As we continue to extract valuable advice and mentorship from successful entrepreneurs, we chat with the founder of Innovo Networks, Damian Michael. Innovo Networks is an internet service provider that was born 10 years ago and has since grown into a tech disruptor that has gone on to accrue an impressive list of awards.
Damian Michael | image supplied
Michael attributes the success of his business to its commitment to excellence, innovation, and customer service.
“We strive to focus on these core elements and consistently deliver on our promises and customer needs. Our success has allowed us to spread our footprint in the marketplace, attract top talent, and cultivate an environment of trust and transparency.
“We believe that our successful track record of excellent service and performance has been the driving force behind our growth and success, allowing us to reach and impact thousands of customers,” he says.
Here, Michael talks more about his success and offers advice to entrepreneurs wanting to start their own businesses.
Could you share some of the key learnings you’ve gained from your 10 years of entrepreneurial persistence?
1. Believing in yourself – Passion and perseverance are essential elements to successful entrepreneurship. Don’t let other people’s doubts discourage you from pursuing your dreams.
2. Plan ahead – Anticipate and prepare for future and potential setbacks. Having a plan will keep you focused and prepared to tackle any obstacles you may face.
3. Take risks – Staying in your comfort zone won’t bring you success. Be willing to take risks and make mistakes in order to gain new experiences. Pivot your product offerings in tough times to harness your customer base.
4. Embrace change – The key to staying competitive and growing as an entrepreneur is to embrace change and adapt.
5. Don’t give up – Overcoming failure is an essential part of becoming a successful entrepreneur. Don’t be afraid to take risks and keep pushing forward.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are struggling to keep their startups afloat?
Understand what kind of customer you’re trying to reach and target your efforts to attract and retain the right customers for your business. It’s also important to diversify your revenue sources. Find alternative or additional revenue streams to support your startup’s growth.
What are some essential qualities or skills that an entrepreneur should possess?
1. Self-motivation: The ability to motivate yourself to complete tasks – the journey is lonely, so you need to be self-motivated.
2. Leadership: The ability to motivate and inspire others to work towards a common goal, while also providing clear direction to help the team stay focused.
3. Financial management: The ability to understand and manage the finances of a business, including budgeting, forecasting, and managing cash flow.
4. Resilience: The ability to remain focused and motivated even in the face of failure and disappointment.
5. Risk-raking: The ability to accurately assess the potential gains and losses of different business opportunities, and make strategic decisions based on that assessment.
How did you manage to disrupt the industry and carve out a mark for yourselves?
I set out with a strong focus on customer experience. In any industry, customers are the most important factor for success. I looked for ways to make using our products and services easier, faster, and more enjoyable than the competition.
I also leveraged technology to disrupt the market. For example, we built the first video PBX and omni-channel contact centre in South Africa, which has won awards and carved out a niche and sought-after place for us in the industry.
Continuous testing and improvement of our product offering are also one of the most important aspects of how we as a company disrupt. We also constantly monitor customer feedback and user data to make smart decisions about how to improve the customer experience.
How did you manage to navigate and overcome economic turmoil, the global pandemic, and other adversities?
The first step to navigating these sorts of challenges is to stay informed – keep abreast of the latest news, developments, and trends related to the circumstances you are facing. For example, during Covid, we pivoted to developing and selling products that could add value to businesses, such as remote working capabilities. This helped us to stay relevant with our customer base.
We’ve also created financial plans to help us manage resources when there are changes in economic circumstances. This involves setting a clear budget, cutting back on unnecessary expenses, and understanding the impact of taxes and inflation on our finances. Further to this, there are risk management strategies in place to keep us financially secure and on track.
Finally, in times of adversity, I always have a plan for mental and emotional resilience. These times can be incredibly stressful, and it’s important to take care of your mental health. Find ways to manage stress, take time to relax and practice self-care, and connect with your family and friends. Building a support network of people who understand what you are dealing with can be incredibly helpful in navigating these difficult times.
What challenges did you face in the early stages, and how did you overcome them?
One of the biggest challenges we faced in the early stages of our startup was finding the right resources to do the job, as we were a small team. We managed to overcome this challenge by reaching out to other organisations, namely CapaCiTi who assisted us in recruiting the right skills and providing us with interns.
With South Africa having a high startup failure rate, what factors contributed to your success?
We have always had a clear vision and mission. Understanding our intention allowed us to address the risks and potential victories we would face more efficiently. We also approached our startup with an agile attitude. We adjusted our plans when needed and kept standards high.
We also took the initiative in furthering our education and product knowledge to ensure that the services we provided were the best. Continuous learning and development are part of our culture, we ensure all staff knows our products and services thoroughly.
Innovo Networks has been recognised with several awards and achieved some notable firsts in tech. What do you attribute this success to, and how has it impacted your business?
We attribute our success to our commitment to excellence, innovation, and customer service. We strive to focus on these core elements and consistently deliver on our promises and customer needs. Our success has allowed us to spread our footprint in the marketplace, attract top talent, and cultivate an environment of trust and transparency.
This trust and transparency have enabled us to build strong relationships with our customers, giving them the confidence to partner with us. We believe that our successful track record of excellent service and performance has been the driving force behind our growth and success, allowing us to reach and impact thousands of customers.