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How To Become A Pitch Addict

The ENGEN Pitch & Polish 2016 Workshop final was held in Johannesburg on the 10th of November and the winner was Murendeni Mafumo from Fourways, Johannesburg.

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“First I was afraid; I was petrified” … Gloria Gaynor certainly did not have entrepreneurs in mind when she sang these words, in her classic disco hit “I will survive”. But the opening words of the song could very well describe the feelings of most entrepreneurs when they first begin pitching their business to potential investors and clients.

Fear is certainly the order of the day. However, like Gaynor, survival is also the order of the day and entrepreneurs who are unable to master the art of the pitch are unlikely to master the art of survival.

In fact, having overcome the fear, and having moved past being petrified, successful entrepreneurs become addicted to pitching. How, one may ask, is it possible to become a pitch-addict?

Like any healthy addiction, such as to exercise, practice makes perfect. One cannot become a ‘pitch-addict’ until one has moved through the fear of pitching. Becoming a pitch addict requires you to actually pitch – often!

The mirror is a good place to start, followed by the 3 Fs, friends, family and fools (i.e. anyone who will listen!). And even if the 3Fs in your life do not actually invest, the experience you will have gained in pitching to them, over and over, is immeasurable.

Related: The Impact Of Pitch And Polish

It is the first step on the path to addiction. And then it’s time for the real world! Bankers, investors, venture capitalists and, of course, potential clients.

The way you become a pitch addict is simply to breathe deeply and to tell yourself that no matter what feedback you get, you will find a way to use it to your advantage. You tell yourself that you will handle the feedback, no matter how hard it may be to hear.

In this way, you build your resilience to handle feedback. It is a virtuous cycle: the more feedback you get, the better you get; the better you get, the more courage you gain to pitch.

The fear never truly goes away. Even the most seasoned pitchers feel fear before they pitch their business. The pitch addicts are simply not letting fear get in the way! The more you say ‘yes’ to every opportunity to pitch, the more likely you are to become a pitch addict.

Suddenly, you will feel your fear turning into excitement. There is a ‘rush’ that accompanies the pitch – it is this rush to which pitch addicts become addicted.

“Just before the final pitch I was so nervous, and once on the stage the immense preparation helped me deliver a polished pitch.” says Murendeni Mafumo, the winner of ENGEN Pitch & Polish 2016, receiving R60 000 on the night.

“And once I’m done, and I know that I have faced my fear and conquered it, I am open to whatever feedback comes my way!” he adds.

“After winning, I feel grateful for the validation of my dreams.” Murendeni, who lives in Fourways, Johannesburg, won the judges over with his pitch on his existing business, Kusini Water, which uses technology developed to treat water. Murendeni’s love for science was sparked when he received a science set, as a present, when he was very young.

Related: How To Pitch An Investor

As his scientific knowledge grew, so too did his passion to make a positive difference in his community. Today, he ensures that people, specifically in rural areas, have clean drinking water.

“I thought I knew about business, but ENGEN Pitch & Polish has given me even more skills to grow my business beyond my wildest dreams!” says Murendeni.

It is important, however, to curb your addiction. A balance between working on your business, and talking about your business is essential. It is also crucial to be a discerning addict. Do your homework first. If there is something to be gained from the pitch, go for it!

The 2016 ENGEN Pitch & Polish programme, which was hosted by Engen Petroleum Ltd, Nedbank, Raizcorp and SAfm, culminated in an exclusive and prestigious event, held in Johannesburg. Alan Shannon, Head of Small Business and Professional Banking at Nedbank, expressed his enthusiasm by saying:

“Pitch & Polish is the perfect fit for Nedbank as we firmly believe that small business is the driver of the economy and employment. We believe in elevating and developing entrepreneurs, which is exactly what this programme does.”

In 2nd place overall in the national competition is Rishav Juglall, from the Durban event. He won R30 000 on the night. This young and dynamic entrepreneur, absorbed all the lessons of the ENGEN Pitch & Polish workshops, and it showed and paid off!

Rishav’s existing business, Rocky Brands, specialises in an array of high quality household cleaning products. As the youngest supplier to one of the largest retailers in South Africa, Rishav’s determination and ambition did not go unnoticed by the judges.

Rishav aspires to export his products all over Africa. His confidence gives him the ability to pitch extremely well, and with the added guidance from ENGEN Pitch & Polish, Rishav is sure to go very far with his business.

