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A Sucker For Entrepreneurs…

With just days to go before the winner of The Workspace/MiWay Business Insurance Entrepreneur Competition is announced, one of the judges, PHAKISO TSOTETSI has some ideas on the challenges faced by emerging entrepreneurs.





As an established entrepreneur passing on the skills and lessons I’ve learnt on my journey I, too, have emerged from this process a wiser man.

With just days to go before the winner of The Workspace/MiWay Entrepreneur Competition is announced, I’ve reflected on the time spent conducting workshops and skills development programmes with firstly the top 10, and more recently, the top five entrepreneurs.

Their maturity and love for what they do is the something that was brought home to me constantly, and which reminded me as an entrepreneur of how much I love what I do.

Secondly their level of dedication into growing their businesses was evident through the effort of participating in this competition (which started in February, and culminates on 13 September). This was no cut ‘n’ paste process. It was rigorous, time-consuming and yes, tough. Their openness to learning to be criticised, to be vulnerable about their personal and business lives, to say ‘I want to grow, teach me’; this is something that I know is tough to do, but because of their hunger and determination, they took it all on board (and on the chin).

I’m a sucker for entrepreneurs because I know what it means and takes to be one. Some of these guys are first generation entrepreneurs in their families and most of their immediate families do not understand what it takes to run an enterprise so there are various pressures that these guys experience, let alone their businesses. So to see them still follow their dream with that understanding is inspiring.

Traits in common

That said, I believe entrepreneurs do have certain traits in common. They are confident about themselves and their business. They are eager to succeed.

They are able to overcome challenges and see the bigger picture, so they display self-determination, consistency and agility. In the case of our finalists, they have a deep sense of self and feel a responsibility to contribute to this country’s people and its economic growth.

Cloud based loyalty management platform and app for SMEs, Loyal 1; finance solution company, Matla Risk Management; events and catering business Sindi’s Best for All; mining tech integration partner, Dwyka Mining Services; and Minatlou Trading 251, supplier of general and women-specific protective personal equipment/clothing are the top 5 finalists.

Related: Watch List: 50 Black African Women Entrepreneurs To Watch

Very different businesses, with different challenges yet what struck me was that they really understood their businesses and knew how to sell it. What they really needed to take it further was a business development programme that would structure their business and harness the skills they already possessed.

And that’s where the important part of this competition really kicked in. We incorporated a series of workshops and skills development initiatives to help them reach the next level. [As an aside, an important part of this was learning to pitch their businesses properly. One has even told me how his pitch training helped him acquire new business as he was going through the competition!)

So how they absorbed and took on these lessons played an enormous role in whether they made it to the next level of the competition. Working closely with them through this process highlighted several issues.

The challenges

Firstly, I realised many entrepreneurs had difficulty in differentiating a partner from client simply because of how some of their businesses needed corporate financing to activate the market which they had access to. As a result it was difficult for some the entrepreneurs to clearly understand who their client and partner was. This meant most of them said their services wereB2B and B2C at the same time.

Secondly the entrepreneurs ran their businesses without proper financial strategies and planning. They had not set measurable targets for their businesses. Some operated hand to mouth due to the lack of structure, and weren’t able to take home a salary.

Lastly, the entrepreneurs needed to understand the key operations of their businesses and focus on ensuring that those aspects were kept going all the time. This spoke to developing systems and processes that when implemented, would allow them to remove themselves from the day to day operations and bring in key people to run those functions for them while they focus on bringing in business and the bigger picture.

This is of course a difficult thing to do for a lot of the entrepreneurs. One of the entrants ended up crying because she realised that she was the biggest obstacle in her growth. In one week she had turned down two deals due to her lack of capacity simply because she wanted to be the one to do everything and did not trust other people to deliver and uphold her brand’s standards.

Related: 10 SA Entrepreneurs Who Built Their Businesses From Nothing

Back to the top five finalists. What differentiated them from other competitors was their product knowledge, the potential for growth, their determination and enthusiasm, having good existing clients, that they were already generating some money, and that their needs met the prize offering (valued at over R500 000).

My advice to them – and to all the entrepreneurs out there who are helping us build an economically vibrant South Africa – continue being agile, especially in these challenging economic time. Don’t be afraid to try new things. And don’t forget to invest in yourself.

And my plea to government? Please cut the red tape. Please allow entrepreneurs to flourish. Please take the words of Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba, to heart. When he visited South Africa recently, he said, “The best way to create jobs is to encourage small business,” adding that he’d advised President Cyril Ramaphosa to give favourable tax rates to start ups as they needed it, rather than big businesses. He compared taxing small businesses to “taking the meat off mosquitoes’ legs”. Hear hear!

