Tips and advice on starting your own business
The title alone should either evoke interest or scepticism depending on your outlook towards being your own boss. First off the result of taking orders from yourself and working on your schedule seems extremely inviting but the suits and briefcases (what media tends to consistently show as being successful) do not happen overnight. Most people ignore the process and only see the nice house, car and the goals of now finally being able to remove their debt once and for all. The truth is that most times it isn’t as easy as that. It’s quite difficult to start something from scratch and build it into something great. The rewards of your hard work, however, will show with your consistency, patience and the right plans and strategies set in place. Before getting into the basics of how to make money quick, (which isn’t the goal here), let’s first discuss what most entrepreneurs are getting wrong. After reading this the hope is that you do a self-introspection to see if this is truly a realistic goal that you can pursue. It can after all either make or break you and your hopes of being your “own boss”. Some people say that entrepreneurs are born and others say that they are made. Either way, you will find out which side of the fence you’re on. And if you're interested in delving deeper into finding out if you’re one of the chosen ones, then feel free to check out an article by Entrepreneur South Africa on the topic of being born an entrepreneur, (there is a twist in the plot of the article which might intrigue you).
One of the first things most South African entrepreneurs face is not enough support and the lack of society uplifting you in the process of you starting your business. You would think family members and friends will step in and give you a helping hand but I can tell you now that it certainly does not pan out that way. The scenarios more common rather are ones where family, friends and loved ones are your biggest critics. It will leave you in awe at the lack of support you will receive and I can tell you this my friend that at the end you need to be your biggest critic. When we aren’t kept back by the lack of cheers from who we most expect it from the saddest part is that we tend to be the ones who beat ourselves up the most. Some of us lay in bed as our alarm goes off thinking about why we should not stay at home today instead of going to work. For the ones, without work, we think about ways to make money, but get discouraged by the effort that it requires. You might have an amazing idea or you might not. But nothing is accomplished without taking a risk. “The problem is we live in a very risk-averse society. South African consumers, businesses and investors tend to be too cautious in everything we do.” - SANELE MAKINANE from How We Made It In Africa said in a post on the real barriers to entrepreneurship in South Africa. Businessmen and woman take risks daily and the origin of their beginnings all started with failure. The difference between successful entrepreneurs and the ones who fail is “persistence.” Encouraging you is a great thing but the reality is that being unable to create a solid business plan and financial plan when first jotting down your business idea could be the end of it before it even began. As I’ve mentioned before you will need to be your biggest critic. You know the business idea stuck in your head and hopefully, you’ve seen a gap in the market for this business and measured its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It might be a great business idea to you but will your customers, clients or users think the same? For all you know they might not be interested in moving away from something they have already been using for years. They might not give up their loyalty from one business to use yours just because in your mind it is the best thing since FACEBOOK. It sounds harsh but trust me that the business world is anything but caring and considerate of your excitement or eagerness to get this billion Rand idea up and running.
The important questions to ask yourself are if you are meeting a need? Are you providing a unique product or business model? Are your prices affordable and competitive? Is your business in the right location for your target market? We can go on until I’ve mentioned all the key questions for you to get a head start at creating your SWOT analysis (A basic but fundamental part of your business plan by the way). In the world we live in today, information is of utmost importance. Millions if not billions are generated in the selling of information. Information today is as powerful as ever since through the internet we have access to the world. This article, for instance, wouldn’t have been accessible before the World Wide Web was made available to the public. People are now realizing that the world is at their fingertips. Gone are the days of an entrepreneur chasing after a degree in business (if that is your goal then do not hesitate to study click here to see business courses and institutions in South Africa). In the start of your brainstorming, you will need to do as much research as possible. Research your competitors and see what you could do better and then scrutinize your findings thereafter. Like a diamond is formed under immense pressure, so too should your business idea be put through pressure and questioning by you. After doing this you will surprise yourself on how good you’ve become on the subject when asked by peers and the ability you have to answer their questions based on the data you’ve collected from your research and the understanding of your very own business idea. All this agitation inducing information might make you want to change your mind on starting your own business. If that is your thought process, then you are headed down the wrong road, my friend. “There is no problem with having salt in your food and sugar in your tea during lunch” (I’m coining this statement right here). What I mean by that statement is that you have to take the good with the bad when making critical decisions. Here is a quote I can’t coin for myself by William E. Gladstone – “No man ever became great or good except through many and great mistakes.” So to recap, you need to become like a blacksmith who hammers away at the iron and places it back in the forge repeatedly to make the iron stronger and the possibility of it breaking less. You will be left with either a business idea that survived your vigorous checks or one that wasn’t going to make it in the long run. I will leave you with a link to success stories of South African entrepreneurs that did just that and started their business from scratch click here to see the article and be left with your mind at ease.