1Are you In?
Gil Oved, Lebo Gunguluza, Polo Leteka, Vinny Lingham and Vusi Thembekwayo have all spent decades in the start-up trenches.
Here they share some of the insights they gained along their steady climb to the top.
These tips have been taken from their new book I’m In: Essential Advice for Entrepreneurs.
2The art of negotiation – Gil Oved
“No is the beginning of a negotiation, not the end of one.”
First piece of advice is that negotiation is an art. There is science behind it, but mostly it’s an art. Like any technical skill, you can hone it. And you should, because everything in business is about negotiation.
Second piece of advice: Everything in business is negotiable, and so that’s how you should treat it. Never accept things at face value. No one is going to give you a badge for accepting blindly. Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. What have you got to lose?
Want to know about The Creative Counsel? Click here.
3Passion is not enough – Vusi Thembekwayo
“Many people still think passion is enough to be successful. The truth is that passion is standard.”
Your competitors are all passionate. Passion is no longer a differentiator. Passion is boring. Passionate businesses don’t reply to customer queries after 5pm.
They don’t care if you’re tweeting your bad experiences and they are forever delegating their customer responsibility to call centres.
If you are looking to stand out from the rest, then passion is not enough. You must be obsessed!
Read more on Vusi’s art of pursuing crazy ideas and turning them into profit here.
4A good idea is just the beginning – Lebo Gunguluza
“A great idea gives you the foundation for an opportunity you want to seize, that’s it.”
If you really want to make an idea work, ask yourself these questions: Is there a definite market for my idea? Is my idea going to benefit the customer? Will people be prepared to pay money for my idea?
5Follow the numbers – Polo Leteka
“Numbers tell the story – it’s as simple as that.”
They are a health check and will help you identify where the problem areas are in your business. When it comes to income projections or turnover projections, every entrepreneur thinks they’re going to start off like ‘this’ and it never happens like ‘that’.
In your projections, you always have to have a worst-case scenario, middle-case scenario and best-case scenario. You need to be satisfied that even with your worst-case scenario, you still have a business. Even with your worst-case scenario, you can still hold your head above water.
We recommend you read this: Advice: 2 Minutes with SA’s Top Entrepreneurs.
6Don’t be afraid to fail – Vinny Lingham
“I hate failing, but it spurs me to succeed.”
I could write a book on the mistakes I have made, but the important thing is to reflect on these mistakes and try not to make them again.
Root-cause analysis is very important, because sometimes the reason you think that you failed, is not actually the real reason. Don’t be fooled by randomness.
Regardless of the industry you are in, the mere fact that you have failed the first time and are willing to pick yourself up again, increases your chances of success. And if you fail again, your odds of success the third time are even better.
We recommend you read: This Entrepreneur Got Vinny Lingham To Invest In Him By Crashing His Party.
7Protect your equity – Gil Oved
“Equity is cheap when you start your business but years later, when your business is successful, it’s very expensive.”
Entrepreneurs are too quick to give away the equity upfront. Rather raise capital through debt as opposed to equity.
If you do give away equity, be tough about it, because every percentage counts – you don’t want to be the entrepreneur who is actually working for someone.
Find out more on Gil Oved and Ran Neu-Ner here.
8Develop a network – Vusi Thembekwayo
“Develop a network not only for its ability to feed you, but for your ability to feed it.”
We often think of networks as people who can elevate us when we should be thinking of networks as people we can help elevate. Networks only exist when there is a mutual benefit in the relationship. When you figure out what you can ‘give’ you will get a very strong ‘get’ in return.
Want to know what Vusi thinks of Jugger-niches? Want to know what a Jugger-niche is? See here.
9Be creative – Lebo Gunguluza
“Be creative, be resourceful.”
You may at times have limited resources, but there is one thing that you must possess, and that is unlimited creativity. The power of creativity cuts across all business platforms, the minute you stop being creative is the minute that your business will start to suffer.
Read more on 10 SA Entrepreneurs Who Built Their Businesses From Nothing here.
10It’s about the entrepreneur, not the idea – Polo Leteka
“In this space, you back the jockey.”
You want a jockey who can ride any horse and make that horse win, or has the best potential to make that horse win. So you look for character. You look for somebody with a clear vision. Somebody who is determined. Somebody who properly respects the process of being an entrepreneur.
11Know your business – Vinny Lingham
“I invest in a person who understands their subject matter and has a strong passion to succeed.”
I need to see big drive and stamina to know they are in it for the long haul and won’t give up when there are hurdles, disappointments and difficulties.
We recommend: Silicon Cape: Vinny Lingham & Justin Stanford