Phakiso Tsotetsi is the co-founder of the Hookupdinner, one of the fastest growing entrepreneurial networking platforms in the Sub-Saharan Africa along with co founding The Peoples Fund, a crowd funding and asset financing company that is driven by the people and for the People. Tsotetsi is an entrepreneur at heart and is all about entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneur Magazine is South Africa's top read business publication with the highest readership per month according to AMPS. The title has won seven major publishing excellence awards since it's launch in 2006. Entrepreneur Magazine is the "how-to" handbook for growing companies. Find us on Google+ here.

Entrepreneur Today

The Sky Is The Limit For South Africa’s Top Women Achievers

High-powered women achievers from across the private and public sectors, academia and diplomatic spheres gathered for a charged two-day conference in Johannesburg this week to share experiences about empowerment, achievement and the role that women are destined to play in a competitive global environment.





Several hundred women attended the 15th Annual Standard Bank Top Women Conference which, with the Top Women Awards, has become one of the premier events for women on the national calendar. The objective of the gathering at the Maslow Hotel on the 17th and 18th of October, was to showcase the achievements of South African women and reignite their passion as they have major roles to play in all arenas of endeavour, says Ethel Nyembe, head of Card Issuing at Standard Bank.

“The delegates to the Top Women Conference were inspired by speakers such as Yvonne Chaka Chaka, singer, songwriter and an entrepreneur in her own right; Phuti Mahanyele, executive chair of Sigma Capital, a black-owned investment group, and political and academic stalwart Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, now Chancellor of Nelson Mandela University and other women who are playing leading roles in many of the nation’s listed blue-chip corporations.”

“The overall message is that women are playing a central role in growing all facets of our economy and are helping to build a future from which other women can benefit and, in turn, inspire others. Women, regardless of whether they are entertainment icons, professionals engaged in helping shape the minds of future generations, businesswomen or scientists are part of building a new global reality.”

Related: 13 Female Entrepreneurs Rising To The Top In SA

To inspire delegates about the breadth and depth of the future for women, the conference examined all facets of economic life from the impact that IT and scientific research is having on building businesses, through to the development of entrepreneurs and leadership skills. Insights were offered through the contributions of speakers and roundtable panel discussions in which leading women offered observations and advice gathered from their vast experience.

“Standard Bank is proud of the role it has played in enabling women achievers to reach their full potential within its ranks. The bank also recognises that women across society have a broad role to play in the future of South Africa. It is through support for events like the Top Women Awards and the Top Women Conference that this approach is made visible and tangible.”

“We expect this year’s conference deliberations to deliver insights and inspiration that will not only spur established women to new heights of achievement, but also stimulate young women starting new careers,” says Ms Nyembe.

More information on the Top Women Conference can be found at and it can be followed on the #SBTWConference conversation on Facebook and Twitter  

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Entrepreneur Today

The Ins And Outs Of A Good Exit Strategy

The thought of parting with a business you’ve grown from the ground up may be unsettling, but Gugu Mjadu, spokesperson for the 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, says that it is better for both your business and yourself to plan for this as early as possible.





“The challenge that business owners often face in this respect is comparable to the difficulty that many new parents have with imagining their children grown up and leaving for university. Imagine, however, if parents did not plan ahead for the cost of their education – that would be detrimental to the future of their children. The same could be the case for your business.”

Mjadu says that a good exit strategy is about sustainability and being able to measure your business performance against the goals you have set for it. “It’s really about being able to say, ‘this is when the work is done and I can exit the business or take on a different role – this is what success looks like in terms of monetary return on investment and other business growth indicators’.

“The lack of an exit strategy could be telling of a fundamental lack of measurable business goals and this needs to be addressed,” she says.

From immediate liquidation to liquidation over time; family succession; selling to staff or external investors; the open market or another business; or the gruelling but profitable exercise of taking your company public – there are many different ways in which an entrepreneur can exit their business, but Mjadu says that whatever the process, a strong and solid strategy is essential.

She shares five key points of a good exit strategy:

1. It tells you when you are done

Mjadu says that a good exit strategy should reflect a core understanding of all the intricacies of your business and should be able to tell you when the lifecycle of your business (or of your involvement in the business) should come to an end. This is usually done by including a set of tangible measurables or objectives so that it is easy to ascertain when these have been achieved.

Related: When Do You Know It’s Time To Sell Your Business

2. It sets out the right environment within which to exit

A good exit strategy considers the economic, social and political environment at the time of your exit. Mjadu says that this is important in order to plan for a secure financial future.

