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10 things I wish I knew when I started my business

Article provided by Absa

Starting your own business can be exhilarating. Fuelled by passion and a great idea, new entrepreneurs enter the world of owning their own business with bright eyes and a deep desire to succeed. Here is what some of South Africa’s entrepreneurs wish they’d known when they started out:

  • Shirley Berko, a newly minted entrepreneur who recently set up Cuizine, a Durban-focused portal that showcases the Durban food and hospitality industry said: “Make sure you are well-informed around tax processes and always get a second opinion on everything. Actively research business processes and your registration requirements. Never be afraid to get a second opinion from an advisor you trust.”
  • Christopher Mills, Director of iMod Digital, believes that good time management is essential: “From the very moment I started my company, it was imperative that I get time management correct. People start companies for many reasons, but most of the reasons stem from a passion or skill. The success of that company rests heavily on them being able to manage all the other aspects of that company, not just the part they’re passionate about. This includes administration, bookkeeping, marketing and more. Without proper time management and the ability to keep all the tick boxes checked, your business can falter, or even fail.”
  • Internationally renowned South African-born entrepreneur, Elon Musk places great emphasis on innovation through his work: “Starting and growing a business is as much about the innovation, drive and determination of the people who do it as it is about the product they sell”.
  • Another South African-born powerhouse, Mark Shuttleworth, focuses on the future and acknowledged criticism when he said: “We are all at risk of stagnating if we don’t pursue the future, vigorously. But if you pursue the future, you have to accept that not everybody will agree with your vision”.
  • Jonathan Darker, an entrepreneurial support and business consultant believes that: “Devoting time and energy to networking is vital. Taking an active approach to networking and looking out for opportunities to share ideas or resources is key to a company’s success”.
  • South African mining magnate, Patrice Motsepe, takes great pride in good quality work: “One has to set high standards… I can never be happy with mediocre performance”.
  • Johann Rupert, chairman of Swiss-based luxury-goods company, Richemont, believes that learning new things, whenever possible, is important: “As you start out in life, it is important that you know at least something about everything, but as you get older it is important that you know everything about something.”
  • Stephen Saad, co-founder and group CEO of Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Limited, understands that entrepreneurship most often entails personal sacrifice: “In life, you don’t get anywhere or do anything you hope to without some sort of sacrifice.
  • Natasha Clark, writer and MD of social media agency, The Birdhouse, takes a practical approach to starting out: “Have at least three months’ salary put aside, apart from your venture capital. This way there isn’t quite as much stress and a lot less rush. Stress kills creativity.”
  • And lastly, Eric Edelstein, CEO of Global Sunset Investments, an early stage tech investment company and chairman of EntrepreneurTraction.co.za, firmly believes that “every business needs a champion. It’s great if you can be both the champion and the creator of the business. If not, then you need to find a partner or co-founder who can be. It’s also vital that you don’t just focus on creating a profit but that you ensure you have excellent cash flow for your business. Even if you are profitable, if you have cash flow problems, your business could run into trouble”.

Are you an aspiring entrepreneur looking to start a business? Share your words of wisdom in the comments below.

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