Lessons from Contiki

Hamish Mexted Business Strategy & Planning

My current read is Only two seats left! by John Anderson, the founder of Contiki.

John makes the point that knowing where your business is at financially is critical:

In addition we had an excellent accounts reporting system with monthly accounts providing updated forecasts and cash flows.  Andrew Fleming our Finance Director has massive responsibility and managed to keep our heads above water, although a couple of times we dipped below the line due to the company’s rapid expansion.  We implemented strict timelines to adhere to the accounts being completed.  To have these completed all the relevant information had to be input, so it brought a real dicipline to the business to ensure the figures were constantly up to date.  It was so important to have up-to-date financial information so we could continually plot our progress and keep an eye out for any cash pitfalls that may lie ahead.

Your internal systems, processes and timeframes are central in ensuring success.

He also talks about the value of having a good team around him:

…I came around to understand that if you choose the right people to help manage your business, you have to let part of it go, and to trust them to do their jobs.  This is a lesson many business owners never learn.  I personally found it very difficult.

On the whole it’s a great read and provides some interesting insights into turning a startup company into a multi-national corporation.