The Port Elizabeth contestant, and third-place winner in the finals, Billy Siziba, winning R15 000 on the night, grew up in a family of entrepreneurs. He is elated to be continuing the family tradition of self-employment and sustainability. His existing business, Bullyz Fitness, manufactures and sells gym clothing.

“Gym fees are high,” says Billy. “If you add the cost of gym clothes to that, gym becomes unaffordable for many people.” Bullyz Fitness aims to give people of all shapes and sizes, from all walks of life, access to professional gym clothes. Ever the entrepreneur, Billy is also working on an app that will help them to get, and stay, fit. No doubt the invaluable experience he has gained in ENGEN Pitch & Polish will serve him well as he expands his business to even greater heights.

Related: PITCH-A-PHOBIA… And How To Overcome It

Now in its seventh year, Engen Petroleum has been a sponsor since 2012. At the beginning of this year’s competition, Unathi Njokweni-Magida Engen’s Group Transformation Manager, said that she was expecting big things this year, “7 is a magic number,” she said. And she was right.

She continues, “This year’s competition has exceeded all my expectations, from the quality of the contestants to the aliveness of the audience, as well as the professionalism of the judges. As the headline sponsor, we could not have asked for more.”

Njokweni-Magida’s enthusiasm is backed up by the facts. This year, the competition hit record numbers with 2 300 entrepreneurs participating in the workshops.

The programme has been so successful that it caught the eye of Business Day TV which commissioned Pitch & Polish for a 10-week TV series which began in October 2016.

ENGEN Pitch & Polish’s power is truly in the pitch which produces a ripple-effect of success for entrepreneurs, and attracts opportunities for change and growth.

In the group photograph from left to right:

  • Alan Shannon (Nedbank)
  • Billy Siziba (3rd place, from Port Elizabeth)
  • Murendeni Mafumo (Winner, from Johannesburg)
  • Shirley Moroka-Mosia (Engen)
  • Rishav Juglall (2nd place, from Durban)
  • Allon Raiz (Raizcorp)

For more information, visit www.pitchandpolish.com

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.

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Celebrating The Best Of The Best In Black Business

The 2019 Black Business Quarterly (BBQ) Awards, held at Emperor’s Palace on Friday, 15 March 2019, celebrated the champions of transformation of the South African economy.

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Established in 2002, the BBQ Awards 2019 honoured the best of the best in black business. South Africa’s top black business owners and rising stars arrived to the red carpet for a night full of glitz and glamour. Celebrity TV presenter, socialite, radio personality and Idols SA judge Somizi Mhlongo led the festivities as the evening’s programme director. He was joined on stage by A-list celebrities and prominent politicians.

Jeff Radebe, Minister of the Department of Energy, celebrated 25 years of South Africa’s democracy in his opening keynote address and emphasised the importance of transformation.

“Transformation is well recognised as a change management strategy, which aligns people, which aligns processes and technology initiatives, irrespective of the industry you come from, in order to survive and evolve in this business environment. Changing the structure of the South African economy will result in it being more inclusive, more sustainable… with opportunities for all, integrated value chains, and less barriers to entry. In South Africa, the transformation agenda is very critical in all our endeavours and all our decisions.”

Radebe congratulated the winners of the 15 transformation categories on this recognition of their inspiring dedication:

