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How To Recognise The Only Business Idea That’s Right For You To Start

The only company right for you to start is the company that you will love to run.

Mike Templeman

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I was browsing Twitter the other day and I saw an article that was going to give me 101 companies that I could start for under $100. I’m not going to mention who published it *Cough* Entrepreneur *Cough*. But the publisher and the author weren’t what I took issue with.

What really ground my gears about this article was the idea that true entrepreneurs are out there shopping for ideas. And that kind of scares me. Because I’ll tell you right now, there really is only one company that you should start.

Regardless of what your skillset is, what your background is, or where you are located, the only company any entrepreneur should ever start is always just one: The one that you’ll love to run.

See, I didn’t tell you which markets were booming, which customers have cash, or which companies have the best chance of success. Because while all of those things play some small part in a company, the biggest factor that every entrepreneur needs to keep in mind is their love of the game.

Related: 11 Uniquely South African Business Ideas

Because here are some hard truths that sometimes get glossed over when we’re talking about entrepreneurship.

You will hate your customers

Not daily and not for extended periods of time, but mark my words, you will hate your customers at some point. One of them will beg for leniency on their bills and will promise to catch up. Then they’ll take off and leave you high and dry.

One of them will be irrational and emotional and will blow up your world with negative reviews, angry phone calls, and emails written in all caps. Trust me, it’ll happen.

Regardless of the company you start, there will be a moment where your anger towards your customers will make you question why you started the company in the first place. In fact, if you’re like most entrepreneurs, this will happen more than once. And if the only thing you can answer that question with is, “well, I’ve got to keep going because Entrepreneur Magazine told me this was a hot market!” then you’re going to fail.

Because the only thing that can keep you centred and keep you slogging through the terrible customer experiences will be your love for the company. When things are dark and you want to give up, you have to have that reservoir of love to tap into in order to keep going. And that’s why you need to start a company that you’ll love to run.

You will hate your employees

Put away the pitchforks and hear me out. I love my team members. I know that some of them would walk through fire for my company. I also know that my company would be no where without their efforts and their brilliance. But here’s the thing, if you’re in the game long enough, there will be a time when you will be betrayed, back-stabbed, taken advantage of, stolen from or lied to by your employees. And because of the love and trust that I described a few lines ago, these negative actions will hurt.

You will be sitting in a dark room, going over every interaction with the person that just betrayed you and you will question everything you’ve ever done. It will happen. And you’ll be angry, you’ll be hurt, you’ll be sad and yeah, most likely you’ll hate them for just a little bit. And that anger is going to fester and it’s going to make you question why you ever started your company. And if the only answer you have is: “I’ve got to keep going because I was able to start this company for under $1,000!” then you’re screwed. Because that answer is paper-thin when it comes to the emotions you’ll be feeling when things go wrong.

And this is yet another reason that the only company you should ever start is one that you love running every single day.

Related: A – Z Easy Small Business Ideas

You will hate your co-founders

business-co-founders

Okay, this one is much easier for me to explain. If you’ve ever tried to do anything with another person, whether it be playing a pickup game of basketball with some friends or picking out furniture with your spouse, there is going to be a moment where tempers get heated and you may get a teensy bit angry at the other person.

And when money, livelihoods and dreams are involved… well, you can just crank that emotional dial to “11” and hope for the best.

You will fight with your co-founders, you will yell at your cofounders and you will absolutely believe that your cofounders are idiots. And at times, you’ll most likely hate your cofounders just a little bit. And in those moments where your main support in running your company is at odds with you, if all you can fall back on is: “I’m in this for the payout because Entrepreneur Magazine said my industry is hot for acquisitions right now!”, then you’re doubly screwed.

Both you and your cofounders need to have a common love for the company and a common goal you’re working towards.

Because if you’re all in it for the money, emotions will get the better of you and you will fail. And that’s why the only company you should start is one you love.

You will hate yourself

And now we come to the hardest one of all and the one that I’m pretty sure every entrepreneur will experience. You will hate yourself. You will be forced to make decisions like firings, layoffs, cutbacks and other difficult moves that will impact the lives of people you care about. And you’ll have to do it because it will be for the good of the company. And you will talk to anyone who will listen and ask for advice and try to make yourself feel better about the decisions that need to be made.

But in the end the decision will be up to you. And you will hate yourself for it. You will put an inordinate amount of blame on yourself because, hell… we’re entrepreneurs, that’s just what we do. And that blame and guilt will weigh you down and make you more depressed than you’ve ever been before. And when you’re in that pit of despair and self-loathing, if all you have to cling to is: “I’m in this because Entrepreneur Magazine said I have the top 10 traits of being an entrepreneur”, then you’re out of luck.

