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Is being successful as entrepreneur about sheer good luck or hard work?

Make your own luck by mastering these core entrepreneurial traits.

Sandra Swanepoel

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As the famous adage goes: “The harder you work, the luckier you get.” The most successful entrepreneurs are those who work for it.

There are ten core principles that differentiate good entrepreneurs from great ones. It is important to nurture an entrepreneurial spirit within an organisation and to empower the business to operate as if each individual works for themselves.

My top ten tips for entrepreneurs are:

  1. Have stamina and work hard. Be relentless in pursuing  business. Make sure you have the stamina to spend all the hours that you can on pursuing your dreams.
  2. Always spend your time on activities that are closest to cash. Certain hours are high income generating hours, spend them wisely.
  3. Be an expert in what you do. Invest time in yourself in order to be extremely well informed.
  4. Deal with people effectively. If you had to think of a leader  that really had a impact on you  and that influenced you in a positive way. You will find that the qualities they possessed were mostly emotional intelligence qualities and very seldom technical or IQ related. Make sure you develop your emotional intelligence to be able to deal with people efficiently.
  5. Do things differently. Ask yourself what can I do differently so that customers will do business with me. How can I add value to their business? Be innovative, and take bold steps to distinguish yourself from the competition, be it with product service or your operations.
  6. Be driven. Set targets for yourself, your business and your staff; your business will only do well if you are driven to achieve results. Make sure that your targets are realistic. Unless you set goals you will find that time goes by that you cannot account for.
  7. Do you have an immensely positive attitude. How you think is extremely important when you are a business owner. If you are able to stay positive and have a great mindset you are already on the right track.
  8. Measure as much as possible. If you do not know your business you will not be able to improve year on year.  An example would be to measure what employees do and to give them goals, motivate them and pay them accordingly, resulting in greater buy-in, more ownership and accountability.
  9. Read listen and learn. Make sure you have a culture where you never think you know enough. Be open to learning and hungry for knowledge, whether from people that are younger, older, in different places or culture groups.
  10. Admit mistakes and manage poor performers. If you do not manage people that perform poorly you will loose the whole room. For the same token if you have made a mistake by admitting it you will create a platform for peers to also admit mistakes. Keep the best employees and surround yourself with strong players.

Sandra Swanepoel leads the growth of Sage’s human resource and payroll solutions business across Africa. Before her promotion to this role, she served as sales director for Sage HR & Payroll. Sandra joined the company in 1989 when it was still a start-up. Since then, her commercial acumen and industry expertise have played a key role in the company’s growth into one of Africa’s leading payroll and HR solutions providers. Prior to joining Sage VIP as a sales consultant, Sandra’s worked in the payroll and HR departments of a number of large companies. She has played a key role in signing contracts with large multinational customers over the years. For more information, visit Sage.

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Starting a Business

What are the do’s and don’ts of securing an online domain name?

We asked Domains.co.za founder, Wayne Diamond, what the do’s and don’ts are when it comes to entrepreneurs registering domain names for their start-ups…

Wayne Diamond

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There’s that L-word again:

“Location, location, location”. It’s the make or break decision. Every estate agent and business owner cannot overemphasise the importance of this Critical Business Decision Number 2 (Number 1, of course, has to do with what you’re going to sell!).

Related: As a start-up, what are the most important areas I should be looking at?

 

Whatever business you’re in, being close to customers and convenient to business partners and suppliers is essential. That bricks-and-mortar wisdom is equally true in the world of online commerce. Having the right domain name and the right support for your online presence has emerged as a real driver of success.

Some figures put the scale of the opportunity into perspective: US e-commerce is predicted to reach $440 billion by 2017, showing a compound annual growth of 13.8%[1]. While the Internet economy is in its infancy in South Africa and Africa, it is growing strongly: research by World Wide Worx showed that consumers, small and medium businesses and government were already purchasing products and services worth R59 billion on the web three years ago.[2]

So how to secure the best and most profitable Internet real estate to make sure your business can ride the e-commerce wave?

