Running your own business can be exhilarating and rewarding, but also exhausting. Too often, we see the shiny end result of a successful start up without seeing the years of hard work that went into it. If you’re an entrepreneur, one of the most important ingredients you’ll need to succeed isn’t lots of money or even luck, as many would have you believe – it’s stamina.
Many of us look at successful entrepreneurs and attribute their success to a single brilliant idea, or to their social connections. While these can be important ingredients to success, the actual backbone of “making it” as an entrepreneur is something different altogether: it’s having both physical and mental stamina.
Physical stamina means having enough energy to apply yourself and work hard through long workdays, late nights and even weekends. Mental stamina is possibly even more important though, as it’s essential for dealing with the stress of not earning a salary, the inevitable setbacks you’ll face as a business owner, and an ever-changing world where you need to be highly adaptable.
So as a small business owner, how do you make sure you build the mental and physical stamina to keep going?
1. Create work boundaries
Speak to any small business owner and they’ll tell you that it’s very difficult to switch off from thinking about their business, so they put in long hours of work every day and night. But if you do this, you’ll burn out very quickly and run out of the energy you need to keep going in the long run.
To prevent this, set firm boundaries for yourself for when you work and when you don’t (for example never past 6pm on a weekday). It’s also a good idea to take a holiday once or twice a year where you completely switch off for a longer period of time.
2. Cultivate balance
It seems counter-intuitive, but the more your life contains things other than work, the more energy you’ll have when it comes to work. Things like a regular exercise routine, having hobbies outside of work and carving out time to relax can all help you do this.
Marc Levi, co-founder of Tarloy Properties, prioritises personal engagements first before work meetings to make sure he fits them in to his week.
“By diarising personal commitments first, you make sure that they don’t take a back seat to work and never happen,” he says.
3. Do what you enjoy
If you get up everyday to do what you love to do, you’ll naturally have more motivation to keep going, which in turn will increase your chances of success. In other words, start a business in an industry you feel passionate about, rather than one you’re ambivalent about but that seems lucrative.
Simon Black, Managing Director of Black Pepper Properties agrees, saying that stamina as an entrepreneur is best gained by focusing on delivering to your customers, rather than simply concentrating on the money you’re trying to make.
4. Surround yourself with a good support network
A good support network can include friends or family you can relax with, business partners who share a common vision, and professional mentors who can guide you strategically. Gary Keizan, director of guided tour company SafariScapes & Aviation, says that finding other entrepreneurs in non-competing businesses is also an invaluable support.
“By meeting up with other people in the same boat as you, you can share your learnings, stresses and challenges to help you along the way,” he says.
5. See the bigger picture
Seeing the bigger picture means knowing that failures are inevitable but that they can actually help you get to your end goal. Maybe investor funding falls through, or you get a bad product review, or you don’t hit the sales targets you projected.
Whatever happens, failure is a great teacher and can propel you further along your path than if everything goes perfectly. A crucial part of this is focus: Keizan says that many entrepreneurs suffer from what he calls “shiny penny syndrome”, where they’re distracted by every shiny opportunity or “penny” they come across. Rather, successful business owners who go the distance are ones who harness the power of focus to move in one purposeful direction.
Having the stamina to keep going as an entrepreneur takes work, and it’s something we don’t often think we need when starting our own business.
Success rarely happens overnight – in fact, it’s usually the result of a long road of continued determination to reach your goal. Building in ways to ensure you nurture both mental and physical stamina means you’re more likely to get there.
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Enter The 2018 Entrepreneur Of The Year® Competition To Win Prizes Over R2 Million
The Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS aims to honour, benefit and uplift South African SMEs. Now in its 30th year, the competition celebrates excellence in entrepreneurship, serving as an inspiration to others to succeed in the world of business.
Amid the current political optimism, entrepreneurs should be especially inspired by the continued commitment to SME support which emerged as a consistent theme in both the 2018 State of the Nation Address and the National Budget Speech.
This is according to Christo Botes, spokesperson for the 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, who believes that this continued focus evidences Government’s recognition of the vital role played by entrepreneurs in enabling economic growth.
Continued celebration of excellence in entrepreneurship
Speaking in light of the launch of the 2018 competition in Johannesburg today, Botes says that this long-deserved recognition of the SME sector only further validates the competition’s unwavering commitment to celebrating excellence in entrepreneurship and fostering future economic growth.
“Now in our 30th year, this renowned competition continues to pay homage to the fearless South African entrepreneurs who dedicate themselves to their enterprises and businesses: driving growth, combatting unemployment and contributing towards the country’s economic development.”
“It is therefore wonderful to see the public sector taking the required steps to improving the environment in which these entrepreneurs operate in order to promote further growth in the sector.”
Botes, who is also executive director at Business Partners Limited (BUSINESS/PARTNERS) has been involved in the competition since its inception in 1988, “Looking back over the last 30 years, this competition has evolved from an internal competition that recognized BUSINESS/PARTNERS’ clients only, to a nation-wide search for outstanding South African-based entrepreneurs, with Sanlam as our valued partner.”
Rewards for successful local business owners
He says that the competition continues to reward successful local business owners for the valuable contributions they make to grow their local communities and economies, and aims to inspire others to do the same. “As our 30th- anniversary year, we’re hoping to see even more entrepreneurs enter.
The competition is open to all South African-based businesses and prizes are awarded for the following categories: Overall Entrepreneur of the Year®, Emerging Business Entrepreneur of the Year®, Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year®, Medium Business Entrepreneur of the Year®, Job Creator of the Year and Innovator of the Year,” says Botes.
