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South African entrepreneurs share their best advice

March 18, 2021

Advice from other small business owners can be invaluable to the success of your own business. 

That’s because the advice given comes from the best possible place – the real experiences of those who overcame the same challenges you’ll face on your journey. It can foster growth, learning, and shared support within the small business community. Plus, building relationships with peers in similar industries can open doors for collaborations, partnerships, and shared resources.

In the spirit of e-commerce, and enabling small business owners, we asked South African entrepreneurs to share the best advice they’ve ever been given. Here’s what they had to say.

Plan well

“The most common feedback from start-up business owners is that they underestimated the set-up costs and the time it would take to start generating real profit. Do your costings and projections conservatively using a ‘worst-case scenario’, and then build in a little extra just in case.”

Sue Torr – Crue Invest

As a small business owner, one element of your business you have to have a good handle on is your finances. But finance for entrepreneurs can be very confusing. While small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) are generally innovative and quickly bring new ideas to the market, they also face significant challenges that include start-up funding, managing expenses until profitability is reached, and surviving uncertain economic conditions. 

Generally, the first five years of business are the most difficult, with stats revealing that 50% of small businesses fail within this period. One of the main reasons is the lack of upfront and ongoing financial planning.

Choose something you’re passionate about

“Working hard and smart and on something meaningful is what entrepreneurship is all about.”

Nic Haralambous –

Starting a business isn’t a decision to take lightly. While it might seem wonderful to have the freedom of not being tied to an office job, or getting paid for something you love doing, there are practical considerations you need to face head-on. The most important ingredient in any new business venture is perseverance. It’s a lot of hard work in the beginning, but if you commit to your business and accept that each failure is a learning opportunity, you’ll be able to grow and develop your new venture into a successful business.

Learn from the people around you

“People are going to come and go in your business and each one will bring a new lesson. If you create a culture and stick to your values, the right people and customers will be attracted to that and will find you”. 

Emma Donovan – Yellow Door Collective

You’re not going to be able to do it alone. You’ll need mentors, partners, customers, like-minded business owners and a community around you. The sooner you learn how valuable other people are, the sooner you can focus on attracting – and keeping – the right ones.

“What makes a company special is the people and the values. Explore your whole business and tap into all the clever people around you”. 

David Pugh – RCL Foods

Keep learning

“Surround yourself with people who will sharpen you”.

Hishaam Solomon – Red & Yellow

You’ll never know it all. Even if you’ve been in business for many years. Embrace this fact. A healthy state of constant improvement will ensure you’re always open to new ideas and continuous learning. 

Build trust

“At first, I didn’t fully realise how much I’d value my team. Building trust is paramount to their happiness and the success of your business”.

Ben Symington – Symlogia

No matter how big or small your business, your company culture should always value, and create, trust. A trusted environment promotes and encourages collaboration and is especially vital in a creative space. 

Building trust in a business isn’t always easy and will require consistent effort. Be honest about your expectations from your team and support them in their needs. Make sure that the behaviour you’re looking to create is represented in everything you do.  

Rest and reflect

“Embrace the concept of rest, recovery and reflection as essential parts of one’s progress towards a successful and ultimately happy life”.

Elzarie Barnard – OWSD SA

We’ve been conditioned to think that busy means productive. And that the only way to be successful is to constantly be productive. But rest is the secret to entrepreneurial success. You need time to rest – to pause, to think, to re-evaluate your next steps. Make sure you take time to let your mind rest – and reflect – on what really matters and what’s helping your business grow. 

Wherever you are in your business journey, xneelo is here to support you with insightful help and advice. Not sure where to start? Why not download a copy of our new, free e-book.  Together with Heavy Chef, we’ve compiled our most helpful advice on how to craft your brand, build your website and create content. We cover everything from sharing your content, expanding your reach and connecting the dots, one step at a time. 

Ready to start reading? Download ‘An entrepreneur’s guide to going digital’.

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