  • Platinum Award: Dr Nobuhle Judy Dlamini, founding chairman of Mbekani Group, is an entrepreneur, author, and philanthropist. Her passion for creating and adding value to society and humanity provided her with the overall platinum award for the evening, as well as the Comair Outstanding Woman of the Year Award.
  • Hennessy XO Businessman of the Year Award: Sthembiso Elton Nkomo, CEO of Abalandi Risk Management, was recognised as a professionally qualified, dedicated, and respected professional in the forensic investigation and security services environment.
  • The Innovation Hub New and Innovative Business Award: AET Africa, a manufacturer and supplier of energy efficient and clean technology products, developed various products targeting the commercial and residential sectors.
  • Emperors Palace Community Builder of the Year Award: Emmanel Bonoko, Founder of EBonoko Holdings and a social entrepreneur. He founded EBonoko at the age of 21 with the aim of serving others and fostering leadership, youth empowerment, and entrepreneurship.
  • Dormehl Phalane Property Group Transformation Champion of the Year Award: ICT-Works, an organisation that provides innovative technology solutions. At its core it also enhances the lives of millions of people.
  • Best Employer of the Year Award: Maredi Technologies CC, an 100% black owned ICT infrastructure solutions provider for the private and public sector.
  • Trade & Investment KZN Young Business Achiever Award: Pravashen Naidoo, Founder and CEO of e-Waste Africa, established Africa’s first light bulb recycling business at the age of 30.
  • Bentley South Africa Public Sector Visionary Award: Dr Ayanda Vilakazi, CEO of Lama Marketing and Advertising (Pty) Ltd. He published numerous articles on how to improve services and operations in South Africa. As a seasoned Executive he has expertise in corporate governance, financial management and budgeting, enterprise risk management and strategic development.
  • BET New Entrepreneur Award: Ms Thobile Nyawo, Director of Nyawo Civil construction. The 19-year-old construction entrepreneur founded her company in 2015 with no start-up capital.
  • CSI Ubuntu Award: Vukani-Ubuntu Community Development Projects, a non-profit organisation that is the largest mineral-beneficiation organisation in the jewellery sector in South Africa and a network off grassroots development projects across the country.
  • NHBRC Iqhawe Mentorship Award: Musa Zulu, Creative Director of Valhalla Arts, as well as published author, international artist, celebrated motivational speaker, and prominent disability activist in South Africa.
  • NYDA Outstanding Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award: Muhammad Simjee, Founder and CEO of A2D24 with a passion for building gadgets and writing software.
  • Nedbank Group Individual Transformation in Leadership Award: Karen Rademeyer, Fundraiser and Communications Manager at Go for Gold, having worked in the non-profit sector for 17 years She is passionate about education: Go for Gold as a dynamic Education-to-Employment programme that recruits school students from some of South Africa’s poorest communities and transforms them into technically qualified graduates.
  • LTE Holdings Best Established Black Business Award: Thata uBeke Manufacturing (Pty) Ltd, which offers turnkey solutions by designing, developing, manufacturing and assembling electronic and electro mechanical components for a variety of applications including aerospace, telecommunications, mining, commercial, and military specifications.

The BBQ Awards continue to be South Africa’s most prestigious transformation awards. For more information on the 2019 BBQ Awards, visit http://www.bbqawards.co.za/ or follow them on Facebook (@BBQAwards) and Twitter (@BBQ_Awards).

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Why Just Having A Great Idea Won’t Make You The Next Richard Maponya

Tilldan Bunagni – Brand Manager for Firstwatch Whisky shares some insights into what will help you on the road to business success.

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All entrepreneurs have hurdles to overcome on their path to success, and it takes guts and fortitude to survive the journey. As self-made publisher, William Feather said, “Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go.”

Richard Maponya has been described as a living legend, and while his first business idea to retail directly to consumers in Soweto proved successful, it was his incredible determination and work ethic that saw him overcome an extremely hostile business environment for black business under the Apartheid Government.

Today’s up and coming entrepreneurs face different challenges and while there is support for SMEs from Government to Corporates, the reality is that starting a business and seeing it develop into a highly successful entity creating wealth for the owner, employees and other stakeholders, is the exception rather than the rule.

So, what are some ideas that will help you pave the way for a successful business providing for yourself, your family, your community

Ensure you don’t neglect the business while chasing the money

One of the worst mistakes a small business can make is not having a good admin system in place. Without booking keeping records, SARS compliance and financial records for example, you will at some point hit a brick wall.

Whether it’s because you are growing and need to access funding – which will prove very difficult without business documentation – or you have neglected your SARS payments and compliance, the wall be there. From the start, learn how to manage your admin yourself, or employ the part time expertise of a professional. It will be well worth the initial spend.

Don’t be scared to ask for money

Many successful businesses have become so because they sought funding when they needed it. Whether this is at the start-up phase or when the business is already established but ready to be fast tracked to the next level. While there seems to be a lack of understanding of how many and what options are available to SMEs in SA, the truth is there are literally hundreds of funding products available. Search Google with keywords such as: Access to finance in South Africa and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the what is actually available.

Don’t be scared to look for support

Success often comes with support. Being an entrepreneur or small business owner can be a very lonely existence. Whether you seek the backing of a Mentor or join a support programme, improving your business skills and having a cheering squad behind you is empowering.

Another form of support can be found in initiatives and competitions geared towards developing and rewarding entrepreneurs. Look out for ones that talk to the genuine needs of an entrepreneurial business – such as financial support backed by business training and support.

