July 22, 2024

10 Takeaways from Seven-Up Bottling Company’s SMEs Bootcamp 

4 min read

Seven-Up Bottling Company, in partnership with Zenith Bank and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), recently organised a two-day Scale-Up Bootcamp for small and medium-sized enterprises, to provide them with needed information and strategies to scale up their businesses.

The two-day session saw the Chief Executive Officers of 80 SMEs benefit from the growth experience of experts such as the Managing Director of Seven-Up Bottling Company, Ziad Maalouf, and GM of Marketing Seven-Up Bottling Company, Segun Ogunleye.

The bootcamp also had impactful sessions facilitated by the GDM, Zenith Bank’s Head of Retail Banking, Lanre Oladimeji; National Director, UNIDO, Oluyomi Banjo; former Chief Executive Officer, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Agency, Babatunde Irukera, and the Founder, Thrive HR, Adeshola Aliogo

Scale-Up Bootcamp 1.0 provided attendees with the requisite corporate, people management, and financial management strategies crucial for scaling. Below are ten key insights from the bootcamp:

Identify your ‘sweet spot’: According to Ziad, a business aiming to scale must have the right combination of experience, passion and value to meet a global need. This combination provides the sweet spot. Ziad advised entrepreneurs that if their current business fails to match all three aspects, reconsideration is needed.

Loan access tips: Presenting tips on how businesses can boost their chances of accessing loans from financial institutions, the Zenith Bank Head of Retail Banking, Lanre Oladimeji, said business owners need to be conversant with the five Cs of credit and know that character is key to accessing loans. He said, “SMEs must have a business continuity and succession plan and know the type of funding available to businesses in their sector.” He further explained that to access loans, “an applicant needs to help the banker understand the business and explore the options they provide to support the business. Make every effort to service existing loan obligations. If loans go bad, stick with your bank and work out a remediation plan. In this digital era, there is no running away when a loan goes bad.”

Fear breeds errors: Entrepreneurs were also cautioned on the need to understand that employees will make mistakes and must learn how to manage people when such occurs. According to Aliogo, zero tolerance for error breeds error. When people are too afraid, they won’t try new things and growth won’t happen. Hence, entrepreneurs are advised to make their team learn from mistakes and become better.

Team evaluation and incentives are crucial: While fresh and quality recruitment might be needed to drive business growth, there is also the need for critical evaluation of the team. According to Ziad, there’s a need to evaluate the team based on performance and value. Those below average should be allowed to go and the average and high performance should be motivated. “Create a performance and incentive framework. The majority of employees are not motivated by salary. Convert your employees to shareholders with incentives for performances and watch that team you think is average produce results that scale your business,” he said.

Wrong recruitment costs more: In her people management session, Founder, Thrive HR Nigeria, Adeshola Aliogo, said employee engagement is a major growth driver for enterprises. She described engagement as the level of enthusiasm and dedication a worker feels towards their job. She said this occurs when employees find MAGIC – Meaning, Autonomy, Growth, Impact, and Connection in the business. She advised that entrepreneurs should set their value standards, and then find workers with the same level of enthusiasm and who understand how everything they do ties to the growth of the business. “The cost of not hiring right is more,” she stressed.

Look-alike recruitment breeds stagnation: to scale your business, you need to have the right combination of people. To have the right mix, entrepreneurs should avoid the lookalike requirement trap. To drive business growth, a SABI(Strive, Accountability, Bonding and Innovation) formula was recommended for SMEs. The team should consist of stivers who get things done, the accountable ones with strict adherence to processes; the social ones and innovators who are the ideation hub of the business.

SME funding opportunity at UNIDO: National Director, UNIDO, Oluyomi Banjo, at the bootcamp, announced that UNIDO is committed to advancing Sustainable Development Goal Number 9, which advocates industry, innovation, and infrastructure in Nigeria through its various initiatives such as the Global Cleantech Innovation Programme. He said participants who own waste recycling businesses, and others who fit into the sustainability space, should take advantage of the GCIP, to access business support for scale-up.

Increase willingness to pay: This is tied to creating value that will make the customer want to pay more for your product or service. Maalouf said businesses willing to scale must provide functional, social, and emotional value. “What many entrepreneurs don’t know is that customers are willing to pay more if you offer the value. This is what gives an edge over a competitor. When you have the value that the world needs, customers will neglect other products for yours.”

Regulation rewards innovation: former Chief Executive Officer, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Agency, Babatunde Irukera, while explaining the regulatory framework to attendees, noted that regulation is an existential threat to businesses worldwide. He however stressed that without regulation, SMEs won’t have a level playing field to survive and scale. Regulation secures everyone. Your businesses won’t grow if there is no regulator to check competition. It is important to keep everyone accountable to certain standards,” he said. He enjoined entrepreneurs visualize their growth and understand the regulatory scope within their business space.

Explore incremental and architectural ideas: Entrepreneurs don’t necessarily need radical ideas to scale. Value doesn’t always revolve around novelty and disruption. Improving an existing product or service to make them better, faster, or cheaper is another route to scaling. You can also apply existing ideas or technology to new areas to create value for growth.

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