Failure is a part of life, especially for entrepreneurs. Most new businesses fail within the first few years, and even if your business is one that survives that harsh initial trial, you’ll experience plenty of smaller failures along the way.
Seasoned entrepreneurs know that no single failure could ever be enough to compromise the success of a dedicated mind. Instead, failures are merely temporary obstacles in a long journey. They are experiences to be learned from, and mistakes that improve our abilities.
1. Neglecting a portion of your research
Research is going to form the foundation of your expectations, plans and goals. Market research, competitive research and pricing research are just some of the in-depth forms of research you’ll perform – and they all have vulnerabilities.
Whether you misjudge the strength of a potential market sector or completely neglect a factor in your initial research, that failure is going to affect your business negatively.
Fortunately, even the most egregious research mistakes can be corrected through re-evaluation and subsequent adjustment.
2. Missing an important deadline
Many deadlines are arbitrary, but there are some that can’t be missed. For example, if your investors are expecting your technology to launch by a certain date, or if your clients depend on you hitting a certain production volume, a missed deadline could mean the collapse of an entire segment of your business.
When you miss a deadline, and inevitably, you will, don’t dwell on the failure. Determine what went wrong, make up for what you can, and correct your procedures to prevent it from happening again.
3. Losing an opportunity
Whether it’s a major client leaving due to unmet expectations or a major PR opportunity that slipped past you, at some point you’re going to lose a major opportunity, and it’s going to feel terrible. Depending on how you’ve structured your business, the loss could be relatively minor, or devastating.
If you’re going to recover in the short term, you’ll need to look for a replacement to serve as a bandage for the wound. If you’re going to recover in the long term, you’ll need to diversify your opportunity pool with more clients or a wider outlook to hedge your bets against such a loss.
4. Hiring the wrong person
Finding good help is difficult, and eventually you’re going to hire someone who isn’t a good fit for your organization. A lack of productivity, motivation or the presence of a negative attitude could ruin what would otherwise be an outstanding working relationship.
Don’t let negative employees compromise your workforce – acknowledge your failure in hiring them, and either correct the problem or move on.
5. Forgetting or overlooking a key disruption
It might be an old competitor who has a greater reputation than you expected, or a new technology that’s making waves in ways you hadn’t anticipated. When disruptors in your industry start to make their moves, it’s easy to lose ground quickly.
No matter how prepared you are or how much you try to anticipate the patterns of the future, there will always be something to confound your expectations and interrupt your business flow.
All you can do is mitigate the immediate consequences and implement new strategies to accommodate your new challenges.
Before creating the now wildly successful brand of wearable cameras – GoPro, Nick Woodman failed in great style with two online start-ups.
“I mean nobody likes to fail, but the worst thing was I lost my investors’ money and these were people that believed in this young guy that was passionate about this idea… you start to question: are my ideas really good?” Woodman says.
6. Mismanaging your operations
There are hundreds of ways that your operating process can go wrong. You could have a flawed sales flow, an inefficient production schedule, an unsupervised segment of operations or just a bad model, and you might not realize it until it’s too late.
At some point throughout your career, you’ll look back and realise how much ground you’ve lost because of a critical failure in your plan for operations.
Take heart that there is always time to turn things around – look for opportunities to make positive changes, and make those changes a priority.
7. Missing your financial projections
There are two big reasons for missing your financial projections: overestimating the amount of sales and revenue your company was going to bring in, or underperforming compared to your goals. Either one can leave you with a sense of dread and a fear for the future of the business.
Keep in mind that projections are only projections, and as long as you’re stable enough to keep moving forward, you’ll have more chances to adjust your expectations and improve your company’s performance.
Don’t ever let failure hold you back. Some of the most successful companies in the world, including Microsoft, Apple and Virgin Group, were founded and guided by entrepreneurs who encountered a crushing failure and kept working hard to achieve their dreams.
Learn from your mistakes, lead without regrets and keep moving forward toward your ultimate goals.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Making Money Online: 10 South African Entrepreneurs Doing It
You don’t need an eight-to-five job or stacks of capital as the launch-pad to start a business and create your own source of income. Here are 10 entrepreneurs who’ve found some unconventional ways of making money online using common platforms.
What do you know about making money online using Airbnb, Fiverr, YouTube or Instagram? While the average consumer uses these platforms to share their lives, talent and find holiday pads, a few local entrepreneurs have cashed in on these platforms to start lucrative a online money-making business.
Ten South African Entrepreneurs who are making money online:
- Making Money Online on Fiverr: Lauren Gouws
- Making Money Online with Podcasting: Matt Brown
- Making Money Online with Airbnb: Brigid Prinsloo
- Making Money Online with YouTube: Caspar Lee
- Making Money Online on Instagram: Thithi Nteta
- Making Money Online with Self-Publishing: Dudu Busani-Dube
- Making Money Online with a Collective Online Community: Marnus Broodryk
- Making Money Online with a Specialised App: Karidas Tshintsholo & Matthew Piper
- Making Money Online with Facebook: Zelda Arnott
- Making Money Online with Niche Software Products: Darlene Menzies
Fintech And Small Business Success: 5 Tips For SA’s Fintech Start-ups
Let’s look at what the future holds and how small businesses can benefit.
Around the world, the fintech revolution is disrupting our relationship with money, both in our personal and business lives. This global market is expected to be worth $10,499m by the end of 2018 – and digital payments account for much of this growth. This means it’s an exciting time for small businesses looking to get ahead. Whether they’re fintech developers, users or both, these businesses are putting new technologies to work and benefitting hugely.
