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Five minutes with Wolf & Fox founder Toss Grumley

Toss Grumley is the founder of Wolf & Fox, a business consultancy which helps advise companies of all sizes, from pre-launch companies, right through to more established businesses looking for growth. Idealog has a chat with Grumley about how he got into the advisory space, what New Zealand businesses are best at and where their weaknesses lie, and more.

How did you come to be in the business advisory space? What is your background?

I dropped out of school early and found myself in a warehouse assistant role. I ended up being with that business for a number of years, working my way up to the GM role. While I was at that job, I began studying for my MBA in the UK, part-time at Warwick Business School and began starting my own businesses, four to date! After the GM role, I was offered a few great opportunities overseas but I had been giving people business advice on the side over breakfasts, lunches and dinners for a while and decided that this was my passion, so I decided to make this my full-time thing.

Before founding Wolf & Fox, where did you feel you could best help entrepreneurs in where they were struggling?

People seem to have a real problem achieving growth, especially in a profitable manner. I think we all have big aspirations, however, quite often lack some of the hard skills needed to achieve success. Because of my history, I’ve been lucky enough to work in so many different businesses and roles and have had all sorts of challenges thrown at me, which gives me a nice broad skillset that allows me to fill the gaps a business owner may have. I find most business owners are great at what they do, but very few are great at business.
 

Where do you find New Zealand businesses’ strengths lie?

I think our biggest strength is our motivation and resilience. Once people are pointed in the right direction, they have phenomenal work ethic and a real ability to put in the work and get things done. The problem is often that we are distracted by having too many opportunities and that really limits us because we don’t put concentrated effort into one thing, and instead chase too many things, resulting in not successfully achieving any of them.

What about their weaknesses? Where do you commonly see room for improvement?

There is always room for improvement in knowing the business numbers. Most New Zealand business owners don’t seem to really understand their numbers and the impact they have on the business. Never underestimate the power of having things like a strong margin and controlled expenses in your business, it makes up for a lot of small mistakes.

What size businesses do you work with, and how does the coaching you offer change depending on business size?

I generally work with businesses in the 0 to $5 million space, I like working directly with the owner. I’ve worked with business up to around $50 million but that isn’t where my passion lies, so I now focus on working with those with whom I can have the most impact on.

What do people most need from you?
Business owners most require strategy, structure and accountability from me. I work with people heavily on their strategy, marketing, brand, and numbers, and then ensure through accountability and ongoing coaching that they stay on task and achieve their goals.

What are the most important things for a business owner to get right?

Business owners need to have a sound economic model. You need to think about if your business can actually make money. What are the fixed costs and what are the variable costs? What is your break-even point? So many people ignore these important factors. Once these are sorted out, you need to think about who your target customer would be and how to best meet their needs and reach them.

Who is in your tribe? What businesses generally reach out to you?

My tribe is anyone who is motivated to have success in their business. I get a lot of people with a focus on brand, a niche, or a new and better way of doing business.





 

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