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Why South African Talent-preneurs Die Poor

So why then do our artists die poor?

Vusi Thembekwayo

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So please explain this to me:

Freddie Mercury died at the age of 45. He was worth an estimated $100mln.

The legendary Mahlathini – who in my view was a talent equal to that of Freddie Mercury – died at the age of 61. There are no reliable sources of information for his net worth, but it is common cause that it was not much.

South Africans are as talented as anyone else is from any nation in my view. So why then do our artists die poor?

  • Are they lazy?
  • Are the financially illiterate?
  • Are they too dependent on someone else to make a living?
  • Alternatively, do they just have a fresh batch of bad luck?

I have pondered on this question, and here are my three reasons why South African artists seldom escape the poverty trap:

You are a businessman

South African artists need to understand that they are not just artists or creative beings. They are talent-preneurs. They make their living through their talents. They must concern themselves with all aspects of their business, sales, marketing, logistics and even financials.

Numbers are not only for accountants

Getting well versed with the numbers of your business and knowing the difference between mark-up & gross margin, net cash & accounts receivables or payment terms & working capital are not boring concepts only for the accountant.

They are logical pieces of information that tell you how much you are creating, if at all.

Marriage is for lovers, not professional colleagues.

No one was born and bred to ensure that you are successful. No, one! You do that for yourself. I have seen countless talent-preneurs (singers, actors, idols judges, dancers and even speakers) sign away their business to someone else. They sign with an agent who earns 25% of their money (off the top) for facilitating a transaction.

Therefore, for merely picking up the phone, taking a booking, sending a contract and getting the often non-complex logistics in order, talent-preneurs will pay 25c of every rand they earn to someone else. That is ridiculous. Imagine Standard Bank giving away 25% of everything they earn to someone else.

Often these agencies expect the talent to sign an ‘exclusivity agreement’ with them but they never sign ‘exclusivity’ with the talent, which means they represent as many artists as they wish & have no vested interest any particular artist being successful.

A TV show does not a brand make

Many talent-preneurs need to understand that personal branding is not marketing.

Just because you are on TV, radio or any other media does not mean you have a ‘compelling value proposition’ that customers can only access through you. This is often why for many of our talent-preneurs, radio or TV is a necessity. Without it, they cannot make a real living.

So why is Jay-Z amongst the best selling hip-hop artists in the world & unlike LL Cool J and the like, he does not know nor have he ever had a TV show? Why did Michael Jackson set world record music sales even though he did not have a reality TV show on Bravo?

Why did Lebo Mathosa leave an incredible trail of commercial success as an artist even though she did not have a show on Vuzu?

The answer is easy: Each of these talent-preneurs were so well versed in their trade and I would argue understood the levers upon which their commercial success rested that they didn’t need the platform. They ran their business like a business. They were in charge. They took their own bookings or managed the office the does. They built an extraordinary brand around consumer experience. That is why Afro-Jack has his plane, and tour bus and booking agency.

They run it like a business.

Recommendations to our talent-preneurs:

  1. Tear the exclusivity agreement. It is your life, your business. Take ownership and drive it.
  2. Know your numbers. Know how many inquiries you are getting, from whom, for what. If they do not book, you ask them why. That is how you gather market intelligence. Is someone else hotter at that time, better, more affordable? The list is endless. The trick is to find out.
  3. Invest in your brand beyond an acting role, a radio show or TV presenter gig. Actually, market yourself.

Mr. Vusi Thembekwayo has been an Independent Non-Executive Director of at RBA Holdings Ltd. since May 14, 2013. Mr. Thembekwayo has already collected numerous accolades and awards as businessperson, entrepreneur and international public speaker. Mr. Thembekwayo completed a PDBA and a course on advanced valuation techniques with the Gordon Institute of Business Science and completed a Management Acceleration Programme (Cum Laude) with the Wits Business School. His speaking achievements include the international hit talk “The Black Sheep” which he delivered to the Top 40 CEOs in Southern Africa, addressing the Australian Houses of Parliament and speaking at the British House of Commons. To add to this, Vusi speaks in 4 of the 7 continents over 350 000 people each year.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Lunda Wright

    Aug 6, 2014 at 08:31

    Hi Vusi, crowdfunding through platforms like Thundafund.com is a viable way for talent-preneurs to take the edge off their financial woes in South Africa, as well as increasing their profile in their target market.

  2. Dave Reynolds

    Aug 20, 2014 at 10:34

    hola Vusi. thanks for posting this, it’s an important conversation – in fact one of THE most important conversations. the reason why? let’s consider and african brand of car – will it compete with the german and japanese cars on our road ? it’s possible but unlikely. they are well established and very few could take them on. any other local manufacturing that we consider is at risk of being swallowed by the chinese, but the arts are unique. a south african story, like tsotsi, or a live performance is something no one can take and do better or cheaper. do it well and it can make a lot of money for the owner but also many other subsidiaries.

