Connect with us

Lessons Learnt

10 Entrepreneurs On Advice That’s Helped Them Build Their Business

Wisdom passed down from entrepreneur to entrepreneur that gave them an edge.

Entrepreneur

Published

on

Pfungwa Serima

A winning strategy is as much about choosing what not to do as it is about choosing what to do

Abey-Mokgwatsane

Abey Mokgwatsane

Vital Stats:

“My uncle and mentor, Ken Modise, gave me this piece of advice. In business we are faced with an abundance of choices. A winning strategy is as much about choosing what not to do as it is about choosing what to do.

“With so many choices, it’s important that you choose which things to let go of so that you have the resources available to focus on the few really important things.”

“Sometimes doing so can be a tough call — it’s often tempting to try and be everything to everyone, but that can’t be your strategy. I have found that asking yourself what is really important to the business and choosing to focus your energy on that, automatically helps you to eliminate other potential strategies and choices.”

Read more: Abey Mokgwatsane’s full story here

Gut feel and people can tell you much more about a business than graphs can

dawn-jones

Dawn Jones

Vital Stats:

“Bill Lynch was a great teacher. At board meetings if you put up a presentation or a graph, he’d tell you that didn’t tell him about what was really going on in the business. He’d tell you to talk to him about what your gut said. I’ve tried to continue that — to talk to people and to listen when they talk back, and through those interactions get a real sense of what’s happening in the business.”

Read more: Dawn Jones’ full story here

Success, like failure, is just a point in time

Allon-Raiz

Allon Raiz

Vital Stats:

“I once spent half of one session with my mentor telling him how well things were going in the business. He sat very quietly and listened to me and then asked me if I had any intention of making the session valuable in any way, or if I was just there to talk about how great I was. It was a real wake-up call.

“Success, like failure, is just a point in time.”

“You have to bring the same perspective to success as you do to failure. It could change. Always pay attention to everything that’s happening, and be constantly looking for solutions and ways to do things better.”

Read more: Raizcorp: Allon Raiz

To be successful is to be the best in the history of your life

Ryk-Neethling

Ryk Neethling

Vital stats:

  • Ryk Neethling is a former Olympic swimmer and Marketing Director at Val de Vie Estate.

“My coach gave me this advice, and it became my mantra for success. You need to set your own goals and not measure yourself against others. I think this is as important in business as it was for me in sport. But it’s a very tough thing to get right when you’re competitive.”

Read more: Ryk Neethling’s full story here

Inspect what you expect

Onwell Msomi

Onwell Msomi

Vital Stats:

“I used to work for a guy whose motto was ‘inspect what you expect.’ He was right. I’m the type of manager who trusts his team. While some thrive under those conditions, others become totally lost. As a result, I had a few critical things fall through in the planning process. When you work on a project as huge and time-bound as this one, you must stay close, walk with your people every day and give all the help you can.”

Read more: Coca-Cola South Africa: Onwell Msomi

Education is not just about getting your foot in the door. It should be an ongoing process

Anton-Ossip

Anton Ossip

Vital Stats:

“My grandfather came to South Africa from the Ukraine, with no education, not speaking the language, and managed to build a successful business that is still around today. He taught me about the importance of education and putting 100% into what you do. There is no replacement for hard work. It’s what builds success.

“It’s also incredibly important to make sure you are always learning. It doesn’t have to be an MBA – every opportunity is a learning opportunity. I try to learn the different jobs of the people I work with so I can understand their challenges and how best to resolve them. Just because you are a leader doesn’t mean you know everything. Don’t be afraid to admit what you don’t know, and sit down with an individual to learn from them.”

Read more: Anton Ossip’s full story here

Knowing when to push through a closed door and when to walk away is part of the skill of running a business

Mark-Frankel

Mark Frankel

Vital Stats:

“When I was working as the financial director at Master Currency, the sign on the Boardroom door said, ‘The last hurdle’ and, although this doesn’t constitute a piece of advice per se, it has always stuck with me.

