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The Power Of Life-Long Learning with University of Pretoria

True success starts with how much you’re willing to do to achieve it. If you’re hungry to learn and develop, partnering with University of Pretoria can make the business world your oyster.

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Professor Melodi Botha is an associate professor and researcher at the Department of Business Management in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at the University of Pretoria. She is the Programme Lead for the MPhil degree in Entrepreneurship.

Her research focuses on training, educating and supporting entrepreneurs at different stages of preparing, starting and managing a business.

Why is it important for entrepreneurs to focus on personal development and education, even after they are no longer a start-up?

Research in South Africa has revealed that 80% of SMEs fail within the first two years of starting a business. So, if an entrepreneur makes it beyond this stage, it’s worth investing time, money and effort to make sure that they succeed by seeking entrepreneurial education, training and development to improve their business offerings.

New competitors are constantly entering the market and established entrepreneurs should make sure that they maintain their competitive advantage by educating themselves in areas such as the most current trends in their industries, changes in the market, offering more and better innovative products and services, staying close to their target market to determine the most effective marketing strategies and providing a stronger value proposition.

For established entrepreneurs, there is also the risk of growing too fast or not being able to manage their growth.

These entrepreneurs should then educate themselves on the most effective growth strategies suited for their business. Personal development is crucial, as entrepreneurs progress through the entrepreneurial process because they learn as they go.

Related: Enhance Your Entrepreneurial Flair With An Online Postgraduate Diploma From The University Of Pretoria

An example is when established entrepreneurs conduct a personality profile to determine how to cognitively adapt to their current entrepreneurial environment. Weaknesses or areas of improvement, such as poor financial planning for example, are highlighted and entrepreneurs can then work on these areas.

What advice would you offer entrepreneurs who stop researching due to time restrictions?

Time is a problem for all entrepreneurs; there is never enough of it. It’s a matter of how effectively you use your time and how you plan the activities that should happen within a specific time period.

A big problem with entrepreneurs is also a lack of delegation, as they want to be involved in every area of the business. Entrepreneurs need to determine which activities can be delegated to an employee or partner and focus on the core skills that they are competent in and which help the business to grow.

What skills should entrepreneurs be developing while they are starting and then managing a business?

We recently conducted research on the skills that entrepreneurs need as they progress through the various stages of the entrepreneurial process. We identified two sets of skills, namely functional competencies and enterprising competencies.

The findings further revealed that established entrepreneurs viewed functional competencies such as marketing, financial, operational, legal, human resource, networking, technical, communcation and planning skills as important skills to have during the established stage.

Both start-up and established entrepreneurs viewed enterprising competencies such as creativity, innovation, role model interpretation, opportunity recognition, risk taking, need for achievement and the ability to gather and control resources as important during both stages.

More specifically, financial and legal skills should receive more attention when starting a business. In a similar study, we found that potential entrepreneurs should focus on opportunity recognition, opportunity assessment and creative problem solving during the potential entrepreneur stage.

Related: Top Inspiring Speakers Give Entrepreneurship Insights On World Speech Day

At the same time, start-up entrepreneurs should focus on opportunity recognition, building networks and resilience, while established entrepreneurs should focus on risk management/mitigation, building and using networks as well as resilience.

Are there any tips and tricks you can offer to people who want to study, but still need the time to run their businesses?

Studying or learning should be a life-long journey that should not necessarly have an expiry date. I am talking about gaining life skills and developing entrepreneurial abilities through everyday learning. Most professional qualifications require continued professional education and I see no reason why entrepreneurs should not adopt the same approach.

Therefore, my first tip would be to plan to study. It should be part of a daily routine to study or learn more about an area where weaknesses arise. Many univeristies offer short courses such as three-day programmes in different speciality areas, which you can attend and not be away from your business for too long.

In early stages of formal tertiary education, my advice would be to focus on your studies first and thereafter focus on the business. This does not mean that you don’t have to start planning and aquiring resources while still studying. For example, our second year students, studying towards a BCom in Entrepreneurship, prepare their own feasiblity studies and compile business plans as part of the curricula.

What startling facts and figures has your research revealed that many entrepreneurs don’t realise?

In a recent study we determined that many potential entrepreneurs (students) show a strong entrepreneurial intention to start a business in future but rarely go over into action and the rate of actual start-ups, in South Africa, remains low.

This is also the case for entrepreneurship education graduates. However, prior entrepreneurial exposure, such as having entrepreneurial parents or entrepreneurial role models during the course of their studies, increased the start-up rate.

Related: Deon Herbst Of Enterprises University Of Pretoria On The Importance Of Ongoing Learning

Another interesting study we conducted on women entrepreneurs revealed that women are in desperate need of entrepeneurial training and education. The Women Entrepreneurship Programme (WEP) at the Univeristy of Pretoria measured 180 women who completed the programme.

These women were measured on their skills level before the programme, directly after the programme, six months after the programme and ten years after the programme took place.

