Without a doubt, it’s a competitive world, whether it’s in sports or in business, and there are more similarities between entrepreneurs and top athletes than you might imagine. In this current financial climate when so many businesses are failing, it’s fair to say that companies that survive the economic crisis will come out of it leaner, stronger and fitter for business.
Just like any great Olympian, business owners that have been through hard times have had to rise to the challenge and succeed. By following the rules of how to W.I.N. G.O.L.D, you and your business can become a world-class champion.
W – Willpower to succeed
Having a competitive will to win is paramount for any athlete; otherwise there really is no point in competing. Great athletes will picture themselves crossing the finish line in first place and will play this over and over in their minds. They cannot envisage losing and, in fact, it doesn’t even come into the equation. Likewise, a successful entrepreneur will never give in; they will not ease off, even if they are close to their end goal. They will imagine being successful and will not let the demons of failure cloud their judgement.
I – Instil values
A successful Olympian has the power to instil values and traits in those who look up to them, and this is the very same with a great business person: a skilled entrepreneur is one that has the ability to instil values into the hearts and minds of their employees. They are able to establish a set of core values that makes their company unique compared to any other competitor, and this is what makes them stand out from the crowd. These values are such that employees and clients alike are proud to work for, and indeed associate themselves with such a company.
N –Never look back
There’s an old saying that goes ‘you’re only as good as your last race’, and this is true of both Olympian and entrepreneur. A great athlete will not rest on their laurels, even though they may have triumphed in their last race. They realise that the next race is a blank canvas whereby everybody starts from the same point. They, therefore, have to be better, fitter and stronger than anybody else. Constantly looking forward inspires athletes to be the best they can be. By the same token, a successful entrepreneur doesn’t take their foot off the pedal either: they too are constantly looking for the next big deal, the next idea, the next challenge that they thrive on, and this is what makes them successful.
G – Get the job done
When it comes to athletics, races are often won by a whisker. If an athlete ceases to give it their all, if they ease off just 1cm before the line, then chances are they’re going to lose to someone who gives 110% all the way to the finish. In essence, a great athlete gets the job done no matter what, they see it through right to the end. Similarly in business, a successful entrepreneur never loses focus; they never slack off just because a project is almost done; they don’t cut back when a client tells them he likes their offer. Instead, a skilled entrepreneur believes that the deal is only done when the client tells them it is, and not before. In other words, they maintain focus all the way to the end, until the client is totally satisfied.
O – Organised
A great athlete never comes to a race under prepared. Instead, they will have trained hard for an event and have focussed on eating the right stamina-boosting foods. They have their head in the right place and their mind-set focused on the race. In essence, they will be as prepared and organised as they can be. Similarly, a successful entrepreneur never goes into a meeting or a deal without being fully prepared. Speak to any successful business leader and they will tell you that ‘failing to plan is like planning to fail’, and if the deal falls through because they have neglected to plan ahead or be fully organised, then they only have themselves to blame.
L – Leverage
An Olympic coach understands exactly how to get the best out of their athletes by leveraging their unique capabilities and positioning them in events that allow the athlete to shine: you will never find a great sprinter entered into an 800 or 1500 meter race. Similarly, a great entrepreneur will have the ability to leverage the skill sets of the individuals around them and position them in fields that bring out the best in them: a skilled entrepreneur wouldn’t keep their best sales person in the office. Importantly, when things are going to pot, a successful entrepreneur will always be able to step back from the situation, re-focus, and leverage the skills necessary to lead the team through in the same way that a great athlete will always dig deep, harness the power of their skill set and make good, even when the odds may be stacked against them.
D – Don’t give up
Like a great athlete never gives up and keeps on giving it their all, a successful entrepreneur will never stop ‘til they’ve gotten that contract, sold that product, or completed that job. In many cases, successful business people are faced with adversity, and what makes them stand out from the crowd is their willpower to pick themselves up, dust themselves down, and get right back in there when many others would have folded. This attitude gives them the edge over weaker competitors who only do as much as necessary and cut back when times get tough.
So as we fast approach the London Olympics, will you be doing the same old things and getting the same old results, or will you be thinking like an Olympian and celebrating your own gold medal moment?
Start-Up Law: I’m A Start-up Founder. Can I Pay Employees With Shares?
Bulking up employee salaries with equity is a common method to attract, retain and incentivise top talent.
Every early stage start-up company battles with restricted cash flow and not being able to pay market related salaries to their employees. Bulking up employee salaries with equity is a common method to attract, retain and incentivise top talent.
Can I pay salaries with shares?
South African labour laws require that employees be paid certain minimum wages, and “remuneration”, as defined within the Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Act, either means in ‘money or in kind’. ’In kind’ does not include shares or participation in share incentive schemes, as determined by the Minister of Labour. As such, there is no room for start-ups to completely substitute paying salaries with shares or share options. However, there is no restriction in topping up below market related salaries with equity via an employee share ownership plan (‘ESOP‘).
Employee Share Ownership Plans
There are a variety of ways in which employees can be incentivised, and it will always be important for the start-up founders to consider what goal they wish to achieve by incentivising their employees.
ESOPs can be structured in several ways, for example: employees may be offered direct shareholding in the company, options for the acquisition of shares in the future; or alternatively, a phantom / notional share scheme can be set up.
ESOPs permit employees to share in the company’s success without requiring a start-up business to spend precious cash. In fact, ESOPs can contribute capital to a company where employees need to pay an exercise price for their share options or shares.
The primary disadvantage of ESOPs is the possible dilution of the Founder’s equity. For employees, the main disadvantage of an ESOP compared to cash bonuses or bigger salaries, is the lack of liquidity. If the company does not grow bigger and its shares does not become more valuable, the shares may ultimately prove to be worthless.
