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Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship

Capitalising on Entrepreneurial Success

Understanding the basics in reaching entrepreneurial success.

Nomalanga Nkosi

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With an estimated population of over 50 million people and an unemployment rate of 23.9%, South Africa is in a strong position of entrepreneur opportunity. Whilst certainly this opportunity has been driven forward by the high density of small businesses that currently exist, it is critical for our nation to continue to hold a strong entrepreneurial spirit – to continue to grow the SA economy and bring down the unemployment rate. However, being a successful entrepreneur is not an easy task.

If you are an individual aspiring to be an entrepreneur, when competing in a market predominately made up of small businesses, you need to hold a solid pool of knowledge, resources and understanding among other aspects to successfully make it. While this does sound daunting, it is possible with the right know how and taking the right steps required to getting the entrepreneurial process right.

So what does it take then for you to be not just an entrepreneur, but one who can compete in the local market and build a long term viable business? Here is some advice…

Following the basics

First and foremost, there are the basic steps you need to consider which includes the formation of the business idea – while this may seem somewhat of an obvious step, the business idea forms the foundation of any business and thus it needs to be one that meets a market requirement or need and it must (especially when operating in a world of consumerism) be unique or at least be carried out in a unique format that again relates back to a need of the desired end user.

Following on from the above is the development of a business plan. When populating a business plan around your business idea, you will be able to identify whether the business idea is something that will make it in the market, and through undertaking the various steps to developing a business plan, will determine just how the idea can come to life fruitfully – ensuring that your idea stands out and is able to compete effectively in the marketplace.

You must remember that a good business plan is one that is strategic; maps back to the overall goal of the business idea; and incorporates all the key steps required when formulating such a plan together.

Upon completion of such steps and once the ‘basics’ are in place, your road to successful entrepreneurship is then built up on a number of other key attributes, of which below I have outlined a few that truly stand out and will make the difference between your idea/business being average or exceptional.

Using resources

  • The use of resources and building relationships. Throughout our lives and careers, we all develop a pool of resources and skills, and develop business relationships that can one day lead us to success. A good business leader and entrepreneur makes use of such resources throughout their entrepreneurial journey and leverages existing relationships, as well as develops news ones that one day may just come in handy – so make sure you understand this and make the most of the current and future relationships you hold Every interaction, every individual met, opportunity declined, triumph faced and challenge overcome, will never goes to waste for you – all such facets may just be the key to a successful road ahead in developing and starting a business and so if you  want to be victorious, you need to be able to identify your resources and use these to your benefit.

There is no I in Team – every entrepreneur is only as successful as the team behind him/her. You have to understand this and know that while it is important to lead a team, it is also key to rely on the solid team you have developed to always consider your teams input, to achieve desired success.

  • Partnering with trusted suppliers. For an entrepreneur who does not have tons of budget to utilise and who needs to make the most of the budget that is available, choosing the right partners and suppliers is critical. As an aspiring entrepreneur, you must choose to partner with a provider/supplier that demonstrates a tremendous tenacity for honesty and one the focuses a key portion of its business efforts on the entrepreneur and SME segment. You must ask the right questions. As the famous quote by Michael Gerber so rightly states: “My experience has shown me that the people who are exceptionally good in business aren’t so because of what they know but because of their insatiable need to know more.” The SA entrepreneur such as yourself possesses this trait with gusto and tenacity and so should never be afraid to ask the right questions to a provider/supplier:

a.    What amount they spend on R&D into the entrepreneurial/SME market?

b.    What ROI models it has put in place for the SME and why?

c.    What processes do they in place to actually support my entrepreneurial and SME requirements, when you need advice and assistance?

Solid starts

The above forms a solid starting point to your successful entrepreneurial journey and will go a long way in initiating a process that has the potential to add great value to the overall economy. MTN Business is passionate about driving the skill of entrepreneurship forward and is therefore dedicated to educating and providing guidance to all aspiring entrepreneurs out there – in the hope of assisting to produce a nation of successful entrepreneurs, like you, who can drive business leadership and sustainability.

Nomalanga Nkosi is the GM of Business Marketing at MTN SA. In this role, she is responsible for defining business-to-business value propositioning by segment/vertical targeted, while driving profitability. Nomalanga’s specialties lie in strategic marketing and with over 15 years experience in a wide range of environments, she takes pride in managing projects from conception to completion.

Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship

Build Solid Back-Room Basics For Business Success

What do South African entrepreneurs really know about what goes on behind the scenes building of businesses?

Marc Wachsberger

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South Africa has a vibrant start-up culture with great ideas starting out with a bang, but closing down with a whimper because entrepreneurs picture the glory at the destination, but not the nitty gritty of the journey to get there.

Be smart about scale

When I started out, I literally did everything myself. I negotiated and signed leases, I arranged the furnishing for our apartments and managed the interior décor process. When guests started using our apartments, I signed them in at reception, and then carried their bags.

At that stage, there was no money in my business to pay for attorneys, interior designers and decorators and there certainly wasn’t enough money for porters.

However, when we got to 70 apartments, it didn’t make sense for me to be a porter any longer, so I hired someone to do that job, explaining clearly what I expected of him. Before I did that, though, I spent time designing incentives for him so that he would be more affordable for me, and so that he could earn as much money as possible.

Related: Training Is A Two-Way Trick

Know your talents – and your limitations

There are certain things I’m really good at, but I know without a doubt that sales isn’t one of them – and without sales, you don’t have a business. I couldn’t afford a top-flight salesperson, but I knew that I could attract the right talent with the right business model. I set some high targets for Pamela Niemand, but offered her one third of the business if she met them. We both won: she earned a share in a successful, trend-setting business, and my trend-setting business became successful!

