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Start-up Advice

Why You Should Follow Your Dreams – Not Your Passion

My last column said to never follow your passion. Don’t forget it, it’s good advice. But not following your passion doesn’t mean you shouldn’t follow your dream.

Alan Knott-Craig

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A dream is different to a passion. Dreams are like visions. Sometimes they happen whilst you’re sleeping. Sometimes they happen when you’re reading a book. Sometimes they happen when a loved one dies.

Sometimes they happen when you’re sitting in your umpteenth corporate meeting, or when you’re talking to someone. Sometimes they happen when you’re ten years old, sometimes when you’re sixty years old. They happen in the shower. They even happen whilst singing along to Roy Orbison in your car. Sometimes they happen when you have your first child, or for no reason at all other than destiny. The point is not how your vision appeared.

The point is that you have the good fortune of having a vision. Not everyone is that lucky. Maybe your dream is to have children. Maybe it’s to live on an island. Maybe it’s to build a billion-dollar business. Maybe it’s to change the education system, or to go to Mars. Whatever it is, don’t take it for granted. Treasure it. Most people are milling through life not knowing where to go. Most people wish they had a dream. If you have a dream, you’re already blessed with more than most. You now have to chase it.

Related: You Need To Commit To The Entrepreneurial Jump

“I can’t, I don’t have enough money.” “I can’t, my wife won’t let me.” “I can’t, it’s too hard.” Blah blah blah. Excuses will only result in you lying in your bed when you’re 70 years old regretting not following your dream. It’s around then that you’ll comprehend that you only get one life, you better live it to the max.

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Need money? Save up. Too difficult? Toughen up. Spouse won’t let you? Leave him, he obviously doesn’t love you. Not only will you always regret not chasing your dreams, you’re also insulting all those people out there that never had a vision, never had something to chase. They would give anything to have a dream to chase, and yet you selfishly ignore yours.

Don’t be a fool. Ignore the naysayers and take the first steps to living your life to the fullest, bringing your dreams to fruition and making the most of your short time on Earth.

And yet folks still don’t do it. They consciously ignore what their heart tells them to do. Why don’t people follow their dreams? For most people it’s because they can’t handle the uncertainty.

You Have A Choice

Maybe this is you. Maybe you just can’t handle not knowing what will happen tomorrow. So instead of following your dream and venturing into the unknown, you choose the well-trodden path. You choose to stay with your spouse because it’s embarrassing to admit you made a mistake, even though you’re desperately unhappy.

You choose your corporate job because you need the monthly pay cheque to cover your mortgage, car repayments and school fees, even though every day is soul-destroying. You choose to live your life as it is, even though you know it’s not the life you should be living.

The operative word is ‘choose’. You choose. It’s a choice. Not being happy is your choice. Having regrets is your choice. Having high overheads is your choice. Having a mortgage is your choice.

Not following your dream is your choice. Never let it be said that you didn’t make the choice to waste your short time on Earth. You can’t use the excuse of, “But I had no choice.” Not everyone has a dream, but everyone has a choice. The choice you must make is whether you’re willing to pay the price of dealing with uncertainty.

Related: You Need To Sell, Be A Salesman, Be A Smous

Follow Your Dream

Are you willing to live without debt? To drive a second-hand car? To not care what people think? Are you willing to lower your lifestyle and overheads in order to make yourself less vulnerable to unpleasant surprises?

Remove the fear of the unknown and you’ll be freed to follow your dream. Make sure you never look back at your life and say, “What if…” Make sure you live a simple life.


Read ‘Be A Hero’ today

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Alan Knott-Craig is a successful entrepreneur and best selling author. Founder of over 20 companies in the tech space, he was named as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2009. To find out more about Alan’s new book, The 13 Rules for Entrepreneurs, go to www.13rules.co.za.

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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

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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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