Five and a half years in business has seen us, NGNY, grow steadily and consistently, but not without our growing pains. Over the past two years we’ve strategically made the decision to scale up the business for growth opportunities and find ways to achieve this. So the conundrum that we’ve faced is how to achieve the desired scale and growth of the business and do we have to forego any of our core values as a 100% Aboriginal owned business in this process? We are on the journey to find what we think is the answer to this issue and have had some small, and largiesh, wins along the way.
As co-founders of NGNY, John and I have a dream to be a large IT business that has prominence both inside and outside our community and we continue to take the steps and actions to make this a reality. Our big realisation in 2019, is that we actually have a great track record with a solid portfolio of work. As this has set the foundation for our business,we need to leverage our reputation much more than we have been so far. To grow to the level that will pave the way to our dreams, we now need to find the right people and partners to help accelerate this journey.
With our desire to progress closer to this dream on a daily basis, it has seen us undertaking a flurry of activity to assess the market opportunity and what the potential actually looks like, because it’s important to understand if the market exists and what it takes to engage with it. This has involved us identifying and ‘interviewing’ capability and capacity development partners to assist us in scaling our business in a sustainable way that drives the outputs and outcomes that we want to retain within the foundation of NGNY’s identity.
We’ve had our growing pains in this process which has seen us work with and trial potential partners but very quickly identify those partners who align with our values and demonstrate a genuine intent to contribute to the Indigenous Digital Economy. One thing that we’ve been adamant about in this process so far, is keeping NGNY as a one hundred per cent Aboriginal owned business. This may change slightly in the future, but we will always be a predominantly Indigenous owned business. The significance to us of t being a majority owned Aboriginal business is that we can demonstrate, as an Aboriginal business, that we are able to grow to be large and successful which will inspire others in our community to do the same. But very importantly, we want to ensure that we have control of the revenue and profits that come into the business and determine how we spend our money with a preference to spending it on our people, our community and the Indigenous supply chain. This is called a self-sustaining Indigenous economy and we need more predominantly Indigenous owned businesses that are also controlling revenue and profits and spending these back in the Indigenous economy to sustain and grow it, because at the end of the day we’re more likely to spend money within our own communities than non-Indigenous people.
We’re generating a scalable business that is not just a project based business but is a business that can service small and large clients alike.
Here are 7 tips to growing a scalable majority or wholly owned Indigenous business in a highly competitive marketplace:
- Dream big and continue to hustle to progress toward your business and personal goals. If you don’t have a dream to work toward then why are you working?
- Have a “Brains Trust” and advisors for your business that include both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. So many people have a myriad of experience that you can tap into, you just have to hustle to find them and then convince them to support your business
- Find businesses, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, with which you can partner which are mutually beneficial relationships on both sides without having to give up a stake in each other’s businesses
- Have a strong narrative that builds the foundation and identity of your business. If your narrative doesn’t hold much ‘weight’ your customers and other stakeholders will ‘poke holes in it’ meaning fewer clients and fewer beneficial stakeholders
- Believe in what you are selling to the market and don’t look at your Indigeneity as your key differentiator. If you do, then what are your strengths and point of difference when all of your competitors are also Indigenous businesses?
- Find ways to get your products or services into Business As Usual contracts instead of just being a part of an organisation’s Indigenous spend (i.e. meeting RAPs and government quotas). Being tied to working exclusively on Indigenous projects will limit you to only the amount of money allocated to these types of projects which means you are missing out on a massive amount of the economy
- Don’t be scared to promote your business, this means posting on social media about your business, networking and doing a bit of public speaking. If you find public speaking daunting, consider trying Toastmasters
Growing your business is not easy and it takes time. The key is to know what you are working toward, be patient, maintain your values and integrity and surround yourself with positive and inspiring people.
We’re always happy to have a yarn and build our network, so please reach out to us if you have any questions.