In business you never know what the last hurdle is that you will have to overcome, so you need enormous reserves of tenacity to keep facing the obstacles that are in your way. But while that tenacity is important, I think it’s also important to balance it with knowing when to let go.

“Sometimes we become emotionally attached to ideas or plans and are unable to let go of them even when it’s clear that they are flawed. This just leads to a wasteful expenditure of energy that might be better channelled to areas of the business or new ideas that hold better promise.”

Read more: Shanduka Black Umbrellas: Mark Frankel

Be Self-Aware

Steven Cohen

Steven Cohen

Vital Stats:

“I have breakfast nearly every Saturday morning with a friend who also happens to be a clinical psychologist, and he gave me this advice. I find it informs every aspect of how I manage people and the business. At a most basic level, self-awareness helps you to understand why you react in the way you do, assisting you in identifying your own emotional ‘stuff’ so you can separate this out from the real issue at hand. This helps you to respond to criticism better so that you can actually use it to grow, instead of getting defensive.

“People who are self-aware also tend to manage other people better, whether those people report to you or are at a senior level to you.”

Read more: Steven Cohen’s full story here

Don’t change what works

Bob-Skinstad

Bob Skinstad

Vital Stats:

  • Bob Skinstad is an ex-Springbok rugby player, Supersport presenter and entrepreneur.

“I was a keynote speaker at a conference with Kevin Roberts, the ex-CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi, and I didn’t want to give the same talk two days in a row. It was a different group of people, but I was very aware that Kevin had already heard the address, so I changed it. Afterwards he asked me why I had changed something that was working. He told me that repetition of a good thing is the secret to success, and I’ve never forgotten that advice. It’s informed a lot of what I do today.”

Read more: Bob Skinstad’s full story here

Two things are fundamental: Performance, and living the organisation’s values

Pfungwa Serima

Pfungwa Serima

Vital Stats:

“When I joined the business and Leo Apotheker was SAP CEO, he said to me: ‘There are two things that are fundamental to SAP. One is performance, the other is living our values.’ He made the point that while individual performance is crucial, a person who performs well, but is unable to live out the company values is not the type of person we need in the organisation.”

Read more: SAP: Pfungwa Serima

Entrepreneur Magazine is South Africa's top read business publication with the highest readership per month according to AMPS. The title has won seven major publishing excellence awards since it's launch in 2006. Entrepreneur Magazine is the "how-to" handbook for growing companies. Find us on Google+ here.

Advertisement
Comments

Lessons Learnt

Six Fundamental Business Lessons Every Entrepreneur Can Learn From Walt Disney

His success is all the more amazing when you learn how many times Walt Disney failed.

Published

on

Walt Disney

Everyone knows Walt Disney. Almost everyone has been to a Disney park somewhere, seen a Disney movie (live action or a cartoon) or knows some Disney character. Some people even go on Disney cruises.

Disney the man

I think in some ways people know more about Disney, fewer people about Disney the man. Walt Disney, the man, has somewhat faded into the background for many people. It is understandable since he died fifty-one years ago, in 1966. Walt was a visionary, an entrepreneur and a creative genius. There are some invaluable lessons every entrepreneur can learn from what he was able to accomplish in his life.

1Never give up

Many people don’t know that Walt Disney was not an overnight success. He started several companies that went bankrupt. He started a commercial art studio, and it tanked. He tried to create advertisements, and they also failed due to lack of revenue. Instead of giving in or giving up, Walt always just tried the next thing.

As Walt said, “All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me. You may not realise it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”

Related: 7 Profound Business Lessons From The Founder Of Planet Fitness

2Be a problem solver

disney-cartoon

Walt Disney was the consummate problem solver. He was very observant and was always looking for ways to solve a problem and how it could be an opportunity in the marketplace.

He took his daughter to a park to ride some rides, and he noticed the rides were dirty and in bad shape, and the people operating the rides were rude.

Walt thought about this problem – and it became Disneyland. He wanted a place that was safe and clean, where parents could take their kids.

As Jason Kilar once said, “When I was 10, we drove to Disney World. When we arrived, what impressed me most was the meticulous attention to detail; there wasn’t a gum wrapper anyplace.”

