How Osidon Has Gone From Start-up To Scale-up in 2 Years
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Player: Hennie Ferreira and Melissa Ferreira
Osidon is an innovative, fast-growing SME accounting firm that signs up between five and six new clients per day. Currently focused on the South African market, co-founder Hennie Ferreira is launching Osidon into the UK and USA markets in early 2020.
Developed using AI and Cloud technologies, Osidon is a digital accountant. Thanks to Osidon’s innovative platform, the business has also partnered with Sasfin Bank to enable clients to open bank accounts on the Osidon system with just a few clicks.
A new partnership with The National Employers’ Association of South Africa (NEASA) will also provide clients with free legal and HR advice on labour-related matters, as well as numerous legal templates to help businesses with labour compliance.
Related: The Path To Start-Up Success
Founded by husband and wife team Hennie and Melissa Ferreira, Osidon was the result of frustration at all the obstacles and red-tape that entrepreneurs face. That frustration fueled their start-up in 2017, but strategic partnerships and acquiring significant investment has enabled scale.
Entrepreneur chatted to Hennie about the realities of scaling a business, lessons learnt and challenges faced.
Q. In what way is a scalable business essentially different from a business that cannot be scaled?
I think the most important aspect of a scalable businesses is systems. Can you systematise business functions like Sales, Operations and HR in a logical or systematic manner to function as a mass-production machine?
Every task needs to be broken down and approached in a systematic manner. With today’s technology, systems can also automate resource-intensive tasks.
Q. In your own business, what fundamentals needed to be in place before you could scale?
We took all the tasks that can possibly occur in accounting and bookkeeping and broke them down into the smallest detail.
We then developed systems to monitor and manage these tasks in great detail, spending a lot of time focusing on how we could make every single detail more efficient and streamlined.
Once we were comfortable with our systems, we launched the business on a small scale, testing every single function and task. We went back to the drawing board a few times, streamlining again and repeating the entire process.
We did this up to the point where we proved the scalability of the business on a small scale and only then did we really start focus on aggressive scale.
Q. What was the biggest challenge you faced while scaling Osidon?
Recruitment and capital were the two biggest stumbling blocks. Fast growth consumes a lot of capital and we overcame this by securing an investor.
Due to high growth we also needed to recruit staff at a fast rate. We had to approach recruitment in a systematic manner, by making interviews shorter and relying more on computerised psychometric testing. In this way we managed to scale our recruitment methods and still managed to improve the quality of our hires.
Q. What was the biggest lesson you learnt, and how has it impacted your business model?
The most important lesson for us was to focus on our core business. It’s easy to get distracted with details and start focusing on additional value that slows down the scalability of the business.
Always focus on doing your core service more efficiently and improving the scalability of the core first, rather than adding more features and services that end up slowing your growth rate.
Q. How important is the mindset of the CEO in relation to a business’s ability to scale?
Being in a comfort zone or being content with the size of a business is the enemy of scaling a business. As the strategic leader you have to see the bigger picture and always strive to be bigger and better.
The most important factor is that you need to be able to communicate this to your staff. They cannot pursue something they cannot see or believe in.
I always say that there is a difference between a small business and a baby business. A baby business has the expectation, the energy and the will to grow.
You have to get out of your comfort zone and allow for some risk to grow and get your staff on-board with the strategic vision. There’s a quote I love: If your plans don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.