Simple is best for SME success

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“Simple is best for SME success” ‘Growth guru’ Verne Harnish reveals how to drive revenue and profits at exclusive SME workshop in Dubai

CEO of Gazelles Verne Harnish
CEO of Gazelles Verne Harnish

Renowned business guru Verne Harnish yesterday hosted a one-day workshop at the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel in Dubai aimed at helping UAE-based SMEs achieve sustained growth in 2014.

Entitled “Fast Growth 4 SMEs”, the workshop was presented by biz-strategy in collaboration with Right Selection, and sponsored by Great Place to Work, BNI and Servcorp. Using the strategic planning model popularised by his first book “Mastering the Rockefeller Habits”, Harnish spoke about the ingredients needed to foster business growth.

These included how to draft the basics of a business strategy so the SME is ready for top-line growth, how to build or review a brand promise and tweak it for success, how to find cash in a company and how to determine if they have the right people in the right seats contributing the maximum effort. Participants were also given a sneak preview of Harnish’s new Rockefeller habits book, which is slated for release in spring 2014.

You have to nail four critical elements – get the right people, draw up a workable strategy, execute as flawlessly as you can and don’t run out of cash; otherwise, it’s game over,” said Harnish.

“By doing this companies can re-discover what they liked about their business in the first place, before they start scaling up and losing control. Ultimately, you should be spending 80 per cent of your time outside in the market place learning instead of wasting your time fighting fires inside.

“What you get out is only as good as what you put in and if you are not making more money this decade than at any other time in your life, it’s because you aren’t putting enough in.”

According to Harnish, most small businesses are doing nothing to “move the needle of the economy”.

“Most companies don’t get beyond the start-up stage – that’s a fact. They fail to scale,” he added.

“’Gazelles’ are the two to three per cent of companies that are able to sustain a 20 per cent growth rate for four years. These are the real growth engines of the economy creating all the jobs. Look at what a company like Samsung has done for the tiny country of South Korea. This can happen in Dubai.”

Referred to as “the Growth Guy”, Harnish is the founder and CEO of Gazelles Inc., a global executive coaching institute that helps small and mid-sized companies achieve consistent and sustainable growth. Also the founder of the world-renowned Young Entrepreneurs’ Organisation (YEO), Harnish is well known for his ‘One Page Strategic Plan’, a simple but highly effective business strategy programme that has benefitted thousands of SMEs around the world and in the Middle East.

biz-strategy, the business consultancy arm of biz-group, is the exclusive licensee for Gazelles Inc. in the Middle East and has introduced the One Page Plan to a significant number of successful SMEs and growth companies in the region.

Check out Harnish’s How to complete a One-Page Strategic Business Plan which details on how to make your one-page business plan.

Hazel Jackson, CEO and founder of biz-group, said fostering SME growth is now high on the government agenda in the UAE. “One of the hardest things for SMEs is trying to discipline, to get focused, to get their priorities right,” she said.

“What I think has been fantastic about today’s workshop with Verne Harnish is that he provided a lot of ideas, a lot of insights, a lot of thoughts. The biggest thing though, is you need to pick the one that’s most relevant to you right now – one idea at a time. Pick the one thing that moves your business forward in the next 90 days.”

The workshop was attended by around 168 people representing a total of 78 companies ranging from The One and Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority to new SME 100 companies like Dubai Desert Extreme (DDE). DDE president, Shahriar Khodjasteh, said the workshop gave invaluable insights into how to run a successful business.

“The workshop gave a great overview of the different areas that companies need to focus on to be successful, particularly having the right people,” he said.

“The main thing I will take away is that companies need to get back to basics and follow the example of successful entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs who were able to turn their companies around just by simplifying their business model.”

Hans Henrik Christensen is Managing Director of Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA) and is one of the founders of Silicon Oasis Founders, which was launched last year to help start-up companies like DDA. Commenting on the workshop, Christensen said: “Verne has been able to condense so much information into a short seminar that is easy to understand and workable. I will go away and take a look at our business and see where we can implement Verne’s tools for growth.

“We believe the UAE is a going to be a hub for entrepreneurs and Verne’s lessons will enable me to be the best mentor I can be for these start-up companies.”

Thomas Lundgren, CEO of The One furniture chain, said: “Simplify, simplify, simplify; this is what we need to do. It’s about knowing what to get rid of and what to keep.

“As Verne said, routine is what ultimately sets you free. This is my third event and his workshops are always so reassuring because they give meaning to our madness. The key is to stay focused on that which matters the most.”

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