Related: 8 Ways to Come Up With a Business Idea

Because more so than any of the other reasons I’ve already given, when you hate yourself and hate what you need to do, the only thing, and I really do mean the only thing, that will get you through those experiences will be an undying love for your company, your customers, the people you work with, your cofounders and the work you do on a daily basis.

And if for one second you think that an article is going to instill that ridiculous level of love that is required to make it through the hard times, then you’ve already lost. Instead, start with what you love then go from there.

Don’t read these lists and articles as guidebooks for what you should do, but rather use them as affirmation that you’re doing the right thing and that you made the right choice. But make sure that choice is made before you go looking for ideas in a listicle.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Mike Templeman is the CEO of Foxtail Marketing, a digital-content marketing firm specializing in B2B SaaS. He is passionate about tech, marketing and small business. When not tapping away at his keyboard, he can be found spending time with his kids.

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Tips On How to Build Your First Ecommerce Business

Starting an ecommerce business is really important in this day and age because everything and everyone is online. With the sheer number of people populating the internet, only an online business can reach out to them.

Megan Harris

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However, having an online business isn’t just about trying to sell things on the internet. There is necessary groundwork needed to avoid any pitfalls.

Making an online business is extremely lucrative because it can tap markets that can hardly be reached by traditional mediums of marketing. In a study by CMO, it was revealed that 72% of millennial shoppers shop online before they go to a mall or store and these people, who are in the age range of 25-34, are heavy smartphone users when it comes to shopping.

With this kind of information, you can really see how effective having an online store is. So, the question here now is how do you start an online business? Here are a few tips on how to go about.

Decide through market research

Like all businesses, you have to fill in a need or a want. Having an online business is no different. You must first ask yourself what is something that people need and want. Next, you have to ask yourself if you can provide that need or want. After that, you must research if your target market can be found on the internet or not. Once you have all of that down, then you can start.

Related: Watch List: 15 SA eCommerce Entrepreneurs Who Have Built Successful Online Businesses

Develop your online presence

The website will always be the frontline of any online business because this is where all customers will end up. Think of your website as like your store but on the internet. If your store is good and accessible, then your customers will like it there.

In order to build a good website, you’ll need two essential things: a website design and a server. For the website design, you may just design one and use a back-office program like WordPress to manage it. If you want to have a nice design, you may hire a professional website designer for it. Next, you have to think about the server. You’ll want a server that performs well because your server will determine how fast your website moves.

If your service provider is not very efficient, then your website won’t load quickly and smoothly. Before deciding which web host to use, be sure to read reviews about it to get more feedback. Once you have these two things, you just need to learn the process of creating your website then you’re good to go.

Develop a content strategy

So after you’ve built yourself a nice looking website, the next step is to fill it up with information. You have to write well and make sure that your text will cater to the market segment that you are targeting. 

Get found through SEO

SEO techniques are directly related to content as SEO relies heavily on modifying text. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and they are techniques used to give your website a good slot in Google or Yahoo. SEO would primarily make use of keywords that people would often search in search engines. If you know how to make use of these keywords, your site will earn top billing on Google if a person searches for something relevant to your site.

Related: 3 Types Of Ecommerce Business Models

Utilise email marketing to find leads

Using email marketing services along with highly targeted database, is a power tool for pushing your website since email marketing is personalised. People, in general, like to feel special so if you send them an email promoting your online business, you may get them to becoming buyers. The best way to go about with email marketing is to find leads and shoot your emails out. 

Make use of paid channels

PPC ads, or Pay Per Click ads, are quick to drive traffic to a website because advertisers pay a fee each time the ad is clicked. In a sense, the advertiser buys views so that traffic will go into the site faster. This is a quick way to get views and eventually single out the target market.

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How to Guides

Enterprise Development Programmes For Black Entrepreneurs

As small businesses in South Africa are recognised as a driving force for economic growth and creation of jobs, enterprise development programmes offered by government and corporates offer black entrepreneurs the opportunity to find support and training to further develop their small businesses.

Entrepreneur

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Businesses serve a critical role in driving more inclusive and sustainable development. Large companies can create positive impact by improving and growing development. Corporates can achieve this by including small business into their value chains and local communities.

