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Start-up Advice

Strengthening SA With The Help Of Young ‘Treps

Are you young and hungry? Here are my top tips for making it to the top.

Glen Jordan

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June 16 is Youth Day in South Africa, recognised in memory of the Soweto Uprising of 1976. Forty years on, it stands as a salient reminder of how far we have come as a nation.

Though by no means perfect, the country is closer to true equality and democracy than ever before, and now it’s important to look ahead to strengthening South Africa’s business interests.

I firmly believe entrepreneurship is the answer.

As the Marketing Director of IMB, we work with young business-savvy entrepreneurs wanting to better their lives and use technology to make a difference.

Related: 9 Top Tips For Young Entrepreneurs

1. Failure is a fact of life, but passion keeps you going

Failure is inevitable and it’s a fact of life. But passion burns brightly in all good entrepreneurs and will sustain you through the tough times.

2. Have a vision

Good entrepreneurs have a game-plan in mind and keep long-term goals at the forefront of their thinking. In simple terms? They have vision and they are determined to realise it.

3. Work effective hours, not necessarily long hours

This one is important. Spending a lot of time ‘working’ can produce very little output, because people tire after a few hours of work and inevitably tread water while they count down the hours of the day.

Your goal should be to forget ordinary working hours and put the maximum amount of energy into completing a task effectively.

After all, spending a lot of time behind your laptop doesn’t mean you’re actually getting work done.

4. Be positive

How’s this for a thought experiment: I ask you not to read something. What’s your first inclination? To read it, of course.

The human mind is a funny strange thing, and telling yourself not to do something very often becomes an all-encompassing thought you can’t get away from.

Thoughts like, don’t make a mistake and don’t create a bad impression end up forcing you into the trap of worrying about failure.

Flip it around. Be positive. I want to succeed. I will create a good impression. Small changes to the way you think will have a surprising impact on your day-to-day fortunes.

5. Use technology

technology-use-in-business

Technology is changing the landscape of business.

At IMB, we use technology to make lives better. We’ve hit upon wireless mobile banking solutions for people who have been left out in the cold by the big banks, or want more control over their finances.

You can similarly use technology to change established rules. With mobile phones at our fingertips, and a cell phone penetration above 100% in South Africa, it’s a readily accessible form of technology with the potential to change lives.

Related: 10 Young Entrepreneurs Under 30 Share Their Start-Up Secrets

6. Work with good people

Teamwork is powerful, and working with the right people is a sure way to succeed. Look out for enthusiastic, committed people with a passion for your business. There’s nothing worse than working with someone who embroils you in negativity.

7. Know your customer

Know who you’re selling to.

At IMB, our customer-base is wide-ranging, as we appeal to both South African residents and migrants; people who are clients of the banks and the bankless; people with ID books and people who are seeking asylum.

It’s important that you take the time to understand your audience. What are their needs? What do they like about your service, and what do they need you to improve?

8. Finally, remember that entrepreneurship is special

Entrepreneurs bring ideas to life that have the potential to change the world. We should remember this. The spirit of entrepreneurship is a driving force behind our work at IMB, and I hope more young people are deciding to take control of their lives. Being your own boss is a good feeling.

Read next: Funding And Resources For Young SA Entrepreneurs

Glen Jordan is the Director of IMB, a Financial Services Firm with offices throughout South Africa. IMB helps South Africans manage their money better. IMB, a financial services firm committed to reducing the debt situation in South Africa. Jordan started life as a computer programmer, and was a business analyst at a number of financial institutions in South Africa and the UK. IMB is fast becoming an industry leader by actively changing the way South Africans manage their money. Glen has been invited as a guest speaker to the Money expo held at the Pavilion convention centre in Sandton this July. For more information, visit www.imb.co.

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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