Scaling A Business AMA With Jan Cavelle

Thomas Green here with Ethical Marketing Service. Today on the podcast we have Jan Cavelle. Welcome, Jan.

Thank you very much indeed for having me here.

No problem. Would you like to tell the audience a bit about yourself and what you do?

I could. I am a semi-retired entrepreneur, if there is such a thing, which means that in real terms that I’ve had a rather too long career in small businesses, micro businesses, SMEs, one of which I scaled or tried to a certain level. Now, I’m also – which I still get very excited to say because my first book comes out in four weeks’ time with Bloomsbury and it’s called Scale for Success. So I write full time. I write articles on the web and all sorts.

Well, congratulations. And what was the process of writing your book?

Like the process of writing a book was mind blowing for me for lots of reasons, it has been a childhood dream of mine. And the real problem was I wasn’t sure I had the imagination, well I felt as though I didn’t have the imagination to write fiction. So I cast around for ages for a topic, but to try writing a book on and I kept on coming back to the fact that the one thing I knew about really was entrepreneurship, but I saw for a long time, I saw as I didn’t totally succeed in scaling up, it would be a bit of a cheap to write about it. So I got a lot of, I’m not good enough months to go through and eventually I thought, well actually I battled with it for such a long time. Nobody knows the pitfalls for problems and everyone else is doing it better than me. So because I do, yeah, I battled to go on and on and kept on thinking and retraining myself and find every approach possible. So I thought well actually if I know the problems and one or two of the answers, if I go out and talk to other entrepreneurs because I have an amazing network anywhere in a much better one now get their expertise and get that, input it into the book, then we’re talking something seriously useful to other people.

And I thought, what a lovely way then we’re going with a bit of give back helping people on. What I know is such a hard thing to do, reminds me a lot of any inspiration from napoleon Hill there. I have read napoleon Hill certainly. Yes, a little bit I suppose it’s a long time since I’ve read think write sync rich individuals, Not impossible. The first one was Secrets of Success. I think the second one was Think and Grow Rich. But this project was obviously to speak to all of the successful – I want to say billionaires, but I’m not sure that that’s quite right – successful people back then and compile all the principles of Success and put it into a book, would you say that you’ve done that in relation to scaling a business? I think yes, really, I must admit I’ve forgotten napoleon hill, it is, I mean it’s, to some extent it’s an approach that’s been tried before, but I wanted to try something slightly different because what I wanted to do was write a sort of manual, if you like, covering the major topics, which was what I wanted to do originally and what I was thinking, I don’t have the authority to do really on my own and so I decided to put together this jigsaw if you like, of one entrepreneur expert power topic and I wanted an entrepreneur who per topic, who that topic has been a particular input, it’s every impact on their careers on entrepreneur, so you really felt their journey and their experiences reflecting in their advice and what part of their advice, because I do truly believe from my own experience and from what everybody told me, but entrepreneurs and best from other entrepreneurs.

The other thing that you mentioned, which is Jim Rohn’s quote, which is, you learn more from losing than you do by winning. Yeah, that applies to, you know, you’ve learned every which way not to do it and then presumably you what you picked a particular topic and you spoke to an entrepreneur about that topic and then Exactly, yes, so I have for example, let’s start off on your mission and vision, which is so crucial, I wanted to find an entrepreneur who really imported that into everything they do and there are a few of them about, but I was privileged in the end to have got the involvement of James Bartell who you may know of, who some of your listeners may know of, he’s actually fund of a equalled outland denim and which is Australia, but it’s very big in the States and does jeans but and don’t somewhere but everything they do is to transform the lives of the people who make it because of course fashion has been very unethical and his way and he makes the wear in Cambodia and he supports for people out there in the most amazing ways and it’s all very sustainable and his son all sorts to change things and just talking, I mean, talking to him that chapter alone for me was just one of the most inspirational conversations I’ve ever had, but that’s the sort of thing.

I mean, you know, because who better than to talk to somebody like that who’s whole business was built to achieve that. It wasn’t as we wanted originally to make jeans. It was he wanted to change the lives of people who were being abused really in situations of abusive worker that poor countries. So you know, the whole business was created for that purpose. So you know, that’s so exactly the sort of person I wanted for vision and mission because it really embodies it. And that’s the principle I’ve tried to apply to each chapter. It sounds like you picked up a few mentors along the way. Well, yeah. Did you have any mentors for writing it in the first place for the actual writing? No, I mean I dabbled with writing a couple of books, got input from writing coaches and my own really when I learned to stand back and be able to take enough of abuse, even if it was coming from me about, you know, you have to be kidding, this is absolute Johnson, maybe it’s ever going to read it.