Helping small businesses to achieve sustainability and growth is vital for both the development of industries and corporations. Small businesses are critical for job creation, improving living standards, raising productivity and achieving inclusive economic growth and social cohesion.

In the coming years there will be a great demand for jobs and the private sector will be the core to the solution of this challenge.

Many of the new jobs will come out of the small, medium and micro-enterprises, which is why enterprise development programmes are emerging around the world.

Content in this guide

  1. Junior Achievement South Africa Enterprise Development Programme
  2. The Women’s Enterprise Development Initiative
  3. Standard Bank Enterprise Development Programme
  4. First National Bank – Vumela Enterprise Development Fund
  5. Nedbank Enterprise Development Programme
  6. Absa – Enterprise Development Fund
  7. Tholoana Enterprise Programme
  8. The Royal Fields and Job Funds’ Enterprise Development Programmes
  9. Siyakhula Enterprise Development Programme
  10. National Youth Development Agency (NYDA)
  11. The Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA)

What is an enterprise development programme?

african-business-woman

This is why you should choose a enterprise development programme.

Enterprise development involves the growing of small and medium-sized black businesses through the provision of finance and support, assisting in their business development and sustainability.

In creating a programme for enterprise development, budding entrepreneurs and all they hire will earn a living, which in turn uplifts their quality of life.

These programmes could lead to long term economic growth for entrepreneurs, their families and friends and their entire communities.

Read: Three Things You Need To Know About BBBEE Now

The enterprise development programme is just one of the elements of BB-BEE and is considered an effective way to combat poverty across the globe.

Its objective is to teach potential entrepreneurs how to create a sustainable business that will grow and increase job creation, which in turn contributes to economic growth.

Enterprise development programmes ought to be aimed at transferring skills and wealth as well as leading to the sustainable growth of small businesses.

How can you benefit from enterprise development programmes?

business-man-advice

This is how you can benefit from an enterprise development programmes

Enterprise development programmes aim to pass on knowledge, experience and business support. This aim will provide start-ups with essential tools and resources that can then be used for the development, survival and success of business.

Related: Attention Black Entrepreneurs: Start-Up Funding From Government Grants & Funds

Essential tools and resources can be divided into financial and non-financial support. Non-financial support can be provided in the form of mentorship, market access, network access and the learning of new skills.

80% of South Africa’s start-ups fail in the first three years and this is largely attributed to a lack of support. However, the survival rate of a start-up is increased by the incubation process, which assists small businesses in becoming financially viable.

The Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) and FNB’s Entrepreneurial Dialogues, State of Entrepreneurship in South Africa report revealed that:

“Business incubators assist emerging companies survive and grow during the start-up period, when they are most vulnerable. The incubation process improves the survival rate of start-up companies by assisting them to become financially viable, usually within two to three years.”

The FNB/GIBSs report explains:

“Start-ups fail at a rate of about nine in ten in the first two years of operation. Within the 27 SEDA incubators (in operation), the survival rates are in the region of 84% to 97% in the first two years of operation. Post-graduation from the incubator, the numbers come down but they are still in excess of 70%.”

Why do corporate businesses offer enterprise development?

corporate-building

Enterprise development programmes in South Africa

The B-BBEE Amendments are providing corporate South Africa with an ideal opportunity to construct sustainable businesses and to play a lead role in the socioeconomic transformation of the country.

Investment and improvement in local economies can ensure profitability and economic success for all business around the world.

By offering an enterprise development programme corporates are awarded:

  • Points on the BEE scorecard
  • An opportunity to diversify their supply chain
  • An innovative way to increase business for both small and medium sized enterprises.

It’s an inspiring vision for business to play a real role in the sustainability and growth in the country’s economy.

Related: What You And Your Business Need To Know About BBBEE And Black Ownership

Here are some of the various types of enterprise development programmes that an applicant could apply for:

Youth enterprise development programmes

young-entrepreneur

Youth enterprise development programmes

The unemployment of youth in South Africa is one of the highest in the world. The steady increase of the youth population is not being matched by an increase in job opportunities. There is a large discrepancy between what the youth are being taught and what employers expect them to know.

Junior Achievement South Africa Enterprise Development Programme

Junior-Achievement-South-Africa-Enterprise-Development-Programme-logo

Junior Achievement South Africa

Junior Achievement South Africa is a unique intensive incubator style entrepreneurship skills programme. The aim of this project is to address the unemployment challenge amongst the youth.

This programme provides practical entrepreneurial skills and traditional workplace readiness skills. This will solve the challenge the youth face when entering the job market with insufficient experience.

