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https://omny.fm/shows/the-money-show/small-business-focus-achieving-growth-for-your-bus?in_playlist=the-best-of-the-money-show Strategies for Achieving Business Growth in a Stagnant Economy

Strategies for Achieving Business Growth in a Stagnant Economy

In a recent episode of The Money Show with Pavlo, the focus was on achieving growth for businesses, particularly in the challenging economic landscape of South Africa. Despite the stagnant growth of the economy, Pavlo shared invaluable insights and strategies for business owners to navigate and thrive. Let’s delve into some of the key takeaways:

Embrace a Growth Mindset

Pavlo emphasised the importance of adopting a growth mindset. In a stagnant economy, it’s crucial for business owners to shift their thinking towards growth opportunities. Being open to new ideas and continuous learning is essential for identifying and seizing growth prospects.

Understand the Economic Climate

While the overall economy might be stagnant, not all industries experience the same growth rates. Pavlo highlighted the significance of understanding industry dynamics and identifying sectors with higher growth potential. By focusing efforts on growth-oriented industries, business owners can capitalise on emerging opportunities.

Invest in Scalability

Scaling a business can be daunting, especially in uncertain economic times. However, Pavlo stressed the importance of building scalable systems and processes. By investing in infrastructure that can support growth, businesses can expand without compromising efficiency or profitability.

Differentiate from Competitors

In a market where many businesses are complacent or resistant to change, those with a growth mindset have a competitive advantage. Pavlo urged business owners to innovate and differentiate themselves from competitors. By offering unique value propositions and constantly evolving, businesses can attract customers and gain market share.

Focus on Profitability

Growth shouldn’t come at the expense of profitability. Pavlo cautioned against pursuing revenue growth without considering profitability. Instead, he encouraged businesses to focus on increasing profitability alongside expansion. Smart growth strategies should aim to enhance both revenue and profitability, ensuring sustainable, long-term success.

Measure Success Holistically

When evaluating growth, it’s essential to look beyond revenue figures. Pavlo advised business owners to consider factors such as increased customer base, market share expansion, and improved profitability. By taking a holistic approach to measuring success, businesses can assess their growth trajectory accurately.

Achieving business growth in a stagnant economy requires a proactive approach, strategic thinking, and a willingness to adapt. By embracing a growth mindset, understanding industry dynamics, investing in scalability, differentiating from competitors, prioritising profitability, and measuring success comprehensively, business owners can navigate challenges and unlock opportunities for sustainable growth.

Nyad

Business endurance lessons from Nyad

In the dynamic landscape of business, the ability to navigate challenges and uncertainties is paramount for success. As we step into 2024, a year filled with global elections, geopolitical tensions, and economic complexities, the need for strategic planning and purpose-driven leadership is more critical than ever. Drawing inspiration from an unexpected source, Pavlo Phitidis shares his thoughts on how the world of business can glean valuable lessons from the extraordinary journey of Diana Nyad, a world record holding long distance swimmer.

Setting the Destination:

In a recent discussion on “The Money Show,” Pavlo & Bruce Whitfield, shared insights into the challenges and opportunities awaiting in 2024. Recognizing the turbulent waters ahead, Pavlo turned to a surprising source for inspiration – a movie called “Nyad.” The film follows Diana Nyad’s quest to swim from Cuba to Florida, a 100-mile journey through shark-infested waters and unpredictable conditions.

Nyad’s journey became a metaphor for setting a destination in the business world. As Pavlo noted, “Without a destination, you’re going to be swimming in circles.” In the context of business, having a clear vision and purpose is essential to guide strategic decisions and overcome obstacles.

Lessons from Nyad’s Journey:

Diana Nyad’s determination and resilience offer profound insights for business owners facing challenges. Her journey wasn’t just about conquering a physical feat; it was driven by a deep purpose to achieve something remarkable. A key takeaway from the movie is the importance of defining a destination and building a team around that shared goal.