They were measured on eight different levels and the WEP proved to be effective in not only transferring entrepreneurial and business skills to women, but also improving their business performance indicators (turnover, employees, sales and profit). Some of the women (35%) started multiple businesses six months after they attended the WEP.

Ten years after the programme, the results of the study confirmed that these women’s businesses made a significant difference in their communities and the economy of South Africa as a whole.

UP is a leading research university in South Africa and one of the largest in the country. The University has seven campuses as well as a number of other sites of operation, such as the Pretoria Academic Hospital. The University of Pretoria offers more than 1 800 academic programmes. The academic programmes are offered in nine faculties, as well as a business school. The faculties comprise a total of 140 departments and 85 centres, institutes and bureaus. UP is at the forefront of tertiary education in the country and collaborates with world-class partners to ensure continued excellence in learning and teaching.

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4 Black-Owned Businesses Participating in This Enterprise Development Programme That Are Growing – Fast

The Department of Small Business Development (DSBD) and Property Point have joined forces to take 16 small to medium-sized, black-owned, businesses, through a life-changing enterprise development programme.

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The Department of Small Business Development (DSBD) and Property Point have joined forces to take 16 small to medium-sized, black-owned, businesses, through a life-changing enterprise development programme.

In its first three months of operation, this programme has already seen incredible results with an average growth rate of 27% per business,  R17,8million in contract secured and 21 direct jobs created. This is a unique collaboration in that it is set up specifically to encourage access to markets for the beneficiary businesses and is the first of its kind in the industry.

But who are the people behind the numbers?  Meet four out of the 16 business owners , Thabiso, Falvia, Malusi and Mandla taking full advantage of this opportunity.

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Calling All Social Entrepreneurs: Be SA’S Next Changemaker With The Nation Builder Social Innovation Challenge

In partnership with LaunchLab and the Mergon Group.

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Nation Builder, together with the Stellenbosch University LaunchLab and the Mergon Group, is inviting business pitches for their inaugural Social Innovation Challenge. The competition aims to identify and support South Africa’s social entrepreneurs, with an opportunity to win a share of R150 000 seed capital.

Entrepreneurs with a self-sustainable business idea – no matter how simple or small – that addresses particular social issues, positively impacts communities, empowers the disadvantaged, or has the potential to solve local problems in innovative ways, are invited to enter the Social Innovation Challenge.

Ten finalists will receive exposure to a broader network of business investors at the final pitching event, which will be hosted by LaunchLab in Stellenbosch on 13 June 2018. Three final winners will receive their portion of R150 000 funding capital, as well as business support from LaunchLab.

Related: How To Be A Social Entrepreneur

In addition to social innovation specialists, media and social development experts, the judging panel will consist of astute business leaders who have successfully walked the entrepreneurship journey.

“Social entrepreneurs are those who see social challenges as opportunities, devise sustainable business solutions to meet those needs, and positively impact many South Africans in the process,” says Keri-Leigh Mac Donald, Executive Director of Nation Builder, an organisation that supports businesses in leading social change in South Africa.

“Social entrepreneurs are the next wave of change makers and social reformers. Nation Builder wants to support and showcase some of these great and emerging home-grown social businesses as a means to challenge us all to think differently when addressing our local social challenges,” she adds.

According to Brandon Paschal, Head of Incubation at LaunchLab, most of the start-ups that the LaunchLab currently work with already have a strong social conscience. “We have worked with many great small businesses in sectors such as mental health, financial inclusion, job creation, empowerment, and sustainability.  We’re excited for them to have this platform with Nation Builder and the broader network of great socially-responsible companies. It is a wonderful way for them to gain more exposure, but also to work with like-minded partners that can help take their businesses forward, without compromising on their social conscience and the greater purpose of their business.”

The winning entrepreneur and their business idea will also be showcased at Nation Builder’s In Good Company conference in Gauteng in August 2018. In addition, they will receive exposure through the various Nation Builder, Mergon and LaunchLab media channels.

“The societal benefits from these enterprises can bring about increased economic activity and opportunities for many more South Africans, while playing a pivotal role in breaking the cycles of social ills that many people are facing daily. The Nation Builder Social Innovation Challenge is a first step in fuelling and highlighting local social innovation solutions,” says Pieter Faure, CEO of Mergon.

Related: 3 Ways For Social Entrepreneurs To Access Fundraising

Submission requirements: Submit a 3-minute video (cell phone footage can be submitted too) of yourself explaining your business idea with your entry form which can be found on the LaunchLab website: http://www.launchlab.co.za/nationbuilder2018

Pitches (video entries) need to focus on providing the following information:

  1. Provide a brief summary of the business/social innovation idea and its history.
  2. What is the particular social issue that the business idea aims to address?
  3. How does the business idea solve or address the social issue?
  4. Explain how the business intends to make money and be sustainable, while clearly describing the target market or customer profile.
  5. What key milestones have been achieved within the venture already?
  6. What is the strategy to grow the business and scale the social impact?
  7. Anything else that the panel needs to know?

