As an engineer by education, product manager by role and expert at achieving growth by career Stefano Maifreni explains why he founded Eggcelerate.
What do you currently do at Eggcelerate?
Running an SME or a Start-Up brings unique challenges. Your world moves fast, and resources such as time, skills and people are always scarce. A butterfly flaps its wings in sales, and a tornado sweeps your operations.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Simple changes can save you from the pain of running a business.
I founded Eggcelerate in 2014 to help the CEO and Founders interconnect thoughts and actions while adopting a down-to-earth approach that leaves bandwidth for learning and adaptation.
We activate the strategy of Tech B2B Small Businesses.
If you are a CEO of a small B2B business experiencing flat-lined results, Eggcelerate’s “COO-as-a-service” will help you achieve focus and sustainable growth and bring your business back on track.
Eggcelerate’s “CCO-as-a-service” helps the Founders of ambitious B2B start-ups gain a position in the market and deliver upon investors’ expectations from post-seed to Series-A.
We are SME Specialists, trusted partners and enthusiastic companions on their journey, working with them to build customer-centric scalable operations, allowing them to achieve sustainable, measurable business growth and expansion.
We produce results in two quarters while avoiding our Customers the costs of a traditional consulting approach or interim management.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
I realised that small businesses often receive poor advice and talks with small business owners repeatedly confirmed it.
While the number of SMEs make them part of an attractive market for Large Corporates, their profile, compared to much larger Clients, make each of them not worth to be individually served. As a result, there is no intimacy, their challenges are not understood, and at times they are looked down as low spenders that can’t afford services of quality. Ultimately, their Customer Experience is usually poor.
The situation doesn’t change much if we consider smaller providers that serve the SME segment. I found that there is a whole industry of Consultants who are ill-equipped to advise small businesses and start-ups owners. Many of these consultants are merely selling a strategy analysis and presentation, a loan, or some training. They then disappear, leaving behind a huge bill and the burden of execution.
On the other hand, SMEs might feel they can’t ask or afford more and perceive Large Corporates as pure bureaucracies. The MBA frameworks often used by the traditional consultants look as fluffy, expensive and not focussed on results.
Our objective is to bring operational discipline to Small Businesses while avoiding the bureaucracy of large corporates; to make available the MBA frameworks, theories and practice, with a strong focus on achieving tangible results fast.
Our ambition is to bridge a cultural and knowledge gap that, at times, looks insurmountable.
Who do you admire?
The people I admire the most in business are the CEOs and Founders on a mission to bring their vision to reality, who confront risk every day.
I don’t have a model. Rather, I always tried to “steal” the best from several people, probably more from their failures than from their successes.
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
“Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes”, said Oscar Wilde.
If I had to change something with the benefit of hindsight, I would have probably started my business earlier, as I probably spent too much time in my comfort zone.
On the entrepreneurial experience, I would probably be fairer to myself and take more “me time”.
What defines your way of doing business?
I launched Eggcelerate as it was time to put my experience and knowledge to work to help small businesses and start-ups generate the profits their hard work deserves. I decided to create a professional services company offering trusted guidance and tangible results.
The company ethos is to work with the customer to translate ideas into actions and ensure that the benefits and results meet their target. Eggcelerate has a strong focus on execution and sustainable growth.
The achievement I am most proud of is the growth of my Clients’ businesses and ours as a result. Seeing the results coming through, making your Client happy and as a result, seeing your business grow is thrilling.
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
Well, a few pieces of advice! Mostly based on the mistakes I made …
- Rule #1: Take a super-hero reality check
You’re not Superman or Wonder Woman, even if you look great in tights. There’s a limited number of things you can do in one day — even if you get up at 6 AM and work until 10 PM. But crazy hours should be the exception, not the rule. Work regular hours instead and just accept sometimes you can’t fit in everything. Get over it!
- Rule #2: Focus on your business goals
Have a business plan and keep it up to date. Then translate this into operational objectives for each month. This will help to keep your activities on track while giving you focus and belief that your business is getting somewhere.
- Rule #3: Fit safety valves
Every week, plan the week ahead. Make sure you block out hours in your calendar to spend time with your staff — and time to think. Switch off your mobile phone at these moments. Think of these times as pressure-release safety valves that are very necessary to stop the rest of your business (and you) from overheating.
- Rule #4: Think one day ahead
Every day, review your plan for the following day. It’s easy to arrive at work at 9 AM and be blown off course by emails, texts and calls until the dust settles at lunchtime. Instead, let your diary control the schedule, and the other things can fit around your plan unless it’s an absolute emergency.
- Rule #5: Avoid distractions
Get used to living with an overcrowded inbox. Your job is to get things done, not to spend hours reading emails or getting sucked in by social media. And if alerts are distracting, turn them to silent … so you don’t lose concentration when you’re focusing on critical tasks.
- Rule #6: Be tough with emails
Apply the Defer/Delete/Delegate/Do test to every email you receive. Keep your replies short and to the point. Having time to tell stories and write witty emails is a luxury — that some other area of your business could end up paying for!
- Rule #7: Use trusted experts
Seek external help where needed. Google is great for finding answers. But in many instances, it’s no substitute for asking an expert, whether it’s an issue on anything from operations or marketing. Work with professionals that offer a pay-as-you-go business model.
- Rule #8: Be fair to yourself
Don’t be too harsh with yourself. Running a business takes guts. It’s a steep learning process, and everyone makes mistakes. As long as you’re willing to learn from them and you’re open to good advice from others, you’ll keep heading in the right direction.
- Rule #9: Take time for yourself
Life is not all about work. Don’t ignore public holidays or forget to book vacations and weekends away. These breaks will lift your morale and strengthen personal relationships. Taking time out can also help you to keep everything in perspective.
- Rule #10: Keep going
Start from Rule #1 again. It’ll get easier as these ground rules get bedded in — and the benefits become evident.