Pavlo emphasizes, “Destination matters.” Without a clear vision, businesses risk swimming aimlessly, unable to attract the right talent and resources. The parallel drawn between Nyad’s swim and business ownership highlights the significance of planning, teamwork, and unwavering commitment.

Team Collaboration: Nyad’s success wasn’t a solo effort. Behind her remarkable achievement were a coach, a navigator, a nutritionist, and a team dedicated to her vision. In the business world, Pavlo draws parallels to successful entrepreneurs like Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs. Each of them began with a vision, assembling teams that shared their passion and commitment.

Dealing with Failure: The conversation delves into the fear of failure, acknowledging that failure is often seen as a black mark. However, the lesson from Nyad’s journey and the experiences of renowned inventors like Thomas Edison is that persistence and relentless pursuit of a goal lead to success.

Purpose Beyond Fame: One notable aspect of Nyad’s story is her pursuit of a greater purpose beyond fame or fortune. As Phitidis observes, “Diana Nyad never did what she did to be famous.” This echoes the idea that a business should be driven by a purpose that goes beyond financial success, leaving a lasting impact on the world.

As we navigate the business obsctacles of 2024, the lessons from Diana Nyad’s extraordinary swim resonate deeply. Setting a destination, building a committed team, embracing failure as part of the journey, and finding purpose beyond personal gain are crucial elements for enduring success in the business world. Let Nyad’s journey inspire business leaders, to swim with purpose and resilience, overcoming challenges to reach their desired destinations.

Dying at your desk should be lauded

BUSINESS LEADER: Dying at your desk should be lauded

In this article, first published in Business Leader, Pavlo argues that retirement is for the birds, certainly if you are a business owner. Creating a business is hard.


I was recently absorbed in a debate about retirement with a highly accomplished business owner. Having started her business 26 years ago after a successful corporate career of 12 years, we met to talk about growth. But that’s not how it started. Originally, we were meeting to discuss her company’s valuation.

Our conversation felt light, fleeting, almost whimsical. Something was wrong. It was as if she was going through the motions of the conversation that she felt she should have.

You have no interest in selling your business,” I remarked eventually. She looked surprised at my comment. After briefly pausing, she said, “I’d hate to sell it. But I’m in my 60s, and the pressure is immense. Family and friends are asking why I want to carry on. The debates get testy when, in casual conversation, I talk about new products, new markets, and new opportunities.

What is the response when you do?” I asked. “When is enough, enough. Aren’t you being greedy? You have earned the right to retire and other such comments,” she said, smiling tentatively.

The business owner’s odyssey

These kinds of comments come from many sources:

  • Peers who are corporate employees that either face a forced retirement, experience work as a political battlefield, or have lived a life in a narrow functional silo
  • Friends or family who want more of your time or envy your achievements
  • In family business scenarios, your successors may well want to lead and take the business in a different direction
  • Other business owners who, as competitors or friends, have a different lived experience of building, growing, and managing their companies, and who, exasperated, want out and project their lived experience onto you
  • Finally, the ‘Joneses’, where the collective view of life is that you work to earn your retirement and that is a key indicator of success.

But here’s the thing. Most business owners I’ve met do what they do for more than the economy. Through their business, they find inspiration, meaning, friendship and purpose. These are the ingredients of meaning. And when work becomes more than economy and meaning becomes the greatest driver behind why you do what you do, retirement is not a likely ambition.

The art of legacy building

It may sound idealistic, but I’ve witnessed it repeatedly. I think back to the first real client I had 16 years ago. A successful industrial baker who, after 27 years, had built a respectable £5.8m annual revenue business and wanted out. Unable to fetch the price he wanted, and a need to retire with dignity and pride, we met to discuss what needed to be done. I asked why he wanted to sell. “Every day feels like a grind, a slog, and as much as I have invested in my team, I’m square and centre of daily, weekly and monthly operations. I’ve tried to delegate and let go. I’ve tried to work ‘on’ my business, not ‘in’ it. I’m fed up. What I loved has become a choke around my neck.”

