Best protection against inflation is investing in self…global business guru advises

World-renowned guru on scaling up a business, Verne Harnish (3rd right), pictured at Dromoland Castle Hotel with (from left): Leo Clancy, CEO, Enterprise Ireland; Helen Downes, CEO, and Eoin Gavin, President, Shannon Chamber. Photograph by Eamon Ward

Attendees at a recent scaling up workshop organised by Shannon Chamber, in association with Enterprise Ireland and supported by Shannon Chamber Skillnet, left Dromoland Castle Hotel with a workbook filled with inspirational nuggets acquired from the world-renowned business guru, Verne Harnish.

On his second visit to Co. Clare, this global expert in business and entrepreneurship had his audience of over 130 businesspeople enthralled as he energetically delved into and shared his vast reservoir of knowledge gained from his work in scaling businesses over a four-decade timespan.

“Scaling up a significant business requires discipline and focus. It requires replacing the words winning or losing with winning and learning,” he said.

Suggesting that organisations should take a lead from nature, by focusing on potential rather than problems, and form management and team structures similar to beehives and ant colonies, he added: “The optimal team size should be set between four or five people, ideally three, including the team leader, and the key requirement of an effective team is that it offers its members psychological safety and conversational turn taking.”

Contrasting the business environment today with that of the industrial age, he used the analogy of mind versus muscle and suggested that attendees should review their organisational structures to take account of the fact that businesses today are more driven by the brain than by muscle.

“Agile scale-ups have no middle management so investing in self is the best protection against inflation. Scaling requires leadership development, scaling people, and investment in marketing, which is the key to attracting and retaining talent,” he added, advising companies to help their employees achieve their educational goals and deliver to their personal best.

In terms of marketing, he advised attendees to be everywhere their customers are “hanging out” and to consider the 5Es of marketing – experience, exchange, everyplace and evangelism – that have replaced the traditional 4Ps – product, price, promotion and place – and to understand than the rationale for buying a product or service is to avoid a loss.

“Find the constraints that are holding your business back, overcome them and control your destiny. Protect your intellectual property through patents and control the critical ingredients of your supply chain,” he advised

Enterprise Ireland CEO Leo Clancy, who addressed the event, described the workshop as enlightening and in line with the organisation’s mission.

“Supporting Irish companies on their scaling journey is at the heart of Enterprise Ireland’s new strategy as we work to support Irish firms that want to achieve leading positions in global markets. We are consistently impressed by the ambition, agility and bravery of Irish business leaders. Workshops of this nature offer entrepreneurs and their teams the opportunity to take time out to reflect and to learn. Enterprise Ireland was delighted to partner with Shannon Chamber to deliver a workshop of this calibre and we look forward to seeing attendees implement some of the knowledge and the skills they developed at the event.”

Shannon Chamber president Eoin Gavin commenting on the Shannon region’s strong entrepreneurial record added: “Innovation has been at the heart of this region for over six decades. Collaborations with key development agency stakeholders and engagements with global business experts such as Verne Harnish will ensure that this tradition is not only continued but augmented and enhanced.”