Many resilient women have picked up the challenge of entrepreneurship. This increasing flock of women in business is strengthening the cliché – what a man can do a woman can do. In general, the number of women-owned firms is on the rise, but challenges remain inclusive of self-imposed limitations.
Every business owner has numerous goals when starting out, including instant success, recognition and fast growth. The fact is overnight success is not often the standard and there is no guarantee given all efforts, as over 90% of start-ups fail within the first 3 years according to research conducted by Forbes.com.
While recognising the critical contribution of women-owned businesses to Africa’s economic growth, many organisations are increasingly committed to supporting women-owned start-ups.
Many programmes exist to help women start businesses but very few programs are designed to help women entrepreneurs grow their businesses. Want to rapidly and firmly shoot your business to success and achieve growth milestones?
1. Have experience and thorough knowledge of the industry you are in. Never stop learning. Build your network. Employ the best people
Learning is a continuous agenda and a daily goal for any founder and CEO. We must strive to continue learning from all angles. Learn from your competitors, colleagues, employees, mentors, industry leaders and even friends and family.
Have a strong knack for research and utilise all tools and resources available to you to garner knowledge including free webinars and seminars. Desire and aspire to be a walking-and-talking knowledge base for your industry. In line with this, you’ll find that it will be easy for you to innovate, establish patents and grow even faster.
Despite all your knowledge and experience, avoid doing everything yourself as the chief executive. Ensure that you recruit the best employees to help manage certain units of the company.
Also acknowledge where you just aren’t skilled enough and have a passionate expert assist you with handling that unit while you focus on the bigger picture of growing the company.
2. Know, understand and implement solid financial plans and goals
Financials are one of the most important aspects to starting and growing any business. Financials must never be neglected. If you aren’t a finance and accounting guru, hire someone and work closely with them. Your goal is to have a fair balance between your current expenditure and revenue generated on a monthly basis.
To break even and maximise growth within the early years of your business start-up, your revenue should significantly exceed your expenses. Until that happens, keep pushing strongly and keep costs at the minimum necessary to grow optimally.
3. Dream big, trust your gut and don’t underestimate your own wisdom
“Push your dreams; don’t let anything stop you from doing anything great for the world”
Let’s all dream big. We all can be great. Greatness for all equates to greatness for Africa. To flourish, you need to have both the courage to dream big and the ability to execute and carry others along.
Pay attention to your inner voice. If you find yourself hesitating because something doesn’t feel right, step back and listen. If your voice say “This is it, go for it” then put everything you’ve got into making “it” the world’s biggest success story!
4. Get Involved, Be persuasive, Take on new roles
There are lots of great resources and communities out there that provide opportunities to connect with women entrepreneurs and leaders. These groups provide important places to be heard, to share ideas, and find encouragement and support.
Also consider attending at least one conference per quarter. If carefully chosen and carefully planned, it becomes an investment and you can earn the money back in terms of vital new contacts, great ideas and keeping up with your industry.
By taking on roles outside your cultural and intellectual comfort zone, you may realise how much fun it is and you will also improve your leadership skills. Being on the board of other startups and initiatives is great way to give back and develop your leadership skills.
5. Take chances but reduce your risks
Risk is an unavoidable part of starting and growing a business. It is impossible to control everything, but there are ways to limit internal and external threats to your company and its growth.
In facing challenges, find out the possibility and the consequences that go with it, some of that fear subsides because you believe you can handle it. Being in business isn’t all about wins, it’s about learning from your failures in order to move forward. If and whenever you fall, get back up and go much higher! Let’s all meticulously craft our ambitions, work hard together and make Africa greater.
For more strategies on establishing, growing and sustaining your business join Olatorera Oniru – CEO of Dressmeoutlet.com and other inspiring women at the 2016 Women in Business Seminar in Johannesburg, South Africa on the 6th of July, 2016.
A Great Time To Be A Woman In Business
South Africa’s growing band of female entrepreneurs have many lessons to teach us all.
South Africa’s growing band of female entrepreneurs have many lessons to teach us all. In our first article in this feature, Marine Louw showed us the power of passion.
In this article, Cresi Heslop offers living proof that opportunities are everywhere – if we can see them and are prepared to seize them. She is building a business by identifying opportunities as they open up and then working hard to exploit them.
“It’s all about using what you have and thinking a bit laterally,” Heslop says.
Heslop and her husband started a youth sports blog in order to provide a motivational platform for a new generation of South African sportsmen and – women. They saw the blog, Heslop Sports, as a labour of love, with no commercial intent. However, spending so much time among athletes did reveal a potential commercial idea: a towel specially designed with sports in mind and that South African athletes could use with pride, especially at international events.
