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10 Tips From The Dragons Of Dragons’ Den SA

SA’s Dragons offer top insights into the world of successful entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneur

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Are you In?

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I’m in is on shelf – get your copy today

Gil Oved, Lebo Gunguluza, Polo Leteka, Vinny Lingham and Vusi Thembekwayo have all spent decades in the start-up trenches.

Here they share some of the insights they gained along their steady climb to the top.

These tips have been taken from their new book I’m In: Essential Advice for Entrepreneurs.

The art of negotiation – Gil Oved

Gil-Oved-dragons-den

Gil Oved

“No is the beginning of a negotiation, not the end of one.”

First piece of advice is that negotiation is an art. There is science behind it, but mostly it’s an art. Like any technical skill, you can hone it. And you should, because everything in business is about negotiation.

Second piece of advice: Everything in business is negotiable, and so that’s how you should treat it. Never accept things at face value. No one is going to give you a badge for accepting blindly. Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. What have you got to lose?

Want to know about The Creative Counsel? Click here.

Passion is not enough – Vusi Thembekwayo

Vusi-Thembekwayo

Vusi Thembekwayo

“Many people still think passion is enough to be successful. The truth is that passion is standard.”

Your competitors are all passionate. Passion is no longer a differentiator. Passion is boring. Passionate businesses don’t reply to customer queries after 5pm.

They don’t care if you’re tweeting your bad experiences and they are forever delegating their customer responsibility to call centres.

If you are looking to stand out from the rest, then passion is not enough. You must be obsessed!

Read more on Vusi’s art of pursuing crazy ideas and turning them into profit here.

A good idea is just the beginning – Lebo Gunguluza

Lebo-Gunguluza-south-african-dragon

Lebo Gunguluza

“A great idea gives you the foundation for an opportunity you want to seize, that’s it.”

If you really want to make an idea work, ask yourself these questions: Is there a definite market for my idea? Is my idea going to benefit the customer? Will people be prepared to pay money for my idea?

From Dirt Poor to Self-Made Millionaire: Lebo Gunguluza on his business growth.

Follow the numbers – Polo Leteka

Polo-Leteka-dragons-den-dragon

Polo Leteka

“Numbers tell the story – it’s as simple as that.”

They are a health check and will help you identify where the problem areas are in your business. When it comes to income projections or turnover projections, every entrepreneur thinks they’re going to start off like ‘this’ and it never happens like ‘that’.

In your projections, you always have to have a worst-case scenario, middle-case scenario and best-case scenario. You need to be satisfied that even with your worst-case scenario, you still have a business. Even with your worst-case scenario, you can still hold your head above water.

We recommend you read this: Advice: 2 Minutes with SA’s Top Entrepreneurs.

Don’t be afraid to fail – Vinny Lingham

Vinny-Lingham

Vinny Lingham

“I hate failing, but it spurs me to succeed.”

I could write a book on the mistakes I have made, but the important thing is to reflect on these mistakes and try not to make them again.

Root-cause analysis is very important, because sometimes the reason you think that you failed, is not actually the real reason. Don’t be fooled by randomness.

Regardless of the industry you are in, the mere fact that you have failed the first time and are willing to pick yourself up again, increases your chances of success. And if you fail again, your odds of success the third time are even better.

We recommend you read: This Entrepreneur Got Vinny Lingham To Invest In Him By Crashing His Party.

Protect your equity – Gil Oved

Gil-Oved

Gil Oved

“Equity is cheap when you start your business but years later, when your business is successful, it’s very expensive.”

Entrepreneurs are too quick to give away the equity upfront. Rather raise capital through debt as opposed to equity.

If you do give away equity, be tough about it, because every percentage counts – you don’t want to be the entrepreneur who is actually working for someone.

Find out more on Gil Oved and Ran Neu-Ner here.

Develop a network – Vusi Thembekwayo

Vusi-Thembekwayo-

Vusi Thembekwayo

“Develop a network not only for its ability to feed you, but for your ability to feed it.”

We often think of networks as people who can elevate us when we should be thinking of networks as people we can help elevate. Networks only exist when there is a mutual benefit in the relationship. When you figure out what you can ‘give’ you will get a very strong ‘get’ in return.

Want to know what Vusi thinks of Jugger-niches? Want to know what a Jugger-niche is? See here.

Be creative – Lebo Gunguluza

Lebo-Gunguluza

Lebo Gunguluza

“Be creative, be resourceful.”

