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The Power Of Finding Your Why

Abed Tau CA(SA) is a director at Thamani Financial Solutions and co-founder of Tuta-Me, South Africa’s first edu-tech start-up. He shares insight on how he became a successful entrepreneur. 

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Entrepreneurship is a mysterious creature; so much is written and said about it. A starting point for exploring the meaning of entrepreneurial triumph is to look at the idea of success itself. At the simplest level, success is the achievement of a specific goal, but success means different things to different people. It’s logical to assume that everybody wants to be successful in terms of their own individual goals. Ultimately, nobody plans to fail.

In trying to understand the paths to successful entrepreneurship, it’s tempting to reduce its attainment to a linear process. Much of the research into what makes some entrepreneurs successful is based upon studying the super successful ones. The idea is to then instruct people to replicate the behaviours of the successful.

However, this approach disregards two important issues. First, different entrepreneurs have very different goals. What might be success to one measure is failure on another. Second, it disregards the very real phenomenon of survivorship bias. By studying ‘survivors’, in this case successful entrepreneurs, we immediately exclude all data relating to failure. By doing so, we assume a ‘survivor’s’ success is a direct result of their specific attributes or actions. This does not prove that failures did not happen.

“I prefer to view entrepreneurial success by focusing on the ‘why’ rather than the ‘what’. An entrepreneur’s ‘why’ is their own personal definition of success. My curiosity was the stimulus for my ‘why’, which was to ascertain what it is that makes an entrepreneur,” says Abed Tau, director at Thamani Financial Solutions and co-founder of Tuta-Me.

Related: From Local To Global: Bruce Mackenzie CA(SA) Shares Top Tips On Being A Successful Entrepreneur

Through this process, he was able to fashion his own version of entrepreneurial truth. His ‘why’ ultimately led him to his ‘how’.

1. Forget about comfort

One of his early realisations was that comfort is the enemy of success. “Comfort suggests lack of difficulty. Lack of difficulty may seem appealing, but without challenge, there is no catalyst for positive adaptation. Without difficulty there is no immediate need for innovation and change,” he says.

2. Focus on hiring GREAT people

Abed embraced discomfort when he started his business, Thamani Financial Solutions. In running his business, he soon came to the conclusion that people are not the greatest asset of a business, but GREAT people are. “This is a subtle but important difference. It highlights the importance of giving hiring decisions the level of attention they deserve. I have learnt to treat great employees as business partners. In doing so, their motivation is fuelled, which leads to business innovation.”

3. Do the right thing at the right time

In his entrepreneurial journey, Abed also learnt the value of focus. “The ability to focus is one thing; knowing what to focus on is another,” he says. “A common entrepreneurial misstep is to put too much emphasis on less important things like fancy offices in prime areas or flashy business cards. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with these trappings, but in the start-up phase there are more pressing concerns, like perfecting your service or product, and getting new customers and keeping them.”

4. Don’t compete, strengthen your own position

Another counter-intuitive approach adopted by Abed is his attitude towards his competitors. He says: “The companies that lose are the companies that compete by focusing on the opposition. By concentrating on your own game, you will inevitably strengthen your own position. The stronger your own business, the harder it is for rivals to displace you.

“The reasons for pursuing an entrepreneurial venture are as varied as the ventures themselves,” he concludes. “There is no specific entrepreneurial formula for success. The process is often circuitous in nature. And it will be really hard work. But remember to always ask yourself why you’re doing it. The answer to this important question will be the compass that leads the way to your ‘what’ and ‘how’.”

Related: Young CAs(SA) Shaping The Future Of Business


top-35-under-35-saicaEnter SAICA’s Top 35 Under 35 competition for CAs(SA)

In 2016, Abed Tau was a finalist in SAICA’s Top 35 under 35 competition for CAs(SA). Entries for this year’s competition are now open.

  • Do you know a CA(SA) who stands out from the crowd?
  • Or: Are you a CA(SA) who wants to take your future to a whole new dimension?

By entering SAICA’s Top 35 Under 35 CA(SA) competition, you stand a chance of winning cash prizes, with the overall winner also taking home a brand new Renault Clio as well as an all expenses paid trip to One Young World 2019 (worth more than R100 000).

If you’re ready to redefine your future, go to www.accountancysa.org.za/top-35-under-35/

Entries close 31 May 2018.

The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) is widely recognised as one of the world’s leading accounting institutes. As South Africa’s pre-eminent accountancy body, the Institute provides a wide range of support services to more than 38 000 members who are chartered accountants and hold positions as CEOs, MDs, (board) directors, business owners, chief financial officers, auditors and other leaders in their chosen spheres of business operations and public life. Most of these members operate in commerce and industry, and play a significant role in the nation’s highly dynamic business sector and economic development, but some are also employed in the public sector.

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Rethinking Learning In The 21st Century

The changing world of work has disrupted the three elements of the traditional ‘career’: Expertise, duration, and rewards.

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Traditionally the concept of a ‘career’ was considered to include three elements:

  1. A career represented our expertise, our profession, and ultimately our identity.
  2. A career was something that built over time and endured. It gave us the opportunity to progress and advance.
  3. A career gave us financial and psychological rewards. It made life meaningful and paid us enough to live well.

The changing world of work has disrupted all three elements: Expertise, duration, and rewards.

A career can now be as long as 60 years; at the same time, due to rapid advancements in technology and the changes that bring about in the workplace, skill sets can become obsolete in as little as five years.

Increasingly, companies need to rethink the way in which careers are managed and learning opportunities are delivered, and many have already begun to overhaul their career models and L&D (Learning and Development) infrastructure in line with the digital age.