The result was a new business, Wonder Towel. Its flagship product is a microfibre towel designed to look like the South African flag, supplemented with a range of other microfibre products.
“Microfibre is environment-friendly because it’s so absorbent – it dries easily and stays fresh longer, and it takes less water to wash,” she says. “It’s also super light, thus great for travelling.”
Since then, the business has grown, selling primarily to the travel, beauty, baby and household markets, as well as the sports industry. Much of the selling is done via her online store and agents in Cape Town, Durban and Pretoria – as well as the e-commerce platforms. She singles out Takealot.com which, she says, does a great job in helping small businesses put themselves on the map.
She’s also just signed up a new distributor who is targeting independent schools, and schools with big water-sports teams.
Mentorship provided Heslop with welcomed inspiration and stability. She has built a solid relationship with a businesswoman who she respects enormously, Hendrien Kruger, the head of Inoar SA, which distributes a range of imported Brazilian hair products.
“We met seven years ago and I can turn to her at any point for sensible advice or just a good chat over a cuppa,” she says. “You should find some worthy people who inspire you in your field. They could even be people that you admire from a distance or whose books and lectures have become part of your way of seeing things.”
Because mentorship can play such a positive role, it’s vital that women offer themselves as mentors. Many successful women don’t realise how great an influence they could have on the next generation, starting what she calls a “cycle of future goodness”.
We’ve always heard about the power of the old boys’ club, and how it gives men a head start in business, but says Heslop, networks seem to be opening up.
“Female small-business owners are still in a bit of minority in South Africa, I believe however we are in a wonderful season of change at present,” she says.
“I recently had dealings with one of South Africa’s oldest and most established suppliers in a particular market sector, and I found them both welcoming and nurturing to an industry newcomer – something for which I am very grateful.”
Of course, entrepreneurs must also learn how to cope with challenges all the time. Heslop says that she keeps strong by sticking to a set of habits and actions. Her religious faith is an important mainstay and she daily affirms her commitment to making a difference, to being alert for hidden opportunities, and to spreading love and respect always.
“At the end of the day it will all boil down to confidence, belief in ourselves, joyous passion and delivering extremely high quality of products and services that will command respect and ensure us our rightful place in our beautiful nation’s economy,” she concludes.
MiWay is an Authorised Financial Services Provider (Licence no: 33970).
Celebrating Women In The Signage And Printing Industry
The event will take place from 13-15 September at Gallagher Convention Centre.
Women are increasingly making their mark on the traditionally male-dominated signage and printing industry. For those who want to enter this industry, or want to grow their businesses, the Sign Africa and FESPA Africa expo, co-located with Africa Print and Africa LED, offers many opportunities for entrepreneurs. The event will take place from 13-15 September at Gallagher Convention Centre.
Diane Jacobson, Managing Director at Ellis Lehman Signs, has been in the industry for 25 years, and enjoys being in a career that is dynamic, creative and interesting. ‘No two jobs are identical, and because it is an industry that serves a variety of businesses, it offers exposure to many types of people and companies,’ she said.
‘I’ve worked with fantastic people and managed very interesting projects, from manufacturing plants to religious institutions, to petrochemical companies to retailers and sports events. I have met wonderful people over the years and have had the opportunity to travel to interesting places. It is an industry that has allowed me to grow my business skills in a creative space.’
Lehman’s key to success is understanding and servicing the needs of customers. ‘They are the lifeblood of all business. There is so much poor service out there, so doing things better and paying attention to detail and the final finished item sets anyone apart,’ she said.
Printing SA, the official trade federation representing printing, packaging and associated businesses in the industry, has a number of projects to empower women. The organisation runs a screen printing programme, which most recently trained 10 unemployed women from Cottonlands. The programme includes three elements: the theory of screen printing, practical application, and basic business skills that would assist in growing a small business.
A success story from the programme is Eunice Ngwenya, Managing Director of Eunique Printing, who completed Printing SA’s very first screen printing pilot course during 2014. Printing SA recommended Ngwenya to Konica Minolta South Africa.
Eunique Printing, which operates from Konica Minolta South Africa’s Johannesburg campus, has been in business for almost a year, employs three people and prints books, magazines, business cards, calendars, receipt books, brochures, invitations, photographs, as well as offering ring binding and glue binding services.
Ngwenya has always been interested in printing, and had done silk screening on plastic for 25 years. She is glad that she applied for the Printing SA training as it has led her to where she is today. ‘I’ve learnt so much from Printing SA, I wouldn’t be where I am without them, and with the help of Konica Minolta South Africa, I see myself going very far,’ she said.