He vented for some time, and eventually, we mapped out a path to attract the valuation he wanted. 16 years on, with annual revenues approaching £100m, he remains fully invested and at the helm of his business. Each year, I ask him, are you ready to retire? He laughs and says, “Next year.”

If structure determines behaviour, how you build and grow your business will determine how you spend your time and attention. Should you find yourself experiencing growth that is stuck or stagnant, or alternatively, chaotic, and complex, you will tire, and retirement will be attractive.

It’s not how it has to be. The right blueprint to inform the design and development of your business will release your time to focus on the things that feed your soul.

John Milton’s (1608-1674) sonnet, “on his blindness,” captures the idea beautifully. He argues that everyone has a talent, and the job of life is to put that talent into service of humankind. Creating a business is hard. Building and growing it is hard. The trials and tribulations are what create meaning and value. Retiring such a talent robs us all of future prosperity.

Dying at your desk, then, indeed, is a life fully lived.

Rituals, routines, habits: The blueprint for transforming your business growth

BUSINESS LEADER: Rituals, routines, habits: The blueprint for transforming your business growth

In this article, first published in Business Leader, Pavlo shares Rituals, Routines, and Habits: The Blueprint for Transforming Your Business Growth.


Once your business has achieved a ceiling of performance, how you invest your time and attention determines your future success. To understand how we invest our time and attention, we can look at the habits that drive us, consciously and unconsciously, every day. Our habits form behaviours that manifest both good and bad outcomes.

Habits form when you do something that makes you feel good and can be initial and ongoing. Here’s an example of each.

A cigarette makes you feel good when you light and drag on it. You might feel awful after, and swear to stop smoking, but you won’t and don’t. I’ve observed this as a non-smoker for years. So why did you start smoking in the first place? Was it to be cool or fit in?

Whatever it may have been, you likely developed a habit around it – a morning and evening smoke or when things get rough in life. Mostly, you don’t even think about it. You light up and draw, reminding yourself that you are going to die one day or promise yourself you’re going to give up next week.

A good habit might be brushing your teeth twice a day. Don’t do it and feel uncomfortable. Do it, and you feel virtuous, clean, and fresh. You likely do it now without even thinking. It’s a habit.

Both are mainly unconscious. You do both whilst thinking or doing other things. And yet, these acts bear consequences. They shape your future despite your aspirations and intentions.

What does this have to do with business growth?

Upon reaching a certain level of business performance, your time and attention, more than money, skills, strategy, and advice, are the greatest determinants of future growth.

Understanding what guides your time and attention becomes the most critical insight into your company’s future and leadership imperative.

There are primarily 3 drivers:

Rituals

These are considered actions and behaviours intended to yield a clearly defined outcome. For example, 20 min of exercise, followed by 10 minutes of meditation first thing every morning. It is deliberate, purposeful, and practised.

Routines

Patterns of behaviour set by circumstances. For example, a weekly routine that sees you go to work differs from a weekend routine that does not. In each case, the routine is governed by the day’s or event’s logistics and requirements.

Habits

Both routines and rituals can become habits. A ritual that becomes a habit loses its purpose since rituals are meant to be intentional and purposeful, requiring conscious, practised presence. Routines lead to habits more often. But habits also form based on past behaviours, responses, practices, and circumstances. It makes them the hardest to see, understand and change and skews your ability to evaluate how you invest your time and attention.

As a business grows from one level to the next, fundamental changes are needed to support the growth. How you lead, manage, and behave as a business owner in a company generating £5m annual revenues is fundamentally different to what is needed for a company generating threefold that. And to get a company from there to that future revenue requires different routines and habits to those that got you there in the first place.

So, can you change your habits to enable this growth?

Popular culture says yes. Identify the habit, understand the trigger, replace it with better behaviour, reward yourself each time and after 21 or 33 and ¾ days, a new habit is formed.

I don’t buy it. Many business owners backslide from leading growth into operating the business. What’s needed is more than willpower and six steps to success in habit formation.

