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Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship

Are You an Entrepreneur?

Are you a highly innovative game-changer, or simply a self-starter? And what’s the difference anyway?

Tim Bishop

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ENTREPRENEUR – A term used far too lightly and what right do you have to call yourself one… and how does this go-at-it-alone philosophy affect SA digital?

We all go through stages where we latch onto a word or phrase and over-use it to the point where it loses its impact or real meaning. One example that comes to mind immediately is the word awesome. Awe is defined as ‘an overwhelming feeling of wonder and admiration’ or ‘a feeling of profound respect.’ Suffice to say the burger you just wolfed down, no matter how delicious is not awesome.

Another term which is suffering at the hands of over and incorrect use is entrepreneur.

Do a quick search on Twitter as to the number of people who include the word entrepreneur in their profile. It’s a wonder the global economy is in such a precarious position given how many entrepreneurs are broadcasting their brilliant existence via social media.

Let’s be honest, there are some fundamental criteria for being identified by society, rather than just by you and your mum, as an entrepreneur.

The makings of an adventurer

You are someone who has put their financial neck on the line, be it your house, savings or little Timmy’s university fund. You have put your existing career or job at risk by actively pursuing an idea, opportunity or vision. Prominent American political economist Robert B Reich defined the meaning as someone who also possess strong qualities in the areas of leadership, management, team building and has the ability to succeed, albeit success is never guaranteed.. .

Entrepeneur is therefore a rather big compliment to give yourself, as you are essentially saying as your career description ‘I am an all round brilliant human being who was clever enough to have (or take) a great idea and build it through my extemporary vision, skills in  people and structural management. Did I also mention my strong leadership and mentoring skills?’

Entrepreneur (a good one – as surely there has to be varying types) is not a title you should bestow upon yourself, instead it should be a term that someone might describe you as, in recognition of your achievements and the multiple qualities described above. I believe that Richard Branson is of course a great entrepreneur, I also believe that Kylie has a wonderful bottom, neither of which I’m guessing they choose to lob into introductory conversations about themselves.

The standard

There are of course people like Branson who genuinely are referred to by all as an entrepreneur, and have every right to use that label to describe themselves should they wish. But let’s be honest we’re in minority territory here and even the best generally don’t.

Entrepreneur must not be confused with a business starter, business owner, having an idea, freelancing, or anything else that falls outside traditional employment. Also, don’t confuse entrepreneurial with being an entrepreneur. Likewise the word ‘serial entrepreneur’ is also increasingly making the rounds of business lexicon in a thoroughly meaningless way. You are either an entrepreneur or you are not. You cannot be a serial doctor or a serial accountant.

Which brings me to entrepreneurial. The way most people refer to themselves as an ‘entrepreneur’ would define my housekeeper as an ‘entrepreneur’ and a good one at that. Whenever we need more help (extra cleaning, gardening, etc) she pulls in her friends and family and takes a cut of the wages.

She may not fit all of the qualities defined here for being a true entrepreneur but it certainly ticks a lot of boxes and she is surely more worthy of being labeled an entrepreneur than most who use that label so easily. Instead I would view her business acumen and practice as being entrepreneurial.

So, given that entrepreneur is such a widely abused term in SA which has been diluted to mean ‘going at it alone in some way’, I would like to highlight the danger within industry sectors where ‘entrepreneurship’ (from now on: going-at-it-aloneship) is widely promoted and glamourised. This buzz and promotion is flippantly given and seen by many as the answer to the country’s economic challenges, which in under privileged areas it may well be, but in over privileged areas such as digital and advertising I strongly disagree.

Going-at-it-aloneship

This glamorising of ‘go-it-aloneship’ is irresponsible and should be promoted with caution, not unlike gambling. The difference is that gambling comes with a health warning (responsible gambling) and so should the promotion of ‘go-at-it-aloneship’ as it is just as dangerous and frequently produces more losers than winners.

Responsibly promoting this ‘go-at-it-aloneship’ should at the very least be to those who tick the big boxes of entrepreneurial flair, have a lower risk of failure and crucially understand all of the risks both financial and personal.

At least gamblers have support structures and help lines for when things go wrong, ‘go-at-it-aloners’ do not! We have warnings all over any financial and investment adverts as well as the aforementioned highly regulated gambling industry. But what gives us the right to glamourise and oversimplify the fine art of business success with so much financial and personal collateral at risk?

My next point is that the promotion of ‘go-at-it-aloneship’ creates talent dilution, not least in industries with an already starving talent pool. There is no doubt that when great minds and visionaries get together, amazing things can and do happen.

Diluting strengths vs capitalising on them

In my industry, the digital industry, where we already have a huge talent shortage, the very best people that you would really want in your team are already ‘going-at-it-aloners,’ and to be fair in a few exceptional cases, worthy tech and digital entrepreneurs.

What this creates is something that continues to dilute our depth and quality versus world class digital standards.

It does that by fragmenting great brains through the creation of hundreds of small digital companies or talent silos, headed up by the ‘going-at-it-aloner’, each of which is consumed with the 50% wastage of running that business. Less time for digital brilliance and breakthroughs when you have to invoice, pay salaries, keep the VAT man happy and so on.

More often than not our gifted but creatively lonely ‘go-at-it- aloner’ is the sole driver without the benefit of true collaborative and strategic business thinking, resulting in offerings that can quite often only be extremely niche, spread too thin or competing in an overcrowded and competitive market fighting for the same small slice of pie.

