Angus McDonald: The secret to successfully growing a business fast

Over the past twelve months, Cover Genius has been gaining recognition: they have been named one of the fastest growing FinTechs globally and have garnered a plethora of accolades to be proud of. But what we really want to know is, what is the secret to bootstrapping a global business through 1700% growth over the previous 3 years?

Angus McDonald, Co-Founder, and CEO of Cover Genius provides us with a few of his insider secrets that will help you grow your business fast.


Find your space

If your new business is going to be operating in a competitive market, it’s crucial that you find a way to differentiate your business from all the competitors out there. In short, why should customers choose your products or services over what’s already available?

Competitive pricing and an excellent level of customer service are both great ways to keep your customers coming back to you, but they might not be enough to draw people in on their own. The most effective way of getting customers through the door in the first place is to spot a gap in the market and fill it. If you can provide consumers with something they can’t get elsewhere, or offer a significant improvement on what’s already available, your business will soon make a name for itself.

The best way to do this is to focus on a USP.

At Cover Genius, we were extremely focused and spotted an opportunity in the world’s largest industry, but it was an industry issue that we first had to endure ourselves. Specifically, the global insurers who relied on online distributors didn’t have global underwriting capability and coordination, nor did they have platforms that could deliver our preferred policies from a single API call.


Form strategic partnerships

The nature of partnerships has changed over the last five years. Start-ups like Cover Genius exist to resolve pain-points that are inherent for companies who would otherwise need to partner with incumbents. Strategic partnerships with the right companies can truly make a world of difference. It could allow you to reach a wide swath of customers quickly. Identifying those partnerships might be easier said than done. But, look out for companies that are complementary to your own. Contact them and propose opportunities for working together.

We’ve deliberately not sought outside funding. So, we have the freedom to run an efficient, focused business and not get distracted by external investors. The lesson we’ve learned is it is better to have the founders running the business, not out raising money. It makes a huge difference – but every case is different.


Engaged employees equal happy customers

My approach to business is all about creating engagement on the journey. If your employees are just working toward some goal in the distant future, every day between now and then will be a slog and they may not care about the seemingly little things that have a big impact on the customer experience. I stay focused on making my employees engaged on a day-to-day basis, whether it’s by responding to an email quickly, sending a gift or flowers, publicly acknowledging someone who has done a great job or following up with someone about a concern they had.

Unfortunately, many companies see happiness at work as an intangible “nice to have”, rather than an important organisational priority. While you can’t force employees to be happy – or control every factor that contributes to happiness – it’s still possible to create the conditions that will help to promote happiness and positivity at work.

Hire the right people and encourage a caring culture

Some people will say that business is solely about money. It’s not, it’s about people. Before you can even think about your company’s growth, you need to ensure that you have a solid team of passionate, intelligent and forward-thinking people – a team that are loyal and with you for the ride. A team whose skills complement each other. I look for lifelong learners and typically ask people what book they’ve read most recently. This can give a good indication as to whether they are self-motivated, proactive people.



Limit risk

Four in ten small companies don’t make it to five years old. It’s undeniably tough running a business and reducing risk is essential if it’s going to be a success. Owners of growing businesses need to look at insurance products and providers who can help protect the business with suitable policies. If there is one type of insurance that you absolutely need, it is general liability insurance. General liability can help protect you from lawsuits surrounding employee conduct, product failure, and any other issues.

If lack of cash flow is an issue, you can look to limit risk by looking into low-risk funding options such as grants or crowdfunding.


Be adaptable

One trait that successful businesses often have in common, is the ability to switch directions quickly in response to changes in the market. It’s called ‘failing fast’ on the weaker ideas, but scaling quickly on the stronger ones. Being adaptable to development and looking at your current model and changing it, should it need to adapt, will help you grow more quickly.



Love what you do

Success doesn’t always mean money, fame, and power. It means being happy and enjoying the job that you do. If you don’t feel passionate about the industry you’re in and what you’re trying to achieve, you’re in the wrong line of work and you will struggle to make it a success. As the great Steve Jobs once said: “The only way to do great work is to love what you do”.



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