Some key features to consider when setting up an ESOP are:
- ELIGIBILITY – who will be allowed to participate? Full time employees? Part-time employees? Advisors?
- POOL SIZE – what percentage of shares will be allocated to incentivise employees?
- RESTRICTIONS – will employees be able to sell their shares immediately?
- VESTING – will there be a minimum period that service employees will have to serve with the start-up to receive the economic benefit of his or her shares?
Employee share ownership plans are great corporate structuring mechanisms for attracting and retaining employees, as well as fostering an understanding of the company ethos and encouraging loyalty and productivity. It is essential when implementing an ESOP that all the tax implications are considered and that the correct structure and legal documentation are in place.
Beauty Of Failure: The Art Of Embracing Rejection
In this piece I will try demystify failure, and look into why it should be embraced and not feared.
“Chaotic”, “uncertain”, and “rollercoaster” are three words that would effectively describe almost any entrepreneurial journey. If death and taxes are certainties in life, then failure and taxes are the only two guarantees in business.
If failure is (to some degree at least) inevitable, why should we fear it? In this piece I will try demystify failure, and look into why it should be embraced and not feared.
1. It’s Part of the Job
We can start by separating failure into two different categories – micro and macro-failure. If a macro-failure can be considered as the overall failure and shutdown of the business, micro-failures can be seen as the day to day events that go wrong – that potential client that hangs up on your cold call; the sales pitch that gets the soft-no response of “we’ll call you”; the product launch that no one pitched up to. As Mark Manson puts it, business (as in life) is just a process of becoming less wrong over time.
Everything is a hypothesis that needs to be tested, and the process of business is applying the learnings from each hypothesis – each micro-failure – to be less wrong next time to move the business forward.
As Seth Godin says, “The cost of being wrong is less than the cost of doing nothing”. Embrace being wrong. Rejection and failure are part of the job.
Related: The Art Of Embracing Rejection
2. Opportunity to Refine
There is one undoubted truth about every failure – and that is, each failure gives an experience to dissect and learn from. The Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius had a similar view; that to one person a situation is good, and to another, that same situation is bad – Only perception decides.
As an entrepreneur, it is important to adopt this stoic thinking of managing your perceptions. Look at situations rationally, and perceive rejections as opportunities to refine the product that the market really needs – not the product you are forcing on your market.
3. With each Failure, Fear it Less
One of the great things about rejection or failure, is that the more often you are exposed to it, the less you fear it. In fact, micro-failures can become such a common part of an entrepreneur’s day, that you stop even noticing them as failures at all.
You may look back on a day with multiple rejections from prospective clients as a normal day on the path to building a business. The goal is to get to that point as quickly as possible.
4. One Less Avenue
In the beginning, any failure will elicit a strong emotional response, however, when it becomes embraced as part of the journey, as crazy as this sounds, you may even get excited for the next rejection or micro-failure.
Why? Because each micro-failure takes away one possible path you could go down in your business. Entrepreneurs tend to be highly ambitious, highly idealistic people. This may result in wanting to do too many things, take the business in too many directions simultaneously, and run before walking.
The beauty of failure is it re-clarifies the path, stops the entrepreneurial mind from getting carried away, and brings everything back into perspective. What’s better than pursuing 1000 potential clients? Pursuing 999 higher potential clients.
Eliminate avenues that aren’t right for your business as quickly as possible so that you can spend time on providing best possible product or service for the ones that are right.
5. Practical Tip to Embrace Rejection
So with all this theoretical talk out of the way, how do we get over that fear of failure to see the beauty of it? Start by watching Jia Jang’s TED talk of 100 Days of Rejection: https://www.ted.com/talks/jia_jiang_what_i_learned_from_100_days_of_rejection. The talk genuinely impacted my life. I have since implemented an annual (and much less impressive) 10 days of proactive rejection in my life. The goal is for 10 days, to do anything in any aspect of life that you would do if you weren’t ruled by fear. Ask yourself today, “what would I do if I wasn’t scared?”
The goal is to actively seek rejection to remove the power of fear from damaging your business’s potential.
Finally, I believe we should get our heads around the idea of celebrating our failures. Go for a drink as a team and give a toast to that failure even more than if it was a success. After all, if life is more about the journey than the destination, surely we should celebrate and cherish every event of the journey along the way?
Every event that happens will be critically important in forming the empire of a business that you are building. Take a step back, see the big picture, and smile whenever it doesn’t go as planned. See the beauty of failure.
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.
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.
At 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.
Those 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.
If 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.
Investors 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.
Not 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.
From 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.
- What It Will Really Take For South Africa’s Businesses To Scale And Create Jobs
- Silver Linings For Smaller Businesses In Budget 2018
- Leadership: What Is Your Why? (Read Purpose)
- Start-Up Law: I’m A Start-up Founder. Can I Pay Employees With Shares?
- President Ramaphosa’s Support Of Entrepreneurs And SMEs In SONA Had Us Cheering
- What Real Entrepreneurs Do When They Hear The Word ‘No’
- Joe Public United Shareholders On The Art Of Zigging When Others Zag
Start-up Industry Specific3 months ago
How Do I Start A Transport Or Logistics Business?
Business Plan Advice3 months ago
Writing a Business Plan May Not Be Your Idea Of Fun, But It Forces You To Build These 4 Crucial Habits
Company Posts1 month ago
Enhance Your Entrepreneurial Flair With An Online Postgraduate Diploma From The University Of Pretoria
Start-up Advice1 month ago
9 Quotes Every Entrepreneur Should Live By