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21 Year Old Green Queen Bianca Vernes Start-Up Lessons

Social Entrepreneur at Growth-Op and a Fellow of the Allan Gray Orbis, Bianca Vernes, on pioneering the sustainable development space and paying it forward.





‘One plus one equals more’ – makes no sense in pure mathematical terms, but in the case of this start up story, it’s perfectly logical…

What entrepreneurs should know before starting any business and the lessons that I have learnt from my personal journey in starting Growth Op…

The first lesson would be to build a support network as you start and progress with your idea; this really resonated with me when I read the book Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi and Tahl Raz, the book unpacks entrepreneurship in the new age and illustrates that the network is just as important as the idea especially in a world that is constantly bombarded with ideas and individuals starting there entrepreneurial journeys, it goes without saying that support starts at home with your family, friends and people who relate to your idea but most crucial is to surround yourself with young like-minded individuals who share similar experiences and passions. Once you start to open up and share ideas, the amount of interest and support you draw back to your idea is endless.

We-recommend-tickWe recommend: How to Crack Social Entrepreneurship

I think this is one of the biggest challenges that entrepreneurs face when they have ideas, they are so scared to share it with other people because they want to protect it and nurture it but nothing in this world was ever built alone and no wealth is created by just one person.

It is important to share your passions, people are drawn to the real raw excitement in you, and they can see that you are someone that is worth investing in, because it’s not just about the idea, it’s about the driving force behind it and making the idea a reality.

Commit, dedicate and believe in yourself

People who are much further along in business want to share their wisdom and their network with individuals who will pick up the baton and keep paying it forward.

It is important to get yourself some mentors, I say some on purpose because it is vital to get a fresh perspective from more than one person, as a young entrepreneur, this is invaluable to have this kind of experiential wisdom and support behind you is invaluable and will help make consulting your mentors when you are unsure to help clarify things and point yourself in the right direction much easier.

There are no short cuts if you want to get to the top!

If you want to see the destiny of your idea, you have to possess courageous commitment and have the facts to support you because investors will become hesitant when there is no evidence to support your idea.

It’s all good and well to have an idea and the passion for it but it can only take you so far and investors won’t stake their reputation and name on something that is not full proof. It is imperative that you have ‘proof of concept’ in moving forward, but this can become a hurdle for most young entrepreneurs because often, as a student, you have money constraints, the idea is still in the early stage of development, so how do you take it from the the ‘concept idea’ to something tangible?


We-recommend-tickWe recommend: Social Entrepreneur Richard Mabaso Keeps Girls In School

If you have a good business case you could probably pitch it to some investors but you haven’t done a pilot or prototype. How do you get that first one going?

In the words of Vincent Van Gogh, ‘Great things are done by a series of small things brought together’. The trick to overcoming this hurdle would be to start small… as small as you possibly can. Whether it is making one prototype to prove the basic concept or doing a minor run of the product to get market feedback before approaching key stakeholders to prove the concept works, a start is a start.

This one prototype doesn’t have to be the final product but the purpose of this is to test the functionality and offering of the product in principle to build the factual proof then and only then can you expand. Once you have this, you can start approaching investors to test the ‘proof of concept’ on a much larger scale through extensive market research.

Enable and empower yourself

There are incredible platforms out there that enable and empower young entrepreneurs in creating pilot projects at a very low cost and this is why you need a solid support network.

I think that people are starting to realise the role that entrepreneurships will play in making a valuable difference to the social and economic fabric of South Africa.

The support for young entrepreneurs is growing rapidly; there are organisations all over the country that have a vested interest in these individuals, I think it’s important that we start to look past our circumstances to determine the outcome of our lives.

There is no excuse left in the book for not pursuing your ideas and passions, there are resources and finance available to individuals who have the courage and dedication to do the necessary work to prove genuinely worthy of the support.

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.

Lessons Learnt

Richard Branson’s ABCs Of Business

Throughout the year, the Virgin co-founder shared what he thinks are the essential elements to success.



