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Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship

How Entrepreneurship should be Cultivated from a Young Age

Do you want to inspire your child to become an entrepreneur? Dr Thommie Burger’s gives his advice.

Dr. Thommie Burger

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Colour inside the lines, use your inside voice, always ask for permission, don’t talk to strangers, don’t talk when the grownups are talking, wait your turn in line.

Children are told so many different things while they are growing up which they internalise, and these messages that they hear have an impact on their entrepreneurial futures

For one, they are taught that failing isn’t good and subsequently associate pain with failure.

As a result of these messages, many children move from living life by curiosities and learning in their own beautiful, personal and unique way to responding to life from fears.

Related: (Slideshow) Quotes to Fuel the Fire of Young Entrepreneurs

When you consider that nearly 80% of new businesses fail within the first 5 years following their start-up, it paints a bleak picture to parents and young adults alike and they may ask themselves the question whether starting your own business is really such a good idea considering the high failure rate. But, let’s put the concept of failure into perspective.

It’s no wonder many don’t start businesses, especially because the media continues to say that 80%of new businesses fail. That’s really an exaggeration, as 80% don’t fail.

Sure many businesses start and close, but closing a business isn’t failure. This language is used so loosely and is not encouraging to future entrepreneurs. The only way to be sure you never fail is to never try. Consider the following:

  • Inventor Thomas Edison generated 10,000 prototypes for electric light bulbs before getting it right.
  • Colonel Sanders, the founder of KFC, was rejected 1,009 times when he tried to sell his fried chicken recipe.
  • Steven Spielberg was rejected on 3 occasions by the University of Southern California after which he dropped out to become a Director.
  • Tim Ferris’s book “The 4 Hour Work Week” was rejected 25 times by publishers.
  • Richard Branson launched 400 companies before he founded Virgin Galactic.
  • Sylvester Stallone was rejected 1,500 times when he tried selling his script and himself as the film “Rocky”.
  • James Dyson created 5,126 failed prototypes of his vacuum cleaner before succeeding.

These are just a few examples of successful entrepreneurs and the effort, sweat, pain and tears it took to finally succeed. But oh boy, just imagine the possibilities and personal fulfilment when you succeed. And yes, “when” you succeed … not “if” you succeed!

According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, only 7% of South Africans aged 18 to 24 are involved in any entrepreneurial activity.

This begs the question: “If more than 50% of young adults aged 18 to 34 are unemployed in South Africa, what are the rest of the youth doing with their time if they find themselves unemployed or not engaged in an entrepreneurial activity?”

According to SA Breweries’ Entrepreneurship Incubator Programme, KickStart, the following factors were identified as key to promoting youth entrepreneurship:

1. Develop A Tightly Knit Ecosystem To Support Entrepreneurs

There is a need for greater coordination and integration of business development support efforts by government and the private sector. In the current system agencies operate separately. The issue of funding is not the biggest challenge facing entrepreneurs. A lack of information, adequate research statistics, skills and mentorship opportunities abound.

2. Infant Protectionism And Government Set-Asides

In South Africa, small business competes directly with big business, something that puts young entrepreneurs at a disadvantage. You have to fight so much harder just to get a foot in the door. One way of shielding young entrepreneurs from harsh competition would be for government set-asides to be established for young entrepreneurs.

A controversial subject, set-asides are a certain category of work in a government contract reserved for a specific group. This makes sense, as government is the biggest spender in any economy.

3. Promoting Entrepreneurship From A Young Agefather-and-son_young-entrepreneurship

Introducing children to business from an early age, by letting them participate in the family or other business can help bridge the vacuum in youth entrepreneurship. Encouraging this early exploration of business may go a long way towards teaching the rudimentary skills required for entrepreneurship.

4. Parents Should Take The Responsibility And Not Leave It Over To Our Schooling System

It’s our duty as entrepreneurs or future entrepreneurs to teach children that they can be whatever they dream to be. I believe that today’s entrepreneurs see the importance and know it’s our obligation to help our children.

If you’re an entrepreneur, I encourage you to spend time with your children. Don’t be dependent on our South African educational system to teach our children the most valuable lessons that you can teach them yourself.

I know personally as an entrepreneur that we get busy, but take the time to show your children that they can grow up to be anything they want to be. Life skills and creating your own future and job is vital to your child’s future success.

Turkish author, Harun Yahya famously quoted: “I always wonder why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth”. Then I ask myself the same question. Our children can fly anywhere and you can give them the best wings in the world.

Entrepreneurship is a buzzword of our time. Economists are hoping that entrepreneurs will pull South Africa’s economy up by its bootstraps and help unemployment vanish.