3Be willing to reinvent yourself

Many people don’t know that Disney’s first major cartoon star was not Mickey Mouse – it was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. He had signed a contract with a distributor for the short cartoons and was thrilled with their success.

When he went to renew the contract, they fired Walt. The distributor said (unknown to Walt) that they legally owned Oswald, and that Walt Disney didn’t, as outlined in the contract.

Even worse, all of Walt’s animators left Walt and went to work for the other company.

Walt went home having lost his biggest success. He had to start over.  As Walt said, “Mickey Mouse popped out of my mind onto a drawing pad 20 years ago on a train ride from Manhattan to Hollywood at a time when the business fortunes of my brother Roy and myself were at lowest ebb and disaster seemed right around the corner.”

Related: The 7 Business Lessons You Should Learn by 30

4Surround yourself with talent

walt-disney-drawings

Walt Disney admitted he was not the most talented at drawing or animation. As he once said, “I started, actually, to make my first animated cartoon in 1920. Of course, they were very crude things then and I used sort of little puppet things.” He was brilliant at knowing what he did best and was able to hire the best artists and animators in the world.

The person who animated Mickey in the early was not Walt but an animator named Ub Iwerks. Walt didn’t have to have the talent for drawing, but he had the vision. It’s like being an architect – you don’t have to be the general contractor. You just have to know what you want the project to look like when it is done.

5Be curious

Walt was an inquisitive soul and always wanted to learn new things. In animation, this led to some stunning developments in the early years.

He is famous for making the first sound cartoon, the first live action and animation mix film, the first full-length cartoon movie. Until then, Walt’s cartoons were fluffy, short, mindless entertainment people watched that came on before the main feature.

Here is the point and don’t miss it – he didn’t know how to do any of those things. His curiosity led him to investigate how to do these things and figure out how to get it all done. Walt said, “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

Related: 3 Inspiring Business Lessons From Billionaire Media Mogul Oprah Winfrey

6Diversify

Walt was smart enough after building a successful animation studio to get into live action movies, documentaries, television, amusement parks and tons of products. He could have just been an animation studio, but that would not have created the kind of success his company had.

I think Walt said it best: “Times and conditions change so rapidly that we must keep our aim constantly focused on the future.”

Every business needs to keep looking at ways to grow and diversify.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Continue Reading

Lessons Learnt

20 Crazy Things We’ve Learned About Alibaba Billionaire Jack Ma

From getting kidnapped to dressing up as Michael Jackson, the Alibaba founder has a lot of wacky stories to tell.

Published

on

jack-ma

As someone who rose from being rejected from Harvard 10 times to becoming the second-richest man in China, Jack Ma’s rags to riches story is inspiring

Jack Ma

Through persistence and experimentation, Ma built one of the most successful, record-breaking companies to date, the ecommerce giant Alibaba.

Of course, his success didn’t happen overnight, and his story is full of lessons in failure. Growing up, Ma struggled in school, constantly failing tests. When he finally got accepted to college, after he failed the college entrance exam twice and was rejected from Harvard 10 times, Ma eventually became an English teacher. However, once he was introduced to the internet during a work assignment in 1995, the rest was history.

Motivated to help the internet catch on in China, Ma launched Alibaba, an ecommerce site for small- to medium-sized businesses, in 1999. From there, it took years to build the site into the massive online wholesaler it is today, powered by Ma’s motivation and passion. Today, Ma is worth a whopping $39 billion, and since he stepped down as Alibaba’s CEO in 2013, he’s devoted much of his time and money to social causes.

There’s much to learn about the Chinese billionaire. Here are 20 interesting facts about Ma you probably didn’t know.

He wasn’t a great student

jack-ma-student

One might assume Ma was a straight-A student

While one might assume Ma was a straight-A student, quite the opposite was true. Ma admits that he actually failed multiple times in school: “I failed a key primary school test two times, I failed the middle school test three times, I failed the college entrance exam two times.”