By creating a monthly ritual that holds you accountable to your intentions and goals, using a trusted observer who asks the right questions, challenging and debating your answers, and using data and evidence to maintain clarity and truth, the likelihood that you will always practice the right habits for the right time is greatly enhanced. Consciously investing time and attention to growth, rather than having time and attention absorbed by old habits, is the key to unlocking your full potential in life and business.

This Week@Work: Growth is not growth is not growth

This Week@Work: Growth is not growth is not growth

This Week@Work a discussion around acquisitions as a strategy to accelerate growth gave Pavlo an opportunity to explore this idea in more detail.  Several types of growth make up your business growth recipe if you intend to grow revenue, profit as well as capital value that can be realised.

Accelerated growth is one of these, and has a number of elements to it but an acquisition of a business may not be the path to achieving it.

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Building While You Fly: Achieving Sustainable Growth for Your Business

Building While You Fly: Achieving Sustainable Growth for Your Business

Introduction: Building a successful business is akin to our personal development journey. Just as we evolve from infancy to adulthood, our businesses must also adapt and grow to support their expanding needs. Relying on the same foundation that launched your business may hinder its potential for growth. To avoid adverse outcomes such as being trapped in the day-to-day operations, losing customers, team members, and suppliers, and stagnant growth, it is crucial to embrace the concept of building while you fly. In other words, as your business takes off, you must continuously improve and upgrade your infrastructure to soar higher and achieve sustainable growth.

  1. Evolving with the Right Chassis: Similar to our musculoskeletal system adapting to support our growth, your business needs a strong foundation that can accommodate its expanding size and ambitions. The chassis that served you well during the initial stages may not be suitable for long-term growth. By recognizing the need for a more robust infrastructure, you can build it out to operate independently of you and thrive beyond your individual efforts.
  2. Escaping the Life of Firefighting: Failing to build while you fly often leaves you in a never-ending cycle of firefighting. You find yourself constantly addressing urgent issues, unable to focus on strategic growth initiatives. By investing time and resources into building a solid foundation, you can release yourself from the daily operational challenges and gain the freedom to concentrate on driving your business forward.
  3. Safeguarding Customers, Teams, and Suppliers: If you don’t evolve your business, it can have detrimental effects on your relationships with customers, team members, and suppliers. As your competitors adapt to changing market demands, you risk losing customers who seek innovative solutions elsewhere. Additionally, without a scalable infrastructure, your team may become overwhelmed, leading to disengagement or turnover. Suppliers, too, may be hesitant to collaborate if they perceive your business as stagnant. Building while you fly ensures that you retain these crucial stakeholders and foster long-term relationships based on growth and mutual success.
  4. Embracing a Virtuous Cycle of Growth: Stagnant growth can create a negative feedback loop, draining your business of vitality and potential. On the other hand, building while you fly establishes a virtuous cycle of growth and confidence. By consistently investing in your business and upgrading its capabilities, you attract the right opportunities and talent, further fuelling your growth trajectory. This cycle fosters an environment of continuous improvement and optimism, empowering your business to reach new heights.
  5. The 9-5 Operation and 5-9 Investment: To successfully build while you fly, it is essential to strike a balance between day-to-day operations and investing in future growth. The traditional 9-5 work schedule may fulfil immediate responsibilities, but dedicating the 5-9 time slot to strategic planning, skill development, and innovation is equally crucial. By allocating time outside regular working hours to invest in your business, you can unlock numerous benefits.

Benefits of Building While You Fly:

Sustained Passion: By embracing the mindset of building while you fly, you remain enthusiastic about your business, constantly discovering new facets of yourself, your industry, and its potential.

Increased Efficiency: Investing time in growth-oriented activities allows you to optimize processes, improve productivity, and streamline operations, resulting in time saved that can be redirected toward expansion.

Competitive Advantage: Remaining proactive and forward-thinking positions your business on the front foot, ready to seize opportunities and adapt to industry shifts, enabling you to attract the right collaborators and stay ahead of the competition.

