As part of the Deloitte Fast 50 festival, we enjoyed a great session on how to capitalise on your current position and expand your market share with two women running high-growth businesses. Samantha Gadd, Founder of Humankind explained why you need to embrace change, while Managing Director of Xero, Anna Curzon, talked about having one eye on the next curve in your business.
Samantha Gadd – Founder of Humankind
Your rebranding from HR Shop to Humankind was a big shift – in the long run how do you think this will help your business grow?
The purpose of our rebrand is to position the business for growth, both into new markets and with an expanded offering. We are excited about Humankind being a brand with enormous potential to support the achievement of our vision to help New Zealand to build the best workplaces in the world.
In essence, don’t be afraid to make changes to your business when you know what you have isn’t going to get you through the next stage of growth. This might be changing up the proposition, brand or team. Changes can be challenging to execute but handle them with rigour, respect, care and authenticity to achieve the best results.
Taking your business to the next level also involves having great staff - how can you grow people into the roles you want them to be in?
The evolution of your team in a fast growth business can be a significant challenge. It's important to ensure you openly communicate with each individual about the future possibilities within your business and the development requirements to meet your future needs - this will improve your chances of the team evolving as your business proposition does.
Anna Curzon - Managing Director of Xero
Anna, you mentioned the need to keep one eye on the day-to-day running of your business and one eye on the next curve – can you explain what you mean by that?
Competition in every industry and the pace of change has increased exponentially over the past few years, thanks to technology and continuous innovation. The length of time it takes for competitors to replicate what you’re doing, or take your product or service, amend it, and commoditise it, is so much shorter than it used to be. Therefore, you must plan for continuous curves of innovation. It's a series of commas: there is no full stop, you are never done.
One example is what we’ve done at Xero with our transition to the Amazon Web Services (AWS) platform - a journey we started three years ago. AWS is affording us a whole range of new products and services that we can deploy at pace and scale using tools like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Check out our recent roll-out of a Facebook Messenger chatbot, named "Hey Xero", where small businesses will be able to ask questions about invoices to be paid, best add-ons for their business, and details for accountants and bookkeepers in their area.
Machine learning will also mean we are not far away from a future where small businesses won't have to code their transactions because we'll be able to accurately do that for them in real time.
Why is it so important to recruit the right people at the right stages of growth?
As your business grows, the demands on it change. You're dealing with new challenges that as a business you may not have faced before, so it’s important not to throttle growth by not having the right people in place.
You need to bring on people and advisors into your circle who have experience in dealing with new challenges and scaling businesses quickly so that you don’t lose your growth momentum. What should never change though is your culture. Your values and vision for your business is the glue that holds your people together and what will keep your employees (and your customers) connected to you.