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Start-up Advice

Don’t Find A Job, Make One

Entrepreneurship offers more prospects than employment.

Mike Anderson

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School leavers and graduates facing a tough job market would do well to consider entrepreneurship rather than conventional employment, assuming they have the requisite mettle and appetite for challenges.

There are thousands of talented people out there who may struggle to find work in the highly competitive and constrained South African job market and who can, instead, use their skills and ambition to create their own jobs by becoming entrepreneurs.

Choose entrepreneurship

Starting a business is extremely challenging, and entrepreneurship is not an innate talent for the vast majority of people. Instead, entrepreneurship — like success — is largely a choice.

With the right research, self-awareness and both the willingness to fail and the desire to succeed, it’s possible to take control of your own career and, in many cases, create additional jobs in the process.

Often people get retrenched, begin looking for another job, and only when they’ve all but run out of money do they entertain thoughts of entrepreneurship.

While this has the benefit of potentially forcing someone to start a business, doing so can be made more stressful and difficult because of a lack of capital which planning might have alleviated.

Overcome the fear

The biggest obstacle to starting a business — whether one that’s been meticulously planned, or a business created out of personal necessity — is the fear of failure.

The fear of failing and, potentially, losing everything is a universal one. The trick to overcoming it is learning to embrace failure.

You will, inevitably, hit the wall from time to time — it’s the ability to change direction and keep moving that sets the successful apart from the rest.

Read Next: Start-up Basics from Branson

Create a successful new business

Those looking to start their own businesses need to understand the ingredients and strategies of entrepreneurship if they’re to succeed. There’s great value, not only for individuals but for South Africa as a whole, in creating more new businesses.

The mainstay of our economy is small business and it is the future of meaningful, sustainable job creation. The corporate and public sectors are tightening belts and simply aren’t creating the number of jobs our country so badly needs.

Rather than creating jobs, government should focus on cultivating the sort of environment that allows people to start businesses and keep them in business.

As many as 90% of businesses fail within the first 1 000 days. Government should look to removing red tape during that period, insist that it and corporate South Africa pay small businesses within 30 days (especially as delays to payments is the leading reason new businesses fail), make it easier for small businesses to become vendors for large businesses or government, and alleviating the taxation pressures start ups face.

Do what you love – but make money too

When it comes to picking a suitable new business one of the most important things is to find something you love doing, but also something that is economically viable.

It’s crucial you understand your own core competencies and use that to answer the questions “what would make me happiest?” and “what would be acceptable to market and market conditions?”

For some this might mean turning a hobby into a job, for others it might mean taking a personal experience and turning it into a training course for others.

One of the advantages of today’s knowledge economy is that it is possible to start many sorts of businesses with very little capital. This means the ability to start small and take one small step at a time, rather than taking on debt.

By starting from zero with very little borrowing, entrepreneurs can maintain control of their young businesses. Nothing loses you control as quickly as debt.

Read Next: How to Cash In On Your Passion

Don’t give up

Starting small also means when you do fail you can bounce back more quickly and have lost less in the process. Which brings me to the most important question entrepreneurs need to ask themselves: Are you prepared to lose everything and come back despite adversity?

Remember, we don’t read about entrepreneurs’ failures in the press, only their successes, but behind those successes are dark times and struggles. You need to be prepared for that, because the honeymoon phase will be over quickly.

Mike is a life-long entrepreneur. He devotes all his time to conceiving and developing world-class entrepreneurial initiatives such as exhibitions, conferences, road shows, movements, seminars and publications. His primary focus is entrepreneurial development and helping others succeed beyond the norm. This he does as founder and CEO of the National Small Business Chamber (NSBC) – one of the world’s fastest growing and most successful organisations of its kind. Mike has travelled an amazing journey, living a life at the coalface which has been filled with enormous adversity and incredible success. He has been a keynote speaker at many international forums, and annually writes and publishes a book under the title Never Surrender. This he gives away to the thousands of people who attend his seminars and talks every year.

