Entrepreneurship is about taking risks, about innovation, about closing a gap in the market but importantly it is also about growth. Below is a summary of the fascinating story about a startup company called Métier based in South Africa:

Métier Mixed Concrete is a private company that has been in operation since March 2007. The core business of Métier is the manufacture and supply of quality ready-mixed concrete products for the residential, commercial and industrial markets in South Africa. Métier has achieved significant growth by positioning its business in markets that offer strong and growing demand for its products.

Métier’s initial geographic focus was in Durban and Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, where it secured a fair market share, but the company has recently extended its footprint to the Gauteng market where it has established a number of operations. Métier supplies a varied range of products and is well positioned to supply a variety of standard and specialised concretes to the construction industry.

During the year to 28 February 2013, Métier’s revenue grew by 75% to R412 million, driven largely by new business in Gauteng and successful completion of work on two major projects in KwaZulu-Natal. Profits increased by 48% and while the company was able to maintain its gross profit margins it did not increase them for the first time in seven years. This is a reflection of the slow economic environment and the consequent increase in price competition.

In March 2013, six years later Sephaku Holdings (a company owned by Dangote, Africa’s richest person) acquired Métier for R365-million. A start-up company that started operations from nothing in March 2007 has been to grow to be valued at R365 million in March 2013, six years later. This is what we mean by growth. Entrepreneurship is about growth.

The basic definition of entrepreneurship is about starting something from nothing and growing it. Growth is fundamental to entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs are different, there are those who happen to own a business of the same size for a number of years, from generation to generation, those are what we typically life-style entrepreneurs. Their businesses revolve around their lifestyle.

But for serial entrepreneurs, a business that is not growing is a business that is dying. The business environment is always changing and therefore if you are not innovating and growing, other new entrants will catch up with you and render your business less competitive.

Growth means exploring other markets, introducing new products, and sometimes even acquiring other businesses through mergers and acquisitions. It is about challenging the status quo, continous improvement. Entrepeneur change things even if they are not broken in the quest to do better.

When your business is not ready for big clients, take it easy, grow organically with small clients, perfect serving small clients to an extend where big companies will see value proposition. Keep selling to small clients, the big ones will come.

Be careful when you scale your business, don’t confuse growing too quickly with success

Ps: This is extract from my upcoming book: Start-Up Revolution. The book is to be launched in May 2014

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