Some schools encourage market days to nurture business talent, and parents are pleased when their offspring display entrepreneurial tendencies – even when those parents themselves hold safe and secure jobs. It seems we all recognise that being able to make money is a talent that will serve children well when they grow up. But what turns a child into an entrepreneur?

Common sense would lead one to suppose that it is a mixture of natural aptitude and environmental exposure. Linda McClure, MD of Junior Achievement South Africa (JASA) observes that, “At the moment, most young people will go into business because they think they can’t do anything else. They aren’t seeing it as a choice; that it’s a career option”.

She says that when learners are asked whether they would prefer to get a job or start their own business, the majority still say, “I’d rather just get a job”. Many believe being an employee is more secure.

Related: 7 Insanely Productive Habits of Successful Young Entrepreneurs

Parents wanting their own children to become entrepreneurial should encourage them to use their natural talents, start small and then grow their business, adapt to what their market wants and persevere in the face of setbacks. And yes, I used the word “setbacks” and NOT “failure”.

There is no such thing is failure. Only learning from your setbacks and improving on it the next time around. I would like to leave you (as parent) and you (as child) with the following messages:

  • A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on – John F. Kennedy.
  • An amazing thing, the human brain. Capable of understanding incredibly complex and intricate concepts. Yet at times unable to recognise the obvious and simple – Jay Abraham.
  • Capital isn’t that important in business. Experience isn’t that important. You can get both of these things. What are important are ideas – Harvey S. Firestone.
  • There’s no good idea that can’t be improved on – Michael Eisner.
  • Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune – Jim Rohn.
  • We must teach our children to dream with their eyes open – Harry Edwards.
  • Children have more need of models than of critics – Joseph Joubert.
  • If I had one wish for my children, it would be that each of them would reach for goals that have meaning for them as individuals – Lillian Carter.
  • A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him – David Brinkley.

Founder of JTB Consulting, a leading Business Plan Consultancy that provides practical, unique and affordable Business Consulting and Business Plan Solutions to entrepreneurs, start-up businesses and existing companies. Founder of Animazing, a Marketing Agency that designs unique animated videos; a communication and marketing medium clients use to deliver their messages in an effective, engaging and memorable way. Thommie is a Summa Cum Laude MBA Graduate and holds a PhD in Entrepreneurship and Business Management.

Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship

4 Entry-Level Jobs That Will Prep You For Entrepreneurial Success

Success is a journey, not a destination, so think hard about where to start.

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Entrepreneurship might look like an unruly beast, especially when larger corporations are involved. However, those in the daily grind of entry-level positions are already developing the necessary skills to bring this wayward creature to heel.

“One of the first truths you’ll learn about entrepreneurship is that you’re 100 percent responsible for your success or failure,” says fellow Entrepreneur columnist Mike Monroe.

Entry-level positions in many different areas – including sales, marketing, development, project management and customer service – provide the perfect environment for future entrepreneurs to learn that truth and hone their skills.

Learning to fly from the ground up

While the average entrepreneur is 40 years old, younger people eager to make their own way have plenty of developmental opportunities that can help them hit the ground running. According to a 2017 survey from Heidrick & Struggles, nearly 15 percent of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies started in the sales department. These high-powered executives didn’t waltz into the C-suite on day one; they learned the tricks of the trade on the front lines with everyone else.

Related: Entrepreneurship Is All About Overcoming Obstacles

If you crave the life of an entrepreneur, don’t let the barriers to entry get you down. Take one of the following entry-level jobs and use your time in the workforce to get the experience you need to launch your own business.

1. Sales

Inbound or outbound, sales experience can give any would-be entrepreneur a leg up. Not only do you learn how to communicate effectively in a sales position; you must also understand the products you sell (and the brand behind them).

A job in sales will teach you to stop trying to convince people that they need what you have and start listening to what they want. Once you recognise that the market dictates what you sell, and not the other way around, you’ll be prepared to run a successful start-up.

2. Human resources

human-resourcesHR pros keep businesses running. If you work as one, you will quickly learn how much things like timely payment, accurate sick-day counts and health insurance matter to workers. To keep your team happy, you’ll need to know what employees consider to be important. What better way to learn that than to take a job where they let you know?

Jobs in HR also provide crash courses in communication skills and legal compliance. For example, it’s much better to learn that a manager can’t force an employee with folliculitis to shave his beard before the decision affects your pocketbook.

Related: Going It Alone In Business? 5 Reasons That’s A Really Bad Idea

3. Customer service

It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in: If you deal directly with customers, you learn how to handle tasks quickly while keeping a friendly face.

Customers range from the kindest people you will ever meet to those who become enraged when they can’t double their coupons. As an entrepreneur, you and your team will deal with all of them. Learn how to respond to customer complaints on someone else’s dime, so that when it’s your turn to do so, your learning experiences won’t have a negative impact on your bottom line.

