Be a trailblazer

Be a trailblazer

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Given unemployment figures in South Africa, the country is in great need of entrepreneurs. It’s not the easiest road to travel, but some solid advice can help get you moving. South Africa’s latest unemployment figures make for sombre reading.

While official unemployment is now 27.7%, the most affected group comprises young people under the age of 35, with a staggering 38.6% unable to find work. 27.7% unemployment 4% start a business because they’re unable to find a job 38.6% under 35 y/o unemployed

Interestingly, given these statistics, only 4% of entrepreneurs start a business because they are unable to find a job, while well over 80% have more than a year of work experience before doing so, according to the results of the 2016 Seed Academy Startup Survey.

This suggests that few South Africans venture into entrepreneurship as their first professional career move. South Africa needs to do more to encourage and nurture young entrepreneurs, says Donna Rachelson, CEO of entrepreneur development group Seed Engine. “High unemployment among the youth is an urgent concern that requires solid, innovative solutions. Entrepreneurs are integral to economic growth and are the job creators of the future. With the right training, support and funding they can build successful, sustainable businesses,” she says.

“There’s absolutely more that can be done to guide young people in identifying business opportunities while also creating avenues for aspiring entrepreneurs to gain valuable real-world work experience to equip them with the knowledge, skills and confidence to begin their own entrepreneurial journey.” Seed Engine subsidiary, Seed Academy believes that the youth of South Africa have the power, drive, energy, creativity and innovation to change the statistics and pursue entrepreneurship as an alternative to formal employment.

Be kind to yourself. Entrepreneurship is not easy – don’t expect everything to be perfect first time around. Remember that even the most successful entrepreneurs fail sometimes. The trick is to learn from failures, engage with mentors and work on a plan of action to get it right the next time.

Celebrate small successes. Every small milestone should be seen as a step in the right direction. Learn from your successes and determine how the steps you’ve taken can be incorporated into your company systems and processes. Invest in fundamentals such as registering your business and setting up a professional e-mail address (don’t just use Gmail).

Also consider engaging a graphic designer to come up with a professional logo and business cards. Potential clients and investors will feel more comfortable if you are “established”, so you need to give an impression of professionalism and stability from the outset. Build your network. You need to build a support system – not only with other entrepreneurs but also with mentors, family, friends and organisations that offer support to entrepreneurs.

Develop financial discipline as soon as possible, and develop financial models that are realistic and reflect planned business growth, as this will help ensure your business is funding ready when you need it. Be passionate and accept that failure can be part of your journey. A passion for what you do is the cornerstone of success. Sincerity and dedication will always be noticed and remembered.

Build a team and don’t try do it all on your own. Collaborate with like-minded and passionate individuals who understand your goals and share your vision. Surrounding yourself with positive people who can share their knowledge and skills with you is invaluable to any entrepreneur who wants to go the distance. Most importantly, never stop learning and innovating! If you don’t know something, make an effort to find out everything you can about it: talk to people in the know, seek out expert guidance and follow the advice of entrepreneurs you admire.

Do your research. Take the time to fully understand your market, and its challenges and opportunities. Get to know every aspect of your chosen industry and identify corporates who have enterprise development programmes that you can get involved in to take your business to the next level.

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