Last Thursday agoge received a place in the Deloitte Fast 50. This is a competition to establish the 50 fastest growing companies in New Zealand. Well after I duffed the speech and we went out to dinner to celebrate, I got to reflecting on what got us there. Here are some of my less than insightful observations:
My Team – The average age of my team is 30 and I am privileged to have the people I have. We are growing and learning and trying things together. We have an incredible culture, a heap of fun and seek to live "people matter" in everything we do. As Tim Finn says in his song "We had no idea, that it couldn't be done. And we needed to find, a like minded someone" I have found those someones in my team. The lesson: People are more important than anything else!
A lucky idea? – I had (and still do) have a heap of business ideas. I choose to launch under Logistics Personnel because it was the idea that I thought offered the quickest growth and good cashflow. A heap of the other ideas would have been a disaster. I did it after taking a week off work and surveying potential customers, researching the market size, blah blah. The lesson: Choose the right idea, an idea that will actually sell.
Cashflow – I started the company with around $60k cash and we have grown the business to almost $10m in annual revenues in 3 years. We could not have done it without strong cashflow. Seth Godin had a post the other day that gave 10 secrets of the marketing process. "#1. Don't run out of money. It always takes longer and costs more than you expect to spread your idea. You can budget for it or you can fail." – He's right and I often use the saying "Profit is a concept, cash is a fact".
We have had extended periods of making losses in the past as we invested in the future. We could only do this because we have strong cashflow. We work hard on rapid debt collection (65% in 17 days) based on the principal that the money belongs to us once it is billed. It sounds a little arrogant but a heap of small business just let other companies use them as a bank. We are not a bank! The lesson: You must have strong cashflow! You will only run out of cash once.
It is genuinely a privilege to be in the Fast 50. I am not sure we will make it next year, getting 200% growth year on year gets more and more difficult as you get more and more millions in revenue. I am not too worried if we don't but I know one thing for certain, we will have a heap of fun trying.