Related: Celebrating The Multi-Faceted Woman
Sonja Groenewald is CEO of Colourtech Design & Print CEO, which has operated for 26 years. Its main focus is the publishing and education markets. The business has a unique set up as in addition to printing, there is also an in-house dispatch and deliveries division, which helps service 350,000 students.
Being in the printing industry, you’d think technology would be Colourtech’s most important asset, but it’s not. ‘Our staff are our most valuable resource – we consider each and every one of our employees as part of our family,’ said Groenewald.
They are integral to the business’ success. ‘I’ve always told my employees to treat each customer like royalty – whether a client is just popping in for a small pack of business cards, or taking on a major order. Good service is crucial.’
For more information about the Sign Africa, FESPA Africa, Africa Print and Africa LED expo’s, and to pre-register online, please visit: www.signafricaexpo.com/entrepreneur
Celebrating The Multi-Faceted Woman
Fedhealth celebrates #WonderWomen this August for the multiple roles they take on and excel in.
- Visit: www.fedhealth.co.za
- Call: 0860 002 153
Fedhealth celebrates #WonderWomen this August for the multiple roles they take on and excel in. Whether you’re the CEO of a multinational company, the CEO of your home, or managing both, we’ve got plans to cover you every step of the journey — so you can focus on what you do best.
In celebration of Women’s Month, Fedhealth celebrates the strong women in our lives, and the various roles they fulfil with commitment and enthusiasm.
From mothers to caretakers to business owners and mentors, “Sisters are doing it for themselves.” And, since women are the backbone of so many families and communities, women’s health deserves to be cherished, during pregnancy, the childbearing years, and beyond.
Fedhealth’s family focus recognises the maternal role and how important women are in the family decision-making process. Fedhealth will take care of your family and your children through family-focused plans like Maxima Basis.
Fedhealth’s role in each stage of a Woman’s health
When you are young and single, Fedhealth looks after you by providing the contraceptive benefit
Oral contraception, contraceptive patches and certain contraceptive injections, as well as IUDs, are covered from Risk on Maxima Plus, Maxima Exec, Maxima Standard, Maxima StandardElect and Maxima Basis.
When obtained at a pharmacy, GP or a gynaecologist, the cost will automatically be covered by the Scheme and funded from the Major Medical Benefit.
When you are ready to start a family, Fedhealth has amazing maternity benefits
The experience of becoming a parent is priceless, but sooner or later you’re going to run into the expenses involved with a pregnancy.
The actual cost of pregnancy and childbirth can be steep, especially if you don’t have medical aid. The price tag of a healthy pregnancy can really add up, starting with prenatal care to ensure a healthy baby and a healthy delivery.
You’ll need to visit your gynaecologist throughout your pregnancy. If you have medical aid, prenatal visits and diagnostic tests such as ultrasounds, will be covered. They are generally considered as ‘preventative’ care.
An ultrasound could cost anything between R600 to R800 upwards, while delivery could cost up to R13 000 at a private facility. Every day, scores of women in South Africa scramble to find a medical aid that will cover their pregnancy and childbirth.
Maxima Basis is an excellent medical aid option to consider if you’re thinking of starting a family in the future.
At the later stages of your health, Fedhealth provides screening benefits
Yes, fifty being the new thirty would be particularly true for those who can afford good health care or have access to good health care.
Because of this, people are staying healthier for longer, and lives are starting later due to longer education times and difficulty finding jobs. People are settling down into careers in their mid to late twenties instead of earlier, making traditionally older ages, like 50, feel younger.
Women should have a general check-up every year, especially as you get older (even if you don’t feel like it yet). Have you scheduled yours?
Protect yourself against some of life’s nastier surprises by learning more about the most commonly misdiagnosed women’s illnesses:
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: When tasks such as getting ready for work, which usually require an hour take several hours, you may want to look into why. CFS affects women in their 40s and 50s. Women are four times more likely to suffer from this disease than men.
Multiple Sclerosis: Women are three times more likely to be diagnosed with MS, and it generally appears between ages 20 and 40. Having a mother with MS can be the strongest risk factor. Blurred or double vision, fatigue, tingling, dizziness, lack of coordination and tremors are symptoms to look out for.
Fedhealth has a strong social presence and, through the use of its blog, Fedhealth’s team will produce great articles along the #WonderWomen theme, such as women in the workplace, breastfeeding in your lunch hour and celebrating being single. To follow the blog, go to www.fedhealth.co.za/healthy-living-tips/
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