This month we chat to Justin Hawes of Scan Display, who was one of the finalists in the EOY 2012 competition about how he manages to instil entrepreneurial skills within his business.
With freedom comes responsibility. Therefore my management style is very much one of making each employee accountable for their actions. I do not meddle in how they get a job done, or what hours they work, but give them the freedom to achieve the results we need in the way they want to. This in turn encourages an entrepreneurial spirit in the company.
This is especially true for our Account Executives. They effectively run their own business within Scan Display: they manage the entire process of quoting, closing sales, project managing each job to completion and following up on payments. To facilitate this, I empower them to make their own decisions, such as which of our solutions to offer clients and choice of supplier. This impacts their earnings, so they are very responsible in how they handle it.
Of course, I need to identify the right kind of personality for this role. I need to have Account Executives who are comfortable with this responsibility. In addition, we also have systems in place that ensure we are delivering a uniformly high quality product to our clients.
Why is the development of entrepreneurial skills so important?
By ensuring Scan’s staff are responsible and empowered, and able to be creative with their solutions, our business is able to run more efficiently. I also believe our staff members enjoy this working environment as they feel stimulated and challenged. But they also always know they can come to me with questions and concerns – my advice and support is always available.
Do you think that because of your focus on these types of skills you have an advantage over competitors?
Yes, without a doubt. Our Account Executives drive our business forward, and they would not be able to drive it so quickly if they were not empowered in this way.
Why should fellow entrepreneurs look to do the same within their business?
If you empower your staff members to act as entrepreneurs, they are more committed to their work. They take ownership of their role and are hungry for success. We reward our Account Executives financially, and they make commission from the first R1 they sell out of every job they do. This keeps them fully invested in the business and its success.
Why is entrepreneurship so important for South Africa?
All the greatest countries in the world have a culture of entrepreneurship, and it stimulates economic growth and development. The United States is a prime example of this, as anyone can start a business venture, and it is easy to move in and out of different businesses. India is also an example of a country in the developing world where people are coming up with creative businesses that bring value to the market and give them an income.
When I was recently there, I had the sense that everyone had a job, from laundry people (“debwashers”) to the people who collect lunch boxes from homes to deliver to their owners at work (“tiffin-carriers”). Everyone is busy doing something, and earning something.
By encouraging entrepreneurship in South Africa we will be able to stimulate job creation. Rather than relying on the government to create jobs, people will be in a position where they can create their own jobs – and ultimately more jobs for other people too.