30 plus years of international business experience within the finance and accounting arena. Multi-industry background including wholesale and retail, distribution, new media, training, hospitality, food service, film and television. My particular interest lies in start-ups and early growth companies looking for seasoned help in building a scalable back office.
I had time available to support the aims of Grow Movement.
Tentative. The conversation was a get-to-know session, with basic Q&A. One challenge was technical difficulties, with dropouts and long delays between sending and receiving. Most of the time we spoke at the same time, then waited for the other to speak, then spoke at the same time.
I saw two areas of improvement – one was record-keeping and the need to understand the company’s financial situation, the other was marketing and the need to identify a profitable niche.
We used a basic cash flow to track cash inflows and outflows. The idea was to simply identify where the money was coming from and going to. We shared use of a Google spreadsheet, which was quite a good tool.
On the marketing side, we tried to focus on what to sell to whom. We used Porter’s matrix, mass market vs niche, cost leadership vs quality. This was perhaps too high a concept for the level of the company, but there are few simpler tools to address the problem. The problem being “you can’t be all things to all people”.
Not much was required, outside of building the spreadsheets online. It was clear to me where we had to go.
Understanding finance and marketing basics.
Fortunately I had travelled to Africa before, so was familiar with the culture on broad terms. If the business had been more sophisticated, culture would have been a bigger issue, but MIK being as new born as it was, culture differences were not material.
Urgency. Discipline. And their low priorities. As I mentioned above, this was not unexpected, but coming from the North American business world, I was constantly shaking my head at the lassitude and pace.
Getting feedback as to whether I was being understood. We would cover ground – and I was assured that the key points were understood, and then a couple of sessions later it would become clear that they hadn’t been absorbed. Back to square one.
I am an Africa fan, so any interchange with the continent is interesting. Also, knowing that you have potentially improved someone’s life by improving their business.
Expect very basic companies with unclear understandings of basic commerce. Very few of these are above market-stall level. You are really starting at the bottom. Adjust your expectations accordingly.
Interesting, rewarding, eye-opening, entertaining, educating.