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This cosmetics maker is using the Scaling Up platform to leave cash-flow challenges in the dust

By. Verne Harnish

For years, Wojciech Pyzik faced cash-flow challenges at Arkana Cosmetics, which makes luxury products such as skin cream for salons and dermatologists from its base in Western Poland, near the border of Germany, and exports them into about 30 countries.  He used the Scaling Up platform to turn things around in the 11-year-old business, which employs 50-60 people, and now is seeing 20% year over year growth. The business now brings in the equivalent of USD 4.4 million annually.

“I didn’t read it. I studied it.”

Pyzik picked up a copy of Scaling Up in 2019, after a friend recommended it. At the time, the company was in a cash-flow crunch, and, he says, “close to bankrupt.” Poland started to make the transition from communism in 1990, and it is still building its bench strength of scale-ups, so it wasn’t easy for Pyzik to learn what he needed through networking among his local peers.

Pyzik and his accountant began poring over the book in earnest—“I didn’t read it—I studied it,” he says.” Pyzik estimates he read his Polish-language edition five to seven times.

Mastering the Power of One

Pyzik and his accountant focused on the Power of One section, working to shrink the cash-conversion cycle. They took steps such as asking clients to pay them earlier, reducing the time inventory remained in his warehouse and dropping products that weren’t selling. In the next three months, they found they had an extra half a million euros in their bank account. “We did everything from the book, step by step,” he says. 

He was just in time: When Covid hit and the country went into lockdown, many of his clients saw their businesses fall off a cliff. “It was difficult to survive, but we survived,” he says. 

Embracing execution

Full of ideas for his business that kept him spinning in all directions, Pyzik realized he needed to focus on execution in the company. He began watching some of our videos on Scaling Up on YouTube, teaching himself enough English to understand them as he went along. “I listened to everything possible,” he says. “Everything on YouTube, I know by heart.”

After he reached out to me to find out where best to build upon that knowledge, I recommended the Master of Business Dynamics program at The Growth Institute. He is attending with two members of his sales and marketing team. “We are focused on growing,” he says. “We make a great team.” 

One highlight was the exchange of ideas across cultures. He was part of a group that included entrepreneurs from Canada who let them in on their best practices. “We shared their experience. They shared theirs,” he says. 

Simultaneously, he joined the John Maxwell team, a coaching program, to develop his leadership skills. “I like his philosophy,” says Pyzik. “It works very well with Scaling Up.” 

Setting a powerful BHAG

Pyzik and his team are now working their way through the One-Page Strategic Plan, where they set a BHAG of becoming a global brand on all continents. Their current focus is on finding a partner in the U.S. 

With his team mastering the Scaling Up platform, Pyzik is excited about the future—and not worried about cash flow anymore. “Scaling up is hard work,” says Pyzik. “We are tired, but we are motivated.” 

Verne Harnish
Verne Harnish
Verne Harnish is founder of the world-renowned Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) and chaired for fifteen years EO’s premiere CEO program, the “Birthing of Giants” and WEO’s “Advanced Business” executive program both held at MIT. Founder and CEO of Gazelles, a global executive education and coaching company with over 150 coaching partners on six continents, Verne has spent the past three decades helping companies scale-up. The “Growth Guy” syndicated columnist, he’s also the Venture columnist for FORTUNE magazine. He’s the author of Scaling Up (Rockefeller Habits 2.0); Mastering the Rockefeller Habits; and along with the editors of Fortune, authored The Greatest Business Decisions of All Times," for which Jim Collins wrote the foreword. Verne also chairs FORTUNE Magazine’s annual Leadership and Growth Summits and serves on several boards including chairman of The Riordan Clinic and the newly launched Geoversity. He is an investor in many scale-ups. A father of four, he enjoys piano, tennis, and magic as a card-carrying member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.