Since starting up in 2008, CKI Group has always strived to be agile and flexible in our approach to taking on new opportunities. We’ve also been extremely client focused. Another major factor in our growth is that we have always placed emphasis on building a great team and looking after our people.
These essential elements have enabled us to grow from a self-funded start-up to the point where we now employ around 250 people across Australia and generate approximately $50 million in revenue annually.
Here are six critical learnings from our growth that can hopefully help your business prosper, too.
1. Client focus! And I mean really be client-focused. Don’t start charging for every 30-second interval, and if you have a notion of gold, silver and bronze clients – get rid of it! Treat everyone with the same ethics, respect and quality service. We have had so many “BRONZE” clients become “GOLD” clients over the years and we have been extremely grateful to have stayed a part of their journey, and they have appreciated our support along the way.
2. Build the right team. The best way to prepare your business for growth and scale-up is to have individuals around you who are loyal, hardworking and, most importantly, have transferable skills. Individuals who are willing to take on new skills are invaluable as they help you save costs but still maintain the ability to deliver. Trusted partners also play an instrumental role in your extended team. Successfully scaling a business means you must be able to partner and collaborate with different people at different times. There are so many factors that make up the right team, but your business will NEVER grow without them.
3. Re-invest your profits. Build a capability; organic or acquisition, is a key enabler to scale up. The balance between “chicken and egg” is critical to growth. Borrowing money is an area of personal choice and comfort, but to date, I’ve never borrowed from a bank or investors. Reinvesting money back into the business, especially in those early days, enabled me to grow.
4. Don’t be afraid to lose – lose money, lose business, lose face, lose opportunities. Before starting CKI Group, I had spent many years in the corporate sector working across multiple industries. It provided a stable and secure environment. Starting a business is always risky. Trying to grow a business entails risk. As my nine-year-old son says, “You accomplish more when you take risks”. Learn from your losses and try to remain fearless in the face of adversity.
5. Never lose your integrity, trust and sincerity. Our success is built on long-term and genuine relationships with our clients. People buy from people they trust. Don’t cut corners and make sure you deliver! Provide a service from a base of integrity, trust and sincerity. Developing and nurturing relationships will lead to organic growth for your business.
6. Be responsive to change. Change is the only constant. Your business must adapt. Having a mindset which allows you to think beyond the here and now. It’s a pre-requisite to growth. Always have a plan B, C and D, even if it’s built on sand and not on concrete. There is an excellent book by Spencer Johnson called “Who Moved My Cheese” all about how we react to change. Read it!
Jim Ilievski, CEO, CKI Group