- Player: Zuko Tisani
- Company: Legazy Technology Conferencing
- About: Zuko Tisani is a UCT graduate and a a Global Fellow of Kairos Society. Kairos is a society for top entrepreneurs under the age of 25, with 350 hand-picked young entrepreneurs, scientists, developers and makers from 50+ selected countries.
Zuko Tisani graduated from UCT and went straight into a promising management consulting career. While it was lucrative, it didn’t fulfil him. He wanted to be an entrepreneur. So, he took the plunge and started Legazy Technology Conferencing.
Legazy is now a subsidiary of the By Design Communications Group, and was acquired after Zuko managed to secure a $1 million letter of intent from one of Africa’s largest TMT (technology, media, telecom) companies for the hosting of a new Web summit conference in South Africa in 2018.
Zuko managed to achieve some success quickly (he is still in his early-20s), but it still wasn’t an easy decision. Stepping off the corporate career path and forging your own trail is always daunting. Here are the lessons he learnt during his transition.
1Be willing to learn
Young people tend to think that they know everything. It’s very important to realise that you don’t. So, surround yourself with people who are smarter than you and ask a lot of questions. It’s not always easy to find a mentor, but these days that’s no excuse.
Books and the Internet offer great access to information. I read a lot and watch tons of content on YouTube.
2Invest in yourself
Learning means investing in yourself. Never think that buying books, enrolling in courses or travelling abroad is a ‘waste of money’. If you want to be successful, it is crucial that you invest in yourself.
I’ve travelled a lot, and it has had a profound influence on my development. It’s true that travel expands your mind. Also, don’t assume that overseas travel is prohibitively expensive. If you’re willing to sleep in a basic place and have simple means, it can be much cheaper than you expect.
3Get some experience
It’s never a bad idea to get some experience before launching your own business. My experience in the corporate world has been invaluable.
Not only did it teach me useful skills, but it also showed me the importance of developing a network. Networking is so important. To a large extent, I was able to get my foot in the door because of the connections I had cultivated while working for a large firm.
4Ask and offer
You have to understand that no one is going to be as passionate and excited about your business as you are. Try to put yourself in the position of the person on the other side of the table.
- What are their needs?
- What are their interests?
- What are they passionate about?
Speak to the person in terms that will get him or her excited. This means doing some research. Also, don’t ask for anything if you can’t offer something in return. Always bring something to the table.
5Tell your story
One of the most important skills you can develop as a young entrepreneur is the ability to tell your story. I’ve seen so many pitches fall flat not because the ideas were bad, but because the entrepreneurs couldn’t tell their stories and get people excited about their ideas.
Learn how to tell your story effectively. Read books. Watch great pitches online.
Young entrepreneurs are often told to ‘sell themselves’, or to ‘fake it ’til they make it’. This isn’t bad advice, necessarily, but it’s important to still always be authentic.
Be open and honest, and don’t try to hide your shortcomings. People see through inauthenticity very quickly, and it will turn them off instantly. You should be able to tell your story and ‘sell yourself’, but never try to be something you’re not. Always be yourself.
7Take the leap
Like anything, entrepreneurship requires practice and preparation. Studying and gaining experience is crucial. However, if you’re not careful, you could spend years or even decades preparing, without ever actually taking the plunge and starting a business. Steps are important, but they won’t take you all the way. At some stage, you need to take the leap.
Learn from others, invest in your development, be authentic and don’t be afraid to take the leap.