Botes adds that this year, the 2018 competition will also recognize a South African entrepreneur for a Lifetime Achievement award.
“The purpose of this specially nominated award is to recognize an entrepreneur who has made a significant contribution to the South Africa economy and has grown their business from start-up to large-scale, perhaps even multi-national corporation. We want to reward the individuals who have dedicated their lives to building our economy and inspiring others to do the same.”
What the winners can expect
The 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition, sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, offers prizes valued at over R 2 million, which includes cash prizes of R 70 000 for each main category winner, and R200 000 for the overall winner.
Competition winners will also receive valuable mentorship support, networking opportunities and national media exposure.
Botes says that in celebrating 30 years of searching for entrepreneurial talent in all sectors of the economy, the competition remains fiercely committed to its cause in 2018.
What the judges are looking for?
“The judges are looking for entrepreneurs that have succeeded against the odds, either by carving out a niche market for their product or service offering, or by succeeding in a very competitive environment. Perseverance and endurance, innovation and agility are some of the qualities we look for in the entrepreneur.”
Botes adds that there are also a number of quantitative competition measures, such as turnover growth, profitability, owners’ equity growth, positive cash flows and job creation that play a part in the competition’s judging process.
Entrepreneurs are encouraged to enter the competition and can do so by downloading the entry form online at www.eoy.co.za. They can also interact with fellow entrepreneurs, past winners and entrants on the competition’s social media platforms www.twitter.com/@EOY_SA and www.facebook.com/EOY.SA. The closing date for the competition is 31 May 2018.
This Podcast Interview Will Inspire Every Business Women
Fumani Mthembi and Teresa Oakley-Smith, both MDs and founders of their own successful businesses, share their personal stories of fighting gender and racial stereotypes in pursuit of a dream. Mthembi and Oakley-Smith, spoke at an Investec Women in Leadership event, entitled, “The Courage to Change.” We bring you this inspirational podcast.
International Women’s Day highlights the imperative role women play in business, the economy and households. Whilst women have come a long way in terms of recognising their worth, we’ve got a long way to go – and that starts in the boardroom. According to an EY study, there is overwhelming evidence that links gender parity to innovation and improved financial performance.
Businesses with women in top management roles experienced an increase in “innovation intensity” and were worth, on average, about US$40m more than companies with only male leaders. Yet on average, in SA, women earn about 73% of what men earn. (Ipsos 2017 survey)
In a frank and honest chat with Investec, two inspirational female leaders, Fumani Mthembi and Teresa Oakley-Smith, share their extraordinary business journey from having “a big dream” to surviving through the mean and lean times.
Fumani Mthembi, is a founding member of the Pele Energy Group – South Africa’s largest 100% black-owned independent power production and development firm – and MD of its research and development subsidiary, Knowledge Pele (KP), and Teresa Oakley-Smith, is the founder of Diversi-T, a change management consultancy with a focus on transformation and diversity training.
Listen to the podcast below for the full interview.
Here are some of the stand-out highlights from the interview:
1. Overcoming challenges female entrepreneurs face
Both Fumani and Teresa believe that, based on their respective experiences, men don’t take women seriously.
“It’s very common in my industry to attend a meeting and have all the men address each other and not you,” says Fumani.“So I’ll be sitting there and they’ll all have their backs turned and they’ll be having a conversation amongst themselves.”
“I’ve had to work twice or three times as hard as male competitors to gain a contract; I’ve had to bend over backwards to actually make sure that my delivery is ten times better,” says Teresa.
2. Breaking down stereotypes
“In households of dual income, often the woman is bringing in more than the man, yet when we have to approach institutions of power, we feel somehow belittled, or we somehow lack our courage in an appreciation of the power we actually hold,” says Teresa.
“One of my clients is a very large retail company and they only have one woman out of a board of 40, and I was challenging them by saying: Who does the shopping? Women hold the purse strings, women go to the supermarkets, so why are they not represented? Why are their voices not heard?”
3. Encouraging diversity in the workplace
Teresa work centres around helping employers create work environments that encourage intersectionality, and recognise women’s unique needs.
“Does your company provide proper facilities for breastfeeding women and supply feminine hygiene products in case a female staff member is in need?” asks Teresa.
4. Educating about the need for empowerment
Fumani’s aim when starting her company was to transform society through knowledge and power and make a difference through a legacy that creates a new kind of context in which people like herself – a young, black female entrepreneur – could operate. “We wanted to spread the justice dividend and to use our privilege responsibly,” she says.
In her experience, banks struggle to recognise the need for women to seek finance for start-ups, because “they don’t need to take on that kind of risk. And that’s the thing about this dual economy, and as women we represent that second economy,” she says
“We’re a new risk; the things we want to do in this economy are new. Everything we do and present is new and we can be disruptive. So while we can ask for change, we can also be the change, and we can create these institutions that really understand us.”
5. Seizing the power within you
Both women agree that recognising the challenge of being a woman in South Africa, should lead to women standing together and reclaiming their power. “We can only own our power if we join together as women of all races, ages and abilities and understand each other,” says Teresa.
Out of Fumani’s 25-strong staff complement, only five employees are men. She puts that down to the talent and intellect shown by her women employees. But this female-male mix is far from the norm. Why? “What I’ve often seen is that women are very risk averse they’re incredibly bright.
We just don’t want to take a bet on ourselves,” says Fumani. “All these institutions are growing on the back women’s efforts. There’s a reason why 54% of graduate are women – we can do it, it’s just a matter of taking that chance on yourself.”
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