INTRODUCTION TO BUSINESS AUTOMATION
Below is the transcript of the above video where you will learn more about Business Automation.
MELANIE FOXCROFT: Good day, I am Melanie Foxcroft from MF Consulting and today I’m starting a new series of discussions with an exceptional entrepreneur, Maarten Krüger, and he’s also the owner of Tech Genius that primarily focuses on Business Automation. Welcome Maarten.
MAARTEN KRUGER: Thanks so much for the introduction Melanie.
MELANIE FOXCROFT: So let’s jump right in, tell me a little bit about who Maarten Krüger is. I know you’ve got lots of clients and lots of people that deal with you but who is the person behind Tech Genius?
MAARTEN KRUGER: Well Melanie, I’m probably the person who has always been trying to hide from the public side of things so, I sort of feel like a deer in headlights when you’re asking my who I am. That puts me, you know, in the public eye. But pretty much, I think the reason why I feel like this, I don’t really fit into a specific box. I’ve sort of discovered over the years I’m not just somebody who loves technology but I’m somebody who loves working with people as well and it took me a while to discover this space where I get to pursue both loves, you know, working with people, getting to influence people, getting to influence businesses as well, so it’s been quite a journey to get to that space. I think something else is I’m also a family man, being married for 13 years now.
MELANIE FOXCROFT: Wow, congrats!
MAARTEN KRUGER: Thanks, it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long and I’ve also got two energetic young boys, they definitely keep me from getting bored. So yes, that’s probably in a nutshell.
MELANIE FOXCROFT: So, Maarten, talking about Tech Genius, what is in the name Tech Genius? Why did you call it Tech Genius and how did it all start?
MAARTEN KRUGER: Yes, I think, when people hear the name “Genius” the first thing they think about is people with high IQ, so that’s actually not what it’s about at all. I mean, in everything we really try to pursue excellence and that’s why we chose the name Genius. It’s got more to do with ingenuity you know, we try to, in this constant pursuit of ingenuity, and if you if we called it something like “Tech Ingenuity” it just would have been a bit of a tongue twister. So yeah, so we just ended up calling it Tech Genius instead.
I’ve been in the industry for 21 years now. The first 10 years of my career I spent in the corporate world. I started working as a software engineer in the electronic fire detection industry and I was working there for 10 years and I sort of hit a ceiling in my career there after seven years, and the last three years of my career I was really bored there so I wanted to step out, start my own business but you know, I just couldn’t get myself so far to leave my cushy job. And then eventually when there was a round of retrenchments I was retrenched and I sort of grabbed that as an ideal opportunity to start my own business. And you know, when we started out we started out as most businesses do – doing whatever our hands could find. Doing software development, brochure websites, anything we could find to do. And yeah, we did that in the beginning and then I realized that the market was getting flooded with people doing websites. It became easier and easier to create brochure websites for things like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal those kinds of systems and we realized that I needed to focus on some kind of a niche. So, because I’ve got such an engineering background, having been in engineering field for so long I was very comfortable working with complex systems and coming up with simple solutions and developing these systems from the ground up. So we really started focusing on this niche where businesses have a need where they can’t go by just a standard software package, they need something custom developed for their business so we started doing that, developing these systems for them, and it actually took us a while to realize what we were actually doing and that’s, actually the term for it is – which we only realized at a later stage – actually Business Automation. The actual official term is Business Process Automation or BPA in short. So we first started doing it and then we started realizing what we’re actually doing.
MELANIE FOXCROFT: Well, that’s actually quite exciting to do it that way around because you learn as you go I suppose.
MAARTEN KRUGER: Yes, I mean it basically all just started to us responding to the needs of business owners and I mean, if you really think about it, what’s the greatest need of any business owner? It’s pretty much to not have a job but to have a business. I don’t think anybody starts a business with a dream of being employed again.
MELANIE FOXCROFT: That’s true, that’s true. I like the way that you put it when we previously spoke where you said business automation is about firing yourself. Can you explain a little bit what you mean with that?