South Africa’s small business community, like elsewhere, is embracing fintech with enthusiasm. To make the most of this energy, new incubators and accelerators are setting up shop across the country. Cape Town, for example, hosted its first ‘Startupbootcamp’ which focused on creating scalable technology solutions for financial services and related industries. At Xero, we recently launched a virtual hackathon to enable South Africa’s technology entrepreneurs to compete with other forward-thinking developers on a global scale.
Against an energetic business landscape, fintech presents an attractive market for SA’s budding entrepreneurs. In today’s competitive business environment, new technologies are key to meeting your target audience’s needs and expectations.
So, how can entrepreneurs take advantage of what fintech promises? Let’s look at what the future holds and how small businesses can benefit.
Think smart, grow fast
The range of available fintech solutions and tools is vast. However, new technologies alone are not enough to get your business off the ground – and keep it there. Here are five tried and tested tips for small business owners to keep in mind at all times.
1. Have an idea
Entrepreneurs first need an idea, then a plan supported by realistic goals. Your idea has to be good: ask yourself what you’re going to sell, and why. Once inspiration has struck, subject your idea to some hard scrutiny. Chances are someone else is already doing something similar – which is fine if you can do it better.
2. Build a plan
Your business plan is your map. It will help you launch your idea with structure and thought, and guide your company’s progression. You don’t need to stick to your plan like glue: Flexibility is certainly a virtue. A new twist or turn – as long as it’s on the right track – could take the business forward faster.
3. Be flexible
Of course, if something isn’t working then don’t be afraid to abandon it and move on. Fear of failure often results in entrepreneurs throwing good money after bad. Know when to scrap an idea, take what you’ve learnt and focus on something new. Remember, there’s no point crying over sunk costs.
4. Stay alert
When it comes to new ideas, look at what’s old and needs refreshing. Keep a constant eye out for ways to disrupt the status quo and offer people a better way of getting what they need. Even if your business is running smoothly and doing well, if you don’t stay alert, you could lose out on some low-hanging fruit to a competitor.
5. Use technology
Startups are typically constrained by limited resources – namely time, money and labour. A solid plan will help allocate your resources effectively. Fintech solutions can provide a strong backbone that helps you enhance your capacity, manage your cash flow better and improve productivity.
The future of fintech in SA
South Africa is fertile ground for fintech. A lack of legacy infrastructure – particularly in outer lying areas – has created a large underbanked rural population hungry for financial services. What’s more, a growing urban middle class is demanding more sophisticated solutions to outdated forms of payment processing.
Fortunately, these demands are not falling on deaf ears. The local tech community is part of a dynamic development ecosystem that is working hard to innovate tools that provide greater financial access. With a clear gap in the market and an eager target audience, the future for fintech developers and users in SA is looking stronger than ever before.
Regardless of what your business offers, where it is based, it’s size or age, it’s time to join the fintech revolution. By embracing relevant solutions, your business will become more agile, efficient, responsive and ultimately, more successful.
Loan Scams: How To Protect Yourself From Loan Scams
My thoughts are that only if there is a grassroots movement by people affected by these scams to get rid of these unscrupulous marketers, will there be any chance of change.
The current economic situation we’re experiencing in South Africa has created a strong appetite for credit. Often consumers need to borrow money out of desperation just to help them survive. It is here where scam artists and unscrupulous marketers prey on the public, signing them up for services they do not need, with monthly debit orders adding to their woes.
It’s a tactic that we’re seeing more of these days: A company advertises that they can help you secure a loan, even if you’re blacklisted. They charge you for this ‘service’ and at the same time sign you up for a bundle of monthly paid-for add-ons, hidden away in the Terms and Conditions (T&Cs).
They are doing this despite the fact that it is illegal to advertise loans to those who are blacklisted (according to the National Credit Act), and that a company cannot charge to facilitate a loan (according to National Credit Regulator [NCR]). To make matters worse, in 99% of cases, the applicant is turned down, and now has to continue paying for services that they were unaware of signing up for in the first place.
This is criminal behaviour, but for some reason it does not get acted on by relevant authorities (such as the NCR) which should be protecting consumers. With an estimated one million South Africans being preyed upon like this annually, those who are tasked with watching over the consumer should not shake this responsibility. That’s not to say the marketing industry is blameless – far from it, but without a regulatory body, there’s very little to be done to act on these rogue companies. Even Google benefits from these loan scammers – just type in “bad credit loans” and see how many ads pop into the paid search results.
My advice would be for consumers to be vigilant in managing their financial affairs, especially when it comes to “too good to be believed” offers. Here are some pointers to help consumers protect themselves:
- Never give your bank details to an unknown brand or marketing company that is not your own bank or insurance company.
- ALWAYS read the Terms and Conditions before signing up for anything. Most of these scams work because the extras you sign up for are buried in the T&Cs, making them part of the contract.
- Never agree to pay someone to find you a loan. The service provider is conducting an illegal act, since they cannot charge consumers for loan finding services according to the NCR.
- As difficult as it can be, do not apply for loans if you are blacklisted as there is little chance you will qualify. These scams are run by people who feed off/take advantage of people’s desperation, so rather speak to your bank to get advice about your situation.
- Sites such as Hellopeter are a great resource to check if companies are offering fraudulent services. It will only take a few minutes, but could save you years of problems.
As for what to do if you have fallen victim to these scams, complain in writing to the Credit Ombudsman (email@example.com) as soon as possible. At this stage, we’ve lost faith in the NCR or the Consumer Protection Act stopping these types of scams. Rather get in touch with Carte Blanche, your local or national newspaper, and note it on Twitter and Facebook. My thoughts are that only if there is a grassroots movement by people affected by these scams to get rid of these unscrupulous marketers, will there be any chance of change.