The journey for entrepreneurs is really tough, but certainly well worth the effort in the long run.

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How Firstwatch can help you!

Firstwatch is currently running the ‘Firstwatch Entrepreneurs Challenge’. This serves as a platform to move business ideas and concepts to the next stage of growth for the 100 applicants selected to join the two-day workshop.  The training programme is chock-full with robust, hands-on experiential learning with some of the country’s leading business experts.

At the culmination of the programme, entrepreneurs will be given the opportunity to pitch their business or business idea to a panel of judges – where the top 10 will be selected. All entrepreneurs will be invited to attend the closing ceremony on the 19th May, where the top 10 will pitch to the entire audience and a final panel of celebrity judges and successful entrepreneurs.

The overall winner will walk away with R50 000 support for their existing or start-up business.

The entry closing date is the 31st of March with workshop dates on 27 and 28 April 2019.

For information on the initiative simply call or send a Whatsapp, SMS or “please call me” to 072 391 9937 or e-mail info@firstwatch.co.za.

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Digital Transformation Should Be A Priority For Small Businesses In South Africa

With numbers like that, digital transformation is critical for any small business that wishes to find more customers and grow.

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When a water pipe bursts in your home one morning, your initial reaction will probably be to grab your smartphone and search Google for a plumber nearby. Perhaps there is one just around the corner, but you wouldn’t know about them if they don’t show up in your search results. This scenario sums up why a good digital presence has become a must for small businesses in South Africa. The internet – and almost any business opportunity – is where the customers are.

According to the 2019 Global Digital Report prepared by We Are Social and Hootsuite, 54% of the South African population are internet users. This means there are 31 million people in South Africa who are searching for products and services online; 29 million of them are active mobile internet users. With numbers like that, digital transformation is critical for any small business that wishes to find more customers and grow.

First step on the road

We believe the journey of digital transformation starts with creating your own online identity. This is creating a place of your own online, starting with a website, and letting people know who you are, what you do, and what you offer. Think of it as your mobile storefront or your online business card. Start small and grow over time: no need to over-engineer or over spend.

Website builders like GoDaddy Website Builder can help you get a professional-looking website up and running in a short amount of time, even if you don’t have a big budget or any technical skills. And it will look amazing on a smartphone, not just yours! Once you’ve created your website, you can start looking at using tools like social media, search engine optimisation, and e-mail marketing to help reach new customers and stay in touch with existing ones.

Thanks to the internet and the digital tools available today, it’s not as hard or as expensive to create and promote your brand as it once was. First, a solid strategy is important, and it should include ways of showing your target audience what makes your brand and products unique.

Here are some other tips about how you can get value from your digital presence:

  • Mobile continues to rise: As we’ve mentioned before, more than 90% of internet users in South Africa are mobile. You should focus on improving site speed, navigation structures and readability on mobile devices, and look to optimise your website from the start for the mobile experience.
  • Simple design: This is an extension of creating mobile-first experiences, and it’s important that your website looks and works great on all screen sizes. This year, web design will focus on relevant and catchy content as well as design to help ensure you catch your users’ attention.
  • Feature “platforms”. What do I mean by platforms? This includes maps, payment solutions, food delivery services, and shared rides fall into this definition. Our friend the plumber might not need these for his website, but a restaurant could truly benefit from adding maps, partnering with a booking or reservation service and even a customer rating solution.

With an increased number of data breaches occurring, protecting your new website and your customers’ data has become even more important for companies of all sizes. Whether or not a website has an SSL Certificate, it can affect your search rankings, so you should ensure your site has the added SSL Certificate protections.

Voice search and chat – are they in your business’s future?

Looking to the future, we can expect to see the digital world evolve at breakneck speed. Two trends to be on the look-out for in the not-too-distant future are voice search and chatbots. Currently, one out of every five internet searches come from voice queries, which means people are speaking their searches into their smart devices.

Therefore, while optimising your website and content for search engines, it will be important to do it for voice searches, keeping in mind the growing use of virtual assistants like Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant and Cortana. We can also expect to see more businesses using chatbots powered by AI on their websites, as well as social media profiles and applications, to provide instant assistance for their customers.

Perhaps your small business is planning to start implementing these tools during the year. Or it could be several years before these features are on your radar. Either way, they highlight some potential ways your evolving digital presence can allow you to find and interact with customers in new powerful ways.

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