The programme consists of 20 four hour sessions which runs for three to four months. The students are expected to start running a real business, with the intention that the businesses are sustained after the programme is completed.

Who should apply?

This programme is targeted at young adults between the ages of 18 and 25, who are not in school and are currently unemployed. Participants are chosen based on:

  • Commitment to the programme
  • Inclination to participate in entrepreneurial activity
  • Ability to demonstrate problem solving skills
  • Commitment to their personal development.

To contact Junior Achievement South Africa

Women’s Enterprise Development Programmes

These enterprise development programmes are created to increase the economic opportunities for women entrepreneurs by supporting them in starting, strengthening and expanding their businesses.


10 Dynamic Black Entrepreneurs

Sleeping in his car to keep his business open, losing millions because of one mistake only to earn it all back. Learn from the extraordinary stories of these 10 passionate black entrepreneurs.


The Women’s Enterprise Development Initiative

The-Women's-Enterprise-Development-Initiative

Women’s Enterprise Development Initiative

This is a niche private equity and Technical Assistance Programme that creates superior returns for investors by investing in women entrepreneurs.

Related: How Women Entrepreneurs Can Change the SA Business Landscape

This fund supports wealth and job creation, while providing support to women in developing countries, helping them to build viable and sustainable enterprises.

Who should apply?

Dynamic women with a record of achievement in businesses? that support women

To contact Women’s Enterprise Development Initiative

FSP Enterprise Development Programmes

FSP Enterprise Development Programmes are offered by banks or financial institutions.

Standard Bank Enterprise Development Programme

Standard-Bank-Enterprise-Development-Programme

Standard Bank Enterprise Development Programme

Standard Bank is offering a specialised Enterprise Development programme. The aim of this programme is to offer financing solutions to primarily BEE businesses that have achieved access to superior earning opportunities from corporates or the public sector.

Who qualifies?

  • A black owned entity, either 51% black ownership or 30% black women ownership
  • A supplier wanting to sell equity to become more BEE viable.

How to apply

Standard Bank has a different approach to enterprise development programmes. A business will select or choose a supplier and then contact Standard Bank, the bank will then offer the supplier financial assistance, which will enable them to meet their obligation to fulfil the contract.

For more information

Or


Government Funding

Learn everything you need to know, where to go, what forms to fill in, and the fastest ways to get government funding.


First National Bank – Vumela Enterprise Development Fund

Vumela-Enterprise-Development-Fund

Vumela Enterprise Development Fund

This initiative was developed in 2010 and has already invested R186 million into alternative SME financing tools.

Resource: Government Funding and Grants for Small Businesses

The aim of this programme is to unlock explosive growth in SME businesses and for creating optimal conditions within these businesses to help them to achieve success.

Who qualifies?

“Our solution will help corporates meet the new B-BBEE requirements which could see some companies downgraded if they do not empower their supplier base.

More importantly, the holistic nature of our model could yield a sustainable economic growth model among the participating companies,” says Head of Enterprise Development at FNB, Heather Lowe.

This programme also targets high-impact SME’s and is open to all industries.

How to apply

Fill in the application form which is readily available and send it in to FNB or Vumela.

To find out more

For more information on the Vumela Enterprise Development fund, please email Heather.Lowe@fnb.co.za or JGoldberg@edgegrowth.com.

Nedbank Enterprise Development Programme

Nedbank-Enterprise-Development-Programme

Nedbank Enterprise Development Programme

This programme offers you growing business flexible financial solutions along with business strategy mentorship programmes.

Related: Tax Basics For Business Owners

By joining this programme you get access to a number of resources, including:

  • Flexible lending, which will help you to purchase fixed assets, maintain your inventory and meet your ongoing operating needs
  • Customised credit is structured to suit your businesses industry and cash flow cycle
  • Mentorship and training, which will take place through seminars and accredited institutes
  • This will help you to improve your business expertise
  • Networking opportunities will enable you to meet like-minded entrepreneurs in your area.

How to apply and find out more

Apply through the Nedbank website or contact them directly:

Absa – Enterprise Development Fund

ABSA-Logo

Absa – Enterprise Development Fund

Absa host a R250 million Enterprise Development fund, which finances SMME’s in the value chains of these corporates or government entities.

Resource: Absa Enterprise Funding

This Enterprise Development Programme will also involve corporates and government entities that are interested, allowing them to meet their ESD obligations.

Who qualifies?

