The 3rd annual Exec Think Tank took a good, hard look at the future of business and what entrepreneurs and executives should be implementing today if they want to be growing their organisations in the future.
1. The rules of transacting have changed – and you need to change with them
Anton Musgrave, futurist and Senior Partner at FutureWorld International, offered a simple description of how businesses transact: Need meets supply and both parties agree to a transfer of price. That’s it. That’s what business is about. The rest is just processes to enable that one transaction.
However, as the world changes, so those processes change. What we do to get to the transaction has to move with the times.
“Too many companies still think of business and the digital department as separate entities. They aren’t. Digital should permeate the whole business,” said Musgrave.
“We’re in the fourth industrial revolution, and new technologies are driving down costs in business. We’re now transacting at profoundly different operating costs, in new markets through new industries. If this has all changed, then the way we do business must too.
“There are only four relevant questions that should shape every business decision you make: Is it insightful, is it exponential, is it changing the way we do things, and does it excite people?
“Unlearn everything you’ve ever learnt. Learn about the rules of a new, future world, where everything is interconnected and digital. And once you’ve done that, start again. That’s how quickly things are moving.
“If you can do that, you might be ready for the future.”
2. Dream big and live your destiny
“My dreams have value, and life validates me,” said Nonkululeko Gobodo, co-founder of SizweNtsalubaGobodo and current CEO at Nkululeko Leadership Consulting, as she unpacked how the courage to pursue her own dreams has shaped her success in life. “The power of the fulfilment of the dream exists within the dream itself,” she said, “You just need to not be scared of pursuing your dreams.”
Related: How SNG Built A Leadership Legacy
To clarify her point, Gobodo pointed out how babies learn: with determination, and without fear. “They conquer challenges every day,” she said. “They haven’t learnt fear, which is critical to their ability to overcome all the obstacles in their way.
“We grow up and take things so seriously. When we were young we did things naturally. We need to get back to that. We need to learn to trust our own learnings, our bodies, and our minds.”
3. Become a leader that others will follow
Gobodo is a firm believer that personality affects leadership style and this should be used to a leader’s advantage rather than ignored. “The more self-aware we become, the more we’re able to channel strengths, manage weaknesses and minimise conflicts within our teams,” she said.
“To be a good leader, you need to be aware of your psychological and spiritual state. We all bring energy to the job. A good leader is aware of what that energy is.”
“Don’t let your team carry the burden of your leadership style.”
She also believes that leaders are respectful. “Everyone has value. If you can embrace this idea, your organisation will follow your lead. This won’t only affect your business, but will make an impact on the community around you. Together, we can rebuild our country, and make a difference to millions of lives.”
4. Manage your online reputation
It takes a lifetime to build a reputation, and seconds to destroy it. In the digital age, when social media permeates every aspect of our lives, this statement has never been truer.
Emma Sadleir, Social Media Law Specialist, started her talk by pointing out that it’s not a question of whether you’re going to be on social media. You already are. Your stakeholders are. Rather, do it well, and learn how to manage your business’s online image. This starts with your employees.
“Social media is instant. I can think something, publish it and it’s out there. There’s no time to filter my thoughts.
“Ten years ago companies could decide on who would be their voice, and what the company message would be. This has radically changed. You can perhaps control your brand accounts, but your employees are linked to you, even when they tweet or post in their personal capacities, and your customers are talking about you.
“There’s no escaping it.”
So what should companies be doing?
“First, remember that digital content is dangerous content, and anything can be digital: Anyone can post a video about you, tweet about something you’ve said, screen grab a private conversation. Nothing is safe.
“Reputation management is therefore critical. Educate your employees. Help them to understand what they say – even through private accounts – impacts the brand, and outline fireable offences. Put firm guidelines in place, and then monitor your brand image.”
Most of all, remember that whether you like it or not, your brand has a digital presence. Rather manage it than ignore it.
5. Build your business on a combination of culture and strategy
“Initially, we didn’t talk culture,” said Sam Paddock, who started GetSmarter from nothing eight years ago and grew it into a company that now boasts something north of R360 million turnover (and aiming for R1 billion by 2018), “Culture was just how you behaved.”
For Sam and his brother, Rob, their breakthrough came when they read Mastering the Rockefeller Habits (Verne Hamish), which distilled the world of business into one simple concept – business is about people doing things.
Related: How GetSmarter Got Smarter
“We need to build simple models of the world. The challenge of business is – the right people doing the right things right.”
The overarching question for business leaders around culture was, “Do you and your people know the character of your company?”
Deeply ingrained into GetSmarter’s culture is a clear set of values that every employee buys into. These values promote learning, encourage process evolution and centre on nurturing relationships – both with their customers and with each other.