The beauty of teamwork

Don’t underestimate the time, money and the collective brains required to be truly digitally innovative and deliver world class products and campaigns on a large scale. With very few exceptions, these silos will never unlock the true potential of the visionary spearheading them.

The best analogy for the digital industry in South Africa? What we should and could be as an industry is an FC Barcelona, World Cup winners Spain, Manchester United or the entire Premier League in football terms. In essence a team made up of the cream of the crop.

Instead we have a culture of ‘go-at- it-aloneship’ that tells each of these players that they can easily setup and manage teams themselves, make lots of money, all run their own stadiums and cleaning staff and then perhaps a Russian billionaire will come and buy them for squillons of dollars. In most cases, this may spawn the odd (but rare) good team, many mediocre ones and lots of minnows, struggling to attract fans and financial returns and of course scrapping over world class team talent.

The reality is the greatness of those teams lies in the collaborative teamwork of all those combined  talents which unite to create something truly world class.

Of course FC Barcelona and Manchester United wouldn’t exist if someone hadn’t started the team, but you get my point.

So what then is the answer?

Instead of blindly promoting the ‘go-at-it-alone it will be great’ philosophy, there needs to be other outlets for entrepreneurial minded individuals.

Companies need to look at promoting and harnessing the essence of entrepreneurial spirit. Offering infrastructure and the relevant rewards, ownership and control for people with the added benefit of personal de-risking with a ‘not so hard landing’ should it not work out

I believe that true entrepreneurs can be born and housed within companies, they too will need to fit the criteria as discussed, and they still carry risk, it may not be monetary, but in order to succeed as a true entrepreneur you will always be making some kind of personal sacrifice. Keeping the brains and entrepreneurial drive together can only mean great things for digital or any other industry on the world stage.

Alternatively, in a land of ‘go-at-it-aloneship’,  most of those labeling themselves  tech and digital ‘entrepreneurs’ need to drop the self appointed labels and look to create an ‘entrpreurlaboration’ approach where by collaborating and joining these small silos of great talents would deliver creative  solutions, products and ideas far greater than the sum of the parts.

As a rule of thumb, for collaboration to be effective it requires leadership. Not typically ‘do as I say’ leadership but rather a form that is social or decentralized, a form of leadership that can be liquid and malleable. By that I mean where a skill set is strong a natural leadership will be formed and where that person was weaker they would automatically look to support the leadership of another in the group more suited to particular task with the shared goal of a common vision.

Entrpreurlaboration

The collective, collaborative leadership should all of our ‘go-at-it aloners’ work with an entrepreurlaboration approach would have a profound effect on South Africa’s digital landscape and its global competitiveness

Why? Because it is a way of coordinating ideas from the best of breed to generate wider and more impactful knowledge. Think of it as an ongoing brainstorm with the best and brightest brains in the field, with people who have insight and the willing to take what’s inside your head and make it better.

Collaboration with a selected few firms as opposed to collaboration with a large number of different firms has repeatedly been shown to positively impact firm performance and innovation outcomes.

Neither of the above are likely, but the constant dilution of our nations great brains in this way is detrimental to a country trying to claim it’s rightful place in the global digital economy, but if you must go at it alone, please do it with caution, it’s hard out there

For all of you self-labeled ‘entrepreneurs’, let us instead park the egotistical titles and work harder to make the digital landscape greater. Entrepeurlaboration can create true digital greatness for South Africa and within that is there is still room for others to think of you and label you as a true entrepreneur.

Tim Bishop spearheaded Prezence Digital UK’s expansion into South Africa in 2002 and is currently the company’s CTO. With more than 18 years in the online and mobile industry, his focus is 'mobile for the masses' and he has been instrumental in high profile mobile web and application developments, brand strategy and enhanced user experiences throughout Africa.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Mukhtar Mukuddem

    Jun 21, 2012 at 13:58

    Lots of food for thought here Tim. Allow me to respond (from my humble perch)…

    As South Africans, we tend to have the need to be seen as Entrepreneurial for a number of reason:
    1 – Ego
    2 – ‘Last Man Standing’ Thinking / ‘First Man to Think of Something New’ Thinking
    3 – I don’t want a Job thinking – Being an Entrepreneur is simply another name for a guy who ”works” when he feels like it – and plays golf on Wed with other Entrepreneurs, who may or may not be useful contacts later on in life.

    I think the word you are looking for in South African terms is a little word that needs to be stuck before most of the peoples names wanting to bear this truly ambitious word – Nascent. So, we are a society full of nascent entrepreneurs, all waiting for the same thing – to be born, to become alive. The reality is so so different. The work, the sweat, the luck (spelled h a r d w o r k) the bits and and bobs (and yes, figuring out how to juggle a few rand to pay all the bills is sometimes so rewarding, but for many it will simply be another ‘job’ ( or just over broke) situation -where playing golf at all becomes a luxury in and of itself, never mind a midweek break to connect.

    As a South African business person, I too struggle with the idiocy of fragmentation (you can quote me on that) I have to contend with daily. I submit a quotation for a job, and some small garage developer wins out over me because his overhead is non existent. Later, when the client realises he has made a mistake, he will call me to come and fix the mess, often at twice the price of the original quote (look around at the all WordPress Theme specialists doing websites) – they are all very entrepreneurial and completely missing the point of work – building a craft one can be proud of, chasing excellence in your chosen profession. But we do end up with what we have spawned here at the bottom tip of Africa. A mess, a hodge podge of skills thrown together to try and fashion an industry of some credibility – designers, developers, product managers, all trying to get ahead. But still fragmented. Broken up, and not a team of players.