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Start-up Advice

6 Resources For Start-ups Looking For Funding

Here are 6 online resources that can help you pay the bills and grow your business at the same time.

Josh Althuser

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Anyone who has ever considered starting their own business, or is currently in the process of doing so, knows that every little bit helps when it comes to making ends meet. Part of the charm of start-up culture is the low-budget creative atmosphere that seems to continually fuel innovation. But, eventually you’re going to have to keep the lights on and water running, and you can’t do that with creativity alone.

Whether you are a business that is just starting out, or already well on your way, there are plenty of online platforms that offer start-ups advice and funding opportunities. Here are 6 online resources that can help you pay the bills and grow your business at the same time.

1. Kickstarter

kickstarter-logoAt one point it seemed that anyone with a clever idea could make a video showing why the world should invest in the next big thing. While a lot of crazy projects have gotten funded over the years, utilising a crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter continues to be a viable way to get your project off the ground. Of course, if you want to reach your funding goals, it’s best that you have already done your market research, have a solid plan, and treat crowdfunding like a global VC.

Visit Kickstarter here.

Related: 4 Tips To Secure Funding For Your Start-up

2. Toptal

toptal-logoThose who are new to the start-up world might not know exactly where to start when it comes to looking for funding. While the freelance economy has grown immensely in the last 5 years, it’s important to know where to look.

Platforms like Toptal offer a wide range of freelance professionals that specialise start-up funding. Start-ups seeking a consultant on Toptal can also rest easy knowing that they carefully screen each candidate, ensuring they have the necessary professional background and experience to guarantee a successful project. 

Visit Toptal here.

3. Appbackr

appbackrIf you couldn’t already tell by the name, appbacker is definitely worth checking out if you are a start-up working in app technology for both Android and Iphone. The platform helps people discover different apps through the crowdsourcing model. Investors can scroll through apps from around the world, and if they like what they see, they can choose to invest. Funding incentive is based on an investor’s ability to purchase an app at the wholesale price, eventually making a profit once the app starts flying off the shelves in the official app store.

Visit Appbackr here.

Related: 7 Strategies For Development As An Entrepreneur

4. Gust

Gust logoInvestors are more likely to invest locally, which is why Gust is an attractive option for start-ups around the world, as they represent over eighty countries worldwide. Founded by a team of investors and lawyers, Gust knows their way around the start-up world.

With portals for both start-ups and investors, the platform seamlessly connects those seeking funds and those looking to invest. Start-ups can create a profile on Gust, and also have access to tools and tips to help them regulate finances and legal matters. 

Visit Gust here.

5. AngelList

angellist-logoNot just for investment, although that is a major part of the platform, AngelList is also a great place to find start-up jobs as well as recruitment. Those start-ups that are looking to expand can greatly benefit from this feature, while also getting their name out there to potential investors.

Their syndicate platform, led by technology experts make room for those who are looking to invest the chance to apply to a lead or directly invest in a fund.

Visit AngelList here.

Related: 6 Steps To Building A Million-Dollar Ecommerce Site In 60 Days

6. Seedrs

seedrs-logoFrom top corporations to big name accelerators, Seedrs aims to simplify the funding process for investors. Providing a vast network of investors from 48 different countries, who tap into an additionally impressive network of start-ups, there is plenty of room for collaboration on this platform. Seeders also encourages investors and start-ups to continue their relationship after the transaction is made. Their online and offline networks aim keep both start-ups and investors in the loop.

Depending at what stage of development your company has currently reached, exploring various funding options available to you is a worthwhile endeavour. Rather than blindly pitching investors, investigating each potential platform, whether it’s crowdfunding or a hiring a freelance funding expert, will save you time and resources so you can focus on the right type of investment based on your needs.

Visit Seedrs here.

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Start-up Advice

Picking Your Lane: Maximising Your Chances Of Success And Happiness

How do you choose? What do you prioritise? What’s right for me is almost certainly not right for you.

