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GIBS: Greg Fisher

A passion for entrepreneurship enabled Greg Fisher to find his true calling careerwise

Juliet Pitman

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Greg Fisher

Combining his two loves, entrepreneurship and education, puts Greg Fisher, Senior Lecturer at GIBS, in a job he enjoys. It has taken him some time to get here, but everything he’s learnt along the way has been invaluable. A chartered account by training, Fisher has a story to tell about how he ended up teaching.

“I think that chartered accountancy degrees attract some of the best young business minds. The training allows you to see inside businesses from so many different aspects. It’s a fantastic education about business, but there’s one problem: it’s all about managing and alleviating risk, taking the safe option and being prudent, so some of our best young business minds are getting all the entrepreneurial spirit sucked out of them,” he explains. However, Fisher’s experience doing Articles at Deloitte taught him something about himself. After getting involved in various training activities, he discovered his passion for teaching. He joined their training department, did an Honours degree in HR Development and then went on to do an MBA at GIBS.

It was here that Fisher’s own “entrepreneurial journey”, as he describes it, began. Following his MBA, he took the leap into the world of entrepreneurship and opened Learning Lab, a company that developed products to help people learn better. “During that time I became fascinated by what makes people go into their own business and what makes them successful at it. For the first time, decisions I made really counted and I think this is the reality for entrepreneurs everywhere,” he explains. “It was a fantastic journey but I realised I was doing less and less of what I loved, which was teaching,” adds Fisher. It was at this point that he accepted an invitation from GIBS to lecture for them. “I absolutely love it! GIBS is a hub for interacting with people in business, and in this role I get to do many different things. One of the things I love most is sitting down with a blank piece of paper and coming up with the design for a course, looking at how I can make an entrepreneurship programme as exciting, fun and engaging as possible,” he enthuses.

Fisher lectures in finance, strategy and entrepreneurship, but the last one is his favourite and he recently finished designing the Advanced Entrepreneurship Elective for GIBS’ MBA programme. Fisher’s passion gets him talking expansively on the challenges facing South African entrepreneurs today. “I think that nine out of 10 entrepreneurs in SA will tell you that access to funding is the biggest challenge and I agree, but there are other things as well, and at the end of the day we need to operate in the framework within which we find ourselves,” he says. “I think legislation is a huge barrier to people opening their own businesses. Government speaks about empowering and enabling entrepreneurs, but the fact remains that it is still very difficult to do things like register a CC, get a VAT registration number and hire staff with such restrictive labour laws.” He also points to the fact that South Africans grow up knowing they must “study hard to get a good job” – stable employment is still seen as the first prize by most people. “People need to be more aware of the fact that opening up your own business is a viable option,” Fisher says. His advice to entrepreneurs is simple. “Firstly, don’t just mirror what someone else has done. Understand why and how you are planning to be different. And get going! Start working and have something to show before you expect someone to provide you with backing capital. Finally, at some point in time you will go through an emotional dip. Be aware that there will be a time of self-doubt, panic or frustration. Mentorship is important here – you need someone to speak to at that point to get you through it.” As someone who not only has an excellent theoretical base in the subject, but who has actually been there and done it, it’s advice that holds substantial weight.

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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