Related: Edward Moshole Founder Of Chem-Fresh Started With R68 And Turned It Into A R25 Million Business

He began learning English when he was 12

jack-ma-speaking-english

He would volunteer as a tourist guide for visitors just to practice the language

At 12 years old, Ma was committed to learning English. Every morning for eight years, he would ride his bike 40 minutes to a hotel in Hangzhou, where he would volunteer as a tourist guide for visitors just to practice the language.

He was rejected from Harvard University 10 times

Harvard University

Harvard University

It usually takes only one rejection for someone to give up on getting into an Ivy League, but this wasn’t the case for Ma. During an interview at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in 2015, Ma admitted to being rejected from Harvard 10 times.

He didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life after college

jack-ma-rejection

You don’t always have to have the answers

After graduating from Hangzhou Normal University, Ma applied for 30 different jobs, and he got rejected from each one. During the process of applying for these jobs, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life, so he submitted his resume for a variety of unique positions, one even being a police officer.

Related: AutoTrader South Africa’s George Mienie Knows Disruptive Innovation Is More Than Shifting Gears

He was rejected from KFC

KFC

KFC hired 23 – and the one person who didn’t get a job was Ma

One of the 30 jobs Ma applied for after he graduated from college was a position at the fast food chain KFC. Out of a pool of 24 applicants, KFC hired 23 – and the one person who didn’t get a job was Ma.

He loves “Forrest Gump”

Forrest Gump

Forrest Gump

Jack Ma’s fictional idol is Forrest Gump. Like Gump, Ma also struggled in school, then went on to achieve success. “I’ve been watching that movie about 10 times. Every time when I’m frustrated I watch the movie,” he shared with CNBC in an interview. “I watched the movie before I came to New York.”

He became a teacher and made $12 to $15 a month

jack-ma-as-a-teacher

The chosen one

After graduating from Hangzhou Teachers University, Ma’s luck – and career – turned around. Ma was the only student of 500 to be chosen to teach at a university. Teaching English, Ma said he made what was then the equivalent of $12 to $15.

Related: 6 Lessons The Founders Of iKhokha Used To Launch An African Fintech Start-up

He was first introduced to the internet in 1995

jack-ma-first-internet-search

What a search

In 1995, while on assignment as an interpreter in Seattle, a friend showed Ma the internet for the first time. His first search was on Yahoo for “beer.” However, it was through this search that Ma discovered there was no data about China, so he decided to launch a website called China Pages.

He was kidnapped and threatened with a handgun

jack-ma-vegas

kidnapped and threatened

During that same trip, which was his first time in the U.S., Ma also was assigned to go to Malibu, Calif., to collect debt from an American businessman on behalf of a friend. The businessman ended up locking Ma in his home and threatening him with a handgun. After a few days, the man brought Ma to Las Vegas with him when he was due to meet with a group of Chinese businessmen. Still without the money at this point, Ma won $600 on the slot machines in Vegas, bought a plane ticket to Seattle and left the scene.

His first entrepreneurial venture ended in failure

china-pages-jack-ma

Not everything is meant to work out

After borrowing $2,000 from friends to launch China Pages in an attempt to popularise the internet in China, Ma’s venture didn’t quite go as planned. It ran on a server with a dial-up connection in his small apartment, which made pages take more than three hours to load. At the time, his direct competitor was China Telecom, from whom Ma accepted an investment of $185,000 for a joint venture. In the end, however, Ma found he did not have much say in the business. Eventually, he left and took a job with China’s Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation.

Related: 5 Key Tactics That Helped Gill Bowen And Tim Hartzenberg Revitalise The Shooshoos Brand

He announced Alibaba in a videotaped meeting from his small apartment

Alibaba

Alibaba

By 1999, Ma was on to his next business idea for bringing the internet to China, and he had raised $60,000 from 18 friends to launch his ecommerce platform for small- and medium-sized businesses. Through a videotaped meeting that took place in his small apartment in Hangzhou, Ma introduced Alibaba.

The name “Alibaba” came from a children’s story

One Thousand and One Nights

One Thousand and One Nights

Ma got the name Alibaba from the folktale series One Thousand and One Nights. He was inspired by the story of the poor carpenter Ali Baba, who came across an abundant treasure.