    So what if they choose titles like Entrepreneur? Does it matter? No, it does not. They will expose themselves as nascent, or even less flatteringly as substance less, very quickly. The clients will wake up and smell the (instant) coffee, and realise that there is more to the business of media and technology than simply calling up a website and copying it to a small screen. That building quality comes at a price. And that doing business with Entrepreneurs can come at a very high price…

    PS: To those who have made it through three years of ‘go it aloneship’, well done, you getting there, and maybe one day you will have a ‘title’ to use on your card. Now, get back to work..lunch time is over…

  2. Wendy Burger

    Jun 28, 2012 at 08:24

    You are right, there is a huge difference between being an entrepreneur and a self starter. I am definitely a self starter – I took a risk of starting up an Administrative Support business rather than face unemployment. I offered a win-win solution to my then employer who subsequently became a client. To those entrepreneurs or go at it alone who are spending 50% of your time on the administration of running your business, there are self starters, like me, who can take the burden off your shoulders to keep you focused on your talent and skills. Wendy founder of Admin without Borders, http://www.virtual-admin.co.za

  3. Carl Muller

    Jul 5, 2012 at 08:45

    I live by the Entrepreneurs’ Credo:

    I do not choose to be a common man
    It’s my right to be uncommon – If I can

    I seek opportunity – not security

    I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after me.

    I want to take the calculated risk, to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed.

    I refuse to barter incentive for a dole;

    I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence,

    The thrill of fulfilment to the stale calm of utopia.

    I will not trade my freedom for beneficence nor my dignity for a hand-out.

    I will never cower before any master nor bend to any threat.

    It is my heritage to stand erect, proud and unafraid; to think and act for myself, to enjoy the benefit of my creations and to face the world boldly.

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Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship

7 Skills Every Entrepreneur Should Adopt Today

There are certain skills that any entrepreneur can adopt to help build a business and shape their future.

Nicholas Bell

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The road taken by the entrepreneur used to be the one least travelled. The one where only the bold dared to tread and few understood the risk or benefitted from the reward. Today, the road may be one travelled by many but it still comes with challenges and obstacles that can trip up the unwary. The best way to thrive, is to learn from other entrepreneurs, using their learnings and mistakes to sidestep the challenges and embrace the opportunities.

Here are seven skills that any entrepreneur can apply to their journey today:

1. A vision

Know exactly what you want. Have a clear idea of your end goal. Write it down, verbalise it, embrace it. This is how you know exactly where your steps will take you. Your vision is what defines the strategic goals of your company and what helps you create a business plan that will get you where you want to go.

2. Ask questions

Question yourself, your plans, your strategy, your business plans and your decisions. This is a critical skill that will ensure that you are constantly driving yourself to be better tomorrow than you are today. By challenging yourself at every turn you will refine your vision and ensure you are always on the right path.

3. Passion and energy

Nobody else is going to be passionate about your business. Nobody else has the energy to take it where it has to go. It is entirely up to you. This may sound extreme, but without these two key qualities you will battle to take your business through the complexities that lie ahead and onwards into long-term success.

4. A work ethic

Like passion and energy, a work ethic is critical. This is your business and your vision so you need to put in the hours. And there are a lot of hours.

If you’re not prepared for the weekends, late nights and unexpected holiday disruptions, then you may not be ready for the demands of being an entrepreneur.

5. Create opportunity

While you may be the vision, the passion and the workhorse of your business, it is important to remember that your company can only go so far with only one person behind the wheel. Learn how to build a team and focus your energy on building something bigger than yourself. Your drive should not be just about building a successful business, but creating opportunities for others.

6. Communication

Throughout your journey you will need to share your vision, ideals and business plans with your employees and your executives. They have to buy into what you are planning, to be fully engaged with the work that they do. This means you have to learn how to communicate clearly and create a transparent culture so people feel part of something and committed to what it represents.

7. Sales

Ultimately, you want your business to grow and this means mastering the art of selling. Regardless of your business proposition, it is likely you need customers to buy into your product or service. So, learn how to sell. A large part of this magic formula is made up of the passion, energy and work ethic you’ve already mastered, the rest is all about relationships, communication and hooking the clients.

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Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship: The Secret To Reaching Entrepreneurial Success And Fulfilment In Life

Let 2019 be the year of positive transformation for you personally and for your business or organisation! If not now, when!?

Dirk Coetsee

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It is my passion and life’s’ work to bring the secrets to success and fulfilment to the forefront of entrepreneurs’ minds. It is actually not so much of a secret as most of us are aware of this albeit at a subconscious or intuitive level.

Why are we all not living examples of success, fulfilment and happiness of using this secret to our advantage if it is the ‘most worthwhile secret’ to unlock?

Well mostly because of our own doubts, fears and insecurities as well as leading complex and multi-faceted lives as entrepreneurs, spouses, partners, mothers and fathers. We cannot be expected to reach a level of expertise within all subject matter on the face of this planet, in one life time.

So much is written and said about positive thinking, the ability to attract to you what you want and designing your own life the way you want it as if there is one magic pill, or tool, or philosophy that can give you that.

