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This Week@Work: Create opportunities through business development

This Week@Work: Create opportunities through business development

This Week@Work Pavlo went to play in the traffic, to make a point about actively hunting for business, rather than passively waiting for it to come to you.

Business Development is more than marketing or sales and it allows us to see the opportunities in the market, which you can’t see if you’re simply waiting for the phone to ring.

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covid zombie

What’s holding back business? Covid Zombies, supply chain disruption & engine room entrepreneurship

Pavlo Phitidis identified 4 issue plaguing business owners and spoke to The Money Show about what to do about them. Listen to the podcast or read on

Rail to Road

On a recent journey along South Africa’s roads, particularly in the Eastern Cape, between Craddock and Port Elizabeth, Pavlo was struck by the incredible number of trucks trundling along, many transporting manganese, from north of Kimberly!

The roads are being destroyed, as they lie parallel to a railway line that is almost entirely empty.


Broken Supply Chains

Commodoties are booming right now, mining is booming, and the extensive net of industrial service businesses that supply and support these mines are struggling – to find steel, a key raw material to support mining activity.

Pavlo spoke of a large fencing business owner who he spoke to, who was desperately trying to find steel, to preserve his business.

This business owner had a strong sales team visiting customers, leaving them with R80 – 90million of business that they couldn’t service! And he was terrified that his clients would find someone else who could find steel somehow.

Pavlo’s advise to him was to put the customer at the centre of the decision. This business owner insisted that he needed the raw material to manufacture the fencing in South Africa, because to import the completed fencing material eroded all his profit on the deal.

Pavlo’s point is that at times like these, when you risk losing customers, and demand for you service could dry up, rather take the hit and do whatever it takes to fulfil the promise that you made to your customers.

When steel does become available again, at least you will have a customer base to work with, to build up your profits again.

Rather make no profits for the next 6 months, and hold on to your customers. It will also keep your sales team busy and motivated.


COVID Zombies

In the first 6 months of lockdown, staff went home and all of a sudden found themselves incompetent.

They had moved out of a workplace environment where staff would interact with their colleagues, bouncing ideas and problem solving together. When they were out of their context, they couldn’t do it.

For managers it showed up that they had been measuring performance on activity – being on site, attending meetings etc, rather than output.

Many companies needed to digitize their HR – communications and productivity software, which created great apprehension among many staff who weren’t sure whether they were being spied on, or micro-managed, or misunderstood why they were being monitored in a new way.


Engine Room Entrepreneurship

The shock of the lockdown brought leadership from the ‘bridge’ down to the ‘engine room’ where they were back into day-to-day matters, putting out fires and managing their apprehensive staff far more directly.

The crisis here is that new opportunities – and there are many that have come with the changes that Covid brought – are hard to see from below the decks.

Recruit right people


As a small business owner, your biggest investment will be your staff. How you hire, who you hire, and when you hire, will have the biggest – positive or negative – effect on getting your business to the next level or not. On The Money Show with Bruce Whitfield, Pavlo Phitidis outlined his approach to getting recruitment right:


Hiring people is an essential component of business growth. Without people, you don’t have a business. You have a job – that’s you doing it all, all the time.

Hiring people should be done to free your time from the tasks that consuming your time the most and that are teachable. The free time should see you move onto the next set of activities to build or grow your business. This is possible because you now have the time to do this. But only if that hire sees the right person coming on board doing the right thing at the right time. If not, you get drawn back into the time-consuming tasks you hoped to free yourself from and carry a higher cost of an unproductive hanger-on.

Some business owners hire people to save them or the business. They believe that the hire has the skills or insight needed to ‘fix’ the problem that they think is holding the business back. Getting this right is a relief. Mostly, however, it is a disappointment and an expensive one at that.

Because both hiring motivations are right, getting it right is vital making hiring a key competence of a business owner.


Effective recruitment begins long before you begin advertising to fill a vacancy. Building a detailed job specification is just the start of the process. Your job specification should include: activities that you can to train someone to perform; activities that integrate with all the other activities that enable you to deliver a defined customer experience and, activities that are measurable. When drafting your job specification, think deeply about what your ideal candidates would be like – their background, demographics, skill sets, and attitudes.


