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The mistakes, the myths and the best advice when starting a business

Article by Mike Anderson, NSBC Founder & CEO

Do you have a business idea?
Go for it!

Has a business idea been brewing in your mind? Are you wondering if the time is right to start your new venture? And what about the funding? And what about the plan? I only have a vague idea. If these are some questions swimming in your mind then let’s take a look at them and get you prepped to take on your new business venture.

I have an idea – but isn’t it crazy to start a business while we’re in a pandemic?

There is no right or wrong time to start. But there is no better time than the present to start a business. A global start-up revolution is happening now. It is widely recognised that the biggest brands of the future have been born during the pandemic. I will repeat this a few times – take action and do it today. 

Don’t overthink your business plan – Is there such a thing as over-planning?

As Genl. George S. Patton said, “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week”.

Create a plan and then take action. Don’t wait until the conditions are perfect because perfection is a lifetime pursuit.

Once you start moving on your idea, you can keep perfecting it as you go along. By seizing opportunities before the tipping point of success, will give you the edge in your quest for success. Your business plan will change as you go along. The importance is to always have a plan in place. A business plan can only be improved on when operating at the coal-face.

Money talk – where should one start when applying for finance?

Start-up funding is almost impossible to obtain unless you have a family member who wants to invest in your idea. Go for an idea that requires little or no money to begin. Then as you start building your business, you can put some of your profits back into your business. From here you can apply for funding for growth based on your successes and it will be more obtainable.

What are the biggest mistakes people make in the beginning? How can they be avoided?

The biggest mistakes that are made in the beginning are:

  • buying things you don’t really need for your business like new cars and long office leases,
  • not planning well. Think about what you want to do and have a basic plan in place,
  • not surrounding yourself with the best. Do what you do best and outsource the rest. You should focus on your strengths and outsource your weaknesses to the most capable person you know. Be very picky when hiring people for your business.
  • planning your finances badly and mismanaging the business’ cash flow.
  • not being willing to adapt. There may come times in the life of your business when you will need to pivot or change direction.

What three myths about starting a business need to be debunked?

  1. You need to be highly educated – The most successful entrepreneurs have no formal education, they believe in self-education. It’s like what Jim Rohn said, “Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune”.
  2. You need to have plenty of money – The most successful businesses of all time were started with no money. Anyone can start a business with little or no funding
  3. You have to know what you are doing – You don’t need to know exactly what you’re doing to get started. Time has proven this over and over. For the most successful, there was never an exact plan for the road ahead; just a general idea that something great was out there. Let your curiosity rule and search for the answers as you build your business. Always be curious.

What advice do you have for first-time business owners when it comes to sustainability and growth?

Keep going no matter how hard it gets. If you keep moving and never give up you will always arrive at where you want to be. Always remember the three ‘Ps’ – Passion, Persistence and Perseverance. If you are truly passionate about your dream and you do what you love, you will have the internal drive to overcome any obstacle you face on route to business success.

Becoming an entrepreneur and travelling this journey is tough. The honeymoon stage is over quickly. But the reward is far greater than anything else. Don’t wait until you reach your twilight days and then look back and say to yourself, “If only I did this and if only I did that.” I would rather fail a thousand times than having never tried. You need to take a risk and embrace failure. It’s totally OK to fail. When you start failing it means you are beginning to become successful.

Ready to get your business off the ground?

Launch My Startup, brought to you by the NSBC, will help you take action and turn your dream into a reality by getting you started and then helping you succeed.

Get a FREE (Pty) Ltd Company Registration when you sign up for an NSBC Startup Subscription. Find out more here