Well , all poetic and beautiful theories indeed but without proper context, without considering that we are all unique and have different opinions, worldviews , beliefs about ourselves and  religious or non-religious beliefs, it becomes very hard to believe that a ‘one size fits all and very generic approach to success and the unlocking of your own potential is the one answer.

Psychotherapy, prayer, Meditation, affirmations, Mantras, hypnosis, NLP, Leadership strategies and any form of therapy or tool that you can use to enhance your sense of fulfilment, purpose and success is only valid and can potentially ‘move mountains’ if you believe in it, diligently apply it without fail, more importantly, can only be truly effective when the aforesaid tool or strategy authentically resonates with who you truly are.

Why do millions upon millions of people bounce from one book, one guru, one course, one tool to the next without ever reaching a sense of sustained fulfilment and success?? Various reasons do exist for this phenomenon and this writing will explore some of, these aforementioned reasons.

Related: Entrepreneurship: Why You Should Meditate

Is success and fulfilment only reserved for the select few? Those that are regarded as super successful by society, the Jack Mas’, the Jeff Bezos’, the Tony Robbins’ of this world constitute less than 0.01% of the world population yet a high number of entrepreneurs secretly or not so secretly harbour the desire to emulate them. Is this but a pipe dream? No gambling man would take that odds, for sure!??

As a business writer, an entrepreneur, a Peak performance business, life coach and trainer I am privileged to experience entrepreneurship and the ‘art of fulfilment’ from various experiential angles and here is what I can state emphatically:

Being fulfilled can only be possible when –

  • You take extreme responsibility and care for your mental development. This means to engage in daily practise of aligning your thoughts to your inspiring personal vision and purpose. This means to enhance your existing empowering beliefs and to systematically remove your doubts, fears and insecurities.
  • You take extreme responsibility for your ‘biochemistry’. As a general example, Inflammation in your body, vitamin deficiencies, food allergies, and the constant release of cortisol (stress hormone) can cause mood swings, even depression. So irrespective of your strong attempts to improve your thinking, doing meditation and various forms of other practises will have no real positive effect if your ‘biochemistry’ is not optimal.
  • You take extreme responsibility for the state of your body. Your body is the tool used for the expression of your mental capacity as well as a mirror to your internal ‘biochemistry’. Your body is a tool for taking expressive action and when disrespected will lower your levels of performance dramatically.

There are various alternatives to going to the gym or following generic diets. We are all unique and we must find ways to move and train our bodies that really resonates with what we enjoy and that is in alignment with our unique personalities. Do not simply fall for the latest fitness fad or diet. Do what serves the unique you the best and what you enjoy. Life is too short to follow gym routines and fitness that you do not enjoy purely because they are popular. Do some research and do some free trials to see what resonates with you.

  • When you are authentically you. Trying to impress others, attempting to live the life that your parents, teachers and government wants for you is a sure path to leading an unfulfilled and depressed life. Be you. But first find out who you really are. Embark on the journey towards understanding what you truly value in life. Bravery and a willingness to fail combined with a keen focus on learning from each failure is a key requirement to this journey of discovery.

I can clearly tell you who you are not. You are not your job, your likes and dislikes, and you are most certainly not a personality type. The depths of you is on an existential scale. Do not live life on the periphery, meaning just do a job, have a family, pay bills and then die. Be brave enough to take a ‘deep dive’ into your own psychology and discover your awe inspiring potential and discover who you really are.

Related: Peak Performance: How To Get The Best Out Of Your Business Team

  • When you find your life’s purpose.

‘The two most important events in your life is when you are born and when you find out why’ – Mark Twain

My life took a dramatic turn for the positive when I fully came to terms with the fact that my life’s’ purpose is to serve others in coaching them towards actualising their life’s dreams. If your job is not a passion – ‘Move, you are not a tree’-. What a misery when you spend eight to twelve hours a day within a job that you do not thoroughly enjoy. You perform exponentially better anyway when doing something that you love. As an example I wrote this article on a Saturday and not for a second did it feel like work, nor did I feel I am missing out on other things, it is a joyful sharing and expression of what I love doing.

It is time to take a long, hard and positively introspective look at yourself in the mirror as after all the only place where a personal and positive transformation can take place is within yourself. All the tools required to totally transform is within you it is just not apparent to you as it is hidden underneath your own doubts, fears, and insecurities. An external search for ‘the right guru’, or the right philosophy or tool will never be sufficient onto its own.

External parties such as spiritual gurus, coaches, trainers are simply there as mirrors to your own potential, and it is  absolutely good to have a mentor , coach, or guru but ultimately realise that you have to do the work and that the answers must come from within. The problem with ‘external’ and generic answers is that it never came from you. Only when the answers truly come from your authentic purpose driven self, do they form the right path for you.

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Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship

What Is Entrepreneurship

Do you ever wonder what is entrepreneurship? The car you drive, the smartphone you use and even the clothes you wear are an example of entrepreneurship in action. Ford, Apple, Levi’s and so many successful brands that have outlived their creators were built from the dreams of visionaries who became entrepreneurs.

Diana Albertyn

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Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Bill Gates don’t just have the billions in their bank accounts in common – these three successful people all embarked on a path that many consider every day. They are just three of the almost 600 million entrepreneurs in the world, but how, why and what are they doing exactly? This question lies at the heart of what is entrepreneurship, that we answer below.

Entrepreneurship, according to experts, involves creating, building and scaling one or more businesses to generate a profit. But there’s a lot more to the concept of entrepreneurship as the likes of Bezos, Musk and Gates have demonstrated. For some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship is also about changing the world through solving problems.

