Business

Branson Centre shifts focus to firms with proven business models

BY DENNISE WILLIAMS
Contributor

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

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The Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (MSME) sector is acknowledged as the future driver of growth in the local economy, and the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship - Caribbean has shifted its focus to support the medium-sized enterprise in the MSME sector of the business community.

The Branson team explained that with several incubators and programmes now available in Jamaica to assist entrepreneurs starting a business, the Branson Centre Caribbean has made it their mission to support the entrepreneurs looking to move on to that next stage of development.

Companies in the scale-up phase are defined by the Branson Centre Caribbean as those in the $30million - $50million revenue bracket, looking to increase revenue to $100 million and ready to take on greater responsibilities such as a board of directors and equity investors.

According to Entrepreneur Magazine, “A start-up is on the quest to find product-market fit, developing and iterating its product or service, experimenting with customer segmentation and working toward a positive contribution margin. A scale-up, on the other hand, has already validated its product in a market, and has proven that the unit economics are sustainable. A scale-up's quest is to continue on that upward climb. Think of it this way: Start-ups invest money to learn, experiment and find validation, all on their quest to uncover a winning formula. Scale-ups invest money and accelerate growth once they know that putting in $X will return $Y.”

According to Lisandra Rickards, CEO, Branson Centre Caribbean:

“We do a lot of tracking and analysis here at the Centre, and based on our monitoring and evaluation reports, we realised that we could increase our impact by supporting entrepreneurs ready to scale in this way in order to remain committed to our mission 'To create dynamic economies'.”

According to experts, the required skill set and focus of a company's leadership shifts dramatically between a company's start-up and scale-up phases. Recode.com outlines a few key examples:

Specialising: In a start-up, there's an early bias towards hiring “full stack” employees that are generalists. They can achieve a lot with a little, and they allow the business to get started and keep growing with a smaller team. Shifting generalists to a narrower focus or bringing in a team to sit beneath generalists can be an adjustment, but it's one of the growing pains involved in transitioning from start-up to scale-up.

Risk-averting: As a start-up, your customer base is small, and you haven't proven your model yet. You aren't worried about messing up a status quo because you haven't settled into one yet. As a company scales up in size, the previous trial and error allows a more thorough knowledge of what works and what doesn't; however, with that comes a smaller window for experimentation in your business model.

Operationalising: They don't always receive the warmest of welcomes in a business, but processes are a necessary evil when you hit a critical size. However, once you're bigger, there's a need to prioritise requests, keep a record of activities, track jobs and form some consistency to ensure you're getting the most out of available time and money.

Leading on: Leadership required to helm a start-up can be very different from the leadership required for a scale-up. The skills needed to hire, train and mentor can change drastically, based on the above three items. I can't express this more strongly — the leadership required for a start-up is entirely different than the leadership for a scale-up. The leadership skills can often evolve with this, and sometimes the leadership expands to also move into more specialised roles. This can often require bringing in a new skill set from outside, with enough experience to run this larger, more grown-up type of company.

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