While growing Alibaba, Ma and his team made mistakes along the way

Alibaba headquarters

Alibaba headquarters

Ma’s journey wouldn’t make for a true entrepreneurial story if mistakes and hardship weren’t involved. He attributes three somewhat counterintuitive factors to the success of Alibaba: having no money, no technology and no plan. He’s said that having limited resources made his team more diligent – especially when it came to money, because they had to use their limited funds carefully.

Even as Alibaba grew, Ma admits the company tried to expand too fast, was stretched too thin and had to lay off a lot of people. By the end of 2002, Ma said the company had made just $1 in profits.

Related: 6 Great Tips For A Successful Shark Tank Pitch

Alibaba holds the record for most money raised in an IPO

alibaba-office

Alibaba Office

When Alibaba went public in 2014, its $25 billion IPO broke records for the largest IPO in history – beating both Facebook and Visa.

But Ma wishes Alibaba never went public

Alibaba

Alibaba

In 2015, Ma admitted that if he could do it again, he would keep Alibaba private. “Now, after the IPO, it’s much worse,” he said in a speech to the Economic Club of New York. “If I had another life, I would keep my company private.” After Alibaba went public, it entered the spotlight and faced some scrutiny from investors, regulators and the media. Ma was playing on a bigger stage. “It’s not only our people that watch us,” he said, “the globe watches us.”

He says he doesn’t know much about technology

Jack Ma and Charlie Rose

Jack Ma and Charlie Rose

In an interview with Charlie Rose, Ma admitted that he actually doesn’t know much about technology, despite owning one of the most successful tech companies in the world. “I know nothing about technology,” he said. “The only thing I can use my computer [for] is [to] send [and] receive email and browse.”

Related: 3 Secrets To Franchising Success By Edible Arrangements CEO Tariq Farid

He loves to perform

jack-ma-michael-jackson

Show us you dance moves

Ma loves to put on a show. In 2009, during Alibaba’s 10th anniversary party, Ma threw on a blonde wig and performed The Lion King onstage. At the 2017 anniversary party, Ma went all out and dressed up as Michael Jackson from the Dangerous World Tour. With a group of hired backup dancers, he performed “Billie Jean” and Beyoncé’s “Formation.”

He’s the second-richest person in China

jack-ma-forbes

Jack Ma is the second-richest man in China

As of September 14, 2017, Ma is the second-richest man in China, according to Forbes. He has a net worth of $39 billion.

He stepped down as Alibaba’s CEO because he felt he was too old

jack-ma-interview

When I was 35, I was so energetic and fresh-thinking

In 2013, Ma stepped down as Alibaba’s CEO, saying, “I’m 48. I’m no longer young enough to run such a fast-growing business. When I was 35, I was so energetic and fresh-thinking.”

After stepping down as CEO, Ma refocused his efforts on social issues

JackMaFoundation

JackMaFoundation

In an interview with the Financial Times, Ma shared what he planned to do after leaving his executive position. “In China, because of problems in water, air and food safety, in 10 or 20 years, we will face a lot of health problems, like increased cancer. So that is one area where I will invest my money and time.”

Alibaba bought a stake in Citic 21CN in 2014, changing its name to Alibaba Health Information Technology Ltd. Since then, Ma has spent much of his time and money attempting to bring hospitals and pharmacies online.

That same year, Ma launched the JackMaFoundation, which focuses on education, the environment and public health. In 2015, Ma was recognised as China’s biggest philanthropist, having donated a total of $2.4 billion (after share options) to his foundation.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Continue Reading

Lessons Learnt

How To Build A Top-Class Reputation In The Competitive World Of Media And Agencies

Darren McKinon’s clients and colleagues love him, as evidenced by his winning the Media Owner Rising Star Award at this year’s MOST Awards. Entrepreneur chatted to him about putting clients first, focusing on achieving your goals, and always staying positive.

Nadine Todd

Published

on

darren-mckinon-jcdecaux

The MOST awards are voted for by the media industry. What does it mean to you to be voted Rising Star?

