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The Write Co: Amanda Patterson

Writing company helps people from all walks of life to find their inner voice

Monique Verduyn

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Amanda Patterson of The Write Company

A 360-page novel begins with a single sentence. That’s themantra of Amanda Patterson, founder and CEO of The Write Co, an organisationthat teaches people creative and business writing skills. Launched in 2003,just in time to take advantage of South Africa’s burgeoning publishingindustry, The Write Co’s flagship course is Writers Write, developed by Pattersonto teach people how to write fiction.

“University courses teach students aboutliterature, but our aim is to help them understand the nuts and bolts of thewriting process so that their work becomes as publishable as possible,” saysPatterson. She’s come in for some criticism from thelocal literati, but her formula clearly works. A total of 27 Writers Writegraduates have been published across a range of genres, turnover has grown froma few hundred thousand rand a year to well over R4, 5 million, and Pattersonwas nominated for the SA Woman of the Year award in 2006.“I’ve always been an entrepreneur and Ihave always wanted to write,” she says. “I had completed my BA degree andopened three children’s clothing boutiques when I decided to write a book andsubmit it to Mills & Boon. It was rejected, and rightly so. I had no ideawhat I was doing.”

Patterson subsequently bought every bookshe could find on writing, and wrote and sent two manuscripts to Mills &Boon, both of which were published. “It was an experiment,” she says. “I tookwhat I had learnt about the mechanics of writing and turned that into acourse.” Her first workshops were presented on an adhoc basis in hired venues, but the demand grew so rapidly that she turned heridea into a business. She has subsequently developed a further 10 creativewriting courses. In addition, Patterson has set up abusiness writing division which offers 10 business-focused writing programmeson topics such as editing, crafting press releases, writing for the media andeven a course on creating a public relations plan beyond 2010. Among herbiggest and most regular clients is the Government.

“Our focus is no longer only on writing,but on communication across the board. The longer I have spent in this business,the more I realise how poorly South Africans communicate. My goal is to enablepeople to express themselves clearly.” Patterson says she grew The Write Coorganically by listening to what people wanted. “My policy has been to neverget into debt. We have always done everything on a cash basis. It’s a simplebusiness model.” The Write Co now employs five permanent employees, as well asa large number of expert facilitators, all of whom are subject experts in theirfield.“My biggest challenge has been management,”says Patterson. “I am creative and entrepreneurial by nature, but I am not amanager. It was initially difficult for me to find the right people to help mestructure the company and I lost a lot of money as a result. However, once allthe proper management systems and structures were in place, the companyunderwent phenomenal growth. We are now acquiring SETA accreditation for ourbusiness writing courses.”

The Write Co is in the process of beingregistered as a proprietary limited company. Patterson has franchised thebusiness, with the first franchise having recently opened in Cape Town. Shedecided to follow the franchise route over two years ago, but took her timecollating the business documentation and finding the right person. The CapeTown franchisee, Sarah Bullen, is a writer and presenter who has herselfcompleted the Writers Write course and, says Patterson, has the passion andmotivation required to run this type of business. The move to franchising came about as aresult of the interest expressed nationally and abroad. “I have had enquiriesfrom England, Ireland and Australia. As far as I know, there are no similarpractical writing courses of this nature on offer there, so we are definitelyinvestigating opportunities for expansion into those markets.”

Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.

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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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