Tag Archive | "Business"

The High Cost of Being an Entrepreneur in SA

female entrepreneur

I read an article some time back that put forward the notion that South Africans are lazy, always waiting for government to hand out jobs. The article claimed that we are content to work for a pittance because we lack the spirit to create jobs for ourselves or others.

Naturally, I was outraged. Who were these people that the article was talking about? I, for one, have always been surrounded by entrepreneurs; from the lady down the street who started out selling ice-blocks and skopas then finally branching out to magwinya and s’phatlho, to my sister who does consulting work in her spare time.

In order to understand the point that the articles’ author was trying to make, I decided to dedicate a few weeks of my life to starting my own business and it is no exaggeration to describe my experiences as harrowing and painful.

It says a lot about the multitude of South Africans who have successfully started and maintained businesses, because the conclusion I have come to is that South Africa doesn’t encourage entrepreneurship.

So You Have an Idea?

Congratulations in even getting this far when we live in a world where it sometimes feels as if everything has been said, done and invented. Unfortunately, this is where the hard work really begins if a friendly little website like www.sabusinesswarrior.com is to be believed.

The process begins with asking yourself a few questions calibrated to gauge whether you have the correct temperament to even think of becoming an entrepreneur. If you can answer YES to questions ranging from ‘Are you a self-starter?’ to ‘Do you have a network that would provide additional financing?’ then you’re better off than most South Africans who cannot.

Richard Branson once said that a business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts, but Read the full story

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Entrepreneur Diaries: Tshego Chanda Brown – The Lady Behind Sebilo Creations

Tshego Chanda BrownIt is difficult to run a business in a country where home-brewed products and services are not supported and embraced as they should be. But, this didn’t stop the Mafikeng-born Tshego Chanda from starting her own furniture business. She is the mastermind behind Sebilo Creations, a business which offers an array of services including architecture, interior design, contemporary furniture design and furniture manufacturing.

Where It All Began

As a teenager I was quite creative with everything I touched. Friends thought I would pursue a career in the fashion industry, but interior design chose me. At the tender age of 13, I designed floor drawing layouts for my mother’s house – the house was built from the drawings. I was present at every construction stage though I didn’t know anything about building materials apart from brick, cement, sand and stone aggregate.

I also used to play around with furniture layout in the house; I felt the urge to re-arrange my mother’s furniture at any given time because it wasn’t aesthetically pleasing, and that usually got me into trouble. I was finally introduced to architecture and interior design in Grade 12.

Taking a Step Further

After I matriculated I enrolled for studies in Architecture at the former Technikon Pretoria. Five months into the course I was employed by an architectural firm in Pretoria. My love for furniture and interior design magnified when I was designing houses. The passion I have for this industry inspired my career choice, and this led me to start my own company.

Business Background

Sebilo Creations is a young company which aims to apply an African feel to its products. I registered the business in 2008 and operations started in 2009. The name was inspired by a Setswana idiom “bana ba mmala o sebilo” directly translated “children of the soil (of a darker skin).” African people are known to be hard, strong and warm – these characteristics are translated into Sebilo Creations team and work ethic.


Finance was the greatest challenge in getting the business off ground. I had no funding back up. I had to fund the business from my own pocket. It would have been great if I had had a mentor to guide me through this journey and advising on crucial elements of the business. I relied on the internet for information. I also asked friends and family for advice and I read self-help books.

Another major challenge is Read the full story

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Entrepreneur Focus: Wendy Dikgole

Tell us about yourself: who you are, your background, where you’re based, and what you’re passionate about.
I’m a 24 year old Beauty Therapist and a business owner of ZeroBase Entertainment, an events company that deals with the logistics and coordinating of small, big, outdoor and corporate events. I also a founded a young women’s movement called “It’s a Ladies Thing” aimed at empowering young women and aspiring entrepreneurs. I’m originally from the North West province and I reside in Johannesburg.

What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture? How did the idea for your business come about?
I have always been surrounded by and worked close to people, and was inspired by my bosses. I’ve always had a passion for entrepreneurship and empowering others around me.

Describe/outline your typical day?
I run my business from home so my day starts with checking emails, going from one meeting to the next, attending mentorship\entrepreneurs workshops, planning events under our Ladies’ Movement, and attending to clients.

How do you build a successful client base?
I attend a lot of events and networking sessions, which is where I’m likely to meet potential clients.

What motivates you?
I’m motivated by the people around me, and those that wake up every morning to make things happen for themselves.

What’s your definition of an entrepreneur?
Entrepreneurship to me is a responsibility and I believe we’re all capable of bringing change in our lives and others around us.

Have you had any major setbacks/ challenges?
I lost a lot of money when I started my business due to lack of experience and knowledge.

What would you do differently if you had to start the business again?
The only thing I’d change is getting a mentor. But, apart from that, it has taught me to be the better and stronger person I am today.