You may at times have limited resources, but there is one thing that you must possess, and that is unlimited creativity. The power of creativity cuts across all business platforms, the minute you stop being creative is the minute that your business will start to suffer.

Read more on 10 SA Entrepreneurs Who Built Their Businesses From Nothing here.

It’s about the entrepreneur, not the idea – Polo Leteka

Polo-Leteka

Polo Leteka

“In this space, you back the jockey.”

You want a jockey who can ride any horse and make that horse win, or has the best potential to make that horse win. So you look for character. You look for somebody with a clear vision. Somebody who is determined. Somebody who properly respects the process of being an entrepreneur.

We recommend: 9 Tips for Winning Investors in the 5 Minutes You Have Their Attention.

Know your business – Vinny Lingham

Vinny-Lingham

Vinny Lingham

“I invest in a person who understands their subject matter and has a strong passion to succeed.”

I need to see big drive and stamina to know they are in it for the long haul and won’t give up when there are hurdles, disappointments and difficulties.

We recommend: Silicon Cape: Vinny Lingham & Justin Stanford

Entrepreneur Magazine is South Africa's top read business publication with the highest readership per month according to AMPS. The title has won seven major publishing excellence awards since it's launch in 2006. Entrepreneur Magazine is the "how-to" handbook for growing companies. Find us on Google+ here.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Concerned Citizen

    Dec 16, 2015 at 10:10

    No Mr Thembekwayo do you research boet you will know the facts and benefit of being passionate ….

  2. Concerned Citizen

    Dec 16, 2015 at 10:14

    Mr Lebo you are on point there that worth a read though quiet short , you could have expanded there

  3. ntsatsana kenny phera

    Dec 16, 2015 at 10:19

    I’m still waiting for your answers of who to start a big successfully entrepreneur in my country in Butha bathe Lesotho a filling station with one stop shops

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Lessons Learnt

(Podcast) ‘Bizarre Foods’ Andrew Zimmern: ‘I’m Addicted To The Hustle’

How this week’s ‘How Success Happens’ guest overcame personal struggles and built an empire.

Dan Bova

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I didn’t know what to expect when we scheduled an interview over breakfast with today’s guest Andrew Zimmern. As you may know, the chef, writer, restaurateur and TV personality made a name for himself traveling the world and eating some, well, bizarre foods on his hit travel/food show, Bizarre Foods.

Turns out our breakfast was pretty normal – we didn’t dig into a fresh plate of scrambled brains or anything – but the conversation was anything but typical.

Over the past couple of years, Zimmern has built a true empire around his name with books, TV shows, restaurants (including his new Twin Cities joint Lucky Cricket), and a production company, but as he very candidly told me, the road to success has not been easy. He has gone through a lot of personal pain on his journey, and he says it is a daily endeavour to keep himself moving on the right track.

As Zimmern explained, over the course of his life, he’s had problems with substance abuse, depression – even homelessness – and he was very open about sharing the lessons he’s learned along the way about coping and finding redemption. We also spoke about his dear friend, Anthony Bourdain, and about the struggles of feeling overwhelmed that most of us face.

Related: Gareth Cliff Shares His Tips For Starting Your Very Own Podcast

But don’t get me wrong, he’s really funny, too! There’s nothing “normal” about Andrew Zimmern. Hope you’ll enjoy our conversation, thanks for listening.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Lessons Learnt

How BrightRock Is Disrupting The Insurance Industry With These 2 Pivotal Strategies

Developments in technology, and clear communication are positioning BrightRock to disrupt their industry and transform the consumer experience.

Monique Verduyn

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Vital Stats

  • Players: Sean Hanlon, Leopold Malan, Schalk Malan, Suzanne Stevens
  • Company: BrightRock
  • Est: 2011
  • Visit: www.brightrock.co.za

BrightRock was started around a dining room table in 2011 by four people with years of industry experience and — importantly — a diverse set of complementary skills.  They wanted to make changes to an industry with an age-old methodology by allowing customers to co-create a solution that precisely meets their individual needs, and adjusts as those needs change. Today, BrightRock is the fastest-growing insurer in the intermediated individual life risk market. It also provides underwriting management services to funeral parlour businesses and, more recently, has entered the group risk insurance market, offering its needs-matched approach to employees.

The founders of BrightRock, established in 2011, knew the life insurance industry all too well, and they found its methodology wanting. “Traditional life insurance lumps all the individual’s needs into one policy,” says CEO Schalk Malan.

