Too many young entrepreneurs are over-eager
They stumble on an idea and try to get going as quickly as possible. They start with A and jump directly to Z, which harms their chances of success. A great idea does not guarantee success. You need to develop that idea carefully and systematically.
Passion is not enough if you want to be successful
Just about everyone has passion — passion is standard. You can bet that all your competitors are just as passionate as you are. What does this mean? It means that passion has become boring.
It’s no longer a meaningful differentiator. If you want to be successful, you need to be utterly obsessed. You need to reply to customer queries after 5pm on a Friday.
You need to cringe when someone tweets about a bad customer experience. You must always be switched on — you need to be present and relevant at all times.
Being a business person is not the same thing as being an entrepreneur
Firstly, an entrepreneur has a higher tolerance for risk. A business person typically wants decent returns at moderate risk. An entrepreneur plays for high stakes — big risk and big reward.
Secondly, a business person obviously wants to grow a business, but they also want to remain comfortable and secure. An entrepreneur wants to scale — he or she wants stratospheric growth, which again comes down to high risk and high reward.
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Emotional intelligence is incredibly important if you want to be a successful entrepreneur
You need to be able to take a very honest and critical look at yourself and acknowledge what your shortcomings are. This is the only way you can grow and self-correct. At the same time, though, you can’t be negative or pessimistic.
You need a certain optimism and a strong drive to succeed. People will tell you that what you’re trying to do is impossible. You need the grit to keep going in the face of that.
My dad was a huge inspiration to me
He was a guy who saw an opportunity and took it. He was an electronics salesman who regularly travelled to Limpopo.
When he realised that the vegetables there were much larger and looked healthier than the ones on offer in Johannesburg, he started bringing back as much as he could and selling it locally.
Everything was usually gone within 20 minutes of him getting back. It was a great lesson in being able to spot an opportunity.
Having a business plan doesn’t make you an entrepreneur
Being able to create an impressive business plan is obviously a useful skill, but you’re not an entrepreneur until you actually take the plunge. You need to start.
You need to have clients who are paying you money in exchange for a service or product you’re providing. It’s not (just) about the website, company name and logo. You need to be doing business.
To me, being an entrepreneur means disrupting
You’re not a true entrepreneur unless you’re disrupting an industry and changing things in a fundamental way. Some people see a great opportunity, and they take it.
There’s nothing wrong with that — they’re adding value — but that makes you more of an opportunist or survivalist.
Entrepreneurs think big and change the status quo.
A great business plan needs to answer three things
It needs to explain who your customers are, why they need what you’re selling, and why they need to buy that from you. This sounds simple, but it’s not. It requires a lot of research and planning.
It also requires that you speak to funders, suppliers, prospective customers and even competitors. It’s an invaluable process, since it will provide you with a realistic view of your prospects.
Great entrepreneurs often come in pairs
There are very few people out there who possess all the traits and skills necessary to be a successful entrepreneur. For this reason, it helps to be in partnership with someone who can balance you out and provide the skills that you lack.