4. Leadership

To be a truly successful entrepreneur, you must learn how to lead a team. Leaders invariably learn some tough lessons at the helm, but if you wait until you are running the whole operation, those lessons could cost you some of your best workers.

This may seem like an odd suggestion for an article on entry-level positions, but note that you don’t need to be in a leadership position to learn leadership skills. From your first day on a job, your supervisors will be sizing up your initiative-taking ability and your critical-thinking and time-management skills to determine whether you have the capabilities necessary to take on more complicated projects. Look for opportunities to listen effectively and motivate those around you – this will help you hone your leadership craft until you get the opportunity to take on the role for yourself.

Related: Start This Business With Zero Advertising Budget And No Need For Premises

These positions and skill sets provide invaluable lessons for entrepreneurs, but they’re hardly the only ones. Reporters, insurance adjusters, accountants, teachers and consultants – these jobs and many others are full of learning opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs.

If you have to work for someone else before you found your own company, don’t treat the opportunity with disdain. Learn everything you can on the job, so that when your time comes you can use those lessons to lead your company to success.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship

Youthful Entrepreneurs Light The Way

If there’s one thing these go-getters have in common, it’s a determination to succeed. As we celebrate Youth Month, let’s learn from their example.

Morné Stoltz

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South Africa is already a very young country with 45.88 percent of the population under 24; by 2050, this proportion will have increased as the youth population is expected to double to 830 million. Already, 50 percent of the youth are unemployed, so it’s very clear that young people can’t sit around waiting for jobs to come their way – if they want a satisfying life, they will have to take charge of their own destinies.

This is just what these four inspirational young people have done

the-mouse-hole-imke-de-villiers1. Imke de Villiers

All of them started young. Imke de Villiers, the youngest of the four, is only eleven, but her first book, The mouse hole, is available on Kindle and in online stores. It is evident that a big part of her success is the lead given by her parents.

“At the beginning of the year, we all had to write down three goals for the year, and the book was one of those,” Imke says.

“I have very supportive parents. My sister and I are challenged frequently to think outside of the box. We tell stories, think of money-making ideas and always use our creativity.”

Related: 10 Young Entrepreneurs Under 30 Share Their Start-Up Secrets

2. Ingrid Moruane

Ingrid Moruane was also an early starter. “Since I was in high school, I’ve always seen myself as the boss. I’m a very driven person, and love working under pressure,” she says. Ingrid was fortunate to get some work experience as a project manager and optical assistant before following the advice of her then-boss to go out on her own, which she did in 2015. Now, aged 24, she will be moving out of her home office to premises in Joburg’s trendy Melrose Arch.

Ingrid’s business is Ing Management, and her concept is a unique one: she provides a portfolio of non-core services to government entities or corporates – event management, team-building events, catering, stationery and even office furniture. She uses trusted subcontractors to get the work done – what she provides is the vision and management. It is a turnkey service designed to remove a lot of detail off the to-do list of a corporate employee.

She sees funding as one of the biggest hurdles she has faced – and this is something one hears a lot about when talking to entrepreneurs. However, she pays tribute to the innovative approach taken by her bank, which stretches to introducing her to potential clients.

“More banks should do the same kind of thing,” she believes.

Believe in yourself

3. Sheldon Crabtree

deep-roots-night-market-sheldon-crabtreeSheldon Crabtree has a similar drive to succeed on his own terms. Although his parents sent him and his siblings to good schools – he is an alumnus of Pretoria Boys’ High School, which also produced Elon Musk – there was little spare money. “If we wanted personal things, we had to work for the money,” he says. As early as Grade 5, he would save his pocket money to buy sweets to sell at school; he also refurbished items for resale.

No surprise, then, that he decided not to go the route of getting a degree and a “safe” job, but rather took responsibility for his own life. He likes the idea of benefitting from his efforts.

Now aged 24, Sheldon is the proud owner of a woodworking business and the Deep Roots Night Market, which is held on the first Friday of each month in Groenkloof, Pretoria. The market provides not only gourmet food but also entertainment in a beautiful setting. Around 3 000 people attend each event.

Like Ingrid, he found start-up capital a major challenge – his solution was to take a part-time job that gave him some seed money and spare time. The woodworking, which began as a hobby, also provided some initial funding.

Related: Funding And Resources For Young SA Entrepreneurs

4. Zwelakhe Khuzwayo

Zwelakhe Khuzwayo, 26, is a great example of somebody who saw entrepreneurship as a way to make lemonade out of the lemons that life gave him! He lost his job but, nothing daunted, drew on the inspiration of his friend, Thulane Maestro Mathebula, to set up his own business making promotional videos and producing music.

“I’m one of the few people doing this kind of thing in the north-eastern areas of Pretoria, where I live,” he says. “I hope to gain recognition for the work that I do and hopefully my company will grow and expand.”

