June 16 is Youth Day in South Africa, recognised in memory of the Soweto Uprising of 1976. Forty years on, it stands as a salient reminder of how far we have come as a nation.
Though by no means perfect, the country is closer to true equality and democracy than ever before, and now it’s important to look ahead to strengthening South Africa’s business interests.
I firmly believe entrepreneurship is the answer.
As the Marketing Director of IMB, we work with young business-savvy entrepreneurs wanting to better their lives and use technology to make a difference.
Related: 9 Top Tips For Young Entrepreneurs
1. Failure is a fact of life, but passion keeps you going
Failure is inevitable and it’s a fact of life. But passion burns brightly in all good entrepreneurs and will sustain you through the tough times.
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2. Have a vision
Good entrepreneurs have a game-plan in mind and keep long-term goals at the forefront of their thinking. In simple terms? They have vision and they are determined to realise it.
3. Work effective hours, not necessarily long hours
This one is important. Spending a lot of time ‘working’ can produce very little output, because people tire after a few hours of work and inevitably tread water while they count down the hours of the day.
Your goal should be to forget ordinary working hours and put the maximum amount of energy into completing a task effectively.
After all, spending a lot of time behind your laptop doesn’t mean you’re actually getting work done.
4. Be positive
How’s this for a thought experiment: I ask you not to read something. What’s your first inclination? To read it, of course.
The human mind is a funny strange thing, and telling yourself not to do something very often becomes an all-encompassing thought you can’t get away from.
Thoughts like, don’t make a mistake and don’t create a bad impression end up forcing you into the trap of worrying about failure.
Flip it around. Be positive. I want to succeed. I will create a good impression. Small changes to the way you think will have a surprising impact on your day-to-day fortunes.
5. Use technology
Technology is changing the landscape of business.
At IMB, we use technology to make lives better. We’ve hit upon wireless mobile banking solutions for people who have been left out in the cold by the big banks, or want more control over their finances.
You can similarly use technology to change established rules. With mobile phones at our fingertips, and a cell phone penetration above 100% in South Africa, it’s a readily accessible form of technology with the potential to change lives.
6. Work with good people
Teamwork is powerful, and working with the right people is a sure way to succeed. Look out for enthusiastic, committed people with a passion for your business. There’s nothing worse than working with someone who embroils you in negativity.
7. Know your customer
Know who you’re selling to.
At IMB, our customer-base is wide-ranging, as we appeal to both South African residents and migrants; people who are clients of the banks and the bankless; people with ID books and people who are seeking asylum.
It’s important that you take the time to understand your audience. What are their needs? What do they like about your service, and what do they need you to improve?
8. Finally, remember that entrepreneurship is special
Entrepreneurs bring ideas to life that have the potential to change the world. We should remember this. The spirit of entrepreneurship is a driving force behind our work at IMB, and I hope more young people are deciding to take control of their lives. Being your own boss is a good feeling.