Grow your start-up ‘profitably quickly’

Grow your Start-up ‘profitably quickly’… Mmmmm not sure that’s even correct English so let me start at the beginning

As a business owner, my commercial objective is to create *profitable and sustainable growth*. This allows me to hire more, reward better and delivers on my mission of ‘Helping Organisations and Lives Flourish’

* is also my overarching desired outcome for my clients I work with

I’m always on the lookout for ways to build new relationships and learn from other experts on ways to continuously improve what I do and how I do it, and last night I attended an event hosted by Marian Gazdik, Startup Grind, held at the very cool/funky WeWorks venue in Moorgate.


These are the key messages I picked up from the highly accomplished, Venture Capitalist, Entrepreneur, ‘Queen of Seed funding’, Reshma Sohoni, Partner and Founder of SeedFund & Seedcamp on how to How to grow your startup ‘profitably quickly’

You have to set the right culture from the start – For Reshma this entails

– Living and driving the work ethic you desire

– Creating a culture that truly desires and intends to “deliver (create) the world you and they want to see” (sic)

– Working smart

– Listening

– Having a phenomenal hiring process in place

I know that this was a talk aimed specifically at how to get funding for your startup and want to thank Reshma, Marian and the rest of the SG Europe team for a very informative event

Have a question concerning any of the above, email me at or comment

Leadership in Motion works with Founders/Directors of SME’s and their leadership teams helping them maintain authenticity and achieve consistent, sustainable, profitable growth as they transition from the first generation to the second generation to third generation expansion. Our mission is to Help Organisations and Lives Flourish and our Vision is to Develop 1000 Leaders who are World Changers by 2020

find out more


What’s the state of your ‘Heart’

The Heart is the engine room of the human body. Within in it is found the spark that starts and maintains life. It is the place which feeds and nourishes the rest of the body. If it is performing poorly the body suffers. If it stops, the body dies.

There is a saying “The Human Body is made up of many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body”.  So it is with an organisation – a body of people all together making up one body.

Leadership is the Heart of the organisation

Leadership feeds and nourishes its people. It is the spark which nourishes and drives the body. If Leadership performs poorly the organisation suffers. If Leadership stops, unless there is swift and effective action, the organisation will die.


How do we spot and identify the state of our Heart? With the human heart, there are a number of different ways –

Early symptoms are usually experiential and could include things like shortness of breath or pins and needles. Of course, these could be attributed to other problems, not heart-related so you could then go to diagnostic practices.

When I first was diagnosed with my heart condition H.O.C.M back in 2001 the doctors used an Electrocardiogram (ECG) which read my heart rhythm and allowed them to pick up irregularities which definitely indicated heart trouble. They then used an Echocardiogram  (an ultrasound machine) to look at the structure ad function of my heart.

Symptoms in the Human Body are all good and well, but how does this tie in with  identifying the shape of our organisation’s Heart?

Through my years of experience in helping sports people and organisations perform I have observed and learned that the early warning symptoms we see in the human body are similar to the ones of the organisational body so I thought I would share them with you.

Note – Although Poor Performance is a symptom, it is unfortunately usually a sign that the Heart has been performing poorly for a while. Below I have listed the Human Heart symptoms and causes along with Organisational Heart symptoms and causes.


In reading the above you may have noticed it reads ‘Potential Causes’. This is intentional!

As with my Heart symptoms I described at the start, my GP didn’t just listen to the symptoms (which combined are very highly Heart related) and give me a prognosis that it is my Heart, as there are other things that could cause the symptoms. First, they ran Heart-specific tests to make sure it is, in fact, the Heart.

It is similar in the organisational context. All the symptoms above are strongly indicative of Heart problems however it is critical before any corrective action takes place that a deeper investigation of the underlying causes takes place.

As I wrote in a previous post “Organisations rise and fall to the rhythm of its Heart” Make sure you are aware of the state of your Heart

Leadership in Motion is your organisations Heart Health Specialist. We prefer to prevent the symptoms you may face by developing up and coming talent in our Developing Leaders who are World Changers Program. However, we are as also highly skilled at identification and cure. Want to know more about our Developing Leaders who are World Changers Program? Click Here. Are you seeing any of the above-mentioned symptoms or are experiencing these for yourself and are concerned Click Here

Who’s looking after your Heart?

Leadership is the Heart of an organisation


An organisation rises or falls by its Heart’s rhythm
A misaligned Heart rhythm signals poor health
Who’s looking after your organisation’s Heart


Performance Management, not quite dead

I had the privilege of attending an excellent Business Transformation Networking event hosted by Annapurna Recruitment a few weeks back with the title ‘Performance Management, Not Quite Dead Yet”. Informative and highly relevant, given the current economic landscape, it gave me a good opportunity to pause and reflect on what and who owns and drives organisational performance.

My key takeaways from this interesting and engaging talk were as follows

1) Myth – Performance management is dead

A popular concept that started making the rounds in the popular press a number of years ago

Fact – Performance management is still alive and kicking. All that has happened/ is continuing to happen is that the P.M. manner or process has changed.

