Forty hours of travel over 20,000 km’s, from a cold, dry South Africa to a sweltering, humid New Orleans, USA, we arrived eager to attend the GrowCo conference. Thankfully, we did so in style having travelled business class thanks to Nedbank and American Express. We left 4 days later physically exhausted and mentally energised, our heads full of insights, tactics and new connections all centred on business acceleration and growth.
Beyond profit generation, American views on business reach deeply into the context of where they are built. We saw this on our first day orientating ourselves in New Orleans when visiting Southern Candy Makers, Melbas PoBoys and a Cuban Cigar Factory. New Orleans, a city that was recently flattened by Hurricane Katrina faced a R3bn rehabilitation challenge ahead of it. Many business owners with deep histories and roots in the region unified behind the challenge and built out business that reach deep into their communities. The models they used are profitable, sustainable and serve to promote and amplify their success on a constant and consistent basis.
Through a format made up of fireside chats with founders who had built very fast growing businesses and seminars presented by business growth experts, we immersed ourselves in learning.
GrowCo Day 1 - Growth and Scale
Understanding the differences between growth and scale, getting the timing right, breaking and rebuilding your businesses whilst building it through the growth cycle, raising capital, leadership and team dynamics through the growth cycle ended at midnight.
GrowCo Day 2 - How to stay on top
GrowCo, is produced by Inc. media, the producers of the Inc 500, a list that features the 500 fastest growing companies in the USA. Getting onto the list is prestigious and profitable. Your business will enjoy levels of promotion and exposure in this crowded market is intense and expensive. It also gains interest from funders, eager to fuel your businesses growth further. Staying at the top was all about day two. How, once you get into growth can you accelerate it even further without growing broke and remaining ahead of competition resulted in 9 seminars and fireside chats during day two.
The fastest growing and most successful businesses I work with all have business owners who invest in lifelong learning. At GrowCo, this was no different. South African business owners travelled across the Atlantic to extract the GrowCo lessons for their own businesses. We found them, spoke to them and got their take on what they are bringing back home. We also found this man doing business with Clicks in South Africa!
Conferences are full of people. We met loads of them. There were great ideas from new businesses. The Baby Barista was one such example. The interest we generated on cross-Atlantic business became palpable. From Cowboys to Corporatizing Small Business, interest in South Africa’s entrepreneurial business environment was keen. We also enjoyed some big names in the American entrepreneurial ecosystem visiting the conference. They shared their insights, mobilised the attendees and inspired many through their own personal stories.
Finally, we managed to squeeze in some time to visit New Orleans. From Bourbon street in the French Quarter, visits to the docks serving the great Mississippi river, historic grave yards, swamps and groves, and visits uptown, down town and across town to gain insights and truth about the remarkable cross-section of American, southern society and life.
It was a valuable trip. It was insightful. It was vital. We get so stuck in our own narratives governing the big issues in South Africa that focusing on and getting down to business becomes a challenge within all the noise.
It’s a trip like this that helps you step up and out of the noise to take the lessons learnt back into your own business and accelerate it to its next level in service of yourself and South Africa. It’s a trip made possible by Nedbank.