MAARTEN KRUGER: Yes, if you’re full-time employed you’re working for one boss and if you’re working for your own business you’re working for your clients, so you’re working for multiple bosses and that’s pretty much the worst possible job you can imagine. So you’re trying to, we’re trying, to get people out of that situation. Not being a slave to your business but having your business that functions as an investment, stand-alone to yourself. So you need to figure out what is taking your time, what is time consuming, you know, why is your business needing you, your input? And try and take those things and make it autonomous so your business really can function without you and that’s why I sort of joke when I say firing yourself but that’s really the end goal, where you don’t have to be there. Your business really is something that can operate on its own and then it’s an investment and not a job.
MELANIE FOXCROFT: Well Maarten, I’m quite excited about your business when I looked into it a bit and I see that I looked at your diagram and I saw that you’ve got some core values that you subscribe to for your business principles. Would you like to share that with us?
MAARTEN KRUGER: Yes, thanks, actually a lot of people, or corporates I think, they write down these things and it’s something that’s on paper. But this is really something that we really dug into and thought “what is our success recipe?” and it’s quite ironic we deal with cutting-edge technology which is all very useful and it’s constantly innovation and things are changing but our values are something that doesn’t change. And it’s also one of those things that I was very fortunate being groomed in the corporate world. You know, corporate governance and compliance with all kinds of regulations like health and safety you know. Also the company I was working for was ISO 9001:2000 certified and all kinds of these international standards that they had to adhere to so I was very fortunate also the company I was working for was very heavily invested in training employees, all kinds of things, so when I started the business I sort of came from this foundation of doing things right you know, the first time around. And I think all of this is built on a basic foundation of integrity and discipline. I don’t know if you know the coach called Larry Winget, he calls himself the bulldog of motivational speaking.
MELANIE FOXCROFT: Yes.
MAARTEN KRUGER: His definition of integrity is doing what you said you’re going to do, how you said you’re going to do it when you said you’re going to do it.
MELANIE FOXCROFT: Yes, commitment.
MAARTEN KRUGER: Yes, and I mean, without that there’s no trust. There’s no trust between a client and us as a service provider and between me and my employees. There can’t be any trust if you don’t do what you said you’re going to do. And you can’t do what you said you’re going to do if there’s no discipline involved.
MELANIE FOXCROFT: Absolutely.
MAARTEN KRUGER: So I think those are the two foundation values that we’ll never compromise on and I think on top of that there are two fun things that gets added into the mix. The one is teamwork and the other one is innovation. And there there’s another one that’s not always fun, but it’s also one of our core values and that’s respect. You know, treating our clients with respect and treating our employees with respect, our service providers – and it’s a two-way street. We also expect our clients to enter into a win-win relationship with us and we expect them to also treat our employees with respect at the same time. And then, I think the final thing which isn’t really a value it’s more the end result of doing these things is basically excellence and that’s the ingenuity part of our business. I think if you have put all these things in place the end result will just actually be excellent.
MELANIE FOXCROFT: Absolutely, and tell me, for people who consider business automation in their company, what would you advise them to do except, of course, for calling you?
MAARTEN KRUGER: Yes, well you know, it can seem a little bit daunting and that’s why we’ve got this one hour free brainstorming session that we offer clients where we just sit with them and just understand their world. You know, often you just need to state that it’s important to take one step back and just reflect on what you’re doing, how you’re doing it and why you’re doing it. And what are the challenges between where you are now and where you want to be? What are the gaps? So a very good starting place is just to start drawing up a flowchart of all the processes in your business and understanding how everything fits together. The moment you just take one step back and just look at the bigger picture then usually it becomes obvious what you need to change in your business and also the next step, how you actually need to change it. So I advise just taking a step back, looking at everything from a very objective perspective and then things should become clear.
MELANIE FOXCROFT: Well, Maarten, thank you very much for all of that insight. I’ve certainly learned a lot today. Not just about you, about your business as well. And I would love to continue our discussions in a follow-up interview with some services advice and the latest tech developments.
So for all of you guys out there who’s in need of business automation you can get hold of Maarten by looking at his information on his website called www.techgenius.co.za. Until next time, stay safe and watch the space for more discussions.