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Start-up Advice

9 Top Tips For Young Entrepreneurs

Here are my 9 tips for people who dream of going it alone, or are already in the process of doing so.

JP Prinsloo

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In an economy where there are fewer jobs and a greater of number competing candidates, it’s never made more sense to be your own boss. As a 25-year-old entrepreneur who has recently started his own business, I’m fast learning how much fun you can have blazing a trail on your own.

But I often encounter people who think the idea is nothing but a pipe dream, and that working for a boss in a job they don’t like is the hand they have been dealt in life. I’m here to counter that argument. Not only is entrepreneurship a very real reality, it actually needs to be promoted more heavily in South Africa.

1. Do what you enjoy

Malcolm Gladwell argued that you need to spend 10, 000 hours to master something in his book, Outliers. The theory argues that you aren’t simply born good at something, but need to invest a considerable amount of time to reach the level you want.

And if you’re going to spend 10, 000 hours doing something, why not make sure you enjoy it?

The theory illustrates why entrepreneurs who pursue their passion are often the most successful.

Related: 8 Reasons Young Entrepreneurs, or the Young at Heart, Lead the Way

2. Anyone can do it

You don’t need to be Bill Gates to be an entrepreneur. Nor do you need to be Bill Gates to be considered successful.

Success can be defined in many ways. There’s monetary wealth, of course, but also happiness, freedom and the notion of spending time doing what you enjoy.

If you’re working a 9-5 job you don’t enjoy and making R15 000 a month, what do you need to earn working alone to be happy?

Work that out, and re-evaluate what you define as success.

3. Not every idea is good

Sadly, not every idea makes good business sense, but when you’re really attached to your project, it can be possible to attain the necessary perspective to let go.

Often, it’s tempting to ask family and friends for their critical opinion, only to receive flattery in return. Families are preoccupied with your feelings, not your fortunes, and tend to be a poor judge of whether your business makes sense.

If you’re looking for a second opinion, ask an impartial outsider who won’t be afraid to tell you right from wrong.

4. Enjoy what you do

The minute you start finding your work a slog, you might as well give up. The most successful entrepreneurs enjoy their work so much they don’t even consider it work.

Sure, every person has good days and bad days, but if your passion wanes for too long, the motivation to make it a success won’t be there.

Not only is it easier to enjoy what you’re doing when you’re working for yourself – it’s absolutely crucial.

working-smart

5. Work smart

You need to work incredibly hard to get your business off the ground – but you also need to work smart. For instance, burying your nose in reams of emails every morning is certainly hard work, but it’s unlikely to take your business to the next level.

Outsource tasks you don’t have time for, and concentrate on your core strengths.

Related: 7 Insanely Productive Habits of Successful Young Entrepreneurs

6. Be assertive. It’ll help

As a young entrepreneur, you’ll often encounter people are more experienced than you and versed in the art of getting their way.

A word of advice: Don’t allow anyone to routinely get what they want.

Stick to what you believe in and dig your heels in if you have to. It doesn’t do you any good to be seen as a pushover, and word travels fast. 

7. At the same time, stay humble

For me, staying humble is absolutely crucial. The minute you lose your humility you’re setting yourself up for failure. People can spot arrogance a mile away.

In reality, no one has the right to think they know it all: because they don’t, and the minute you start believing your own hype you’ll fail to spot a potential curveball until it’s too late.

8. Consider the idea of working remotely 

People like Tim Ferriss are championing entrepreneurship in new and exciting ways, and one of Ferriss’ claims is that location is entirely irrelevant.

Why should an internet entrepreneur go into an office every day when he or she can work anywhere in the world?

People like Ferriss are paving the way for young entrepreneurs to challenge the norms of deskbound duties, 9-5.

Related: The Tim Ferriss Approach to Setting Goals: Rig the Game so You Win

9. Take risks!

Risk tasking is a big part of being your own boss. It means giving up on the idea of a steady pay check and sacrificing time and money to make your business a success.

