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An entrepreneur is a problem-solver

An entrepreneur is someone who identifies a problem or a gap in the market, and provides a solution that can fill that gap. Ultimately, it’s about finding a problem, and then identifying a way to turn that opportunity into profit.

Know your numbers

Numbers tell the story — it’s as simple as that. They are the health check that will help you identify the problems in your business. Many entrepreneurs know all about the high-level costs related to their product or service, but they neglect the day-to-day expenses associated with doing business.

The small expenses can quickly add up to a substantial sum, so it’s worth taking the time to find out what each and every cost in your company is.

Related: Dragon’s Den Polo Leteka Gives Her Top Tips To Attract Growth Capital

Most entrepreneurs are ‘abnormal members of society’

What I mean by this is that they tend to be iconoclasts — they go against the grain. They will spend most of their time trying to convince people of their vision and ideas — and they won’t always succeed.

People, for example, will advise you to get a ‘real’ job instead of trying to be an entrepreneur. It’s never a bad idea to get advice, but don’t let other people discourage or dissuade you from following your dream.


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An idea is never enough

Having a great idea doesn’t magically turn you into a successful entrepreneur. An idea is just a start. In order for your idea to become a viable business, it needs to be unique, inventive, sustainable and scalable.

Things like passion and vision are important, but they won’t make you succeed if the business fundamentals necessary for success aren’t present.

There are six basics that you need to look at when starting a business

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  1. Firstly, what problem is the business trying to solve?
  2. Secondly, what does the market look like — how big is it?
  3. Thirdly, how do you turn this opportunity into a revenue stream?
  4. Next, how are you going to do this?
  5. Then, what will you need to do this — what resources are required?
  6. Lastly, how can you clearly articulate the potential to make profit?

Related: 10 Tips From The Dragons Of Dragons’ Den SA

Don’t obsess over funding

Too many entrepreneurs believe that funding is the magic bullet that will solve all their problems. Funding can be useful, but it isn’t the Holy Grail. Instead of chasing funding all the time, look at creative ways you can bootstrap and accomplish your goals.

Find innovative ways of starting your business without money, and then go looking for funding once you’ve had some actual traction in the market.

The word ‘no’ shouldn’t be in your vocabulary

The word ‘no’ means nothing to me — I have no concept of it. Along your entrepreneurial journey, a lot of people will tell you that ‘it can’t be done’. You have to ignore this. Don’t let ‘no’ shut you down. Everything is negotiable.

What are your deal-breakers?

Before going into a negotiation about anything, know what you’re willing to concede, and what you aren’t. Put this on paper and take it into the meeting.

It’s easy to get flustered in the thick of a negotiation and make a wrong decision, so having a ‘crib sheet’ on hand can be very useful.

Related: 10 Dynamic Black Entrepreneurs

Don’t be a bulldozer

Don’t enter every deal negotiation with the intention of ‘winning’. An obsession with winning is not conducive to the creation of long-term relationships. Negotiation is about give and take.

The other party needs to leave the boardroom believing that you have made some concessions as well. That is how you create a successful long-term business relationship.

GG van Rooyen
GG van Rooyen is the deputy editor for Entrepreneur Magazine South Africa. Follow him on Twitter.

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