  • Previously disadvantaged individuals with 100% black owned business
  • Small to Medium-sized Enterprise (SME). This includes start-ups and existing businesses.
  • Your SME cannot get normal financing from normal banking channels
  • You are a South African citizen, residing permanently in South Africa
  • You are fully involved in day-to-day operations
  • You already have the skills/ expertise relevant to your business
  • Your business can show profitable historical financials or a realistic cash flow forecast
  • The business’ main transactional account is held with Absa, no split banking is allowed
  • You need a loan of between R5 000 and R3 million with a maximum loan term of five years
  • The economic benefit realised through the finance application resides in the province where your SME resides.

How to apply

Complete an application form and bring it in to your nearest Absa branch, along with the supporting documentation listed on the last page of the form.

Other Enterprise Development Programmes

These enterprise development programmes don’t belong to any one category and often have contributors from finance and government or are private sector developed, hosted by large companies themselves.

Tholoana Enterprise Programme

Tholoana Enterprise Programme

Tholoana Enterprise Programme

This is a high-energy solution that has helped hundreds of businesses to accelerate their success.

The programme includes all round support, expert mentorship, skills training workshops, access to market, and qualified investment-readiness support.

The Tholoana Enterprise Programme has been seen to improve the confidence and skills of entrepreneurs.

Who qualifies?

  • The business is black-owned and managed
  • Your business is operational
  • Your business is headquartered and registered in South Africa
  • The business should be commercially sustainable and viable
  • You are involved in the business’s daily operations and management on a full time basis
  • You have the skills and experience necessary for the type of business you’re engaged in
  • Your business is in the initial stages of operations (older than 6 months and no more than 5 years).

How to apply

You have to register on the portal first, and then you can apply online here.

Please ensure you read the instructions on the portal carefully and download the “Online Application Guidance Document” from the link available on the portal.

For more information

Contact the SAB Foundation Tholoana Team directly on 086 111 1690 or 011 881 8798 (during office hours).

The Royal Fields and Job Funds’ Enterprise Development Programmes

The-Royal-Fields-and-Job-Funds-Enterprise-Development-Programmes

The Royal Fields and Job Funds’ Enterprise Development Programmes

Royal Fields Finance is a financial services group that focus on funding small and medium enterprises; in partnership with the Jobs Fund they have launched an enterprise development program worth R 100 million to support SME’s.

Who qualifies?

This programme focuses on SME’s that are unable to raise funding from banks or traditional funding institutions, due to a lack of trading history, security and risk capital.

The target of this programme is small and medium sized enterprises, that have an annual turnover of less than R60 million and that require funding between R 70 000 and R2,5 million.

The following sectors will be emphasised for this programme as they have been identified as high growth businesses:

  • Infrastructure
  • Manufacturing
  • Small scale farming
  • Renewable and clean energy

How to apply?

There is a comprehensive application process which can be seen on their website here.

You will need to complete a telephonic interview, face-to-face interview, credit assessment, compilation of credit reports.

Resource: The Basics Of Registering A New Company

Your application will then be considered by the Credit Committee and an onsite due diligence is conducted to assess your business.

For more information    

Please contact Royal Fields Finance at:

Siyakhula Enterprise Development Programme

Siyakhula Enterprise Development Programme

Siyakhula Enterprise Development Programme

Total South Africa launched the Siyakhula programme, which is part of Total’s commitment to transformation through the development of black entrepreneurs and enterprises.

Total South Africa CEO and Managing Director, Mr. Christian des Closières explains: “Although enterprise development has been a component of Total South Africa’s transformation strategy for some 60 years, it is time for the company to put more effort and resources into our enterprise development projects, start consolidating on the remarkable gains, and expand our enterprise development footprint into one consolidated programme, Siyakhula.”

Who qualifies?

This enterprise development programme focuses on three specific sectors, namely:

  • Retail – service station network enterprise development
  • Independent service providers
  • Road transport

How to apply

To find out more send your enquiry or application to: customerservice@totalcustomercare.co.za.

Government Enterprise Development Programmes

These are enterprise development programmes that are offered through various departments of the government.

Read: NYDA Funding

Government enterprise development programmes are targeted at specific demographics, including the youth and women, or focused on particular areas of trade.

National Youth Development Agency (NYDA)

NYDA-Logo

National Youth Development Agency

NYDA is the national youth development agency and they offer a government supported and initiated enterprise development programme. The programme offers entrepreneurship training which corresponds to the labour market and the business needs of young people.

Who qualifies?

Awareness training is aimed at South African citizens between the ages of 14 and 35.