Start young

What all these inspiring young people agree on is the need for entrepreneurs to start young, and to believe in themselves.

Zwelakhe says that if you put in the work and effort, you will never go wrong.

For Imke, it is all about daring to be who you authentically are – you will always find a way to achieve what you want. “There are always other ways, other options,” she says.

Ingrid has stayed true to her childhood ideal of being the boss.

Sheldon (like Imke) says that parents have a big part to play. Being supportive is part of it, but it is also important to get their children on the right path. “Let your kids understand the power of creating their own wealth. On top of the set chores, let your kids do extra chores for money,” he advises. “Ask the school if they will be able to sell anything during break time, and make sure they get to grips with the social, financial and planning aspects of business.”

As the old saying has it, the child is the father or mother of the man or woman. That is very true – but it also helps if there is an adult helping the process along! As adults, let’s make sure we fulfill this role in the lives of our youth.

MiWay is an Authorised Financial Services Provider (Licence no: 33970)

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Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship

The Kindling Of The Entrepreneur Spirit

The principle of entrepreneurship is to observe challenges and find ways to improve them while simultaneously weighing up the relevant costs and benefits.

David Hatherell

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Many university students are funnelled into a conservative career such as a lawyer, engineer, actuary or accountant. This is often the popular choice and has the advantages of receiving stable income and benefit packages – it is a “safety net” career and offers the prestige of the title and security of the degree.

That being said, there are a lot of insights that you may miss if you use the narrow definition of what entrepreneurship means in the traditional sense – “starting your own business.” Entrepreneurship is more than that and, in my view, should be looked at using a three-principles based approach. The principle of entrepreneurship is to observe challenges and find ways to improve them while simultaneously weighing up the relevant costs and benefits.

Principle 1 – Adding Value Within Organisations

In my field, being an actuary with a data science background, you always need to find a better way of doing things. We need to use our resources, skills, and systems in a manner that would support our organisations to ensure that we add value to society.

Related: Why You Shouldn’t Quit Your Job To Start A Business

In essence, we need to use statistical or modelling techniques responsibly to ensure that three key focal points are met, which is easily adapted to becoming a viable entrepreneur, with a trusted reputation:

  • We do not mistreat or take advantage of consumers;
  • The results of initiatives or strategies are measured appropriately; and
  • There are no biases based on torturing data to get the results you want.

In addition to doing a good job, we needed to ensure that the work we do can be repeated, with ease and automated where relevant. This will ensure that our influence is long lasting and scalable, which is also critical to starting your own business or initiative. Most long-term solutions should also be flexible enough to add value to society, in whatever touch-points they are impacting.

Principle 2 – Benefitting Society

This is not about how much you give but rather what impact you have. We need to be honest with ourselves and determine appropriate measures to monitor success and what our ROI is aimed at becoming. This is often a challenge and is oversimplified or overlooked by many. For example, we may celebrate success metrics by reviewing how many scholars we fund or how much money was given to upcoming entrepreneurs.

This measure will have little benefit if all the scholars drop out or all entrepreneurial initiatives fail, we will essentially be celebrating an empty figure. The impact we have needs to be long-lasting and setting up society for success, with or without your continual influence.

Responsible and appropriate ways of measuring benefit will help add value to many initiatives. It’s a significant risk starting an initiative without any key performance indicators or measures of success, as you will have nothing to benchmark against and no measure to celebrate or punt as transparent and real success measures.

Principle 3 – Starting an Entrepreneurial Initiative

Some skills are necessary to start your initiative and working for a large organisation may help you build these skills or refine them. Key performance indicators are often used within larger organisations, and these companies may have proper structures in place to learn communication skills, the importance of planning, setting up budgets, pitching ideas or tracking results over time.

Related: How To Survive 150 Straight Rejections

As such, some young adults prefer entering the world of work as a first step and then using what they learn to start something new in the years to come. Whichever approach you take, ensure you are learning as much as you can and are open to mentorship, guidance and constructive criticism, we can’t possibly know everything, and there is always more we can learn and improve on.

Bringing It All Together 

Starting an entrepreneurial initiative will require a lot of bravery and resilience, an open mind, a good idea, relevant skills and support (financial and social).

What I admire, is that a foundation such as the Make A Difference Leadership Foundation has robust structures in place to support and encourage their scholars, should they wish to start an initiative in the future. And despite the prestige or the safety in obtaining a degree, the foundation inspires the scholars to follow their dreams, no matter how audacious they might be.

With the vision of the Make A Difference in mind, we believe that our scholars and fellows will be able to contribute and add value to organisations. Some may start their own initiatives and those who don’t will still use the principles of entrepreneurship in their daily lives. We all aim to continuously identify solutions that will add value to those around us.

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