Submissions opened on 14 March, and the deadline for online submission entries is 11 May 2018. The top ten finalists will be notified by the end of May. Finalists’ transport to and accommodation in Stellenbosch for two nights will be provided.

LaunchLab’s terms and conditions apply, and are available to download here:  https://launchlab.co.za/innovationchallenges/competition-terms-conditions/

The three winning pitches will be announced at the pitching event on Wednesday 13 June 2018. The panellists’ decision is final.

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How Your Devices Can Improve Your Business Travel

Dawn Weir, head of kulula work and a veteran business traveller, offers these tech-savvy tips for road-warriors.

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Technology has made business communication and business travel easier than ever, but it’s still possible to have a minor disaster involving your indispensable devices. Dawn Weir, head of kulula work and a veteran business traveller, offers these tech-savvy tips for road-warriors.

Stay on track

Activity trackers can help you stick to your fitness regime by recording step-counts, distances covered, sleep and nutrition. If you don’t fancy wearing one that looks like it’s from the flight-deck of the starship USS Enterprise, others are available which clip onto your ankle or clothing. Many are water-resistant and rugged, but if you prefer to not buy-one, apps like Samsung Health will record and analyse your daily activity.

Related: Kulula Work Brings You The Cheapest Flights Of The Day For Your Business Travel

Power naps

A few bad nights’ sleep while travelling can leave one feeling unfocused and tetchy. Some of us sleep better in hotel-rooms than others, and some can be downright noisy. You can try using earbuds, but we don’t all like having wads of foam stuck into our skulls when trying to slip into the arms of Morpheus. One alternative is to load a white-noise generator on one of your devices. A site like www.mynoise.net has hundreds of soothing sounds, including waves, rain, crackling fireplaces, trickling streams and even Tibetan monasteries.

It might not drown out the sound of the guys returning to the hotel from their “team-building dinner” at 2am, but it’ll help to smooth out the noise of traffic and air-conditioning.

Cancel the chatter and clatter

travelling-for-business

Many business-travellers now swear by noise-cancelling headphones, which block out distractions and racket and can subtly let fellow travelers know that you’d prefer to not engage in lively conversation. Researchers disagree on the effectiveness of binaural beats for everything from creativity to concentration, but many students, academics and entrepreneurs find that they help with focus the mind.

Stay juiced

Most mobile devices have decent battery-life nowadays, but the size and brightness of their screens and the plethora of apps running on them can drain that very quickly. Save your battery by switching off anything you don’t need: BlueTooth, location, mobile data and so on, as well as apps you’re not using. Switching your phone to Flight mode will also save battery power. Travellers increasingly user power-banks to boost battery-life, but Weir suggests reading users’ product reviews before buying one, as some are far more efficient than others.

Related: Flying High With Reliable Travel Partners CANCOM And Kulula

Back up and go

Save your important documents – scans of your passport if you’re travelling internationally – as well as hotel reservations and travel itineraries, and take pictures and screenshots of them on your phone. That all-important PowerPoint presentation? Use a file-hosting service like Dropbox to put it in the cloud so you can access it wherever you need to.

Declutter

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If you’re a regular business traveller make a point of emptying all your luggage every few weeks. You’ll probably find you’ve accumulated flash-drives, USB adaptors and stationery and other stuff that takes up space and adds weight.

Downsize

Everyone from business travelers to backpackers loves the portability of laptops, but while they’re lighter than ever, those with bigger screens can be bulky. One option is to travel with a tablet, which offers the efficiency of a laptop while taking up less space. If you need to do a lot of inputting while you’re on the road, get a flexible keyboard that can be rolled up until need, or pair your tablet or smartphone with a laser projection keyboard. It’s a clever gizmo that projects a full-sized QWERTY keyboard onto any flat surface, allowing you to type pretty much anywhere.

Related: How To Take The Hassle Out Of Business Travel With Kulula Work

Converge

We’ve all seen the infographics showing how smartphones combine all the devices we once owned separately, like cameras, DVD- and CD-players, and that innovation continues. The Belkin Travel Rockstar combines a battery pack, surge protector and charger. It has three plug-ports (you may need an adaptor, depending on which plug configuration you use) and two USB ports.

Still not high-tech enough? Try Pluggage, a smart suitcase produced by luggage brand www.delsey.com that has its own app. It’s available in three sizes and its features include fingerprint ID to lock and unlock it (you can also lock and unlock it using the app), interior lighting and speakers. It weighs itself, has integrated USB chargers for your devices, and GPS tracking notifies you when it’s on a luggage carousel at the airport or being loaded onto or off a flight.

To make your business travel that much easier and to find out more about kulula work call +27 (0)11 285 3050, email sales@kulula.com or visit www.kulula.com/work.

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