2) Myth – HR owns performance management

Fact – HR does not and definitely should not own performance management. The truth is that every single stakeholder, starting with Senior Leadership, is accountable for performance and that leaving it to ‘a department’ like a pet project is exactly the type of practice that results in ‘poor performance’

3) Myth – Lack of leadership capability, financial incentives, products, services, strategies, performance management processes, etc are the reason for poor performance

Fact – Although these all play a part, the foremost reason poor performance is occurring is that the culture of the organisation is not one of accountability ”

“Each and every stakeholder is clear about their role – as part of a wider organism –  and are wholly and fully committed to owning their part in delivering on the objectives of the organisation in the time and manner required and agreed”

From my experience, ‘accountability’or lack thereof is not as easy to identify especially if the operational and strategic elements are not right. As Roger Connors and Tom Smith share in their book Change the Culture, Change the Game

“To generate cash you need to *optimise operations (sic) and to do that, you need to be able to identify sloppy process/procedures” You then need to have the abilities and resources to implement these changes. This all takes a lot of energy and focus and because it is our instinctive ‘go to’ we are so focused on plugging this hole that we fail to see the real leak – the lack of accountability.


Here’s a scenario. Your business is not achieving what it should be so you take a look a little deeper and uncover one or more of the following symptoms –

  • Revenue, customer base, market share, and/or profit growth has slowed, has stopped, or worse is shrinking
  • You are struggling to outperform your competitors
  • You are struggling to beat the economy
  • Organisational objectives are not being achieved
  • Agreed objectives are not being delivered
  • Churn (unwarranted leavers) has increased

If you or somebody you know is experiencing any of the above – STOP

Before you rush and sign off on a new CRM/Performance Management/Training Program take a moment and look at the list below. Reflect on the overall behaviours of the business and answer each statement


A high number (greater than 40%) of Yes’s would indicate that although there may be operational issues, there is also a cultural issue and that changing the way people act (through operational/technical/strategic/people improvements) without a change in beliefs will result in – 



PROGRESS NOT lasting improvement

Which, in turn, will be costly and frustrating for both yourselves and your people

I understand the challenges leaders go through, I’ve been in the business of organisational performance a long time. Leadership in Motion was formed to help organisations flourish by developing their people into strong, confident leaders: Leaders who recognise their purpose and authority; and who have the tools and means to equip, enable and empower others to realise their full potential. Find out more


Houston, we’ve had a problem

The rather sombre words uttered by Jack Swiggart, Command Module Pilot, Apollo 13, at 21:08 April 13. 1970 shortly after Oxygen tank No. 2 blew up, causing No.1 tank to fail. A catastrophe which left the shuttle and its crew stranded: No electricity, lights, or water; 200,000 miles away from earth, with no way to power the engine to “begin an immediate return to earth”

Thankfully, due to the expertise, courage and sheer blooded determination of the shuttle and ground crews this story ended – as James A. Lovell writes in his book Apollo Expeditions to the Moon, CHAPTER 13.1, Houston, we’ve had a problem, – not as a tragedy but “a successful failure”

How many businesses can say the same thing? You’ve launched successfully and are powering along, nose to the grindstone moving towards your chosen destination. Your dashboard sais you are on track – profit is growing, you’ve moved into bigger offices, are hiring new staff. Okay, like Apollo 13 you’ve had a few minor surprises – your top performer quit to join a competitor, you’ve had a few performance issues, all minor trembles but you’re growing and your dashboard says profit is up so you keep going. And then

Bang blog

You find yourself in a space with no resources: you lose your most experienced people through performance and churn issues, leaving you with ‘newbies’ who are going to take at least 6 months to start contributing. The problem as you investigate further is that the newbies are actually not performing, or being as productive as you thought nor are they anywhere near where they should be in terms of abilities.

You desperately need to do something and do it quickly or you and the shuttle might not make it out of orbit.

Luckily in most cases, much like Apollo 13, business owners have the courage, determination and sheer bloody-mindedness to push harder – get training for the ‘newbies’ put in a better performance management system, change the recruitment process and hire more people and slowly the shuttle rights itself and carries on towards its intended destination with nothing more than a stress headache.

Only, it’s slower with a lot of clunking that you hadn’t noticed before and pretty soon you have another…Bang

For those of you out there who have experienced this, I am sorry and hope that you don’t go through this again. If you haven’t been through this yet, lucky you :0)

In either case: How do you (as mush as possible) prevent this from happening and if it does, then ensure that instead of a catastrophe you turn it into a “successful failure”

  1. Identify the warning signs – There are always signs of impending problems, the earlier you recognise and acknowledge them the easier it is to minimise the chance of them occurring
  2. Take appropriate action to correct the warning signs – As with the Apollo mission there were many things that should have been challenged and changed. Unfortunately, time and cost pressures often put a stop to these happening Two very important words around action:a) Take – Action needs to be taken, which because of change can be harder to do

    b) Appropriate – The right action needs to be taken, it’s no use putting a bandage on a headache.

  3. Recognise that you need help in taking the appropriate action: (Think symptoms vs cause) Most often actions take place which rectifies the symptoms. the problem here is that it looks good at the time but only wears down further later on. True change/ transformation is a complex business with many facets. As a leader/owner, you are a critical part of the change,  however, because of your position and vested interest in the success of the business help should be sought in moving this forward.

Identify the warning signs

Sometimes its hard to see the ‘cracks’ – warning signs that although nothing is obviously wrong, if action isn’t taken quickly and efficiently you should expect a bang. I’ve created a short questionnaire which you can complete. The questionnaire is a short, informal, non-scientific tool I designed from years doing this work.

Want to identify if your business is a “Houston, we’…. candidate” complete this short questionnaire Click on this link

I understand the challenges leaders go through, I’ve been in the business of organisational performance a long time. Leadership in Motion was formed to help organisations flourish by developing their people into strong, confident leaders: Leaders who recognise their purpose and authority; and who have the tools and means to equip, enable and empower others to realise their full potential. Find out more