This was a goal I set for myself three years ago. To achieve this accolade is confirmation for myself that if you set your mind on something, anything is possible. It’s particularly important to me that my clients voted for me, because it means I’m consistently delivering on my promises and commitments.

I’ve built up long-standing client relationships over many years and at all levels. I believe you need to be willing to put your client’s challenges ahead of your own agenda, and to understand what really matters to their business. This is the key to building partnerships and trust.

Related: The Importance Of Business Reputation

What is your business ethos, and how has this impacted the way you operate, and how your industry, clients and colleagues view you?

Teamwork, humility, perseverance, and a whole lot of fun along the way. Whether I’m in a client meeting or at the office with my team, I’m the same guy. Being real is crucial. In business and life, people see through the BS.

I’ve always believed that you can get absolutely anything you want by going about it the right way.

Winning should never be at the expense of something or someone else. You should always have a sense of humour. This has worked well for me – if you’re having fun, not only does your best work come out, but people relate to you that much more.

If there’s one key lesson I’ve learnt, it’s that making people feel at ease is an important part of any negotiation and a crucial start to building a real relationship.

But the real magic lies with your team – surround yourself with the most dynamic people you possibly can, give them the tools to do what they do best, and then get out of their way. I have the best team in the industry, and I’m privileged to work with them on a daily basis.

What is your productivity mindset, and how does it promote effective and efficient work?

Make time for yourself and be selfish about it. This comes at a price as it means unplugging, switching off or tuning out. Work never ends, so manage yourself and your time in order to commit 100% of your focus to the task at hand.

Being connected has massive advantages, as everyone has access to information. This greatly benefits productivity as long as it’s used responsibly.

In general, my mindset is extremely positive – even on bad days. Having a great attitude is a fundamental force in driving productivity and achieving positive results. It’s also infectious. I surround myself with positive people. Time is too precious for negativity.

How important is a personal brand?

It’s a double-edged sword. Your personal brand is everything, but should never be the driver or reason for why you are doing something.  It’s the by-product of doing something meaningful and being honest and real.

Building your personal brand takes time, and time means consistency. If I could sum it up in one word, your personal brand is trust. And be humble in your wins – it’s almost never a solo effort.

What does success mean to you?

Balance. It’s not a destination. You’ll never arrive at ‘success’. Instead, I focus on being resent in everything I do, and enjoying the ride.

If I’m at work, I’m committed, driven and focused. When I’m with my family, they get all of me. Put everything you have into what you’re currently doing and you won’t go wrong.

Related: How To Manage Your Business Reputation Online

What’s the most exciting thing currently happening in the advertising and media world?

The fact that everyone has a voice. Consumers have taken the lead and brands are being forced to listen, change and adapt. I get to be an important part of that for a variety of different brands. Every day is new, challenging and unpredictable. I love it.

Out of Home (especially Digital OOH) is changing the media landscape, and allowing synchronisation and synergy between all other media types to take place. It’s forcing everyone out of their media bubble, to understand what clients are needing in the bigger media picture, and ultimately connecting with consumers on a more meaningful level.

I’ve witnessed huge innovation in the OOH space during my time in the media industry, from classic to digital OOH, mass reach to activations and experiential marketing. OOH has become both a mass reach, high impact media platform, as well as an interactive, experience-building opportunity for all audiences.

What big changes do you see on the horizon that you believe your industry peers should be keeping an eye on?

The answer has to be digital, but it’s in the way it’s applied. Digital allows for a more relevant, in-the-moment interaction that should lead to more meaningful connections, but I don’t yet see enough brands using digital for these reasons.

Some brands are getting it right, and understand the synergy between platforms in order to engage with their consumers at various times throughout the day and in the right way. They understand consumer mindsets and plan their campaigns and communications accordingly.

Digital has played a big role in the fragmentation of media, which is often used as a negative term.

Instead, this fragmentation, or niche opportunities as I’d prefer to call them, has allowed for far more meaningful and personal connections.

Continue Reading

Trending