    this article is thought provoking which is great, but, i must say, it’s not totally well-researched or presented. did freddy mercury own the rights to his work, or did he sign them away ? was michael jackson a numbers man – did he get a kick out of saying 19 x 7 is 133 as a kid, or did he just leave the numbers to someone else ? did sting’s accountant steal millions from him (without him noticing), or was he looking over his accountant’s shoulder ? if simon mahlathini had insisted on owning the rights to his recorded work, would he have had any recorded work when he died ? did lebo mathosa run her business like a business or did graeme do it for her ? what percentage did graeme take ? did lebo make an album, which, like “dark side of the moon” is still selling many moons later, or did she just drive a fancy car to the interviews with business magazines and exude the image of commercial success without having a long tail like freddy mercury and michael jackson ?

    i’m trying to inspire you to do some research, vusi ! theory is easy for educated people, and it has it’s place, but you ask real questions, and i think you could find real answers too.

    i think a good way to talk about talent-preneurs in 2014 is to talk to artists that are doing it now. the world’s changed so much in the last 4 years that maybe everything prior to 2010 doesn’t count.

    don’t get me wrong. i agree with the three points made, but i find them kinda obvious.

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Business Landscape

The New Rules Of Customer Experience

Intelligent Experience Economy will change the rules of customer experience.

PwC

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Our report identifies five rules organisations can follow to reimagine the customer experience in the ‘Intelligent Experience Economy’. These rules are the action that organisations need to take if they want to be successful in this new era:

1. Make the customer journey your new chain

Most executives understand the importance of CX and have some form of customer strategy to address it. However, the ‘Intelligent Experience Economy’ calls for significant action. Organisations will need to develop an enterprise-wide customer journey. Creating a common language and taxonomy around the customer that is universally adopted will spur CX transformation at scale and embed the customer in the core of the organisational culture.

Related: Why Customers Don’t Respond To Disruption

2. Embed AI in the Customer Experience

Our research confirms that businesses understand the critical and still growing importance of ‘big data’ and analytics. However, having an analytics function. AI will be the dominant capability enabling companies to reimagine the CX in the ‘Intelligent Experience Economy’. Embedding AI in the CX is a great opportunity for organisations. It can enable easier communication with customers, speed up transaction times, personalise customer experiences and significantly reduce customer service costs. Furthermore, organisations that have embedded AI will have unique access to customer data.

3. Connect Customer Experience to real value

Customer metrics are now commonplace in businesses. Although the metric is important, too many businesses see it as the end point instead of the starting point. CCOs assessing their CX transformation efforts must take into account how mature their organisation’s CX measurement maturity is.

For many, CX measurement is still immature – actively listening to customers and collecting feedback, but not taking action with CX initiatives. Organisations should develop real-time customer metrics.

4. Let the COO drive Customer Experience Change

The role of the COO needs to evolve if organisations are to execute on their ambitious goals for their CX visions in the next few years. The role of the COO will need to shift from ‘measuring the CX’ to being directive on the priorities to drive CX change. In order to be more directive, end-to-end capabilities will be needed within the organisations, framed around journey stages.

Related: Why Your Latest Tech Investment Might Not Be Wowing Your Customers

5. Ignite the core

To create real CX transformation – the COO cannot be successful alone. The challenge is about ‘igniting the core’ around CX. To ‘ignite the core’ organisations need to spread the CX vision with all leaders, managers, frontline employees and back office employees alike. Furthermore, organisations will have to establish partnerships across the value chain – including UX/CX experts, data analysis, AI architects, app developers, as well as project delivery partners.

How can organisations execute the customer experience?

In order to be a leading customer experience organisation, companies will need to execute the customer experience at scale across the organisation. Customer strategy execution is transformational in nature and requires new capabilities, new ways of working and an entire organisation to be fully behind the new vision.

 

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Business Landscape

Never Mind The New Dawn – The Sun’s Shining For Brave SA Entrepreneurs

How do you manage risks and where do you find opportunities where the ‘sensible’ money fears to tread?

Marc Wachsberger

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We’re planning to open two new apartment hotels each year, which is a pretty aggressive growth strategy in an environment where land expropriation without compensation is the hot topic of the moment, and investors are looking beyond our borders for growth opportunities.

However, I believe that smart entrepreneurs find opportunity in every financial climate, no matter how dire it may seem on the surface. For example, current investor caution means that those who are willing to take calculated risks face less competition – now and in the long term.

In our sector, international hotel groups are slowing or even halting any investment in improving existing properties or developing new ones. For us, that means our competition is thinning, and that there are more opportunities for us to build on prime sites for which we would have had stiff, if not insurmountable, competition in the past.

Related: 10 SA Entrepreneurs Who Built Their Businesses From Nothing

How do you manage risks and where do you find opportunities where the ‘sensible’ money fears to tread?