As long as you trust your instincts and learn from your mistakes, risk-taking will take your venture to the next level.

In the end, I’d like to see more and more people become their own boss in South Africa. With better access to the internet, laptops and cell phones, it’s never made more sense to be your own boss. Better yet, with Google at your fingertips and resources like Entreprenuer.com to help you along, there’s help at hand.

Don’t be afraid to take the risk – you won’t regret it.

JP Prinsloo is a 25-year-old entrepreneur and founder of the lightning, sound and events management firm PriFactor. Visit his website at www.prifactor.com

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Start-up Advice

Put On Your Wellies: It’s Time To Wade Into Risk

Entrepreneurs aren’t all leaping into the unknown like lemmings off a cliff, but they do need to consider it…

Chris Ogden

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You’ve had a great idea. You’ve looked into its development. You’ve recognised that it has potential beyond just what Auntie Mabel and Mike From The Grocer think. And you’ve clearly nailed a pain point that can make money. Now it is time to take the risk of running with it.

Every big idea comes with risk. You can’t step out into the world of entrepreneurial thinking and business development without it. Your idea may fail. It will also be time consuming, demanding, hungry for money, and hard work. It is unrealistic to expect that your project will leap out into the world and be an unmitigated success.

It is also unrealistic to assume that it isn’t worth taking this risk.

There are steps that you can follow to ensure that your risk is managed so you aren’t blindly leaping off that cliff…

Step 01: Do your research

No, canvassing your neighbours, friends and family is not doing research. You need to know that your idea will appeal to a broad market and that it will have significant legs. This may sound like daft advice, but you would be surprised how many people think an idea will take off just because Susan in Accounting said so.

Step 02: Understand the costs

Projects are hungry for money and investment. Realistically work out your budgets and how much it will cost to take your project off the ground and then stick to it.

A calculated risk is a far better bet than one that shoots from the hip and hopes for the best. You can also use this as an opportunity to draw a clear line under where you will stop investing and end the project. If it keeps eating money and isn’t getting anywhere with results you need to be able to walk away.

Step 03: Know when to walk away

As mentioned before, this can be defined by a line you’ve drawn in the proverbial sand (and budget) but no matter where you draw this line, you have to stick to it. Often, when time, money and energy have been poured into a project it can be incredibly hard to walk away.

You think ‘but I have put so much into this, just one more’ and then it gets to a point where the ‘just one more’ has taken you so far down the line that walking away feels impossible. Leave. Learn the lessons. Apply them to your next project.

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Start-up Advice

Mind The Gap

The entrepreneur’s guide to finding the gaps and building the right solutions.

Chris Ogden

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Innovation may very well be the key to business success but finding the gap into which your innovative thinking can fit is often a lot harder than people realise. Some may be struck by inspiration in the shower, others by that moment of blinding insight in a meeting, however, for most people finding that big idea isn’t that simple. They want to be an entrepreneur and start their own high-growth business, but they need some ideas on how to find that big idea.

Here are five…

1. Network

It sounds trite but networking is actually an excellent way of picking up on patterns and trends in conversation and business problems. The trick is to note them down and pay attention. Soon, you will find patterns emerging and ideas forming.

2. Look for pain

Just as networking can reveal trends in the market, so can spending time reading. The latter will also help you find common business pain points. These are the touchpoints that frustrate people, annoy business owners, affect productivity, or impact employee engagement.

Be the Panado that fixes these pains.

3. Luck

luck

This is probably the most annoying of the ideas, but it is unfortunately (or fortunately) very true. Luck does play a role in helping you capture that big idea. However, luck isn’t just standing around and random people offering you opportunities. Luck is found at networking events, it is found in research and it is found in conversations with other entrepreneurs.

4. Luck needs courage

You may have found the big idea through your network, a pain point or pure blind luck, but if you don’t have the courage to take it and run with it, you will lose it to someone else.