What South African business people inspire you, and why?
Wendy Luhabe. She’s an amazing business woman I look up to. I respect that she strongly believes in entrepreneurship and in making a difference to people’s lives. She knows that as young people we cannot make it on our own and she keeps mentorship as a priority. I’m grateful that she’s my mentor.

How do you define success?
Success is finding happiness in anything you do and doing it to your full potential.

What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Success is finding happiness in anything you do and doing it to your full potential.

Where you see yourself and your business in 5 years?
In 5 years I see our women’s movement being bigger and having other campaigns. I see myself having started an NgO back home that helps with feeding the hungry and having built a library. I see Zerobase growing and with at least 10 employees. I see myself as a mother too.

What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
I love that I can implement any ideas I see relevant to my company.

What’s next for Wendy?
Oh yes, I’m so excited! I will be officially launching my company next year and I have one big project to start off the year, in Morula Casino in Mabopane- a women’s empowerment seminar on March the 3rd.

What does entrepreneurship mean to you?
Entrepreneurship is like a calling to me. Be like a postage stamp: stick to it until you get there.

How can people reach you?
My email address is w.dikgole@gmail.com

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Forbes Africa: And the Launch Cover Feature is…?

forbes africa

So I’m a little disappointed. Every so often the stars align and give us an opportunity to shine. Such an opportunity presented itself this past week when Forbes Africa was launched. A while back I wrote a piece speculating on who would be the lucky bugger to grace the cover of the mag. I was hoping for some innovation. I was hoping the magazine would grab this opportunity to tell us something we don’t know and show us a face we had not seen. They chose to not do that. Guess who they put on the cover? South Africans will no doubt get this right.

Before I get labelled as a jealous hater, let it be known that I am avid admirer of the man. He is undoubtedly The Man. I have nothing but bucket loads of applause for him. It is always a pleasure to hear of his success, even though no matter how much I read about his ever-increasing mountain of millions my bank balance remains the same. I wish just reading about rich people made their wealth rub off on you.

Patrice Motsepe “Africa’s Man of Mettle” stands tall and proud on the cover, the definition of power. I’m guessing the logic is if they put some unknown face on the cover we’ll just walk right past it. Patrice has a pull effect the magazine wanted to take advantage of. I feel like a child. Remember those moments when your parents were right and that annoyed you to no end. They’re right; I can’t eat that much pudding, but eish I still want the stuff. The editors are right, Patrice is the perfect man for the first cover, but Read the full story

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The Fear Factor

FEAR… Could this be the reason stopping us from reaching our goals? OR…The reason we have a high unemployment rate is South Africa?

What is fear?

Fear is a dominate emotion that we are hard-wired to listen to. Even our rational minds bow to fear. When something is seen as a threat, fear commands an immediate life saving response. Our bodies are flooded with adrenaline and we go in a state of high alert. Of course when danger is around, all of this is a good thing, but we must recognise that fear is a powerful force which, if given the freedom, can really control your life.

We carry our beliefs with us all the time and fear impacts on many parts of our lives. Fear was never meant to be our daily fuel but it was meant only for danger. Today you walk around the township and you see salons everywhere operating in shacks and yes, they get clientele like any registered business. But now 90% of those salons are run and owned by Mozambican nationals. Don’t get me wrong, not that there’s anything wrong with that, it just makes me wonder why our South African people are complaining about unemployment when there are business opportunities everywhere! Read the full story

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Why We Should Be Proud of SANTACO

With all the jokes, ridicule and cynicism, the giant step taken recently by the South Africa National Taxi Council, SANTACO, to acquire or invest in its own airline should be congratulated for what it is, inspirational and powerful. It has to be, without a doubt, one of the proudest moments regarding entrepreneurship or small business sector in South Africa. This very successful taxi industry, the one that we, as black people, built from scratch in difficult times under the horrible rule of apartheid into what it is today, contributes astronomically to our economy. It’s an industry that has taken numerous households out of poverty and sent their children to some of the best schools. It is an industry that we should all be proud of for its achievements and we shouldn’t, in spite of some challenges, doubt their abilities as they take this giant step.
The cynicism thrown at them is, I must say, understandable considering the reputation they carry. Reputation is, as they say, a cornerstone of success. It should be noted though, that this reputation this gigantic industry carries is not of failure but of appalling customer service. The taxi industry should definitely be ashamed of the service they offer and one wonders how much success they would bring if they really put “customer first”. The behaviour of the taxi drivers, especially in Joburg, is absolutely horrible and cannot be condoned but we also have to understand it doesn’t represent taxi drivers all over the country. In my small town, Centane in the Eastern Cape, it would be an absolute shock, for example, to see a taxi driver shouting at a passenger. Here in Joburg, I’ve personally witnessed a driver slapping a passenger for commenting on the way he was driving.
With good leadership, excellent business practice and great vision there’s no reason why this airline can’t be a success. The market is there and the market is not merely taxi commuters but all the middle class. In South Africa we like to ridicule anything new and perceived to be substandard. When the Kulula airline was launched jokes aimed at mocking it were flying around but now even top business people make use of it. Santaco Airline will have to do what’s necessary including complying with safety requirements, hiring experienced staff and the best CEO they could find. This is one best story in a long time. It’s an inspirational African story that we should all celebrate and learn from.


