Is there ever a specific moment when a good business idea is propelled into stratospheric success? According to the candid discussion in our latest webinar, many entrepreneurs conjure their startup ideas out of thin air. But it’s turning that idea into a sustainable business model with the ability to scale that is the real challenge.
Amanda Rose sat down with three ambitious leaders — Kim Clark from MYOB, Andy Miller from Heaps Normal, and Simon Griffiths from Who Gives A Crap — to discuss everything from lightbulb moments to scaling-up struggles.
Giving it a crack
The ability to recognise when an idea is actually a ‘lightbulb moment’ for your business is fickle. For some entrepreneurs it’s instantaneous, while for others it could be months or even years before that idea helps your startup turn a corner and become an established presence.
For Simon Griffiths, co-founder and CEO of Who Gives A Crap, his lightbulb moment arrived in a very relatable way. But he says it wasn’t until those around him agreed it was an amazing idea that he started treating it like a real business proposition.
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“The idea for Who Gives A Crap literally came one day when I walked into the bathroom, saw a six-pack of toilet paper and said, ‘Oh my God, we should sell toilet paper, use the profits to help build toilets and call it Who Gives A Crap’,” Griffiths says. “I called three friends and they all said it was an amazing idea and that I had to give it a crack. When you get that sort of reaction from people, that’s usually a pretty good sign that you’re onto something with a high potential for virality.”
He adds that one of the secrets behind Who Gives A Crap’s ability to reach so many people has been its continuous feedback cycle with customers. Strong communication provides accurate insights that help the team make smarter decisions.
“Talking to people about what you’re thinking about and why you think it’s a good idea — that enables you to get early pre-customer feedback which you can use to influence what you decide to do next. We’re constantly looking for feedback through every stage of our businesses journey.”
Reaching the ‘next phase’ in business
The gap between startup and established presence is often much wider than entrepreneurs believe. If you don’t have the skills or the knowledge of how to clear that gap, it can stifle business growth and even drive business owners to fall out of love with their original idea. That’s why Kim Clarke, Executive — Enterprise at MYOB, says getting into the right mindset can help clarify your path to scale.
“When people start investing in a business idea, they invest their whole body, their whole being,” Clarke says. “Most founders and people who start up businesses, they’re automatically optimistic and they can see the opportunity sitting in front of them.
“What I love doing with businesses is actually working out with them and saying, ‘Okay, you’ve got your idea. You’ve actually got a level of substance that’s sitting around your business. How do you get it to that next phase?’
“The startup phase has its own challenges, but once you hit the scale-growth challenge, that’s one of the hardest things. That’s where I really have a passion for helping businesses sort through some of the problems associated with the scale aspect of their business journey.”
Documenting processes before you grow
Andy Miller, co-founder and CEO of Heaps Normal, agrees that scaling up is often the toughest part of the journey — but it’s the minutiae of day-to-day operations that can make a scaling startup come unstuck. When Miller realised his alcohol-free beer company was growing quickly, he knew there would be knowledge gaps if they didn’t accurately document their systems and processes.
“My early advice would be to set up processes and systems before you feel like you need them. But I’d probably struggle to take that advice if somebody gave it to me,” Miller says. “So instead, focus on documenting whatever systems it is you’ve [already] put in place. That makes it easy for somebody else to pick up where you left off.”
In the early days of late nights, chasing down new clients, and trying to pay suppliers on time, it’s easy to forget to document things. But doing everything ‘by gut’ can be hugely damaging once your team starts to grow. Griffiths says business leaders need to get a few things in place before that happens.
“Get a CRM [Customer Relationship Management software] on board early. For us, that was really important. We didn’t overthink it too much — we just got something in there and captured all of the data in a structured way.
“The other thing is reporting to investors and your team at the same time — highlighting the good, bad and ugly things that are going on in the business month-to-month. That’s one way we’ve been able to build trust.”
Watch the full webinar, Nailing Growth: Ambitious leaders reflect on their journey from purpose to impact, for even more insights.
MYOB is a leading business platform with a core purpose of helping more businesses in Australia and New Zealand start, survive and succeed. At the heart of MYOB is a customer base of 1.2 million businesses and a network of more than 40,000 accountants, bookkeepers and consultants, for whom MYOB delivers end-to-end business and accounting solutions. MYOB operates across four key segments: Small and Medium Enterprises (SME), Enterprise, Financial Services and Practice.