So yeah, I mean I’ve had writing mentors, and I used to write for digital publication called Real Business, which may have come across and I contributed to them for nearly 10 years. And other wonderful editors who taught me a huge amount too. So along the way, I’ve had a lot of help, but not for this specific book. I sat down and decided to write it and just went for it and I got so involved in the project. I just lived and breathed it and that was sort of taken token flight before, you know, it was about three quarters done before I thought and I wasn’t going to do with it. You know, what we’re going to solve part. Do I need a publisher, what, which of course is not what you’re supposed to do it or you really should plan that planet at large in the first place, but it took hold, it became a living, breathing thing, how long did it take approximately start to finish the research took a long while, because, because I was so sad, I didn’t just want to one drop to any entrepreneur and say, do you want to talk about this?

I wanted it to be so key, so finding that check, so it was okay in the beginning, because you could find somebody who sales was a big part of their business or whatever, but then, you know, I had my topic list and the longer it went on, the harder it got to find the missing gaps, so that took a fair time and of course, you know, I mean, I’m a relatively unknown right at the fact I’ve written some articles, that’s not, doesn’t exactly make me known to anybody, so, you know, if you’ve got very famous entrepreneurs and what some of them have famous, some lesser but good mix, but you know, do they really want to talk to some unknown scribbler who may or may not ever get a book published, you know, a lot of them think they’ve got better things to do at that time, but people actually were unbelievably kind and so supportive, The 30 involved were so generous with their time, but you know, again, giving James, Potter’s example, you know, if you’ve got a multinational band and you’re supporting actress in Cambodia there and he does an awful lot for campaigning for us to call business, you know, do you really want to give up time to talk to something like me?

But you know, if you did and it was lovely, you know, and so it went on the longest. Good. So, wow! Well, for the purposes of just definitions for those that don’t know, what does it mean to scale a business, It’s an interesting question that actually, because it’s, it’s changed scaling the business used to be when you got involved with a bigger scale and when you’ve got financing involved, big time finance and not sort of friends and family or your own, but actually investors involved and until about a much longer time, but sort of five or six years ago, 5 to 10 years ago, Yeah. Startup capital through those sort of investors with virtually non-existent now, of course it’s much, much more common and you’ve got accelerators and the incubators and what have you spinning off that, so that sort of change things are now scaling up doesn’t necessarily involve financed all it really means sustainable growth, but quite big time growth.

We’re not talking about that, again from, you know, physically weak 6°, we’re talking to someone who is really wanting to build a sustainable, long term, big business, big patients, are there stages for scaling a business because people talk about it fairly universally, you know, but have you noticed that there are different stages? Yes, definitely. I think the exact figure is very slightly from sector to sector because you know, for different, I mean, for example, manufacturing needs an awful lot more people involved and therefore money involved in machinery or whatever. Whereas you might start an online business and get a much higher turnover with left eye cakes. So there are variants, of course there are, but I think up to your 100,000 is tremendous to crack. It’s so exciting. Remember it to this day, then you actually sort of kept up to your million from 1 to 10 million.

Somebody else in the book is Stephen Kelly, who’s an entrepreneur who built sage, for example, and it’s not a headed tech nation or a church or a technician, I think, get it right. But he’s had an amazing career both in Silicon Valley and in the UK That he calls that leap from one million to 10 million where I got, so start the death valley of businesses, which is really interesting because you know, he, and quite a lot of people I spoke to think it’s that stage, but it’s the hardest of a lot because you change completely from being a small, everybody knows that don’t need too many systems. Everybody’s involved sort of business to a, not a corporation, but an actual functioning structure and not everybody can make that transition or like mating.

It actually, people drift into it and find they don’t like being involved in that. So there’s an awful lot of pitfalls which we can talk about. But then when you’ve got up to that stage, if you get up at that stage and I didn’t to the 10, um, then, You know, you’ve actually put those in place and you get the principles of running that size and then it is easier to do the next jump to 50 because the principles are the same or, and then 52 up to upwards. You know, with the lovely Australian entrepreneur in the book who’s called Robbie Challenge and he’s gone from literally in again, working in a garage to floating on the Asian Pollination Stock Exchange, which is about some journey. Yeah, once you get to those numbers, it’s the next steps are going public, right? Exactly. You know, that’s what he did from the garage.

