Since I started 100% Group in 2009, it’s gone from a two-man-band – myself and my brother – to a multi-million-pound company delivering retail marketing services across the world for our global brand customers. It has come with its challenges – especially starting out during the financial crash – but in overcoming these I’ve learnt many valuable lessons in running a high growth firm. There are several factors that I feel contributed to our success and several things which, should I have my time again, I would do very differently. Here’s a quick rundown of my key learnings in hope that they’ll benefit other aspiring entrepreneurs and fast-growth businesses out there.
- Invest in marketing – Unlike some companies of our nature, we’ve never actually employed a sales team. Marketing was where we put our money and it’s really paid off. Establishing a clear brand message and communicating the value that we can bring to customers has been key to creating and maintaining client relationships.
- Constantly adding value to existing clients – Maintaining existing client relationships while trying to win new business can be a struggle, but I’ve always seen the value in focusing on enriching existing client relationships. Some of our customers have been with us since the very beginning and that’s down not only to the quality of our global coverage and local expertise but the emphasis that we put on delivering exceptional customer service.
- Building the right team – Your employees are such a huge part of your business that it’s crucial you’re hiring the right people. Make sure that you have a good idea of what you want your work culture to be like and then employ staff that reflect those attributes.
- Creating a positive company culture – I’ve always tried to continue the family-feel culture that 100% started out with, and although this can be challenging as the business grows, I think it’s strengthened our workplace. If our staff feel included in the culture and enjoy their work, it has a direct impact on our clients. Team activities are key to this, so we bring our workforce together and build morale through employee awards, monthly lunches, regular social events and bi-annual company wide conferences.
- Defining performance – It’s not just about people getting the job done, it’s also about ensuring it’s being done in the right way. Everyone needs to be clear on what their goals and expectations are so we’re all able to work towards a common aim. If an employee isn’t embracing the company’s culture or values, then this can have a negative effect on your wider workforce. Just as importantly; if an employee is underperforming, recognising this and building their skills is key to the success of your business.
- Establish operational processes early – Making sure you document your processes before your company grows enables much smoother implementation in the long run, rather than trying to retrofit them into your business at a later stage.
- Financial control and forward planning – This is crucial when taking on new opportunities and clients, as you need to be able to plan the cash demands that come with this. How much is it going to cost for the additional staff and resources that new business requires? Are your finances flexible enough to withstand potential late payments? Selecting a flexible finance partner is key. We found bank funding to be too rigid for our growth needs but working with a specialist has offered us the flexibility that we needed to grow.
100% Group’s journey has not been a straight line – it has zigged and zagged – but I truly believe that all these factors have contributed to managing our growth. It’s not all about delivering a quality service but everything else that goes on behind the scenes to give your customers the service that goes above and beyond your competitors to keep them coming back for more and convert them into brand advocates.