“Failure to think about this could result in short-changing yourself by exiting during a tough economic climate when the risk to buyers reduces the value of your business.”

She references the case of Victoria’s Secret when founder, Roy Raymond, sold the failing business for $1m unknowing that it would later grow into the multi-billion dollar empire it is now. “While Raymond’s exit was ultimately necessary for Victoria’s Secret’s growth, he sold it in 1982 during the global recession of the early eighties – one of the world’s biggest financial crises and this influenced the selling price at his exit”.

3. It compensates those who have contributed to the life of your business

It is important to consider the impact your exit could have on investors and staff, says Mjadu. “Closing shop for example, means that your staff no longer have employment at your business. Selling could mean the same.” She adds that it is important to consider ways in which your exit could also benefit these stakeholders – for example, selling to a bigger business could mean more career opportunities for your staff, as well as continued job security.

4. It compensates you

Mjadu says that entrepreneurs often struggle to recognise their own true worth, especially when this involves attaching a monetary value to what has been achieved. “The time of exiting a business is no place to short-change yourself. You need to get out the full worth of what you put in,” she says, explaining that this means ensuring that you are financially secure before and while you go into your next venture.

“Your needs for retirement and medical insurance, as well as the maintenance of your living standard, should be met at your exit.”

Related: Want to Exit the Company? Here’s Your Shareholder Exit Strategy

5. It sustains your entrepreneurial drive

Mjadu says that while you may be nearing the end of one journey, your exit should enable and encourage you to continue to be an entrepreneur – and to look forward to the next journey. “Your entrepreneurial skills and capacity do not end when you exit your business and whatever your strategy, it should egg you on to more entrepreneurial activity including becoming a mentor to aspiring entrepreneurs.”

Mjadu says that exiting your business should allow you a good retrospective look at what you have done over the years – and so planning the strategy early on in your business lifecycle will set you up in regards to what you hope to achieve. “Upon exit, you should be able to say that you have done what you set out to do, financially and socially, and you have some energy left to do more elsewhere.”

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Entrepreneur Today

Search Is On For SA’S Online Retailer Of The Year

World Wide Worx in partnership with Platinum Seed, Visa, Heavy Chef and the Ecommerce Forum of Africa, launch new awards to recognise online stores that promote shopper trust.





World Wide Worx today announced that it was launching a new awards programme — called the Online Retailer of the Year — to honour online stores in South Africa that grow trust amongst digital shoppers. The awards are part of a broader project to boost online shopping by World Wide Worx in partnership with Visa, Platinum Seed, the Ecommerce Forum of Africa and Heavy Chef.

“Online retail in South Africa has consistently grown above 20% since the turn of the century but only passed 1% of overall retail in 2016. Research shows that trust is a big factor in ecommerce growth, which is why we want to recognise online retailers who help to grow the entire sector by ensuring the kind of ecommerce standards that engender trust with online shoppers,” Goldstuck says.

“But once online retail passes two per cent it crosses an essential psychological barrier and this often leads to a tipping point in emerging economies. That’s when we see online retail snowballing. It gathers real momentum and everyone in the sector benefits,” Goldstuck explains.

To be eligible for entry to the Online Retailer of the Year, owners of digital stores are urged to participate in an essential survey of local online shopping being run by Goldstuck’s World Wide Worx, together with Visa and digital growth agency Platinum Seed.

To participate in the research, local online retailers can go to

All online retailers who participate will be entered into the award. However, participation in the survey is not a precondition for entry to the awards. However, only online retailers who operate from within South Africa’s borders are eligible for this local award.

The awards will be made at a Heavy Chef event in Cape Town on Thursday, October 01 2018. At the same event, World Wide Worx’s Arthur Goldstuck will lay bare the state of local retail, with Brad Elliott, CEO of Platinum Seed, and Visa.

Related: Up To R1 Million In Funding For Tech Solutions To Early Childhood Challenges

Goldstuck, who is judging the awards, will present the following awards:

  • Online Retailer of The Year
  • 1st runner-up – Online Retailer of the Year
  • 2nd runner-up – Online Retailer of the Year
  • Best New SA Online Retailer of the Year.

The winners of the Online Retailer of the Year awards will be given a digital badge that the online store can display online. The winners will have bragging rights for a year — until the next award is made in 2019.

Judging criteria for the awards include trust, innovation, customer service, digital excellence, customer engagement, product excellence, and the online reputation of the digital store. Visa, Heavy Chef, and Platinum Seed will oversee the judging of the awards. The Ecommerce Forum of Africa will audit the results.

Retailers or entrepreneurs who want to attend the awards and presentation of the research results by Goldstuck can purchase tickets from Heavy Chef.

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