The most famous, wealthiest and most impactful entrepreneurs are initiators of social change, like Patrice Motsepe and Oprah Winfrey, creators of innovative products like Richard Branson or architects of life-changing solutions like Elon Musk.

Entrepreneurship isn’t just about escaping an eight-to-five job, a horrible boss, inflexible hours or earning creative and financial freedom. Entrepreneurship involves creating a life and career built on your own terms and trying to make the world around you better for you and everyone else.

What Is Entrepreneurship: A Definition

The definition of an entrepreneur is both basic and broad. But in order to understand the value of entrepreneurship to the world, entrepreneurs’ contributions need to be defined and recognised. While an entrepreneur’s aim for starting a business may be to make money, the methods in which an entrepreneur chooses to generate profit vary depending on which avenue they decide to take.

If you start out as a full-time employee with a side hustle, your business could grow to the point where you quit your job and become a fully-fledged business-owner. The distance between these two points doesn’t change the definition of what an entrepreneur is. You’re an entrepreneur at both stages of your business lifecycle, even if your entrepreneurial venture remains a side hustle.

The key trait of an entrepreneur is that they see the world differently and put no limit to their imagination. That’s how Microsoft, Amazon, Tesla and Virgin were born. It took bold dreamers who innovated their way to changing the world and in just a few short years communication, transportation and even human location has changed. Elon Musk is sending people to inhabit Mars while Bill Gates and Steve Jobs made it possible for computers to become part of every household and in the palm of our hands.

Related: 4 Types Of Business Models To Suit Your Business Concept

What Is Entrepreneurship: Key Characteristics of Entrepreneurs

business-man-characteristics

Entrepreneurship is experienced differently by different people, so we found out what defines an entrepreneur for some of the most celebrated entrepreneurs in South Africa and the world:

Entrepreneurship is thinking differently

“It’s no secret that we need to create more jobs in South Africa, and entrepreneurship is one of the keys to unlocking the creation of these jobs. What I have realised is; big business drives efficiency. Entrepreneurs don’t wake up in the morning thinking ‘I’m going to create jobs today’, instead they are driven by the idea of ‘I’m going to destroy jobs today’. And in that, they create jobs.” – Adrian Gore, CEO, and founder of Discovery Holdings.

Entrepreneurship is going off the beaten track

“I’ve had opportunities to work in the corporate world, but I’ve chosen not to at this point. I believe I can have far more impact creating jobs, helping women advance, and making a difference to society as an entrepreneur.” – Khanyi Dhlomo, founder of the 100% black-owned media company, Ndalo Media.

Entrepreneurship is a challenge, but not insurmountable

“Nobody talks about entrepreneurship as a survival, but that’s exactly what it is and what nurtures creative thinking. Running that first shop taught me business is not financial science; it’s about trading: Buying and selling.” – Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop.

Entrepreneurship is problem-solving

“Start something that matters! Until you can identify a problem you are passionate about addressing, you have no business starting a business.” – Katleho Tsoku, CEO of Spark* South Africa.

Entrepreneurship is about the details

“When you think of starting a company, you can’t do a me-too company. Really understand what you’re doing that nobody else is doing. Care about the details.” – Jessica Alba, CEO of The Honest Company.

Related: Funding And Resources For Young SA Entrepreneurs

Why Is Entrepreneurship Important?

why-is-entrepreneurship-important

Across the globe, and especially in South Africa, entrepreneurs and small businesses are being tasked with the massive responsibility of reviving the economy and creating millions of new jobs. Entrepreneurship is important because as the entrepreneurial ecosystem improves, the environment becomes more conducive for businesses to grow and thrive.

Not only does entrepreneurship have a role to play in job creation, entrepreneurship serves as an incubator of innovation. Experts attribute leapfrog innovation, research, and development to entrepreneurship. Therefore, entrepreneurship nurtures innovation enabling the creation of new ventures, products, and technologies to the economy that increases GDP and the country’s standard of living.

Why Consider Entrepreneurship as a Career Path

Surely having a stable income and being able to pay your bills every month is far more valuable than risking it all to start (and succeed at) your own business? Probably not, because over 600 million people worldwide have ventured into entrepreneurship. But, what is entrepreneurship’s appeal? What’s the big deal?

Although every entrepreneur has a unique reason for abandoning the ‘normal’ way of earning a living and pursing a life of being their own boss and making a difference, the most common motives for becoming an entrepreneur include:

Making a meaningful impact

Ending world hunger, creating a game-changing product and exploring other planets have the golden thread of entrepreneurship running through them. The entrepreneurs who started some of the most successful businesses today aimed to make the world better with their ideas. Essentially, entrepreneurship is a means to build a brand in service of others. However, there are some entrepreneurs whose entrepreneurial goal is quick profit to fund their noble causes. These are social entrepreneurs, and for them creating a better world is the aim behind building their empire.

Acquiring independence

Sometimes being the boss is better than having one, especially when you struggle with restrictions, briefs and authority. Entrepreneurs often feel they’re being held back and could be doing things more effectively given the freedom to do so. Perhaps you feel your creativity is being stifled in your current position and feel you could be more successful on your own terms.

Seeking flexibility

Besides being free within the work environment, entrepreneurs also prefer flexible working hours. Clocking in at 8am and leaving at 5pm is not conducive to them giving of their best. Many self-employed people are lifestyle entrepreneurs who need flexi-hours either because of family commitments or because they are studying part-time and need to balance their studies and full-time employment.