She’s not back then. What are three principles you would like to share on scaling business if you wanted to share three? No, of course. I think, uh, I thought about this when you asked me and I think I’m tempted to say prepare, which by the time I got to the third one, I don’t seem to be able to say, anyway. But I think the three big areas you want to prepare for yourself actually, which is something people forget because they’re so busy and they’re building and you know, they’re, they’re living the growth, but actually you need to change yourself and develop and you need to learn and you know, you need to become a very different person in business. So I think prepare yourself as one prepare your team because you may start off with a lovely team who you’re very close to and you’re having a lot of fun and they may not want to go which create can create an enormous problem because it may not be their vision and so you’re faced with what you do.

I’ve got this original team who are involved and then my business and I open everything, do I bring other people in instead and fulfil my vision? Do I give up on my vision or you know, do I somehow I negotiate them and say that’s great. I understand thought, you know, you’re sure you don’t want to – would have killed you but your people need to buy in otherwise you won’t do it. What would you say, a popular reason for not wanting to scale would be but people involved, I think you know, I mean, I certainly had that one that was one of my issues and we started very small broad way. It started from nothing very small and the people were originally working in farm buildings with a lot of freedom and autonomy and not very, I mean, they worked incredibly hard, but, you know, it’s on their terms, they had a lot of freedom.

They didn’t have to run soft as for saying grew, you know, we had to move to a factory setting and, you know, David want to run, going, I missed being in the bomb, you know, and I missed the fields. And so, you know, you’re talking very extreme difference. they tried desperately to get involved in, you know, running, running the team was on the top floor, but, you know, if they hadn’t wanted to do it, I mean, but it was particularly tricky for me because they were craftsman, you know, and you can understand that if you’re creative and you love what you’re doing, you don’t want to spend half your time doing something else. So, so would you say you’re going from one stage to another means less freedom and more processing or processing? And now that’s the third one, you know, you’ve got to have the process is the most entrepreneurs, when it’s when you say systems and processes anyway, you know, we hate it. It’s an awful lot of us were big picture people with no patients in a lot of cases, I’m sure you’re not, but I said, man, so, you know, it’s tricky.

We’re always meaning to spend time putting in the structures and processes, but again, you know, you’re going from, you being able to do everything the first crisis to the fact that you simply can’t step in, if there’s a crisis, you know, in a, in a bigger business, because you invest too much for you to do and there are too many people with crisis is to step in and you’ve, you’ve probably already been accustomed to working ridiculously long hours and finally you’ve run out, Yeah, there’s only so many emergencies you can handle at one time, right? That’s the one. So, um, if your last answer didn’t cover it, is there such a thing as scaling too quickly? Yes, oddly enough, I thought about that, the two examples in the book of which both of which are interesting. One is a woman who’s a friend of mine actually, and it’s a very successful management consultancy, but also she does government contracts and thank you for the word, I’m looking for sort of gross, gross networks, that’s the word I’m looking for, for helping people to grow and huge amount of work and they scaled terribly fast resume.

She’s very, very successful entrepreneur and she is very honest, like everybody is in the book, which was one of the things, I think it’s amazing and she says, you know, when, when they did that first girl, they were going to want to turn route what it was obvious that they hadn’t got those structures in place, they haven’t got my people and they actually had to go back, stop right down, turn down work footman place and scale up again. So, yes, and the other example actually is going back to James Bartell because that’s a really interesting one, because of course we think what we want is lots of sales. No, a few years ago, he had a situation where he was actually encumbered and Meghan Markle got off an airplane unbeknown to him wearing a pair of jeans and the press went wild and he was still fraud really small, relatively and everybody went crazy and but his growth went astronomic, I mean he says himself, but I mean he was completely unprepared and he had a rough time fighting through it because it was, it was a huge adjustment and had changed their business entirely.

