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The Hard Truth About Launching A Business

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to launching your business, but there are some tried and tested truths to guide you.

Alan Knott-Craig




I’m ready to leave my corporate job and launch a business. Should I do it alone, or try and find a business partner? What are the pros and cons of business partnerships? – Josh Kennedy

Silicon Valley venture capitalists will not back a start-up unless there are at least two founders. They’ve found that the odds of success are much higher when there is a complementary team running the show, rather than a single ‘Great Man’.

Silicon Valley knows what it’s doing. It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking to raise money or not, you want to maximise your odds of success. Having a partner increases your odds. The trick is to find someone who shares your values, while having different strengths. For example, if you’re strong on product and sales, find someone who’s strong on operations and finance.

You need complementary skill sets

The complementary skill set will unleash you to focus on what you’re excellent at, while giving you peace of mind that your partner has your back.

Shared values are critical. It’s easy to get along when the going is good. It’s when the going gets tough that you’ll start fighting. Without a shared world-view, you won’t survive the speed-bumps and you’ll end up divorced.

Generally speaking, having a partner will make it easier to raise money, easier to operate your business, and easier to weather the hard times.

The biggest sacrifice in a partnership is that you’ll be forced to compromise. You can’t have it all your way all the time. If you’re not willing to give a little, your partnership will fail.

Your biggest risk is that you choose the wrong partner. Getting married is hard. Getting divorced is much harder.

If you decide to get into bed with someone, leave yourself a window period where you can both back out of the deal. During that window make yourself vulnerable. Turn up the heat. Do everything you can to establish the temperament of your partner. Better to break up sooner than later.

Unleash your crazy ideas

I usually have ideas — crazy, redundant, weird, nice and in many forms. Is there a place where people can access people’s ideas and anyone can submit proposals to owners to pursue them?
— Enos Phasha

Yes. That place is called the ‘Internet’. If you have a crazy idea, put it out there. Blog, Facebook, Twitter, whatever, go and tell the world.

Just remember that ideas have no value. Execution is where the value lies. If you want to benefit financially or reputationally from your ideas, you need to build the skills, capital and network to let you execute your ideas.

There is no other way. In the meantime, don’t jealously guard your ideas. Share them freely, let someone else chase them. Let someone else get rich.

Who knows, maybe someone contacts you to help them make your dream a reality. At the very least it’s good karma. Help other people unconditionally, and help will come your way.

It will always take longer than you anticipate

I launched my business six months ago and everything is taking much longer than I anticipated. How do I know when it’s time to throw in the towel, or if I should keep pushing forward? — Anonymous

The rule of thumb for your start-up timeline is this: Estimate how long it will take to make a profit. Double that time. Double it again. If you think it will take six months to find success, plan for two years.

The same goes for cash flow. Excel will whisper sweet nothings in your ear. Ignore Excel. If you think you’ll need R1 million, plan for R4 million. An under-capitalised start-up is like an under-weight newborn baby. Low odds of success because your energy is invested in survival, not growth.

No one ever succeeded without persevering. You can’t throw in the towel at the first sign of trouble. That said, many an entrepreneur has wasted their life flogging a dead horse. Sometimes you just have to admit defeat and move on.

Always give it six more months

Apply the Six-Month Rule. When you hit the wall, when you’re ready to quit, when you can go no further, give it six more months. Put in 100% for the final stretch. If you feel the same at the end, throw in the towel and find a new venture.

Many an entrepreneur has quit just before the finish line, missing their pot of gold just because they didn’t push through. Don’t be that person/guy. Give it another six months, flat out.

Ask Al

Do you have a burning start-up question? Email:

Read ‘Be A Hero’ today


Alan Knott-Craig is a successful entrepreneur and best selling author. Founder of over 20 companies in the tech space, he was named as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2009.


Company Posts

How The Sanlam Enterprise And Supplier Development Programme Is Helping Start-up Businesses

The balance between funding, business development and mentorship can make or break an enterprise development programme

Francois Adriaan



Sanlam Enterprise and Supplier Development

165 new employment opportunities, 172 SMEs developed and 1046 jobs sustained. These are some of the numbers recorded by Sanlam as the company prepares to wrap up the fourth year of its Sanlam Enterprise and Supplier Development (ESD) programme.

The flagship incubation scheme has turned around loss-making enterprises, helped some participants get critical accreditation and funding, but most importantly, R12.6 million was spent procuring goods and services from the participating businesses by the end of 2016.

Related: Enterprise Development Programmes For Black Entrepreneurs

Receiving funding isn’t the secret to start-up success

Francois Adriaan, head of Sanlam Foundation says the secret to a successful enterprise development programme is not the amount of funding big corporates can give SMEs: “It’s having the right mix of mentorship; business intervention and procurement spend flowing from your corporate to small businesses.