Solving unemployability

Due to certain restrictions, like a criminal record, or unfortunate events like retrenchment, some people become entrepreneurs by default, in order to make a living and continue to afford to pay their expenses. Creating new opportunities for yourself is also the answer to new graduates who are too inexperienced to fill available positions. Starting your own business could be the answer to your career struggles.

Being a corporate misfit

If you find yourself in a power struggle with your colleagues for their responsibilities and with a burning desire to understand their roles and how everything fits together with your current position, you may be in the wrong place. Not just the job. Experts have found that entrepreneurs don’t often thrive in corporate environments. Besides finding the atmosphere as a retardant to their growth, office politics and stifled creativity make for an unhappy entrepreneur masquerading as an employee.

Satisfying curiosity

What if you started a business? What would happen if…? That’s the question a lot of entrepreneurs are seeking the answer to. And if you’re not finding it at your workspace and growing more curious for the answer, your next move should probably be an entrepreneurial venture. Remember, your curiosity can still be satisfied by a side hustle so don’t run into entrepreneurship head-on. Continue to experiment and learn more to advance your knowledge, because the more you do the more you learn, and the more you grow.

Chasing ambition

An entrepreneur’s earning potential is limited by only themselves. When you overcome a challenge or achieve an arduous goal, you find yourself continuously growing and achieving more. And it’s not just for a raise, a bonus or promotion. It’s for your own personal growth and the biggest impact is on your business’s bottom line, an entrepreneur will often work harder to achieve more. With a clear goal for their business in mind, they’re more encouraged to navigate challenges.

Related: Business Plan Format Guide

Examples of Successful Entrepreneurship in Action

There are numerous success stories of ordinary people who decided they didn’t want to live an average life, choosing to build their careers instead of being hired to use their skills to build someone else’s vision. Some used their influence and instinct to seize opportunities that no one else saw, while others didn’t allow lack of funding and experience get in the way of building their empires.

Entrepreneur Basetsana Kumalo

basetsana-kumaloWhen Basetsana Kumalo was crowned Miss South Africa in the early 90s, her life completely transformed. But she wanted to be more than a beauty queen, and after placing second in the Miss World competition that same year, she used this platform wisely. Kumalo made connections and cultivated a strong network to launch her professional career.

At only 20, while she was presenting on Top Billing, she negotiated the deal for the magazine TV show to become independent, because she believed the show should be doing better than it was. Her persistence paid off and she bought Top Billing from the SABC and through the deal she secured a 50% partnership in Top Billing’s production company, Tswelopele Productions.

Her current position is founder and CEO of Basetsana Woman Investment Holdings (Pty) Ltd, where she is focusing mainly in the resources, property, media, telecommunications and IT industries. Kumalo’s strategic advice for future female entrepreneurs is, “When you wake up each morning, you have to think of yourself as a brand and act accordingly, how well you do that will define the brand’s success. If you live the brand well, people start to believe in it and buy into it. Over the years, people have shown great confidence in the Bassie brand and that’s been really humbling.”

Entrepreneur Khanyi Dhlomo

khanyi-dhlomAnother media mogul who joined the industry as a 20-year-old is publisher Khanyi Dhlomo. She started her career in media when she became anchor of the SABC’s primetime evening news programme.

She soon moved from TV screens to magazines as the editor of women’s lifestyle magazine True Love, before launching her own publication titled Destiny. Today, Dhlomo is managing director of Ndalo Media, which she founded in collaboration with Media24. Ndalo Media, is the publisher of Destiny magazine, DestinyMAN, ELLE and ELLE Decoration South Africa. She also started digital platform destinyconnect.com.

“Failure is an opportunity to learn and to do better next time,” say Dhlomo on failure and success along her journey. “It’s part of the path to greatness, which was never meant to be smooth.”

In addition to her entrepreneurial ventures, Dhlomo is also an Independent Non-Executive Director on the board of The Foschini Group LTD.

Entrepreneur Albé Geldenhuys

albe-geldenhuys

Even though it sounds like an America product, USN was launched from Geldenhuys’ small flat in Pretoria, where he and his girlfriend mixed creatine formulations with a hand-cracked washing machine. While working at a gym, he had spotted a gap in the sports supplement market for good quality but affordable products. After some research on formulations he created his own product and sold it out of his car after his shift at the gym.

He then discovered that although there was a demand for sports supplements, most people weren’t actually sure how to use the products properly. “That was our in,” he says. “We started educating the market, adding meal plans to our packaging, and focusing on telling people how to use what, and what the results would be if our various products were used correctly.”

It’s taken him 15 years, but he’s built a business that has an international footprint and is worth over R1 billion.

Entrepreneur Max Lichaba

Max LichabaBy the late 1990s Max was a 16-year-old high school dropout helping his mom sell fruit and vegetables on the side of the road. Instead of being defeated, he grabbed the opportunity that presented itself, when Harmony Gold opened a jewellery school to upskill the local community.

“I wasn’t satisfied with my Grade 10 qualification. I didn’t want to be a miner, and I wanted more than selling fruit and veg on the side of the road. I knew I was good with my hands, and I saw the jewellery school as an opportunity,” he says.

That decision would chart a rough course of becoming a business owner, losing his business and rebuilding Lichaba Creations to what it is today – a R120 million business.