But Paddock was insistent that culture means nothing without strategy. To define strategy, he drew from Harvard Business Review’s two questions: Where to play, and How to win.
“If we’re clear about our strategy, our team will pick up the tools and do the work with us.”
Great Bunch Of Entrepreneurs Make Top 10 In The Workspace/MiWay Competition
The top 10 in The Workspace/MiWay entrepreneur competition have been selected.
After an intense four-month process, the top 10 contenders in The Workspace/MiWay Entrepreneur competition have been notified that they’re through to the next round. These entrepreneurs will pitch their businesses to the judges, who will then whittle down the number of contenders to five, from which the winner will be chosen.
“There has been great excitement over the past four months. As every single new entry came in, we would clap our hands and cheer,” said Mari Schourie, CEO of The Workspace. It was a tough job judging all the entries to reach the top 20 submissions, she said, before having to find the top 10.
“We’ve had really strong entries submitted by people with good business knowledge,” said Schourie. “You can see the willingness to work hard and the great amount of effort they have put into their initiatives.”
Schourie said judges saw “wonderful ideas and fabulous business minds and quality people with big dreams shine through the entries”.
The top 10 are:
- Loyal 1
- Dwyka Mining Services
- Minatlou Trading 251
- Sindis Best for all
- Convergence Three
- Zinde Zinde
- Matla Risk Management
- Artsort Trading
- Iconic Talent Agency
- Nthedikgwadi Transport Services
Schourie said she wished she could tell President Cyril Ramaphosa, who supports the growth of small business as an economic driver, “the ideas and the passion that these business owners have is inspiring and should be focused on more”.
The prize on offer – worth over R350 000 – will help set-up the winning entrepreneur for a period of 12 months, giving them a boost to help build their business.
Morné Stoltz, Head of Business Insurance at MiWay, said the theme that ran throughout the entries was that entrepreneurs wanted to make a difference and contribute to positive change in South Africa. “Many of the submissions focused on technical and developmental fields,” he said.
“Entrepreneurs recognise gaps in the market and see the potential for growth. Getting into the top 10 was not at all easy.”
Stoltz said South Africa had a “great bunch of entrepreneurs” and that standing together to give them a platform to launch was an exciting opportunity. “To grow our economy we need to help with skills development and give whatever assistance we can,” he said.
Part of the finalists’ road to the top includes a skills development programme for the top 10 entrants ahead of their important date to pitch their business plans to the judges.
As Schourie pointed out, it is vital to encourage South African citizens to act on their dreams and passions because “it can be a great success; they just need make that leap”.
Dates to watch:
- 21 June: Top 10 skills development programme
- 3 July: Top 10 pitches
- 6 July: Top 5 announcement
- 20 July: Final five workshops
- 10 August: Final five pitches
- 13 September: Winner announced
Top 22 Start-ups Chosen For Final Selection Days – Startupbootcamp Africa
After receiving 1,004 applications from all over the world, the SBC team in conjunction with the programme’s corporate sponsors have narrowed the applicants down to 22 top-tier tech start-ups that will be invited to the Final Selection Days on July 11th and 12th at PwC’s headquarters in Cape Town.
SBC Africa received 1,004 total applications from 77 countries on 5 continents. The start-ups that applied were exceptionally impressive and have gained more traction in the market than the applicants for the 2017 cohort. The talent in Africa is phenomenal and the corporate sponsors and SBC team dedicated 2 weeks to narrow it down to the Top 22 to be invited to Final Selection Days.
“It’s been an intense process due to the exceptionally high calibre of start-ups applying to the programme from across the continent,” states Philip Kiracofe, co-founder and CEO of Startupbootcamp Africa. “From 1,004 applications we have managed to narrow down to 22 of the most creative teams tackling daunting African problems. One of the key differentiators for start-ups that participate in the SBC Accelerator is the opportunity to secure commercial contracts with our sponsors. In order to make it onto our Top 22, each start-up has been chosen by at least 2 sponsors for potential proof of concept projects. The 2018 cohort is already shaping up to be a milestone moment for Africa.”
Zachariah George, co-founder and Chief Investment Officer of Startupbootcamp Africa added, “The investment community across Africa is taking note of the significant traction and access to market that being an alumni of a global accelerator programme like ours provides. We are excited to further galvanize venture capital funding into tech startups through significant de-risking of business models and customer validation with our corporate partners globally.”