  • If an issue seems to be an obstacle, do your research to understand all the implications. In the property business, we’re finding out how to structure our new builds and acquisitions so that they’re unlikely targets for any potential expropriation, including focusing on transformation, job creation, and promoting tourism – all elements of the National Development Plan.
  • Find ways to make your investment opportunities appealing. For example, Section 12J of the Income Tax Act offers scope to create investment options that reduce tax liability and offer alternative sources of return.
  • One of South Africa’s biggest challenges is a shortage of skills. We’re changing that by investing in our people, giving them access to training and career growth opportunities, and teaching them how to be entrepreneurs. We believe that these skills will either help our business grow, or they’ll give the individuals the courage they need to launch their own businesses – yet another great outcome for the country.
  • While South Africa is developed in many ways, it still has many characteristics of an emerging market. This means that there are still many opportunities for brave entrepreneurs here, equipped with the ‘can-do’ attitude for which we are famous, that wouldn’t likely be available in more developed markets.
  • Even though countries like Nigeria and Kenya are gateways to their regions, South Africa remains a gateway to SADEC countries and markets beyond. Adapting your products or services to appeal to those travelling through South Africa is a way of growing your client base too. For example, we have found that our apartment hotels in the Sandton district are particularly popular with visitors from the continent who come to the city to shop – but who don’t like local food. They choose our hotels because they can prepare their own favourites in our apartments’ fully equipped kitchens – clear example of how adapting to meet the needs of a potentially ‘lost’ opportunity can carve a niche for your business.
  • Work harder than your competitors to convince bankers and shareholders that you’ve done everything possible – and then some – to manage risk. If you can tell a compelling story supported by solid facts, investors are likely to make decisions more quickly, giving you the edge over your competitors.

Related: 10 Successful SA Women Entrepreneurs’ Top Advice On Balancing Work And Family

Ours is truly a homegrown business, with long term plans to continue our growth throughout South Africa. Current risks have certainly made us sharpen our proverbial pencils but using these risks to identify opportunities and research them into reality has seen us stand out from our competitors.

Any business that takes the time to interrogate challenges properly will find opportunities where others flee in uninformed fear. Do your homework and you’ll agree with me: South Africa really is one of the best places in the world to build a new business.

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Business Landscape

Saving Time When You Need It Most

With the right tools in place, thanks to TomTom Telematics, the company’s Emergency medical technicians can reach the scene faster — and as a result, they can concentrate on what they do best, saving lives.

TomTom Telematics

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Vital Stats

No two industries are alike. Each sector faces its own unique challenges, and businesses within those sectors have specific KPIs they need to deliver on. For businesses in the emergency medical services sector, time is of the essence. Seconds can mean the difference between life and death.

For a company like Redicure EMS, how quickly an ambulance can reach the scene of a medical emergency is at the very heart of its value proposition.

“Every day we have another chance to save a life,” says Rosert Manamela, an emergency care practitioner at Redicure. “But to do that, we need to be able to get to the scene on time.”

Racing the clock

Redicure has a strict policy that all ambulance drivers stick to the rules of the road at all times. “We have lights and sirens, but we still need to be safe. You can’t assume everyone else sharing the road with you has heard or seen you.”

Related: How TomTom Telematics Can Keep Your Business Moving Forward

The company’s entire fleet utilises TomTom Telematics devices for this reason. “We’re able to receive up-to-date information on traffic within the area as well as alternative routes. When you’re racing against the clock you don’t have time to consider your different options — you need an immediate plan of action that will get you where you need to be.”

Thanks to this platform, which links each vehicle on the road with Redicure’s control centre, the EMS provider’s promise to all of its clients is that an ambulance will be on the scene within 15 minutes. Because vehicles are tracked, the trained emergency care practitioners — who are both monitoring the vehicles and in contact with the client who requires emergency services — can keep everyone informed from the control centre.

Pushing the boundaries of innovation

After two years operating in the medical emergencies sector, and based on their relationship with TomTom Telematics, the team at Redicure began to evaluate what else they could do to support the safety and wellbeing of South Africans facing a medical emergency.

“WEBFLEET is open API, which means it can integrate with any other applications you have,” explains Rosert. “We understood the value TomTom Telematics had brought to our business by enabling us to get to emergencies as quickly as possible, and so we started thinking about what else we could do with this technology.”

The answer was instant access to Redicure in the case of an emergency. “Once you solve the problem of how quickly an ambulance can reach you, the next challenge is how quickly you can get hold of an ambulance. We approached this problem with an understanding that in an emergency people don’t always have all the information they need on hand — who should they call, can they get through, and how quickly can the control centre gather all the information they need to be able to dispatch an ambulance? All of this wastes precious time.”

Related: How TomTom Telematics Is Blurring The Lines Between Your Fleet And The Office

In response to this clear need, Redicure has piloted the Redicure app with Tshwane University of Technology across its six campuses. Each student has been encouraged to download the app. In the case of an emergency, one push of a button immediately sends a signal to Redicure’s control centre, complete with who needs medical assistance, all of their contact details, and most importantly, their location.

Through TomTom Telematics’ WEBFLEET solution, an alert is then sent out from the control room to the closest ambulance in the area, and the client is contacted with up-to-date expected arrival times.

“We’re changing the face of medical emergency response times, thanks to technology that enables us to get to the scene of a medical emergency more quickly and efficiently,” says Rosert.

“We’re also fine-tuning what we do on a daily basis, thanks to the information available through WEBFLEET. With TomTom, we’re not only working with collaborators who understand our business, but support the development and growth of our services and products, allowing us to push the limits of what’s possible in our industry.”

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