Being bold in business is highly underrated because most people assume that everyone is bold and prepared to take big leaps into the unknown. However, not all brilliant entrepreneurs were ready to throw their family funds to the wind and leap into an idea – they were courageous enough to figure out a way of harnessing their ideas realistically.

5. Pay attention

This is probably one of the most vital ways of finding a gap in the market. Often, people are so busy that they don’t really pay attention to that niggling issue that always bothers them on a commute, or in a mall, or at a meeting. This niggling issue could very well be the next big business opportunity. Pay attention to it and find out if that issue can be solved with your innovative thinking.

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Start-up Advice

5 Things To Know About Your “Toddler” Business

As you navigate this new toddler phase of your business, here are five things to bear in mind.

Catherine Black

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Ah, toddlers. Those irresistible bundles of joy bring a huge amount of energy, curiosity and fun to any family – but there’s also frustration and worry that comes with their unpredictability, as they grow and start to become more independent. If you own a business and it’s successfully past its “infancy” of the first year or so, it’s likely it will also go through a toddler stage of its lifecycle.

Pete Hammond, founder of luxury safari company SafariScapes, agrees with this. “Our business is now three and a half years old, and we’ve found that we’re not yet big enough to justify employing a large team of people to handle the day-to-day admin tasks, yet we still need to grow the business as well,” he says. “As a result, our main challenge is finding the time to step back and see the bigger picture. Kind of like when you are raising a busy toddler and you spend most of your time running after them!”

As you navigate this new toddler phase of your business, here are five things to bear in mind:

1. This too shall pass

Everything in life is temporary – and that goes for both the good and the bad. It’s as helpful to remember this when you’re facing the might of a toddler temper tantrum, as it is when you’re facing throws of uncertainty in your business. If your new(ish) venture is going through a rough patch in its first few years, it can be easy to think about giving up – but don’t. As long as you have an overall big idea that you believe can add value to your customers, keep pushing through the rough parts until you come out the other side.

2. Appreciate what this phase brings

The toddler years mean that the initial newborn joy is officially behind you. But these small humans also bring their own kinds of joy, as you watch them learn new skills, say funny things, and give affection back to you. While your two-year-old business may not hold the same exhilaration for you as it did during those first few months, there are now different things to appreciate about it: Maybe you’re expanding your product range, or employing new people who can take the workload off you.

3. Establish boundaries

Toddlers thrive on boundary and routine – and your toddler business will too. As it grows into a new phase, try and establish limits in terms of the type of clients you want to work with and the type of work you’ll do. It’s also a good idea to make a decision about the hours you’ll work and when you’ll switch off, which will help you establish a good work-life balance.

4. Take a break

Every parent with a toddler needs a break every now and then, even if that means a walk around the block (on your own!), a dinner out with friends, or even a few days away. The same is true for a demanding small business: every so often, remember to take time out to rest properly, where you switch off your laptop and completely unplug. You’ll return much more inspired and resilient to deal with the everyday uncertainty that it brings.

5. Give it space to make mistakes

While the unpredictability of a young business can be stressful and tiring, it’s also a time for trying new things without the risk of huge consequences if they don’t quite work. After all, it’s much simpler to change your USP if you’re a small business employing a few people, rather than a big company where 50 people are relying on you for their salary, or where you’ve received a huge amount of investment capital. While you may fail in some of the things you try with your business (in fact, this is almost guaranteed), see it as a toddler that’s resilient enough to pick itself up, dust its knees and keep moving forward.

During this phase of business growth it’s also essential to have the right type of medical aid cover. There are medical schemes such as Fedhealth which has a number of medical aid options and value-added benefits to ensure that your health and wellness is taken care of too. After all, the healthier you and your staff are, the more productive your business will be – during the toddler (business) stage and beyond.

While this phase can be frustrating, it’s a sign that your business is growing and adapting, rather than remaining in its infancy, and that can only be a good thing! So embrace the difficulties, learn from them, and watch as your business strides forward confidently into the next exciting phase.

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