Sustainable Growth: Building while you fly propels your business toward sustained growth and success, as you continuously upgrade your infrastructure, attract new customers, nurture your team, and forge stronger partnerships. Building while you fly is a critical concept for achieving sustainable growth in your business. By acknowledging the need for ongoing evolution, you can avoid stagnation and unlock your business’s full potential. Escaping the life of firefighting, safeguarding valuable relationships, and fostering a cycle of growth and confidence are the rewards of investing time and resources into upgrading your infrastructure. Embrace the 9-5 operation and 5-9 investment approach, and you will witness your business soar to new heights, driven by continuous improvement and a passion for progress.

To listen to the full discussion from the show:

This Week@Work: If you allow it to rust and atrophy, you’ll not have it when you need it!

This Week@Work: If you allow it to rust and atrophy, you’ll not have it when you need it!

This Week@Work, a rusty bike chain made Pavlo think of Zig Ziglar, who started out as a door-to-door salesperson.

Zig understood the art of hunting for business, something that most business owners have gotten rusty at since we started to rely on digital media to bring business to our door.

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business leader

Business Leader: Inspiration from an onion – Reset and rebuild your business model to reignite growth

In this article, first published in Business Leader, Pavlo shares a simple tool – the onion – to think about your business, and identify your strategic focus.

Our inflationary, high-interest rate and low-growth economy will see companies with high overheads struggle to maintain the performance demanded by shareholders and executive bonus calculations.

As inflation and interest rates shrink local market value, access to established and new markets offer growth alternatives. Additionally, resetting and rebuilding a business model to increase productivity and performance will become a strategic imperative.

Market access

Expect mounting challenges accessing foreign markets. Brexit increased expenses and obstacles to trade with our closest £300 billion market. The array of ratified trade agreements might offer alternatives, such as the recently trumpeted CPTPP trade agreement which is worth a theoretical £37bn. Our challenges will be many. Our strengthening currency, significant differences in labour costs, and rapidly closing gaps in digitisation and technology competitiveness all weigh in. For products, add the cost of inputs and transport, set to increase further as we comply with our laudable commitments to Net Zero and other climate-friendly policies and regulations. All add to the cost of doing business, making our products less affordable than alternatives. For instance, imagine the cost of competing with a chocolate manufacturer in Chile or Malaysia, where our labour and transport costs are higher, before factoring in compliance with legislation and policy.

To overcome these challenges, we must increase productivity significantly. And since 2008, we have struggled to get this right! It can and will be done by those leaders intent on preserving their company value and remaining steadfast in growth despite all our economic ailments.

One way to get this right is to take a lesson from the simplest of vegetables: the onion.

Reset and rebuild your business model to reignite growth

An onion has three layers – the sweet inner; tangy middle; and outer protective skin. Applying this metaphor to your company offers up many opportunities.

Your inner layer is about understanding what is core and strategic to your survival, growth, and domination. You must own, deepen and protect these elements. Your middle layer includes everything non-core but strategic to the business. Outsource these elements to reliable partners on medium-term contracts. Your outer layer comprises everything non-core and non-strategic, where products or services are commoditised, and price wins the deal.

We recently used the onion to reset and rebuild a business intelligence company we work with. At its inner core, it must excel in analytics, interpretation, design, and presentation. It must own its software and skills in analysis and presentation. Its middle layer requires hardware, connectivity, and brand and marketing service providers. They are strategic but non-core to success. We established medium-term partnerships with providers whose services are their core strategic foci and intent. Their outer layer includes stationery, accommodation, refreshments, and other non-core, non-strategic products and services.

Today, they enjoy several benefits. A honed, simplified understanding of what matters most to grow and dominate their industry increased their productivity and market responsiveness. It has also allowed leadership to spend almost 70% of their time leading growth instead of managing operations. The company’s newfound growth has come increasingly from big and corporate clients. Out of necessity, these corporates have had to equally tighten their foci and shed costs by outsourcing previously insourced services such as business intelligence.

As business leaders, our company growth will increasingly come from excelling at how we position, win and lock in our services as middle-layer onion specialists.