“When I look back at my life, it was tough as a kid. There was so much pain and embarrassment. Kids laughed at me because I sold fruit and vegetables at the side of the road and went to a remedial school. I was driven to prove myself. I’m a human being and a man,” recalls Lichaba. “It’s my life, and only I can prove myself. I wouldn’t let my circumstances hold me back. I saw these things as challenges and obstacles I had to face, but also as opportunities. You need to look for opportunity. No one else will do that for you.”

Today Max runs Lichaba Creations alongside restaurant and carwash business Kwa Lichaba and Lichaba Custom Rides, a car customisation and sound business.

Related: Entrepreneurship: How To Develop Your ‘Great Idea’

Entrepreneurship Tips For Start-Ups

Every big business was once a start-up. The most successful brands in the world started small and their founders have grown them steadily through experience and knowledge they’ve attained as they went along. Today they are profit-making empires changing the face of various aspects of our lives.

Here are some of the lessons the founders of some of the most profitable business have learnt on their journey to building markedly successful companies:

Stick it out when the going gets tough

“It’s hard… You’re sinking, your life sucks, and your business isn’t going anywhere. Oh yeah, and you’re not getting any younger, either. And just when you think about finally throwing in the towel and saying ‘‘f’ all this!’ that right there is the test that all founders are eventually faced with: When things get too hard, you decide to stay, or you decide to quit. My advice is this: Before you decide, look at all those great, successful businesses that inspired you to start your own. They stayed.” – Ben Chestnut, Founder of Mailchimp

What are you waiting for?

“If you’ve got an idea, start today. There’s no better time than now to get going. That doesn’t mean quit your job and jump into your idea 100% from day one, but there’s always small progress that can be made to start the movement.” – Kevin Systrom, Co-founder and CEO of Instagram

Set your eyes on success

“What do you need to start a business? Three simple things: Know your product better than anyone, know your customer, and have a burning desire to succeed.” – Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy’s

Find your passion, and fuel it

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” – Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc.

“I knew that if I failed, I wouldn’t regret that, but I knew the one thing I might regret is not trying.” – Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.

Related: 46 Facts You Should Know About Entrepreneurship (Infographic)

Entrepreneurship Quotes About Funding and Finance

Lebo Gunguluza

A large number of start-ups fail – but what makes the difference between that majority and the ones that succeed is not just perseverance, but learning with every failure.

Many successful entrepreneurs believe that failure is the best teacher and that failing presents us with great learning opportunities. But the great thing about being an entrepreneur today is that so many others have come before you and also failed, and you don’t have to only learn from your errors but from their hurdles and how they overcame them as well.

Financial issues can sink your business before it even takes off, so it’s important to learn from investors, inventors and experts on your journey to becoming a successful entrepreneur. Drawing from other entrepreneurs’ experiences and decisions in certain situations can provide enrichment and awareness when approaching business and life challenges.

Sometimes barters are better

“You don’t always need money to acquire things – it’s often possible to use your resources and barter when you don’t have cash. Without funding, tenders or loans, I had made my first million at the age of 27. It’s a principle I still live by today.”

– Lebo Gunguluza, founder of The GEM Group

Gather your available resources

“I borrowed money from my parents and we found money wherever we could. I had also won some cash prizes and appearance money from Miss SA and I put that into the business. I remember the bank asking for collateral, which was a big word for a 21-year-old!”

– Basetsana Kumalo, founder of Basetsana Woman Investment Holdings

What is your (actual) bottom line?

“Never go into business purely to make money. If that’s the motive you’re better off doing nothing.”

– Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group

Ideas For Entrepreneurship

Start-up entrepreneurship has limitless options. All you need is an idea and you can build almost any type of business. From food, to gardens and online sales, you can monetise a variety of ideas if you want to get a business off the ground. Here are just a few ideas for becoming an entrepreneur:

Open an eCommerce store

The soaring popularity of online shopping has made it easier to launch your own store and start trading without laying a single brick. But, there’s still groundwork that goes into building a successful ecommerce shop. Don’t just decide to sell what you would buy, but research what consumers are interested in, and provide that need or want. Create your website yourself or hire a web designer before choosing a high-performing server, for smoother operation for customers.

Become a freelance writer

If you’re not keen on handling orders, but still want to work online, Search Engine Optimisation may be your way in. This new strategy is used to drive traffic to websites and articles. You need be a proficient writer as businesses are seeking to optimise their website content through SEO writers. As you build up your client base, you’re able to write at a suitable pace to help the business progressively gain traction.

Create an app

Developing apps has launched some of the most successful and popular entrepreneurial endeavours of our time, and now, thanks to enhanced technology, you can create your own app and cash in on your idea. Whether you’re connecting farmers to markets, domestic workers to homeowners or investors to start-ups, your business can be up and running in no time as you generate income by charging for the app, displaying in-app ads, or charging for in-app features and upgrades.

Start a service-based business

Are you an IT wiz? A master at crunching numbers? A grammar prefect? Or even a foodie with the heart of an entrepreneur? Rendering services for payment could have you raking in cash for racking up hours consulting, bookkeeping or copyediting on demand. If you’re more kitchen inclined, you could become a part-time caterer for small events on weekends or children’s birthday parties – or you could even have a food truck that only operates at weekend markets selling specialty convenience meals like tacos, mini doughnuts, candyfloss or lemonade.