So, you know, while it sounds like a dream that we all want in businesses that kind of publicity, it can be a tough road. And he said he’s a very clever guy. So he negotiated, but you know, he’s honest and he said it to tomorrow. Yes. did you say that there was a recurring theme around balancing the acquisition of sales, like in that instance, and then also capacity. Yes, yes, absolutely, and of course, again, that was, that was one of the things that I found out the hard way because essentially I was always a salesperson and you know, I couldn’t, couldn’t help myself. I was so sales lead and always wanting to push for sales because it’s great. We really couldn’t so yeah, because of the capacity issue. Okay and what business Freeman when you were a manufacturing and you know there’s a bar skills shortage too as we know in this country and you know in lots of areas including mine and we just couldn’t get enough skilled people and as I said, I didn’t have the senior staff who wanted to grow and I kept on thinking, but you know this is so amazing.

You know, we felt this fabulous brand and my selling loads and loads. They had the skill and the ability to get the sales, but not the capacity to produce. Yeah. And I’m like James fossil, I failed to find the solutions. So what in your view is the reason why so many businesses fail. What I’m referring to there is the statistics. So I’m sure you’ve heard of the statistics of so many businesses failing both in the first year and then after the first five years I think it is absolutely, I mean I think with the first year there are a lot of people who start businesses and either don’t know enough or haven’t researched, they’re more kit enough or actually have a sort of very different idea of what running a business is going to be, it comes, you know, they think it’s going to be an easy life and of course it isn’t, it’s, it’s something that you absolutely have to love to do and have passion to do. And then it’s easy, but it’s not easy in its own right.

Let’s face it as I’m sure you appreciate, so I think, you know, but there’s lots of very obvious reasons in the first stage. But then there is this death valley when you get to grow, you know, that you may not have what particularly if you if you haven’t got the sales, if you haven’t nailed your market, and refined the sales. I mean, for example, you know, when we start off any sale of, you know, we couldn’t, we can be a cupcake manufacturer, but you know, we’ll sell a dining room table if somebody asked for it and find it from somewhere, you know, because it’s exciting. It’s a sale and we’re making money and gosh, you know, whereas by the time you’ve got up to a million mark, you’ve, you’ve got really nailed what your product and your offering and things is if you’re going to build it. So, you know, that’s that, that can be a problem. People haven’t necessarily got a marketing ride.

And the market, right, should I say so, clarity as well about what you’re doing, why you exist, that kind of thing. Yeah, very much so. Yeah. And of course we are, You know, it’s noticeable. It was noticeable, I think before the pandemic and it was certainly notable when I do when I did the research. But you know the pandemic has accelerated purpose driven stuff understandably and more and more businesses are understanding that. So you know it’s the way business will go. You got any thoughts on what will happen as a result of the pandemic in terms of after, you know when we’re all done what what it will look like wow. I think obviously, I mean it’s so difficult. So particularly with these new strings but I think it’s I mean it’s clearly going to accelerate the world of tech and ai so we’re going to see massively different things happening at a very quick raped there. And I think those, you know the companies that are thriving and there are loads of thriving among them all the creations and tech people who are able to be much more adaptable.

All right. Well, to be but they’re able opposite function more easily online. But also the creative people are more open to changing ways. I think of business, you know, and it is going to be different, for example. You know, I don’t think we’ll ever go back to what happens in manufacturing. I’m not so sure apart from what’s more automation, but I don’t think we’ll go back to mostly to full-time office work. I think it’ll be hybrid at most myself interesting. I am, I think that it’s spread up the retail demise unfortunately because it was just clinging on. I thought before this all happened so interesting. I mean, you know, for all sorts of benefits of things. I mean again, you know, so they are both particles and I haven’t written this one yet. So you’re very well in advance. But I’ve done the interview and I was talking to another entrepreneur in Australia.

I do talk to other people are from Australia, you understand. But it just so happens that’s where some of the conversations go. But he runs a company called melody makers among others necessarily entrepreneur and they supply essentially music for retail. But he’s revolution revolutionised it because in lockdown of course all his clients we’re in trouble and he thought what can I do to help? And he’s developed an app that does shopping by appointment. But on a on a mass markets go, which is much easier to actually run safely and pandemic nines. And you know, I mean the biggest male in Australia has picked up and is recommending it to their tenants because of course it helps them fulfil the virginity of care. So and you know, she says if you’ve got shoppers by appointment they spend four times as March. So in essence, you need less counts for the same turnover.

