Going against the flow — six tips for budding entrepreneurs

2013-01-16 00:00

SIX years ago, Bruce von Maltitz and Jed Hewson were both working in the corporate sector — which had become a somewhat frustrating experience, until they started their own business. They take up the story …

We could see where the technology was going and realised that larger organisations were too large to deliver the niche services that were needed in the maturing hosted call centre market.

We decided to take the plunge and become the best hosted call centre service provider in Africa – maybe not the biggest, but the best.

Here are a few of their tips for other budding entrepreneurs looking to scale new heights:

Remain agile

Part of the reason we moved away from the corporate environment is that we wanted to get rid of the red tape, rules and regulations that slow down large enterprises.

We wanted to make it easy for companies to do business with us, and not the other way around.

Get your productoffering right first

Initially, we spent most of our time and money developing a solid technology and making sure that the offering we were taking to market was complete.

This helped us in the long run, because once we had the solutions in place, we could focus on growing our client base rather than adjusting the technology or fixing bugs.

We were able to offer a working, complete solution to customers.

Be an expert

Our success comes from knowing our business inside and out. Strive to be the best at something, rather than a jack of all trades. Keep your focus and grow your expertise.

We found that being a niche, specialist provider trumps being the biggest in the business every time.

Know your clients

Our key differentiator is service. We sit down with our clients, discuss their situation and offer insight into both technology and business, because we understand both sides of the coin.

We aren’t in the business of dropping off a “product-in-a-box” and disappearing: we support our customers every step of the way.

Outsource whatyou don’t need

Part of our offering is the fact that we take care of the technology completely, affording the call centres the opportunity to focus on what they do best — running a call centre.

We follow the same philosophy by outsourcing certain functions that we don’t see as core drivers for our success.

That way we can focus on keeping the clients happy rather than motivating staff in various departments.

A streamlined business is an effective business.

Accept that it’s going to be expensive

Successful businesses are going to cost you money and the more successful you are the more money it’ll take.

When entrepreneurs start out, they tend to forget that.

Yes, successful businesses make money, but you have to be prepared to keep ploughing that money into the company to make sure it keeps growing and remains the best at what it does.

Don’t have the expectation of getting rich quickly and don’t measure success by the amount of dividends you get paid.

All you have to do is be passionate about what you do and be willing to sacrifice if need be — the rewards will come later.


Bruce von Maltitz and Jed Hewson are from 1stream, a provider of hosted telephony for contact centres in South Africa.

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