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David White - business development tool for SMEs

BusinessFit App

The concept of developing a business tool to support the growth and sustainability of SMEs was initiated by BusinessFit in 2012, when 12 KZN business leaders joined together to focus their minds on discovering “how to help more SMEs to be more successful more often”.

 

The team of 12 KZN business leaders sat together for two hours, every second week, for 18 months to define a ‘business framework’ to help SMEs to build better businesses that meet governance and stakeholder expectations, and that will last into the future. We considered that if we were able to create a model to help entrepreneurs and business leaders better understand and lead their enterprises, we would significantly improve their decision making and success rates. SMEs are of course cited to be the employment creators of the future; however, their ongoing success and sustainability outcome is often very low.

 

A Huge Impact

Each of the business leaders meeting to support this mission shared all they knew about business development, governance, strategy, and sustainability… which in itself had a huge impact on the success of the 12 contributing businesses. Each of the 12 businesses grew so considerably during this period of team interaction and sharing, that some of the businesses ran out of capacity for further growth and opportunity. It was an incredible experience for everyone.

 

We started each meeting with a two-minute contribution from each person, sharing the successes and challenges we had in the two weeks since our previous gathering. As each of the 12 business leaders were professionals themselves, from different disciplines and industries, we were able to learn a huge amount from each other, and to help each other solve immediate challenges, identify opportunities, etc.

 

4 Pillars

Together we discovered four critical focus areas that exist within every business, large and small, to help ensure their ongoing success and sustainability, which we now refer to as the 4 Pillars.

  1. Vision and leadership – defining the enterprise’s value creation and ability to meet this intended purpose.

  2. A business appropriate functional framework

  3. Having clearly defined operational and stakeholder measures

  4. Energy from staff and teams to meet key performance indicators (KPIs) and drive the enterprise’s strategy forward

 

Each of the Pillars have eight focus areas within them, which transfer understanding of important aspects of the business, and help to define a more ‘scientific approach’ to understanding, planning, and decision making within a business. Once an enterprise has been through the deep dive 32-point checklist, the leaders of these enterprises would have had the opportunity to consider and define actions and KPIs within each critical focus area of their business… and from addressing defined corrective actions, they are well on their way to ensuring their creation of an ethical, compliant, and sustainable enterprise.

 

5 Stage Quality Assurance Process

The BusinessFit model follows a 5 Stage Quality Assurance process which helps business leaders to build a solid governance centred framework for their enterprise, creating a common language for the business which defines ‘what makes the organisation work’, and detailing how individuals and teams contribute individually and collectively towards ensuring that the organisation meets its operational measures and stakeholder expectations.

 

We also recognised that each enterprise, whether small, medium, or large, follows a predictable evolutionary path. We defined these evolutionary steps as commencing in Tier 1, and over time migrating to Tier 2 and Tier 3. These Tiers are also known as S-Curves and help to explain how an enterprise’s functional foundation and culture change as the business matures. If enterprises are not aware, or do not embrace these changes that occur naturally as their business grows, the enterprise tends to become too complex to manage, and their demise tends to commence.

 

There is always a lot of business information being given to SMEs, but unless the information is specific to each Tier, or to support transitioning from one Tier to the next, it is of little value to the business and business leader. Each functional area goes through significant change as the enterprise migrates from one Tier to the next, and so too does the leader’s management and staff engagement style.

 

To provide a simple explanation of the evolution of the HR functional area… consider that a start-up SME, a Tier 1 enterprise, generally has centralised decision making. In HR terms we refer to this management style as street gang or mafia leadership (it is my way or the highway). Here the business leader does all the thinking and directs and controls each activity within the business. Tier 1 is about survival, where the defining KPIs are customers and cashflow. Many family businesses also fit into this category, for example where the family works together, and dad makes all the final decisions.

 

Many SMEs are successful at the Tier 1. However, their growth and innovation is often stifled in the longer term. The only way an organisation can move out of Tier 1 is through advancing to Tier 2. At Tier 2, from an HR perspective, we look at each of the activities required to ensure that the customer receives a quality assured product or service, and that the enterprise receives its financial dues timeously. From this information we are able to draw up an organogram for the enterprise, create role profiles defining the actions (KPIs) that need to be met by each person and functional area, draw up standard operating procedures to ensure a defined quality control process is followed, to help encourage the intended outcome is achieved.

 

Tier 2 companies can also lose their way, as often they will revert to micromanagement and silo mentality, where department heads preside over their portfolios. In cultural terms we refer to this stage as being army style, or chain of command, where whatever the person at the top says, or what the board agrees, is filtered down through each of the departments, and measured in relation to the

leader or board’s expectation.

 

Tier 2 is essential for an enterprise’s advancement to Tier 3, but it can tend to become over structured, and often does not encourage contribution and innovation from staff and teams,

other than for those whose role profiles define responsibility to advance the enterprise’s strategy and sustainability.

 

Tier 3 does require guidance and re-induction; however, its model is far simpler than the highly structured and directing Tier 2 framework and chain of command enterprise culture. Tier 3 is characterised by highly engaged people thinking in the business, working in teams, and focused on making decisions at the point of contact with internal and external customers, suppliers and stakeholders.

 

At Tier 3, the organisation has created systems that produce quality information flows to help support effective decision making. Staff and teams understand how the business works i.e., what makes it successful, and how they as individuals and teams contribute to the enterprise success and sustainability. Tier 3 enterprises encourage that staff bring their full selves to work, and not just their skills and experience. This helps people working in the enterprise feel they belong and are valuable assets. This has an exponential effect on energy and engagement levels. When likeminded people, with a commonly supported outcome intention have the freedom to do what is right for the enterprise and its stakeholders… magic happens. People become self-directing, management responsibilities are shared, and the enterprise discovers that it is more often than not, in the right place at the right time, providing the right products to existing and new customers, engaging with the right value adding suppliers, and being more effective and more sustainable.

 

BusinessFit Quality Assurance App

Stages 1,2 and 3 of the BusinessFit Quality Assurance App help each business focus on ensuring they are ‘legitimate’ i.e., meeting all reporting and compliance responsibilities as defined by legislation and encouraged by best practice, and gathering information and understanding of the business and its evolution/maturity level to help prepare for the ‘Stage 4 deep dive 32-point focus round table meeting’.

 

Stage 5 is about customer testimonials, where the business leaders receive feedback from their customers, which is made formal within the app.

 

Tinder for Business

The app… also termed Tinder for Business, creates opportunity for large organisations to identify and engage with potential suppliers directly through a ‘Request Contact’ facility, and for SMEs to engage with each other directly.

 

Other exciting features on the app include a clear description of the organisation’s BEE status, a facility to provide and receive reviews, capacity to store contacts, requests, and notifications, as well as providing location and distance from an engaging company.

 

The BusinessFit app is mobile active, and downloadable from PlayStore for Android phones, and AppleStore for iPhones. The back end, which we refer to as the call centre is computer based. The BusinessFit app Stage 1 is open at no cost to all SMEs.

 

We welcome all SMEs to take advantage of this marketing and business development platform

and to register as Stage 1 enterprises on the BusinessFit app.

 

Contact David White,

T: +27 (0)31 767 0625

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