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If there’s one thing Richard Branson knows, it’s how to run a successful business.

Throughout last year, the Virgin founder shared what he thinks are the keys ingredients to building a successful company with each letter of the alphabet, which he slowly revealed through the 365 days.

From A for attitude to N for naivety to Z for ZZZ, check out Branson’s ABCs of success.

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Lessons Learnt

How Reflexively Apologising For Everything All The Time Undermines Your Career

How can you inspire confidence if you are constantly saying you’re sorry for doing your job?




I’m one of those weird people who gets excited about performance reviews. I like getting feedback and understanding how I can improve. A few years ago, I sat down for my first annual review as the director of communications for the Florida secretary of state, under the governor of Florida.

I had a great relationship with my chief of staff, but I had taken on a major challenge when I accepted the job a year prior. I didn’t really know what to expect.

Youth takes charge

I was 25 at the time, and everyone on my team was in their thirties and forties. I came from Washington, D.C., and was an outsider to my southern colleagues. I was asking a lot from people who had been used to very different expectations from their supervisor.

I sat down with my chief of staff who gave me some feedback about the challenges I had tackled.

She then paused and said to me, very directly,”But you have to stop apologising. You must stop saying sorry for doing your job.”

Related: 8 Valuable And Inspirational Web Series You Should Check Out

I didn’t know what to say. My reflex was to reply sheepishly, “Umm, I’m sorry?” But instead I immediately decided to be more cognisant of how often I said I was sorry. Years later, her words have stuck with me. I have what some may consider the classic female disease of apologising. When the New York Times addressed it, five of my friends and past coworkers sent it to me.

In it, writer Sloane Crosley got to the heart of the issue:

“To me, they sound like tiny acts of revolt, expressions of frustration or anger at having to ask for what should be automatic. They are employed when a situation is so clearly not our fault that we think the apology will serve as a prompt for the person who should be apologising.”

Topic of debate

I’ve talked at length with other women trying to figure out this fine balance. The Washington PostTime, and Cosmopolitan have all tackled this topic. Some say it’s OK to apologise; others criticise those who are criticising women who apologise. Clearly, I’m not alone in dealing with this issue. In fact, I’m constantly telling the people I manage that by apologising they give up a lot of their power.

Related: Want To Feel Empowered? Check Out These 17 Quotes From Successful Entrepreneurs And Leaders

Here’s the bottom line: Don’t apologise for doing your job.

If you’re following up with a coworker about something they said they’d get to you earlier, don’t say, “Sorry to bug you!” If you want to share your thoughts in a meeting, don’t start off by saying, “Sorry, I just want to add…” If you’re doing your job, you have absolutely nothing to apologise for.

That’s what I think. And I’m not even sorry about it.

This article was originally posted here on

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Lessons Learnt

10 Quotes On Following Your Dreams, Having Passion And Showing Hard Work From Tech Guru Michael Dell

If you’re in need of a little motivation, check out these quotes from Dell’s CEO, founder and chairman.



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There’s much to learn from one of the computer industry’s longest tenured CEOs and founders, Michael Dell. As an integral part of the computer revolution in the 1980s, Dell launched Dell Computer Corporation from his dorm room at the University of Texas. And it didn’t take Dell long before he’d launched one of the most successful computer companies. Indeed, by 1992 Dell was the youngest CEO of a fortune 500 company.

Dell’s success had been long foreshadowed. When he was 15, Dell showed great interest in technology, purchasing an early version of an Apple computer, only so he could take it apart and see how it was built. And once he got to college, Dell noticed a gap in the market for computers: There were no companies that were selling directly to consumers. So, he decided to cut out the middleman and began building and selling computers directly to his classmates. Before long, he dropped out of school officially to pursue Dell.

Fast forward to today. Dell is not only a tech genius and businessman, but a bestselling author, investor and philanthropist, with a networth of $24.7 billion. He continues his role as the CEO and chairman of Dell Technologies, making him one of the longest tenured CEOs in the computer industry.

So if you’re in need of some motivation or inspiration, take it from Dell.

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