Anthony Miller

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Most entrepreneurs start businesses out of necessity.  They do what they have to.  They don’t think far ahead.  They fight fires every day.  They are the foundation of every economy all over the world.  Some succeed, some fail, few shoot the lights out.  Some are happy, some are not.

For me, there’s nothing more thrilling than building a business.  Seeing your ideas turn into reality.  Seeing your team exceed your expectations every day.  Seeing your customers’ lives improved by your products.

But, entrepreneurship is not for the faint-hearted.  You pour blood and sweat and tears into your business.  You get more than your fair share of punches in the nose.  It’s hard, but if you’re lucky and you persevere, the rewards are great.

So, how do you maximise your chances of getting into the ‘happy and shooting the lights out’ club?

Related: 9 Quotes Every Entrepreneur Should Live By

Picking the right lane – figuring out what you’re going to do – is probably the most important decision you’ll make.  Once you’ve figured that out, you can get down to the nitty gritty of picking your team and building your business.

But, how do you choose?  What do you prioritise?  What’s right for me is almost certainly not right for you.

sweet-spot-modelThe Sweet Spot Model, which has been drifting around the web for years, provides great guidance.  If you do what you love, the hard yards won’t feel like work.  If you do what you’re good at, you’ll beat or (even better) outstrip the competition.  If you provide something the world needs, you’ll feel a sense of purpose.  If someone will pay for it, you have a business.

When I co-founded Simply, I wanted to tick all 4 boxes AND work from Cape Town AND be extremely flexible (so I could prioritise family health).

I worked on three different ideas: A GIS-platform for solar and other utilities; a transaction platform for stokvels; and a cheeky online life insurance play.

The life insurance play quickly emerged as my best choice (it helped that my partners are top actuaries J):

  1. What I’m good at – doing start-ups, connecting people and teams, and using technology and data to solve business problems.
  2. What I love – working with people I like and trust to build businesses that solve hard problems and make the world a better place.
  3. What the world needs – most adult South Africans have one or more funeral policies. Few have life or disability cover and policies are often very expensive.  There’s a clear need for simple, convenient, well-priced life, disability and funeral cover.
  4. What someone will pay for – the market we’re targeting is huge – nearly R7.5Bn of new premium is written annually.

Related: 7 Strategies For Development As An Entrepreneur

With the stars lining up, we pressed the go button in early 2016.  It’s now twelve months since we launched to market and early signs are good:

  1. Our innovative, online products – Family Cover, Domestic Cover and Group Cover – have been well received and are improving all the time.
  2. We have an amazing, engaged team – inspired by the purpose of protecting vulnerable people.
  3. We’ve sold more than 4 500 policies to date, providing more than R2.5Bn of cover to more than 20,000 people.
  4. We’re based in Cape Town, working hard and having fun, and I seldom miss a swimming gala, netball game or opportunity to go mountain biking.

While picking the right lane is no guarantee of success, it definitely helps stack the odds in your favour. You’re going to need all the help you can get. So, take the time to pick your lane. I bet it’ll be worth the effort.

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Start-up Advice

9 Quotes Every Entrepreneur Should Live By

Entrepreneurship takes great perseverance. Failure is common. In fact, it is expected. Over 75% of venture-backed start-ups fail.

Jennifer Keithson

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Entrepreneurship takes great perseverance. Failure is common. In fact, it is expected. Over 75% of venture-backed start-ups fail.

There are great learning opportunities that present themselves when we fail, but we must be willing to continue on and try again in order to learn anything at all.

It can be quite an arduous task to strive for your own means, to create your own vision and to rally the support within yourself that starting and running your own business requires.

Thankfully, we’re not in it alone. The wisdom of others can greatly ameliorate the process learning from our missteps and hiccups.

Taking from sagacious investors, inventors and thinkers can help you pick yourself up and make something meaningful out of your quest to become a successful entrepreneur.

By studying the thought processes of other entrepreneurs, we can become more enriched and more aware of how to approach the challenges we face in business and in life.

Here are 9 quotes every entrepreneur should live by:

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