There’s something very enticing about the thought of working for yourself, on your own terms – but don’t underestimate how much hard work it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. In South Africa today, entrepreneurs and small businesses are seen by both business leaders and government to be the answer to the country’s problems around unemployment and the economy.
Of course, being your own boss and following your passion is an appealing prospect. But starting a business is tremendously hard work and there is no guarantee it will succeed – even if you put your heart and soul (and life savings) into it. good entrepreneur has a nose for opportunity and can see gaps in the market, but the risks he or she takes are always cautious and calculated and never simply taken for their own sake.
Things you need to know:
- Don’t bank on the best-case scenario: Sadly, life doesn’t always turn out that way. While you must be optimistic, you should also be realistic.
- Enlist help: There will be some specialised services that you may not understand and that will be better outsourced to experts. For example, get an accountant to handle your tax and have a lawyer check any contracts you negotiate.
- Never underestimate the importance of cash flow: Cash-flow problems are the number one reason why so many small businesses fail in their first three years of operation. This is why budgeting and forecasting are crucial, and why you need to have tight control over your finances. Also ensure that terms of payment are clearly understood by customers – ultimately, cash is king.
- Market your business effectively: Take special care with your logo and corporate identity, as these make up the face with which your business greets the world. It may be worth getting these designed by a professional. Your website is important too, so take time when putting this together.
The following organisations provide support to budding entrepreneurs in South Africa:
- Brand South Africa: www.brandsouthafrica.com
- The South African Institute for Entrepreneurship: www.entrepreneurship.co.za
- Young Entrepreneurs South Africa: www.yesa.co.za
- Department of Small Business Development: www.dsbd.gov.za U Department of Trade & Industry: www.thedti.gov.za
- Industrial Development Corporation: www.idc.co.za U National Empowerment Fund: www.nefcorp.co.za
- National Youth Development Agency: www.nyda.gov.za
- SiMODiSA: www.simodisa.org
- Small Enterprise Development Agency: www.seda.org.za
- The Awethu Project: www.awethuproject.co.za
The Innovation Hub: www.theinnovationhub.com you will need to analyse your assets – the money you have in the bank, or the resources you have access to that will fund these costs. You then need to allocate costs between these assets. You should look into the alternative financing options available to you: loans, grants or funding schemes could provide you with additional support.