And he’s got cards weren’t worldwide not because there’s something that you know again the world’s opened up. So I think we’ll see a lot of changes and reach our market. And again, those people who are creative and open to change and doing things differently you know, can flourish still. You know, I think it is just the people who want to go back to the way things were and can’t be open to amazing new ideas who are going to struggle the most willing to adapt. Right? That’s the one I read on your website that it says that you champion entrepreneurship. It was done. Yeah my size place always have done is an exaggeration. But for a few decades I got involved a few decades ago with a government campaign initially for so I say the you which was a collaboration between all the countries promoting enterprise in quite early days when I you know entrepreneurs were becoming mainstream.

We were charged with encouraging it in schools colleges businesses wherever we could do that there were particularly for women there were 50 of us backed originally to represent the UK. And I became fascinated by the whole concept and the more I learned, the more I realised just how vital entrepreneurship is to the economy. And so well that campaign has government campaigns do more to change times and peter diet and honestly in another I’ve been involved in several cents but wherever I do get an opportunity, I do it because I think it’s crucial, you know, small, I mean, you look at the situation today, we’ve got we’ve got people being made redundant through no fault of our own good people and they’re going to need to do something. We’ve got people in jobs who might decide to recessions, not recession proof themselves and do side hustles.

We’ve got small companies who may grow and employ people unless we have that sort of fireworks going off in, in enterprise, You know, we’ve got, we’ve got a dying economy, so, so yeah, I feel very strongly about it. Like get off my soapbox. No, I agree with you as well. Well, I’m interested. I typically ask guests about what their goals are and I phrase it as business skills, but it can be, have you got any personal goals or business goals or perhaps goals for the book? But I mean, you know, I would love it to reach as many people when I wrote it, it was genuinely a mix of wanting to help others, and also a bit of a lifetime dream, not about launching a career nowadays, it’s so fashionable to write a book as your business cards and all that, but I’ve had a it’s quite somewhat childish dream of getting a publishing trap, publishing contract one day, which I never thought would happen of course, but it has and so, so I’m a bit living a personal dream of my combination of writing talking to entrepreneurs who I just find the most fascinating thing on earth combined.

It is for me, pure heaven and such privilege at this time of life. You know, when you don’t expect nice new things to come in, or I didn’t. So, to be honest, I’m really enjoying that, you know, the launch, because Bloomsbury actually, I’m like a lot of things actually produce their own sales in Australia and America, and the book comes out there later in July in both of those. So, I mean, in a real dream world, my son lives in Australia. So I would love to go and do the actual book launch in person as opposed to virtually and uh, see him as well, but that’s my next step. But I was never trying to launch another career at all. It was it was, you know, I’m simply retired to say, so, I don’t know, but I’m just loving it. So, we’ll see what happens. Just enjoying yourself. Yeah, yeah. So those that are particularly interested in getting published.

Have you got anything to share there on, uh, tried publishing? It’s very difficult. I mean, I think it’s worth going on a course, as, you know, made plenty of free ones or taste, of course, is that you can get from, you know, five or whatever, that tell you how to do submissions, because submissions to publish a complex thing, you know, that alone took me about a month, which is, you know, it’s not a question of just shoving a manuscript in the post. So they want to know a lot more about, you know, you and your background and how you’re going to solve the thing. So, you know, do your, do your research on that bit. I think, think hard about whether you’re tried publishing or not. Think hard about your reader. Think, think who is, you know, who are you, think of it like a business.

You know, who is your target market? What are they going to get out of it? Isn’t going to benefit them. So do of course. And then think about it from that person’s perspective who’s going to be your buyer. Yeah, exactly, advice. Would you, do you have anything else to add? I think I’m probably running try of brainpower. Well, in that case, where is the best place for people to find you? And even by the book? Well, they can go all sorts of groups. I wouldn’t say anything at any good bookshop. Of course we’ve got a problem, but they can leap on amazon and if they do that, they do enjoy it. Please leave a review because that’s all about the algorithms, of course. or they can go to my website, which is And that’s J-A-N-C-A-V-E-L-L-E as I’m sure we’ll be in your notes somewhere floating around, or they can go to Bloomsbury Publishing themselves and look for the book there and buy direct from the industry. So lots and lots of options.

Okay, well, thank you very much for being a great guest. You shared lots of valuable information and what I’ll speak to you soon.

That would be lovely. I shall look forward to that.