Young Entrepreneurs of 2015 Series
Advice for starting a business in South Africa, from those who have made it through the starting blocks
For many entrepreneurs, starting a business is an easier endeavor than keeping it afloat. The challenges that come with starting and running a business can be overwhelming for a young entrepreneur. The SAB KickStart Boost (formerly SAB KickStart) programme has evolved to address this issue in young businesses owned by black youth in South Africa.
The advice that follows comes from some of the SAB KickStart Boost Top 18 candidates for 2015 . This group of entrepreneurs have been selected as the most promising in terms of entrepreneurial and business potential. Their businesses occupy a variety of industries; from home furnishings to technology to waste management. Each of these entrepreneurs have shared their insights from their own personal business journeys.
What advice can they offer young people thinking of starting their own business? We asked them.
-Start young, it’s easier get up and to dust yourself of when you are in your 20s’ than in your 40s’.
-“Do what you love and do it well
-Zero in on that market and go for it.
-Start small and grow gradually.
-Learn from your mistakes. Learn from the ones that have been in your field for a very long time. I started learning health and safety not from textbooks but from the plant operators and the foremen on site. Dlamini, the man driving the TLB, is the best text book you can get.”
Chantelle Smith, 26, is passionate about developing healthier communities and believes that this can only be achieved when an individual’s emotional and physical well-being is taken into account. This is part of why she started her clinic in Johannesburg.
“The road to starting your own business is not all success and loads of money in fact it’s a lot of work and failure before you get it right. Just keep going and don’t give up.”
Shadrack Litabe, 31, started his technology-based business to address the need to prevent electricity theft, municipal bill errors, poor electrical infrastructure design and energy inefficient manufacturing plants.
“If you are starting a business because you want to be your own boss, you are going to fail. If you start a business because you want to create jobs, you are going to fail. My advice is that: Start a business because there is a need in the market or there is a problem that you are solving for your prospective clients.
By satisfying your client needs you will be in a position where there will be too many orders and you get to a point where you can no longer work by yourself. That is when you will start creating sustainable jobs.
Don’t be afraid of failure. Failure and success are the products of the same process. You can’t have one without the other. Anyone out there who is achieving anything in life is also risking failure.
Plans change. Plans fail. Vision doesn’t fail.”
-“To run a successful business you need to pay attention to everything that is involved in the business.
-You should start by knowing yourself your strength and weakness… and always note that the product or service should always meet customers’ demands.
-It is always advisable to start small, gain experience then expand.
-We are all in business for money or to make profit, but it is very important to do what you like so that you can enjoy your work on daily basis. This also means you’ll strive for growth and survival of the enterprise.
-All businesses need a training, commitment, passion, hard work, good marketing skills and financial planning.
-Personally I would not advise starting a business with friends who don’t share same vision and have common goals, because in that way things are likely not to go as planned.”
“My advice will be that you set out your business goals and objectives early in your business.
A healthcare professional usually has a strong scientific background with clinical practice being a priority, however, when starting your practice it is important that you prioritise your business skills/knowledge as well. Become comfortable with business management, financial accounting and marketing areas that you need to learn, and quickly.
Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn. Like any other business healthcare practice is not without its challenges. I think the important part is using those challenges or failed ideas/projects as a learning tool for informed decision in the future.”
“I would tell young people who are starting their own businesses to make sure that whatever business concept they have, it should be accompanied by passion because when the going gets tough, your passion for your business is the one thing that will keep and sustain you.
One thing is for sure: Starting a business is not a smooth journey.”
Ntshepeng Mofokeng, 32, runs a soft furnishings business in Pimville, Gauteng.
To survive in South Africa, young entrepreneurs need: tenacity, perseverance and the will to just keep believing in your dreams. It takes a really strong, courageous person to be an entrepreneur.
What advice have you found the most useful here? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Keep an eye on SAB Stories for more in the Young Entrepreneurs of 2015 series.
About these entrepreneurs and SAB KickStart Boost:
Each of these promising young South Africans have received business grant funding and are currently undergoing an intensive business development support programme as part of the SAB KickStart Boost programme. This will culminate in an award ceremony at the end of this year where the top five stand to win additional loan grant funding of between R100 000 and R500 000. The next year’s SAB KickStart Boost Competition is open for entry until 31 May. Find out more here.