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Educor: Hennie Louw

Ongoing Education is key to overcoming the myriad challenges faced by start-ups

Juliet Pitman

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Hennie Louw of Educor

It was W Edwards Deming, internationally renowned management consultant, who said, “Learning is not compulsory but neither is survival.” Entrepreneurs know that well. The successful ones have a thirst for knowledge that is equalled only by their hunger for achievement. And although the talent required to be an entrepreneur is perhaps innate, to realise their full potential, their learning spans a lifetime.

Hennie Louw, MD of Educor, the largest provider of private education in Africa which offers distance, face-to-face and corporate learning solutions, agrees.“Entrepreneurs are a special breed. They can’t be made – they are born. But their inherent potential needs to be stimulated firstly by the home environment in their early years, where they may be made familiar with the basics of business and money, and secondly through formal education,”  he says.

However, the historical education and employment gaps in South Africa mean that large numbers of the population have not had access to business education in the home or formal environment, leaving entire generations of born entrepreneurs without the training that could launch their success.

For these and other reasons, Louw believes that education has a key role to play in entrepreneurship. “Our economy is faced with a series of challenges. These include a shrinking business environment coupled with growing unemployment. In addition, research has shown that early start-up entrepreneurs in South African have a much higher chance of either failing or of not being able to get through the initial phases, compared with their counterparts in other developing countries,” he explains.

Typically entrepreneurs have a great product or innovative idea and this, coupled with their drive and energy, helps them to start their business. These are things that can’t be learned – they form part of the “innate” talent of this special breed of business person. But many entrepreneurs face enormous challenges in the day-to-day running of their businesses.

They have no training in the areas of finance, marketing and human resource management, to name but a few, and these gaps in their education can prove the downfall of what might otherwise be a successful business. To survive, an entrepreneur needs to be able to multi-task across all these areas, yet few of them sign up for formal courses that would help them in this respect.

Too many South Africans take the view that formal education stops when adulthood is reached, but some of the most successful businesspeople in the world refute this. Henry Ford said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80.” Entrepreneurs who recognise the value of continually filling the gaps in their education are the ones who attain a greater level of success, quicker than their competitors.

But this doesn’t have to mean going back to study full-time. The face of education is changing and institutions like Educor offer entrepreneurs a range of courses that can be made to suit the busy schedule that characterises the lives of most entrepreneurs.

Says Louw, “Distance education in particular allows entrepreneurs of a growing business to up the skills of the people they employ. For those already running a small business, further education could provide a practical checklist to improve sales, systems and profitability.” It is equally relevant to aspirant entrepreneurs.

“Education provides a strong foundation that is able to assist anyone starting or wanting to start their own business. Training and tailor-made courses can provide a solid theoretical foundation in business planning.” Educor – through the brands of INTECCollege, Damelin, Damelin Correspondence College, AFM, Lyceum,CityVarsity, Learning Solutions and Educor Africa – also offers other business courses that are helpful in growing the knowledge base of those considering starting their own business.

These include anything from garden landscaping and feng shui consulting to PC engineering and appliance repair. The smartest people are sometimes those who realise where their limitations lie – and then go out and do something to rectify these. This is what education is all about. It provides the stretch that makes way for growth. And growth is ultimately the key to survival.

Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.

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25 Of The Most Successful Business Ideas In South Africa

Find out who’s making waves in numerous industries and how they managed to differentiate themselves in local and international industries.

Nicole Crampton

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“Disruption is all about risk-taking, trusting your intuition, and rejecting the way things are supposed to be. Disruption goes way beyond advertising, it forces you to think about where you want your brand to go and how to get there,” says Richard Branson.

South Africa has its fair share of innovative and disruptive businesses taking both local and international industries by storm. From cutting edge space technology to reimagined logistics, and innovative business models, here are 25 of the most successful business ideas in South Africa:

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Colin Timmis Says ‘Position Yourself For Success By Starting With The Numbers’

People pay first who they feel pressure from, so people will pay you when they feel pressure from you.

CEOwise

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Entrepreneur Colin Timmis founded South Africa’s first cloud accounting practice in 2011, Real Time Accounting. Then, a few years after being appointed as South Africa’s first Xero partner Colin became Xero Country Manager South Africa. Xero is the emerging global leader of online accounting software that connects small businesses to their advisors and other services.

Related: Pat Pillai On How He’s Helped Over 5000 Entrepreneurs Using 3 Key Steps

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Two 20 Year Olds Reshape Entrepreneur Landscape With New Social Investment Platform

The Merge vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

Merge Connect

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It’s no secret that finding the right investor for your venture is a challenge that most entrepreneurs face. The current process of finding investment is one that is outdated, and limits entrepreneurs due to a lack of time, and network that is needed to find the right investor. But, this doesn’t have to be the case in today’s digital society, says Zander Matthee and Brandon Bate, co-founders of Merge.

“By making the Internet the middleman, we are able to connect with each other much simpler and faster than before” was Zander’s response. “We have taken advantage of this, and have created a digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors” added Brandon.

Merge is a social platform that connects entrepreneurs and investors. It aims to simplify, refine and accelerate the process of finding investment for entrepreneurs, and the process of finding investment opportunities for investors. From idea to developed, the platform allows entrepreneurs to present a brief outline of their venture to a network of all investor types. While doing this, entrepreneurs are able to browse through, and connect with investor profiles that suit their requirements.

Related: 8 Codes Of Success That Helped Priven Reddy of Kagiso Interactive Media Achieve A Networth Of Over R4 Billion

From Private Investors to Venture Capital, and everything in between, Merge allows all investor types to join. Investors have the opportunity to personalise their feed to suit their investment preferences, and will be able to connect with innovative businesses – that are looking for investment – at their fingertips. Only once there is a mutual interest in each other, are users able to enter a secure private chat where they can discuss further and share documents under the protection of a digital NDA.

The two boys became good friends during their time in high school at St Stithians Boys College. However, it was only in their last year, 2016, that they decided to pursue their dreams and create the platform. They didn’t know how to code, so rather ironically, they needed some form of investment to get the platform off the ground.

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“We knew we had a mountain to climb, but we believed in our vision and that we were really trying to make a difference, and if we could get others to see that, they would be onboard.” said Zander.

Related: Lessons From The Rich And Famous: Manage Your Money Like Oprah To Avoid Going Into Debt Like Nicholas Cage

Chris Peters is one of these individuals that bought into their vision, and became Merge’s first investor. As a successful entrepreneur and part time investor , Chris saw how much value the platform could bring to all entrepreneurs and investors alike. His marketing and strategic background gave him insight into how Merge could play a vital role in a lucrative space, Brand involvement.

“Entrepreneurship and SME development are two key factors that drive economic growth in developing countries like South Africa. That is why brands are currently getting involved, and looking to support entrepreneurs through various means. We have built a platform that allows these brands to successfully market, and execute on the programmes they have created to assist entrepreneurs.” said Chris

Merge was created to assist all entrepreneurs and investors in finding exactly what they are looking for, regardless of age, race, sex, financial position or social status. That is why anybody can sign-up as an entrepreneur. As long as you are determined and willing to work for your dreams. For too long has the investor space been seen as an “elite club for the select few”, and Merge is here to change that. Whether you’ve gotten your bonus at the end of the year and looking for new investment opportunities, or are an active investor, you can sign-up. Whether you’re currently working, or a retired industry leader, you can join as a mentor.

Their vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

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