It’s all in the name:

The first decision is what domain to use. One of the exciting developments is the launch of new Internet domain names, so it’s definitely no longer a choice of .com or .co.za. The proposed dotAfrica (.africa) geoTLD (geographic Top Level Domain) is one option that’s set to come online around the first quarter of next year, but what about the ZAdotCities domains of .joburg, .capetown or .durban? Domain names within these additional geoTLDs will be able to be snapped up by the public around November this year.

While .com remains a good choice for truly international businesses, choosing a domain name with some local flavour is probably going to work well for many companies.

The greater range of domain names also makes it more possible that you will be able to choose the right name for your business. When it comes to the more established domains, like .com or .co.za, chances are higher that the name you want has already been taken.

When it comes to that all-important name, received wisdom used to be that short was best, but the trend nowadays seems to have reversed—even phrases are now used. The key is to choose a name that is easily recognisable, that will stick in peoples’ minds and that describes the business well.

Perhaps a good example is the domain used by the writer of this article: www.domains.co.za is both a brand name and a name that perfectly describes the nature of the business. At just seven characters in length, “domains” is also an easy to spell, easy to remember word – keeping names under ten characters is guaranteed to help audience recall.

Something people will remember easily is absolutely vital.

Some companies use specific names for individual campaigns, but always make sure the business as a whole has its own web address.

Experience has shown that it’s probably worthwhile to register similar domain names to the one you choose, just to keep competitors from taking them in an effort to sow confusion.

My final advice: it’s always a good idea to use an ISPA (Internet Service Providers’ Association of SA) member to help you register the chosen address of your start-up. That way you’ll be sure that all the formalities are correct, and that the company you’re dealing with abides by ISPA’s code of conduct.

Finally, as there are already almost 950 000 .co.za domains registered, it’s a good idea to surf to www.domains.co.za and perform searches to see if the domain you would like is indeed available.

Related: Does the South African government award grants to franchisees?


[1] Chuck Jones, “Ecommerce is growing nicely while mcommerce is on a tear”, Forbes, 2 October 2013, available at http://mashable.com/2013/02/05/ecommerce-sales-top-1-trillion-worldwide/.

[2] “Internet 2% of SA economy”, 29 May 2012, available at http://www.worldwideworx.com/internet-2-of-sa-economy/.

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Starting a Business

How to protect your business idea when sending them to financial instituitons?

Signing an NDA, is it necessary?

Anton Ressel

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How can I protect my business idea before I submit my business plan to financial institutions and other agencies for help?

You have a few options:

Firstly, you can include a disclaimer as an introductory clause, saying that any and all information contained in the business plan and related documents remain the Intellectual Property of xxx (your name) and may not be reproduced, copied or used in any manner without express written consent. This is not legally binding, but usually enough.

Secondly, you could ask them to sign a non-disclosure agreement, which is more binding from a legal perspective. The downside of this is that it can come across as arrogant, especially from someone who is approaching us for help. Personally I refuse to sign any NDA from clients who approach me for help, it just smacks of mistrust and arrogance.

On a final note, good ideas always get copied. If you are that worried that your idea will be stolen, you may need to re-look at it and find ways to make it difficult to replicate, or better yet, make sure you are first to market.

Related: As a start-up, what are the most important areas I should be looking at?

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Starting a Business

Does the South African government award grants to franchisees?

In my experience, unless you as the entrepreneur have some ‘skin in the game’ and a reason to get up and make the business work every morning, it seldom will.

Anton Ressel

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I am considering purchasing a children’s education franchise and wanted to know if the government offers grants. The cost of the franchise is R 86 000. If so what are the criteria to qualify and how does one go about it?

Accessing grant funding for a franchise may prove challenging, unless that franchise is registered and accredited, in which case there is a fund that may consider it – see CNBC for more info.

Otherwise, you could look at www.investmentincentives.co.za and see if any of those sources of financing are of interest. It naturally depends on your own PDI (previously disadvantaged individual) status as many of these funds are focused on youth, women and PDI’s.

Finally, on an emotional level I would caution against going all out for grant funding and not loan finance. In my experience, unless you as the entrepreneur have some ‘skin in the game’ and a reason to get up and make the business work every morning, it seldom will.

 

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