Structured/modular training is aimed at South African citizens between the ages of 18 and 35 and who are existing business owners or aspiring entrepreneurs.

For more information and how to apply

Applicants and those wanting to learn more about this enterprise development programme find your nearest branch information here.

The Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA)

SEDA-logo

Small Enterprise Development Agency

The Small Enterprise Development Agency is an agency affiliated to the Department of Small Business Development.

Read: Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda)

The mandate is to implement a standard and common national delivery network for small enterprise developments as well as integrate government-funded small enterprise support agencies across all tiers of government.

For who qualifies and how to apply

Please find the application forms here.

For more information

  • Contact SEDA: 012 441 1000
  • Business Information Centre: 0860 103 703
  • Website: www.seda.org.za

Related: Watch List: 50 Black African Women Entrepreneurs To Watch

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Business Model Design – Picking The Business Model That Works For You

You have the need to make money. That’s where a business model design comes in.

Anthony Miller

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So, you’ve picked your lane.  You’ve decided what you want to do and why you want to do it.  You’ve picked something you’re good at.  You’re convinced the world needs and values it.  You now need to decide how to make money.  That’s where business model design comes in.

There are plenty of business model options for the same idea.  For example, let’s say your idea is to offer historic tours of Cape Town.  You could either do it yourself or hire professional guides to do it.  Or you could use mobile technology to provide DIY walking tours.  You could charge per tour or you could charge a membership fee.  There are so many options.  How do you pick the model that works for you?

The Lean Canvas is a great tool for entrepreneurs who are faced with this question. Adapted from The Business Model Canvas, it provides a simple, one page framework for brainstorming possible business models, prioritising where to start, and tracking ongoing learning.  It walks the entrepreneur through the business model process logically and ensures the key elements of a successful business are considered.

Related: Want To Change Your Business Model? Answer These 3 Questions

The Lean Canvas

lean

My co-founders and I have used the Canvas extensively at Simply – for designing our business model, and for communicating it to partners and investors. The only thing you know with certainty when you start a business is that it’s not going to turn out as you expect it to.  The Canvas evolves as you go – it was, and continues to be, a very useful guide in our journey.

We figured there was an opportunity to do something disruptive in the SA life insurance space.  It was clear to us that lots of people were either not covered or getting a rough deal.  Guided by the Canvas, we defined our first Customer Segment as adult South Africans, aged between 25 and 45 and earning between R5k and R30k monthly.

We then identified the 3 big Problems – specific to that segment – that needed solving:

  1. Most of the people in our segment have some form of funeral cover, but very few have life or disability cover.
  2. The cover they do have is often expensive relative to the benefits provided (i.e. a very small % of the premium goes towards the risk costs).
  3. There is no simple, intuitive way to buy good value life, disability and funeral cover online.

Next came the Value Proposition.  We believed we could use technology, digital marketing and human-centred product design to deliver simple, online life, disability and funeral insurance at a great price.  We felt we could be for life insurance in South Africa what Takealot has been for retail.  We thought the world was moving far faster than incumbents realised; that millennials were ready to buy life insurance online; that we could build for the digital world and be in the right place at the right time.

Related: 4 Types Of Business Models

And the rest flowed from there.  I don’t have the time or the space to walk you through the other elements of the Canvas here, but you can probably fill in the blanks.  Suffice to say, the process was invaluable and enabled us to build our business around a clearly considered business model.  It’s early days, but the signs are good – we’re making a positive impact, having fun and keeping our investors happy.

So, how should you go about sketching your own Lean Canvas?  The team at www.leanstack.com and suggest the following approach:

  1. Sketch a canvas in one sitting. While a business plan can take weeks or months to write, your initial canvas should be sketched quickly.
  2. It’s okay to leave sections blank. Rather than trying to research or debate the “right” answers, put something down quickly or leave it blank and come back to it later.
  3. Think in the present. Business plans try too hard to predict the future which is impossible. Instead, write your canvas with a ‘getting things done’ attitude.
  4. Use a customer-centric approach.  You may need to sketch one Canvas per customer segment.  Start with the Customer Segment and go in sequence.

In summary, the Canvas has brought clarity and a common language to our business model design process.  It’s enabled us to agree upon and communicate our business model effectively – both internally and externally.  It’s also allowed us to tune and adjust our model as our story has unfolded – an inevitability for entrepreneurs.  I highly recommend the Lean Canvas as a tool for designing your business model.  Give it a try – I think you’ll like it.

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