You have to show the entrepreneur you are mentoring that you trust them enough to do business and walk the journey with them instead of giving them a once-off grant and leaving them to their own devices,” says Adriaan.

Financial support that’s timed to business need

Like in many other ESD programmes, participants in the Sanlam ESD programme also have access to funding. But what sets the programme apart from others, says Adriaan is that the amount of funds disbursed to each participating businesses is directly linked to its need, its commitment and progress record.

“Financial support is timed according to the specific needs of each SME. Those who qualify for funding are then provided with a further seven years of SME growth support through the ASISA Enterprise Development Fund.”

The Sanlam ESD programme

The Sanlam ESD programme was launched in July 2013 in collaboration with the Association for Savings and Investment South Africa (ASISA) to empower SMEs, create jobs and contribute to economic growth in South Africa. An independent evaluation shows that participating enterprises have grown their annual revenue by 19% on average.

D&P Auto participants

One of the programme participants is D&P Auto, a panel beating business based in Retreat. For two decades, the owners of the business (husband and wife) poured their life savings, bank loans and even pension policy pay-outs into the business to keep it afloat because it was not making profit. Three years of focused business incubation and mentoring under the Sanlam ESD programme resolved D&P Auto’s 20-year loss-making battle.

“Our business has grown from a non-profitable business to the extent that we now have to pay provisional taxes to SARS for the first time in 24 years,” said Pam Douglas on their business maiden profit.

Successes of the incubation programme

The incubation from the programme has helped other participants brush up their bookkeeping skills, file successfully for tenders and get accreditation that took their businesses to the next level.

G&T Auto, the only fully accredited Major Structural Repairer in the programme, bagged Mazda accreditation last year, a rare accolade that will see the enterprise repair Mazdas that are still under warranty. The owner, Thembi Sithole says the programme has given her confidence to approach bigger clients as she now understands the requirements to get big contracts. She has also become more knowledgeable about financial statements and their impact on obtaining funding.

Related: Why Employee Engagement Programmes Backfire And What You Can Do About It

Adriaan says enterprise development initiatives of this nature give big corporates an opportunity not only achieve their business objectives, but also impact broader South African society.

“This commitment is around impacting issues of inter-generational poverty, unemployment and inequality. It is also about aligning around public-private-civil society partnerships in sustainable ways,” concludes Adriaans.

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Are You Ready For A Side Hustle? Here’s How To Know

We talk to side hustle pro Susie Moore about who should jump into entrepreneurship and when is a good time to take the leap.

Andrea Huspeni




It seems like everyone has a side hustle. Indeed, 1 in 4 millennials have a side hustle, part of the  54 million Americans making money outside of their pay cheque.

But are you ready to get your hustle on?

According to Susie Moore, a life coach and the founder of Side Hustle Made Simple, you are always ready to begin a side hustle. You just need to know where to begin.

Related: 3 Ways To Set Your Side Hustle Up For Success

Moore has helped thousands of people take the leap from concept to creation in making their entrepreneurial dreams a living, breathing reality by launching a risk-free side hustle. She left her $500,000 job after her own side hustle took off within just 18 months.

She’s also the author of What if it DOES Work Out? How a Side Hustle Can Change Your Life released this fall, speaker and adviser to startups. Her work has been featured on the Today Show, Marie Claire and more.

To help aspiring entrepreneurs understand what it takes to be a side hustler, Moore is joining us for this week’s episode of Tough Love Tuesday, our Facebook Live series that connects experts with side hustlers for real-time advice and support.

Related: 50 Jobs, Gigs And Side Hustles You Can Do From Home

Specifically, she’ll share:

  1. The qualities all side hustlers need
  2. Advice that turns great ideas into action
  3. Strategies for making money right away
  4. Ideas for perfect side hustles
  5. Productivity hacks that prevent burnout.

This article was originally posted here on

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(Video) Why Your ‘Great Idea’ Actually Sucks

Don’t get caught up in coming up with the next big idea.




Everyone wants to come up with the next Uber, Facebook or Tesla. But, if Entrepreneur Network partner Patrick Bet-David has to choose between someone with a great idea and someone with great sales skills, he’s taking the salesperson every time. Why?

Related: The 3-Step Approach For Testing Out Your Business Idea

Well, look at the history of great businesses. Ray Kroc didn’t start McDonald’s, but he learned how to sell the fast food restaurant and made far more in his life than the actual McDonalds brothers. Steve Jobs couldn’t code like Steve Wozniack, but he knew how to sell Apple, and his estate is worth far more now than Wozniack’s.

Facebook, Tesla and more. Each time, it seems like the great salesperson ends up earning more than the person who created the great idea to start with.

Watch the video to learn more about the relationship between great ideas and great sales techniques.

This article was originally posted here on

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