Navigating Business Growth: Core Themes in Scaling from Global CEOs

Navigating Business Growth: Core Themes in Scaling from Global CEOs

Scaling a business requires more than strategic acumen; it demands an understanding of an industry’s granular dynamics coupled with panoramic perspectives and operational excellence to execute.

In this installment of PFG’s 20 Years x 20 Lessons series, we’re sharing lessons learned from the CEOs of our portfolio companies worldwide.

Clive Kahn, CEO, TakePayments
Business is simple. Putting financial dynamics and engineering aside, the basics of business, particularly a people business, must be simple. You can never get anything perfect, and very often, in business decisions or permission plans, there is a challenge between complexity and simplicity in getting it right. Simplicity should always come first.

Matt Cole, CEO, Suma
You write your purpose in blood – and your plans with the pencil. That is the paradox of leadership: being consistent with values, while anything else can be changed.

Ben Thompson, CEO, Employment Hero
I learned that scaling a SaaS business requires a lot more capital than most people think. Many small clients paying small amounts of money compounding over a long period of time to create a large annuity revenue business, but the cost of R&D and sales is extensive. 

While you could bootstrap or take out bank loans based on personal assets, that’s risky for your family. It leaves you with two options, venture capital and the other model, which I highly recommend, and we used at a critical junction, called ‘hybrid debt’ (what we refer to as growth debt) with a firm like Partners for Growth. 

With ‘hybrid debt,’ you borrow money based on your revenue with your company as collateral, and the lender participates with a small amount of equity options. This model meant I never got heavily diluted, so I remained the largest shareholder in Employment Hero. It allowed us to play much harder, particularly at a pivotal stage of our growth.

Mitch Taylor, CEO, Koala 
Integrated values alignment: We’re creating a business model that values environmental and social capital for others to follow in our industry and beyond. This commitment by Koala to ensure that we contribute socially, economically, and environmentally to a thriving planet – is an indelible part of our company’s DNA.  As a B Corp, it’s important to us that we align all team members across the business, no matter their position, and encourage them to think, reflect, and implement new initiatives that can positively contribute to people, community, and planet. The buck doesn’t just stop at the top.

Akshay Garg, CEO, Kredivo 
The key to building a successful business is to have a clear strategy and an amazing team. The latter is more important than the former. Strategy can evolve or be fixed, but it’s hard to overstate the importance of a strong team. You can’t easily replace trust and reliability. In a business like ours, it’s also of massive importance to have partners (lenders) willing to take bets on new markets and think long-term (ride the highs and the lows with the team). This is an area outside of our control, and in that sense, we’ve been very fortunate to have partners without whom it would have been impossible to be where we are today.

Dr. Arvind Movva, CEO, DivvyDOSE
One of the keys to success is systematic hiring. Create a scorecard to identify what matters most. Sitting down to think deeply about the scorecard is at least 50 percent of the hiring challenge because any job has very specific, important actions or results that matter most. You need to identify those key things and make them the central criteria for hiring someone. By implementing data-driven interviews, I could see past likability and credentials to ascertain who was most likely to excel in and enjoy the role. 

Hosam Arab, CEO, Tabby
It’s important to find financing alignment beyond mere capital infusion. It was essential to have investment and debt partners who understood the financial aspects and possessed a deep knowledge of the retail, financial, and regulatory landscape relevant to Tabby’s operations, specifically within the Middle East region. This ensured that financial partners brought more than money to the table—they provided valuable insights and appreciation for the complexities involved, which are crucial for navigating the complexities of expanding in our fintech space.

Harnessing Universal Principles for Expansion

The insights highlight several universal themes that are critical for scaling businesses successfully. Key among them is the importance of establishing a purpose, simplicity in processes, and aligning team goals.

Ensure that financing strategies recognize the non-linear trajectory of scaling a business, consider options that provide flexible structure and lenders that have an appreciation for the complexities involved.

These lessons offer not just practical strategies but also underscore the importance of resilience and clarity in the journey. 

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30+ Year Global Strategic Partner

SVB is a leading American bank providing products, services and strategic advice for businesses at every stage. They operate as a go-to commercial bank for start-ups and established corporations, offering venture funding, private banking & wealth advising. SVB is the largest lender to technology companies globally.

SVB has built its reputation as the financial partner of the innovation economy – helping individuals, investors and the world’s most innovative companies achieve extraordinary outcomes.
PFG and SVB have maintained an official strategic partnership since the late 1980’s. We have collaborated together as co-lenders and extended each other's ability to reach new markets and provide deeper capital to high-growth companies.

PFG and SVB have provided growth debt across the U.S. & Canada, Europe, Middle East, Asia, and Latin America, where we co-manage a Venture Debt Latin America Growth Lending Fund.

IFC logo

IFC — a member of the World Bank Group — is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. IFC works in more than 100 countries, using its capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity.

PFG and IFC are strategic partners where we extend IFC’s direct venture and VC funding, collaborating on fintech and tech lending across global growth markets.

10+ Year Global Strategic Partner

Aims to be the partner of choice for the private sector in Latin America and the Caribbean. They finance projects to advance clean energy, modernize agriculture, strengthen transportation systems and expand access to financing.

IDB Invest, a member of the IDB Group, is a multilateral development bank committed to promoting the economic development of its member countries in Latin America and the Caribbean through the private sector. IDB Invest finances sustainable companies and projects to achieve financial results and maximize economic, social, and environmental development in the region. With a portfolio of $16.3 billion in asset management and 347 clients in 25 countries, IDB Invest provides innovative financial solutions and advisory services that meet the needs of its clients in a variety of industries.

PFG leads a joint venture with IDB Invest that provides debt capital to emerging innovative tech companies across the region via our Latin America Growth Lending Fund. The initiative brings investment expertise into LAC from top notch global players in this field.