Once you’ve drafted the job specification and designed the salary package you’re ready to offer to the right candidate, it’s time to advertise the offer. Ask interested candidates to include a covering letter and CV. Including a list of requirements for the application process is an initial test of your potential candidates; if they’ve read your advertisement, engaged with the content, and supplied you with everything required, they’ve proven that they can attentively follow instructions. Anyone who doesn’t follow the somewhat simple requirements listed in your advertisement, can be immediately removed from your list of applications received.


From all the applications, create your first shortlist of candidates that best fit your job specification. Select only those who have followed your instructions and shown an aptitude for the type of business you run. Ignore the lists of achievements on their CV and look more towards their attitude and practical abilities.

Then, invite your top 20 candidates to a briefing session. Prepare and share a presentation about your business, the job opportunity you’re offering, and the performance requirements. Invite questions and take note of the content of those questions, who asked them and their responses. That will give you great insight into the people on your shortlist and enable you to shortlist even further.


After your presentation and Q&A session, ask your candidates to complete an application form for the job opportunity. Within this customised application form, be sure to ask questions that will help you to test understanding, temperament, skills and character. This application form process will help you to assess how your 20 candidates processed the information you shared with them, responded to it, and then communicate around it.


From the applications that you received, select your top 5 candidates and invite them to individually pitch for the job opportunity. Look for who has thought through the opportunity best and has you and your business in mind rather than what they want. You want a hungry, passionate person who believes in the business and wants to be part of its future. From the pitches, select your top 2 candidates, and then conduct in-depth interviews with them. That’ll help you to assess and decide who your ideal staff member will be.


Measuring individual performance is imperative, as you build your business. Before you and your new hire commit to long-term employment within your business, implement a 3-month probation period, during which you’ll be able to assess their performance, and they’ll be able to assess how well they fit within your business.

Use your internal systems to measure performance and provide support to your new hire, as they settle into being part of how you build your business. All through the probation period, assess their performance and build their capacity and capability to perform at the job. If they hit the performance metrics during the probation period and get on with your team and culture, you probably have your winner!

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Tough economic times mean that unemployment is rife. But, as a growing business owner, you’ve noticed that it seems near impossible to find the right kind of people for your company. Unfortunately, the most skilled and best people often cling to the safety net of their current jobs. As the owner of a developing business, finding the right people, at the right time, to join your company and help it grow towards being an asset of value, is critical.

On The Money Show with Bruce Whitfield, Pavlo talked about the right way to hire the right people for your business:


Even though unemployment may be rife right now, that’s not the only concern. Inflexible labour laws mean that it’s difficult to hire and, if things go badly, fire someone if they don’t work well for your business. It’s absolutely vital that the first twenty to thirty people you hire to join your growing business are the right fit, because the wrong hire could bring your company to its knees. Moreover, the urgency behind needing good people for your company could lead you towards hiring the wrong people, by accident.


Choosing to grow your team, or not to grow your team, both bear a cost. If you opt not to hire anyone, you’re not building a business: you’re merely creating a job for yourself. If you choose to hire, you must hire well, and commit to the path of growing your business, because people are an essential element of that journey.


You may be feeling the pressure to hire, but the biggest mistake you can make is to hire someone quickly. Quick hires seldom turn out to be good hires, and a bad hire can derail your business before its even begun to operate properly. Notably too, you shouldn’t hire someone to do a job – you should hire someone who brings skills, a good attitude, and true value, to the systems of your business, while operating within them.


Building your business into an Asset of Value begins by creating the systems that enable its growth. Building that System of Delivery begins with:

  • Knowing why you do what you do: A business that is being built into an asset of value, focuses on securing customers and delivering a service to them, through its systems. A true asset of value knows what business it is in, and exactly who it serves.
  • Knowing your customers’ problems: Your business is defined by your customers’ problems, and its services are built to solve those problems. Knowing, understanding, and responding to, those problems is critical.
  • Creating a system that effectively solves those problems.
  • Employ people to operate systems, rather than doing a job

Once your system of delivery is set up, you can look towards employing people to operate those systems. Creating effective systems, and giving your team well-defined job descriptions, enables them to operate in a manner that’s measurable and motivating. That then goes on to build a positive company culture.


Success teaches us very little, but learning from mistakes is invaluable. Enabling your team to make mistakes, to fail and to learn, is essential. By safeguarding your business and empowering your team to take small steps first, and make small mistakes as they learn, is an imperative. Managing the risk of mistakes will ultimately make your employee, and your growing business, stronger, and better equipped to face future challenges.