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Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship

Your Passion Could Probably Lead To Poverty

It flies in the face of everything we’re told, but the reality is that passion without purpose (and something others are willing to pay for) just leads to poverty.

Alan Knott-Craig

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Trevor Noah once said you only know you’re growing if you cringe at the things you used to say. Well, I certainly cringe when I think of some of the things I’ve said in the past — especially when thinking of advice I’ve given about taking risks and following your passion.

“Jump off the cliff and build wings on the way down.” What a load of crap. Luckily I’ve seen the light.

Let’s deal with the concept of risk first: Only suckers and scions take unmitigated risk. If you’re a sucker, sorry for you. If you’re a scion (rich parents, rich spouse), well done for winning the lottery and having a safety net. But most people don’t have a safety net, which means most people need to plan very carefully to mitigate their risks when embarking on an entrepreneurial journey.

Remember Warren Buffett’s golden rules: Rule 1: Never lose money. Rule 2: Never forget rule number 1.

Related: Naadiya Moosajee’s Overriding Purpose Is Driven By Her Passion

Hedge Your Bets

Before starting a business, make sure you have a deal in place that covers your downside. Now that sounds a tad difficult. How on earth are you supposed to ensure that when you flip a coin, heads: you win, tails: someone else loses?

No one said being an entrepreneur is easy. True, magic only happens when you’ve mastered the art of creative thinking. Of innovating. Of deal-making. Of ensuring you have a safety net before you take the plunge. An entrepreneur figures out a way to mitigate his downside, so even if the upside doesn’t materialise, he isn’t left as a red splat on the pavement.

Next time someone tells you to risk everything, add him to the list of people to ignore.

Solve A Problem

Now for the subject of ‘following your passion’. Don’t do it. Take coffee for example. Lots of people have a passion for coffee. Does that mean you should start a roastery? Or open a coffee shop? No. That way lies poverty.

An entrepreneur doesn’t follow her passion. She finds a problem that people are willing to pay her to solve. Then she solves it. With very few exceptions, the process of solving the problem will not instil deep joy and happiness. It will not be a passionate affair. That’s why no one has solved the problem yet…

Do you see? Money-making opportunities mostly lie in the opposite direction of your passion.

Related: Ezlyn Barends Of DreamGirls On Igniting Passion

Find Your Mojo

finding-a-passion-mojo

By all means, chase your passion, but not for profit. Not only do you risk spoiling your love affair, but you will probably fail.

If you want to make money (and use that money to chase your passion), chase something that no one else wants to chase. Neither risk mitigation nor problem solving are fun or easy or nice. They require hard work, concentration and pain.

Most of the time, the only reason people are willing to do what it takes to be an entrepreneur is that they can’t get a job. If you are eminently employable, you will be employed. The path of a start-up entails too much hassle.

Luckily, the good news for us unemployable folk is that while our road won’t be littered with roses, at least we won’t be hooked to the most dangerous addiction in the world: A salary.

Becoming addicted to a monthly pay cheque will lead you down a road that makes you a docile, defenceless, plump sheep. There’s nothing wrong with being a sheep, provided you have a nice safe paddock.

You don’t want to be 55 and suddenly kicked out of the paddock, losing the intravenous drip that is your salary, and left to fight it out on your own in the wild. Rather take the plunge early. Position yourself by creating a safety net, de-risk your start-up.

You may not find a pot of gold in your first decade, but you’ll learn a treasure of skills that will stand you in good stead. Life is long. Take some risk, and love what you do. But don’t go all in, and don’t follow your passion. That way lies failure.


Read ‘Be A Hero’ today

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Alan Knott-Craig is a successful entrepreneur and best selling author. Founder of over 20 companies in the tech space, he was named as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2009. To find out more about Alan’s new book, The 13 Rules for Entrepreneurs, go to www.13rules.co.za.

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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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Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship

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

Being a solopreneur sounds great, but it’s actually a poor choice for your business.

Luis Congdon

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When we read about Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington and all the other business giants – we immediately see a single champion. Much like old literature traditions where the hero triumphantly wins alone, our legends in business are often portrayed as the singular hero.

Steve Jobs reigning over Apple, Bill Gates towering over the giant that is Microsoft and Richard Branson stylised in his cape throughout the veins of Virgin – this kind of mythology and idealisation of the single hero in business has spurred a new wave of entrepreneurs who call themselves “solopreneurs.” We idealise the entrepreneur who does it alone and doesn’t need a team or support.

If you’ve been doing it alone or aspire to become a solopreneur, let me share with you five reasons to not be a solopreneur – and why the myth of any singular hero, whether in literature or business, is a misnomer and will only hold you back from having the most significant successes.

1. You’ll become a jack of all trades and a master of none

When you are a solopreneur, it’s practically impossible for you to master every skill needed to substantially grow.

Running a business takes a lot of capabilities: Mapping out content, creating it, sharing it, building a tribe, sending out emails, doing sales, attending events and growing the network, coaching, consulting and building out products is a small list of what a profitable business requires.

If you’re weak in some of these areas, it will hamper your business growth and fun.

Related: The Foundations Of Growth

Trying to do it all will soon see you doing low-level activities that pull you away you from making sales, doing projects for your high-end clients and doing the things that help keep the business growing.

2. You can’t scale or grow

business-strategist-jay-abrahamBusiness strategist Jay Abraham says there are only three ways to grow a business. You either get more clients, increase the cost of each transaction or you service your clients with more products. Two of these methods will mean more work.

If you increase clients or increase the number of products you sell, you will most likely need to increase your output.

Since there are only so many hours in a day, you’ll either become your own bottleneck and slow business down – or decide to outsource some of the tasks to your team and ensure business runs smoothly.

3. You won’t have time to do everything you want to do

When you’re overworked and doing it alone, you have no one to relieve the pressure. You have no team to support you, and you have no partners who can take some work off your plate. That means when there are emergencies, you won’t be available.

If a client needs you, your kids need you and a new client wants to pay you a lot for a new project – you’ll have to decide which is most important.

While having a team may not save you from making hard decisions, ideally you aren’t so thinly spread out that you find yourself saying no to more clients, family emergencies and serving current clients to the best of your abilities.With a team, you’ll be able to free yourself more, and you can say yes to more opportunities.

4. You’re more vulnerable to mistakes

Imagine if didn’t have spell check your documents and emails. Or what if this magazine didn’t have editors and any article got through? I’m sure you’d agree, the quality would be lost, and it’d likely result in many lost customers.

Related: The Case For A Business Partner Who Makes You Uncomfortable

In my life, I’m lucky to run a business with my wife and my team. Having a team helps me to not only “cut once and measure twice,” it also relieves some of the pressure to be perfect. It helps me to do my work, knowing my team will help me, and that inspires me. Doing it alone would be too stressful.

Having a team will allow you to call upon a support network, hand off jobs and have an extra set of eyeballs when you’re delivering a service.

If you’ve aspired to be like Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington or any highly successful entrepreneur – take some time and study them and you’ll find they love building and being a part of a team. Soon you’ll find out all these legends have a team, an incredible support system, and they don’t do it alone.

5. You can’t ever sell your business

In most entrepreneurs’ minds, the idea of selling isn’t there until decades after starting the business. But, it’s something that if given the opportunity most of us would do.

Related: Why Partnerships Will Make Or Break Your Business

Even if you wouldn’t sell your business, isn’t nice to know that if you wanted you could take your business and get paid one lump sum equaling years of work?

Or if you don’t want to sell your business, maybe you want to step out of business but collect payments and keep it in the family – well, if you’re a solopreneur it’s tough to ever to work yourself out of a job.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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