From the 22 teams that have been invited to the SBC Africa Final Selection Days, 10 will be selected to join the 2018 cohort. Over the span of the two Final Selection Days, the startups in attendance will have the opportunity to present their pitches to high-profile corporate sponsors, investors, thought leaders and industry experts and will have the chance to sit down with mentors and sponsors alike. At the end of Day Two, the Top 10 will be announced and will be welcomed to the Cape Town-based Accelerator that kicks off in August. During the 3-month period, they will have the opportunity to scale at an incredible pace and seal pilot and proof of concept deals with the corporate sponsors to the programme.
The SBC Africa Accelerator is anchored and endorsed by heavyweight corporate sponsors RCS, BNP Paribas Personal Finance, Nedbank, Old Mutual and PwC.
“We’ve seen an increase in the quality of start-ups applying to the programme. The awareness of the value of the programme has increased and the success of the first year of the bootcamp speaks for itself. More mature start-ups are also seeing the benefits of participating in Startupbootcamp Africa,” comments Stanley Gabriel, Head of Innovation at Old Mutual.
The Top 22 start-ups invited to the Final Selection Days come from 7 different countries. The numbers are as follows: 8 from Nigeria, 5 from South Africa, 3 from Uganda, 2 from the Ivory Coast, 2 from Kenya, 1 from Ghana and 1 from Ireland.
The names of the start-ups invited to Final Selection Days by country:
- Nigeria: Bankly Technologies, Biyabot, CredPal, FriendsVow, Kudimoney Bank, Medikal HMS, NebulaPay, and ZEEZZ Planet Solutions.
- South Africa: Brandbookalytics Big Data, ifileme, LÜLA, Prospa, and Akiba Digital
- Uganda: CoinPesa Ltd, RoundBob Uganda, and Swipe 2 Pay
- Ivory Coast: Digitech Group, and DISTRICASH
- Kenya: Kakbima, and MPost
- Ghana: Inclusive Financial Technologies
- Ireland: Pago Payments
It has been an incredible 3-month scouting journey for SBC Africa and now that the Top 22 have been announced, the Final Selection Days is the only hurdle left before the Accelerator officially kicks off on 13 August 2018.
There are high expectations for the Top 10 of 2018 and if the quality of the start-ups at this stage is any indication, 2018 is set to be a great success for the African tech and innovation ecosystem.
She Works Hard For Her Money – So Pay Her On Time
Sage research finds that female entrepreneurs suffer more negative effects from late payments than men. Charles Pittaway, Managing Director of Sage Pay, comments on the importance of equal pay for equal work.
Women fight inequality and discrimination every day. They fight for equal pay for equal work. They challenge gender stereotypes in their careers and personal lives. They question unfair social and political norms. They unify under passionate causes, evidenced recently by the #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns.
With female business builders making up nearly 40% of the global workforce – and heading up 72% of micro-enterprises and 40% of small enterprises in South Africa – any kind of discrimination is unacceptable from a cultural and economic point of view, especially when it involves failure to pay what is owed.
The impact of late payments on small businesses has been widely discussed as an issue that must be eradicated for all entrepreneurs, regardless of gender. But inequality still exists and more needs to be done to eradicate it.
Recent research by Sage highlights that this discrimination doesn’t just impact women in large corporates. Indeed, it identified a worrying trend: female entrepreneurs are more likely to suffer from late payments than their male counterparts.
South Africa was among the six regions (out of 11) surveyed by Sage that reported higher instances of women business builders being paid late. Businesses run by female entrepreneurs in South Africa report that 18% of invoices are paid late and 10% of invoices are written off as bad debt.
Small businesses cannot absorb these costs nor the lost hours spent on admin – amounting to R564 000 in South Africa. The result can be disastrous: in the next 12 months, 1 in 4 female entrepreneurs will prioritise chasing late payments to be more cost efficient, and ironically will become less productive. If these businesses are not paid on time, they will also struggle to pay bonuses and suppliers, and will be forced to delay investments in their businesses.
The fact that late or non-payments is a more common occurrence experienced by female entrepreneurs is part of a wider problem. Women report more instances of sexist comments, disregard for their business ambitions and lack of female mentors as significant underlying reasons why there is now a heightened cultural stigma around chasing late payments amongst female entrepreneurs – more so than men.
In South Africa, the stigma extends past culture, with 40% of Small & Medium Businesses failing to follow up on late payments to protect client relationships. Time and resources are also challenges, with 24% of small businesses saying they don’t have a dedicated resource to chase payments and 13% saying they don’t have time.
There is no place for bias in business – all entrepreneurs should be free to pursue their ambitions without suffering the consequences of these cultural barriers that are encountered far too often – regardless of gender.
Now is the time to disrupt and challenge these harmful stereotypes and create a force for good, making sure that small businesses – the engine room of all economies – are paid what they are duly owed for the services they deliver to our economy.
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