Related: Your Investment In Knowledge

Employees’ learning behaviour is also changing. In the past, employees were able to obtain the skills required for their career early on and as a once-off; now, the career itself is a journey of learning, up-skilling, re-skilling and continuous reinvention to remain relevant and to thrive in the changing world of work.

Older employees who studied at a time where most of one’s learning occurred prior to entering the workplace, find themselves working alongside millennials who place greater value on learning and progression rather than on earning potential as a first priority.

Eighty-three percent of the respondents surveyed in Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends survey say their organisations are shifting to flexible, open career models that offer enriching assignments, projects, and experiences rather than a static career progression.

However, in today’s fast-paced business world, even if companies are restructuring L&D delivery, no one is going to make you engage in a strategy that is essential to your future success – continuous learning. You will have to take the initiative yourself.

Noted self-help expert W. Clement Stone, in his many writings on this topic, recommended that one spends anywhere from a half-hour to two hours a day in study and thinking time. This tireless dedication, combined with an insatiable curiosity, will equip you to excel in the future world of work. What’s more, learning new skills and knowledge can be fun!

The good news for both companies and for employees is that an explosion of high-quality content and digital delivery models offers employees ready access to continuous learning. The Wits DigitalCampus offers a range of accredited and fully online short courses to support your continuous learning.

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Your Investment In Knowledge

When you understand the value of knowledge, in this world where technology is rendering previously expensive products or services much cheaper (and even free), it’s just a matter of getting more of it. Dedicate yourself to constant learning!

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Most people spend their lives collecting, spending, and worrying about money — so much so, in fact, that they say they “don’t have time” to learn something new.

However, some of smartest and busiest people in the world — Barack Obama, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates — all spend at least one hour a day on deliberate learning. They see what others don’t: That learning is the single best investment of our time that we can make. As Benjamin Franklin said long ago, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

When you understand the value of knowledge, in this world where technology is rendering previously expensive products or services much cheaper (and even free), it’s just a matter of getting more of it. Dedicate yourself to constant learning!

One of the very benefits of ongoing technological advances is that it empowers an accelerated and personalised learning experience that puts the learner in the driver’s seat. Modern learning harnesses the speed, power and ubiquity of digital capability. Online platforms, software and mobile devices means that the traditional hurdles to learning — such as income, status and location — have just about disappeared. Knowledge can now be gained by anyone with the passion to pursue it and the commitment to stick with it.

Related: Building Customer Relationships

We are only at the tipping point of what future learning technology can deliver. Artificial intelligence (AI) will transform all aspects of human capital management, including learning. Technology-enabled learning will be immediate and directly relevant to the task, for example:

  • personally tailored learning content and experiences delivered to you as and when you want or need them
  • chatbots and virtual assistants can source and categorise the information that you need for optimal decision-making
  • augmented and virtual reality simulations can provide a multi-sensory experience to speed up and embed learning.

Additionally, social connectivity already enables user-generated content to outpace and outstrip what traditional education and learning institutions can deliver.

Knowledge may be the new money but, unlike money, you don’t lose it when you use knowledge or give it away. Transferring knowledge anywhere in the world is free and instant. It’s fun to acquire and it makes your brain work better. It helps you think bigger and beyond your circumstances. It puts your life in perspective by essentially helping you live many lives in one life through other people’s experiences and wisdom.

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Are You Struggling To Find Financing For Your SME? Try Alternative Finance

If you don’t qualify for traditional funding or if it isn’t the right fit for your SME why not explore alternative funding? We specialise in alternative financing options by providing in-depth and custom plans for you and your business needs.

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Alternative Finance is finance beyond the traditional – it is defined by the financiers’ area of specialisation – by what they specialise in, whom they serve, and how they provide their funding. It does not replace traditional finance but rather functions as a complementary and additional form of funding.

Alternative financiers are specialists – they focus on a particular need and on a specific audience. As a result their ‘how’ is customised to deal with their chosen target market and for this targets unique needs. This applies to the funder’s processes and to their level of flexibility around things such as collateral.

An example of this is that a SME may have an existing R1 million overdraft (their traditional finance) secured by R 1.5 million collateral but suddenly they need R5 million for some kind of contract or bridging finance – they need it fast and don’t have that extent of collateral.

The traditional funder cannot provide what they need, their process is too long and their flexibility is too low. An alternative financier providing bridging finance and specialising in SMEs is ideally positioned to fill this gap.

One of the most significant differences between a traditional funder and an alternative financier is in their process. In the case of the alternative financier, they have often chosen to deal exclusively with a particular customer base, for example SMEs. As a result, this funder has both an affinity and contextually relevant empathy in working with SMEs.

Not only do they speak the same language the funder also has an appreciation for the time and material constraints of the SME and has developed their processes to cater to this market. This applies most notably to the turnaround time of the funding need and to the assessment aspect – where flexibility around things such as collateral is vital in making the finance happen for the SME.

A traditional funder is unable to meet the deadline of a bridging finance need, submitted on an urgent basis, where the finance is needed as soon as 2-3 days from time of application. A specialised or alternative funder is able to do exactly this. A traditional funder is also unable to find creative methods in solving the SMEs lack of high-value collateral in applying for finance.

This SME has generally already used their high-value collateral for traditional credit facilities but now needs funding for growth or resolution of a temporary cash flow challenge. An alternative financier is able to look at such an application in a different way, and has most likely already established alternative ways to make this happen for the SME.

Related: 5 Key Questions To Answer For Raising Funding

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