Use your skills – but know when to hand over

My background in corporate finance meant that I had all the accounting skills I needed when we first started out, but I knew that the time would come when I would need someone focused on that side of the business full time. Doing it all myself first meant that I could brief my first full-time accountant clearly and with a deep understanding of what would be required – and that I could help that person find and fix any challenges based on my experience.

In summary, my simple advice to anyone starting out would be to bootstrap your business yourself without investors or staff for as long as you can, but don’t over-extend yourself. Know when to delegate tasks away so that you can focus on what you’re really good at – but don’t do it before you have a solid understanding of what’s required. Know what you’ll never be able to do, and bring in that resource from the beginning – but do it based on performance-based incentives, so that your fledgling business doesn’t lose out if your early hires don’t perform.

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Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship

The Myth About The Relationship Between Entrepreneurs And Taking Risks

This is the true relationship between entrepreneurs and the apparent illusion of risk.

Lisa Illingworth

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“I can’t be an entrepreneur or start a business. I don’t have the appetite for risk.” This line is spoken regularly to brave few that leave the perceived safety of a job, take the plunge and venture into the unknown world of being an entrepreneur. However, there is a gross misunderstanding in the appetite for risk that entrepreneurs are believed to have innately inside of them.

The little-known truth is that the majority of entrepreneurs don’t like taking risks and according to Luca Rigotti and Mathew Ryan in their paper that explores a model for quantifying risk and its translation into enterprising action, the results were very interesting.

Risk is explained by these theorists as taking action where the outcomes are unpredictable as well the factors leading to that outcome are unknown. One of the theorists in this area, Saraswati, who coined the term “tolerance for ambiguity” has a more accurate description of what the outside world deems taking a risk.

In simple terms, entrepreneurs don’t go head-first into the shark infested water because they like the idea of danger and potentially being eaten alive; or the thrill of being able to say that they survived whilst others perished in a pool of maimed flesh. They carefully calculate that the sharks have been fed recently, some of the sharks are ragged tooth sharks that whilst looking like they are set to devour a human being, are actually incapable of opening their jaws wide enough to bite. For those sharks that still have space or who smell blood and can’t resist the urge to kill, the entrepreneur has a cage set up that he can retreat into quickly and a knife with which to protect himself.

Related: 5 Infamous Risks Every Entrepreneur Must Face

Tolerance for ambiguity is the careful evaluation of what is known at the moment where a decision must be made and an open-mindedness for what is not known. This, coupled with the agility to change course when new information is presented, has earned the label of high risk appetite. The appetite is not for the risk, but it is the ability to move down a path, when all the information is not known.

I likened it to a person moving around in the dark holding a candle. The candle casts a light that illuminates a limited parameter around the person holding the candle. What is beyond the light that the candle casts, is unknown and potentially a risk. But as the person moves forward, the light reveals what was unknown and in the shadows. As the light reveals new information and new challenges added to what they have already learnt, the person can make better informed decisions. The tolerance is in not knowing what lies in the shadows yet to be illuminated by the candle and then the confidence in his or her own ability to act on what new information is discovered.

None of this behaviour is risky or irresponsible. There is careful consideration for what is known and a tolerance for what is unknown. And once there is more information available, a calculated next step is taken and more information is assimilated into what is now known. This is the true relationship between entrepreneurs and the apparent illusion of risk.

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Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship

7 Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs To Adopt Today

Want to know what skills can help you build confidence and your business? Here are seven…

Nicholas Bell

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For some people, becoming an entrepreneur is as easy as stepping off a bus. They have a big idea, they bring it to life, they hire employees and the next thing they are in a building smothered in branding and living the business dream. For others, the idea and the passion are there but they are unsure as to how they can make these into a sustainable reality. Entrepreneurial spirit isn’t like instant coffee – you don’t add ideas and suddenly get all the skills you need to thrive.

Want to know what skills can help you build confidence and your business? Here are seven…

1. Believable vision

Make sure that your vision is believable and achievable. It has to live in the realms of possibility, not as a blue-sky idea that looks good on paper but wouldn’t work in reality. You need to be able to live this vision so make it realistic and achievable. This will not only keep you on track, but your employees as well.

2. Be inclusive

You need to ensure that every person who works with you feels as if they are part of your vision and understand it. They need to relate to where the business is going and how it plans to get there. Many leaders don’t understand why employees are not engaged with their business and it’s because many of them don’t actually understand what the business does.

Related: 4 Ways To Improve Your Budgeting Skills

3. Communication is critical

If you don’t have fantastic communication skills, then now is the time to hone them. When it comes to building employee morale, commitment and engagement, nothing works as effectively as constant communication. The same applies to client relationships. You need to repeat the vision and ethos of the company at every opportunity and you need to be part of the team that does this communication.

4. Be visible and transparent

You are communicating, now you need to make that communication genuine by being both open and clear. People respond incredibly well to transparency. They feel as if they are part of something that recognises their value and contribution and it fosters a more inclusive company culture. Often toxic cultures come about thanks to a lack of communication and visibility. People know when things are being kept secret and react negatively to it, regardless of whether they’re an employee, a customer or a manager.

5. Be practical

You aren’t going to build an empire in a fortnight so focus on a realistic and practical business strategy that has clear benchmarks and even clearer goals. Communicate these with the company and keep everybody on the same page. Practical and achievable means long-term success.

Related: Crucial Skills You Need To Be An Entrepreneur

6. Build opportunities

As people become immersed in your company and part of its growth they will also need opportunities to grow. You need to tie their careers to the business and create opportunities for them.

7. Be human

It takes people to build a culture, a company and a future. It’s essential that you are human in your interactions and your treatment of others. The impact that a down to earth and authentic attitude can have on a company is extraordinary.

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