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Vinny Lingham’s Views On Focus, Changing The World And Why You Should Give Some Of Your Business Away

Silicon Valley-based tech expert, investor, South African Dragon’s Den judge and serial entrepreneur Vinny Lingham knows what it takes to launch a great business. Here are his views on what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.

GG van Rooyen

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Be willing to give away some of the business

If you want to grow your business quickly, you need to be willing to trade money for equity. However, you don’t want to give too much away. You still want it to feel like your business. You need to ask what percentage you’re happy with.

Most entrepreneurs have one thing in common: They want to change the world

This can obviously be a great motivator, but it can also be dangerous. You can’t get lost in the big picture — you can’t just be a dreamer. In order to be successful, you need a strong pragmatic streak. You need to be a pragmatist with a hint of idealism, not an idealist with a hint of pragmatism.

Related: This Entrepreneur Got Vinny Lingham To Invest In Him By Crashing His Party

Entrepreneurs are born not made

At the age of six I was already selling stuff. My first ‘product’ was ThunderCat stickers that I sold to kids at school. By eight I was selling Verimark products at a local Christmas fair, and by the time I was a teenager I was selling computers.

Even while I was earning my degree, I never stopped my entrepreneurial pursuits. That’s the kind of drive you need if you want to be a successful entrepreneur.

Focus is incredibly important

You can’t try to be all things for all people. You need to do that one thing that you’re better at than anyone else in the world. Trying to create too many products and enter too many markets at the same time is a bad idea.

You need to focus, focus, focus.

I invest in the person as much as the idea

I want somebody who is incredibly passionate and shows a deep understanding of their subject matter. You need to be an expert in your field. I also want someone with loads of stamina and determination.

Building a successful business is never easy, so I want to be sure that the person I back won’t give up when things get tough. They need to be in it for the long haul.

Related: Yola: Vinny Lingham

Success is not about luck, it’s about hard work

People sometimes say that I was lucky to receive a big investment in my business, Yola, but it wasn’t about luck — it was about hard work. Success doesn’t happen overnight. You need to hang on to your dream and keep working, even when it seems as if things aren’t working out.

Quite often, persistence is the key to success. Just keep chipping away at it.

You need skin in the game

A big reason I managed to get funding for Yola was the fact that I had been willing to put all my own money into the business. I had invested about R2 million — everything I had. This showed that I was really committed to making the business work. I really didn’t have any other option!

Failure is a reality of entrepreneurship

I don’t like failing, of course, but it is also a great motivator. I’ve made a lot of mistakes. Everyone fails and makes mistakes. The important thing, though, is to reflect on your mistakes and learn from them. Do you really know why you failed? You need to consider this question very carefully. Did you truly fail for the reason you think?

Related: South African Entrepreneurs Blazing a Trail Overseas

Entrepreneurship can ruin relationships

Building a business can be all-consuming, so it’s important to remember what really matters in life. Success without anyone to share it with is not worth much. My greatest success, I think, is that I’m living my dream while being surrounded by the people I love.

Take care of your health

When people ask me what I would do differently with regards to my entrepreneurial journey, I always say that I would take better care of my health. Building a business requires hard work, but you need to try and maintain some sort of balance. You need to look after yourself.

GG van Rooyen is the deputy editor for Entrepreneur Magazine South Africa. Follow him on Twitter.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. King_Anonymous

    Aug 5, 2016 at 19:11

    Excellent tips from an excellent man.

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