Market brands

Influencer marketing is making its mark in the age of social media. Companies are decreasing spend on big campaigns in favour of paying a fraction of the traditional marketing budget to influential individuals in society. You don’t necessarily need a massive amount of social media followers or page likes – micro-influencers also earn a decent income from lifestyle brands to use their products and share their experience online. This is low commitment in terms of time, but can be more lucrative as you gain a following and give brands the traction they require from your posts.

Become a blogger or a vlogger

People love hearing from other people, and brands know that. That’s why product reviews are so important. So many entrepreneurs started off filming DIY tutorials and hacks on a variety of topics, from beauty to cooking, and today they have TV shows, books and an ad-revenue drawing following. All you need is a YouTube account and topics people care about. You may not become an instant hit, but every view counts.

Tutor or teach online

Various countries across Europe and Asia are looking for teachers to tutor in English to second-language students. As a result; online teaching platforms offering people the opportunity to teach a second language online from anywhere in the world.

You can start off by enrolling for a TEFL Certificate course or applying online immediately if you’re an experienced English teacher.

Skills Needed for Successful Entrepreneurship

skills-needed-for-successful-entrepreneurship

Your mind may be filled with brilliant ideas, but while you possess some skills needed to be an entrepreneur – like marketing, business development, customer service, leadership and execution, resilience and focus – who’s going to help you balance your books and ensure you’re no longer just breaking even when you should be making some profit already? Who will ensure you’re hiring the right people for the jobs you can’t do yourself everyday?  And who’ll ensure you’re balancing your business and personal lives effectively?

Don’t be like the many entrepreneurs who care so much about a cause or profit goal that they let the small stuff fall through the cracks. Invest time – and some money – into acquiring these skills to succeed at being an entrepreneur:

Financial management skills

The start-up phase of your business is the most crucial when it comes to managing your finances. Profitability is important and it’s a sign your business is going according to plan and you’re well on your way to building a successful business. But, even profitable companies are in danger of bankruptcy if cash is managed poorly.

Ensure your cash is always enough to cover all your operating expenses, such as salaries, rent and utilities. Bolster your financial management skills by learning to cut unnecessary costs, pay careful attention to due dates, and religiously follow up on invoices. You need a proper understanding of your business’s finances from the first day you set up shop.

Delegate the financial management duties if you have to, but be financially literate enough to understand the fine print of the management accounts and company balance sheet. Without this basic business skill, you may be in for a shock down the line when you realise your business lacks the financial foundations for the future.

Recruitment and HR skills

For your company to become scalable, you need to start capitalising on forming, cultivating and maintaining relationships with employees, vendors and other resources that will help you get there. Do you know where to meet the right people to grow your network and tap into it when looking to hire new staff or seeking a more affordable supplier?

It all comes down to investing time in people. For example, when it comes to your employees, how are you demonstrating that they are your company’s greatest asset? While you may not be an HR expert, get involved in recruitment where you can, and foster a culture that motivates, develops and retains your staff. Contrary to what some business owners may think, employment engagement should be high on your list of priorities because getting it right will help your business attract and keep the best people in your industry.

Communication skills

You may not have the kind of personality that commands attention or engages everyone you meet, but communication is an essential skill that you need to master as it applies to every area of entrepreneurship.

Communication skills are probably what got you the funding you needed to get your business off the ground. Your partners depend on communication to know how the business is doing if strategies need to be refined. Clients and customers need to be sold on the idea that they need your product – you need to communicate to them effectively, to choose your product over your competitor’s.

Your employees need you to communicate the company’s goals, objectives and their role in achieving these. Communication is how you establish direction within your business and when done effectively, helps you delegate responsibilities. Establish solid channels of communication with all your stakeholders by simply speaking to them. Whether it’s an email, a telephone call or a thank-you note, constant communication keeps all your relationships strong and mutually beneficial. Creating cross-communication channels within your organisation also helps minimise potential hiccups.

Leadership skills

Do your colleagues and staff have a good idea of what the future of the business looks like? An effective leader paints this picture for everyone in the company to understand what needs to be done to achieve the business’s potential. The first leadership skill to strive towards acquiring is creating the time and imagination for strategic future planning and ambitious target-setting for growth.

Once you’ve achieved this, ensure your vision is shared clearly with everyone in the business in a motivational way. Next, while your staff is still fired up, give them the reins in some aspects of achieving your business goals. Empowering staff through delegation and skills development enables you to dedicate more time to focus on leadership. Good leaders don’t spend their days managing day-to-day operations, but are able to take a step back from their businesses and to plan for the future.

Time management skills

Some of the most successful entrepreneurs start their day as much as three hours earlier than the rest of us. Why? Getting a head start on the day allows you to draw up a to-do list and plan your day around implementing each task within the hours you have each day.

This is where delegation comes in. As previously mentioned, you simply cannot do everything on your own, as much as you’d like to. You can try, but that would be counterproductive. To become a successful entrepreneur, you need to manage you time effectively, and to do that, you need to create space on your plate to handle what only you can and share the rest among your workforce. You may even find that there are people you’ve hired that can complete some tasks better and faster than you.

Drive and dedication are good traits to have while building your business, but not when they’re stopping you from taking time away from your company to recharge and return even more driven and determined. Knowing when to take time off is considered one of the best time management skills to conquer as an entrepreneur.

If you feel like you’ve hit a wall, that’s probably a signal that you need a break. It doesn’t even need to be a day off. A simple walk for fresh air, an hour at the gym, coffee with a colleague or some alone time away from your office can make a world of difference to how you handle your day and the tasks that lie ahead.

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