“It’s a methodology that has been around for centuries. We started afresh and looked at how we could design life insurance based on individual requirements. Our cover is designed to exactly match each specific financial need. Because there is no waste, it’s more cost efficient and sustainable. And if circumstances change and our customer needs more cover, it’s easy to get it because needs-matched design enables the policy to change in line with changing needs.”

1. Embracing digital technology to provide needs-matched insurance

Suzanne Stevens, marketing executive director at BrightRock, points out that this type of innovation achieves efficiency (cost savings) and effectiveness (higher returns). “By harnessing digital technology, we have made our operations more efficient, and aggressively lowered costs by up to 30% for our customers. Every rand they spend with us works harder for them. That’s the benefit of a solution designed around the customer.”

BrightRock’s founders took a similar approach. ‘We ditched legacy thinking in favour of creating a product that is intuitive and easy to navigate. An enormous amount of time and effort went into writing and designing that system, and creating the optimal customer journey.”

Related: How BrightRock Is Rocking The (Industry) Boat In Only 5 Years Since Launch

Unlike clunky legacy systems, BrightRock’s platform is modularised, and was built according to the agile principle of rapid delivery cycles. The result is a technology stack with longevity, that is also flexible enough to be tweaked when needed.

“The advantage of the technology available today is that you can plug things in and pull them out as required,” says Suzanne. “That’s one of the enablers of a truly disruptive mindset. To step away from accepted norms and find new solutions requires curiosity and creativity, as well as a lot of courage to go up against large incumbents in the market. There is always resistance to new technology, although we are fortunate in this country to have one of the most innovative insurance sectors in the world.”

2. Effective communication is critical

These disruptors have set themselves above the rest through one surprisingly simple tactic —  effective communication. They agree that it simply doesn’t matter how world-changing your product or service is if you don’t communicate it to the right audience at the right time. New companies that fail to communicate their remarkable new development will quickly be pushed aside by other disruptors. Without a clear communication strategy that reaches the audience in the industry you’re trying to disrupt, you’ll set yourself up for failure. A key question to ask when you are developing your communication strategy is simply whether people understand what you do.

“Because the premise for our product was fundamentally different from anything on the market, communication and clear messaging were critical to convincing our clients to put their trust in us,” says Schalk.

“It was especially important to educate insurance advisors so they would understand what we were doing, why we were doing it, and how it was better than the other options available. That was key to disrupting the individual life market.”

Currently, BrightRock employs 380 staff, has experienced 40% year-on-year growth, and has an annualised premium income of more than R1,3 billion. The company has recently entered the group risk environment with a similar offering that addresses many of the same shortcomings of traditional group risk products. “The inefficiencies of the structuring of group products has meant that, to remain competitive, insurers have cut the benefits offered to employees, undermining their sense of financial security. Change is needed, and we believe our needs-matched philosophy positions us to change the group risk market too.”

‘We ditched legacy thinking in favour of creating a product that is intuitive and easy to navigate. An enormous amount of time and effort went into writing and designing that system, and creating the optimal customer journey.”

Unlike clunky legacy systems, the BrightRock’s platform is modularised, and was built according to the agile principle of rapid delivery cycles. The result is a technology stack with longevity, that is also flexible enough to be tweaked when needed.

Related: BrightRock’s 5 Entrepreneurial Tips For Start-ups

This iterative, modular approach typically begins with defining the strategy and programme plan upfront, delivering a core capability fast so it can provide benefits immediately, and then continuously improving with regular, incremental capability improvements to achieve the objectives of the strategy. It’s an approach that fosters closer collaboration between stakeholders, improved transparency, earlier delivery, greater allowance for change and more focus on the business outcomes.

“The advantage of the technology available today is that you can plug things in and pull them out as required,” says Suzanne. “That’s one of the enablers of a truly disruptive mindset. To step away from accepted norms and find new solutions requires curiosity and creativity, as well as a lot of courage to go up against large incumbents in the market. There is always resistance to new technology, although we are fortunate in this country to have one of the most innovative insurance sectors in the world.”

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Lessons Learnt

The 9 Obsessions You Need To Have To Become A Self-Made Millionaire

Here’s how to stay focused on your millionaire goals.

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elon-musk

The ones who succeed weren’t handed a golden ticket; it wasn’t chance that helped them cultivate their fortune. To reach millionaire status, you must be driven to reach your dreams. You must be obsessed in order to be successful.

These are the nine obsessions that give every self-made millionaire an edge in creating success and wealth.

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