. We refer to this as break-build. Break the systems you have built so far and rebuild them to bear the new growth. A muscle needs to tear to grow and this is no different.

4. A changed business challenges its people

The bone and muscle density in a body are like the systems in a business. Reshaping the systems to bear more growth means that your people must be upskilled to cope with the new systems. The new systems, more growth, and larger size of the business creates complexity and your people must cope with it to sustain the business. At this stage of a business’s lifecycle, your ability to understand whether your people can cope or not, understand what’s needed to enable them to cope and critically assess whether this is realistic becomes an essential skill.

 5. Understand your changes

System changes in a business today tend to be substantive. The reason for this is that often they undertake a process of digitisation or automation. A significant part of scaling your business for growth means extensive automation of processing routine work. It will also mean a growing team and often, a growing serviceable footprint. In some cases, it might mean new, connected plant and equipment.

6. Measure and match your people to the changed environment

With these changes understood, new operating systems need to be created bringing new activities into the everyday work life of your people. The extent of the changes is highly likely to limit the ability of certain people to rise to the new level of capability required to support the business. Whilst I believe that you should always hire internally first, hire with a view to create internal career opportunities for your employees but hire wisely. A great salesman does not make a great sales manager. The reliable ops co-ordinator might not be able to cope with an automated system.

7. Upskill, outsource and retrench

Supported by clarity of purpose, depth of understanding and empathy, there will be occasions where you need to source external talent. For example, a strategy to digitise your business from its former analog operating system to create the scale needed to support growth is likely to see a fundamentally different aptitude and talent required in the business. Employees who have invested in themselves recognising that they need to make themselves assets to the business are those that are worth investing in. Should you not have the talent internally, go into the external environment. You owe it to yourself, the business, all who depend on it and the employee who you select. They too want to succeed and your evaluation of their aptitude and talent, matched to the function of work in the changed business is vital.

As a business owner, your primary responsibility to your business is its survival. This is best achieved by focusing on growth. a business that’s not growing is dying, one that is sustaining and one that is growing around 17% annually is thriving. Achieving this must guide your people strategy and choices and getting this right means that you need to be well positioned, supported by good systems and have the time to source, select and empower the right talent aligned to the forever changing environment of your business. Success in this endeavour will see you grow. Failure will fail you.

We work with business owners to not only focus on growth, but, through design and build of the business, get the people strategy right. People power a business’s growth and building an Asset of Value™ without the right people doing the right thing at the right time is simply not possible.

Written by Pavlo Phitidis

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