Chuma Kave

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Jumpstart Your Empire


Ever dreamt of becoming a self-made millionaire, but failed before you even launched your brilliant idea? Many young people run successful businesses but there are many more that battle to jumpstart their empires. Setting up a business, especially in its early stages, is not for the faint-hearted. Youth find it particularly challenging to translate their business ideas into feasible and profit making businesses and without the right guidance, information and tenacity it is harder to succeed.

Before you venture into starting your business ask yourself, “Am I persistent, ambitious, committed, a self starter and willing to take risks?” There are no blueprint requirements or rules to what makes a successful entrepreneur but you need to be sure in what you want because you do have a lot to lose. You also need to have researched the industry that you would like to join. Is there any money to be made in the short or the long term? Do you need any licenses to operate? One can’t expect to plant a tree today and start enjoying the fruits it bears tomorrow the same principle applies when you venture into business. “About 80% of all new small businesses fail within the first five years. Wanting to be your own boss isn’t enough to make you successful” – SA Business Warrior

Tips and tricks to jumpstart your empire:
Know which company structure you want to adopt: Sole proprietor / Sole trader this is best suited when you would like to provide a service and your business is not asset driven and the owner is the sole employee. Income accrues directly to the owner and there are no complicated statutory returns other than meeting basic legal and tax requirements. Closed Corporation this popular and widely used structure gives a business a separate legal identity without the formalities of the Companies Act that governs (Pty) Ltd companies. Partnership best suited when you would like to have partners to share responsibility. This form of structure is formalised by a contract.

Religiously attend networking sessions: This provides a platform to put your foot in the door. Networking sessions are also low cost advertising strategies, it is not often that you can tell people about who you are and what you do without a formal appointment and fear of rejection. Remember to print enough business cards and exchange with as many people as possible.

Get operational quickly: The least complicated profit making business is selling or reselling. Research and find out what products are needed or can be brought closer to your community. You will then be able to make profit right from the beginning and this can be used as start up capital.

Join you local chamber of commerce: This is one of the best ways to get exposure and meet potential clients. This way you can even find companies in the same industry and learn from their strengths and capitalize on their weaknesses.

Monitor the growth of your company: steady growth is preferable over fast growth. Explosive growth would require more financing and more support staff. Slower growth reduces the amount of funding that you will require.

Choose to under-staff: In the inception of your business the entrepreneur must be the chief sales person (limit the amount to two and not more than 3). You must be able to play all the roles that entail keeping your business a float i.e. the cleaner, the receptionist, the tea girl/guy the messenger, the proof reader, the debt collector, the sales guy (etc).

PLAN, PLAN, PLAN and PLAN: Not every business requires funding. So before you quit your 9-5 make sure that you have enough saved to cover your costs when business is not making any profit. In the long run, what matters is not the fancy corner office or title. It’s the profit that you will use to pay your bills, grow the business even larger and secure the self-made empire you always wanted.

Remember in order to succeed you need to love what you do and trust that you can do it!
Next up we look at how a business plan can be the road map to your success.

By Lerato Makgobatlou
JCI Mogale City

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Social Media in the Music Business

Social networking has taken the world by storm. Gone are the days of only communicating via phone calls, snail mail, telegrams, and emails. With the introduction of Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, BBM and other social networks, the world has become very small.

This new revolutionary way of communicating has brought every kind of social group together in one place, and allows them to interact. One particular social group that is using this network is the music industry and its fans. But like any other form of innovation it has its good, bad and ugly side.

The Good

Unlike paying PR and advertising companies – it’s cheaper for both personal and business use because most of it is free. It has made it easier for any artist to communicate directly with locally and international based fans, especially the ones who attend gigs and buy music. The artist can also track their loyal fan base, leak new releases, drive word of mouth, grow his reputation, push his brand and be easily accessible.

The Bad

Being in the music business means you lack anonymity and social networks take it to another level. You’re putting information about your name, location, age, gender, and other information that you may not want others to know. There’s also a potential of failure of security which will lead to con artists coning your fans, clients and destroying the brand you’ve worked so hard to build.

The Ugly

You can a have a large online following but it doesn’t automatically give you power. You can’t perceive that when you tweet about your upcoming gig, all your followers will attend. Growing your reputation through social media can be tricky because one can have a good reputation online but get no gigs. At the end of the day popularity doesn’t pay the bills.


In closing let me quote the most opinionated, funny, wise and influential being on social networks,well, according to me – Khaya Dlanga: “Don’t confuse the “power” on Twitter with your power in real life.”


By Vusi Khoza

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Young, Gifted and Taking Over: Mzwandile and Ziggy Thabethe

In 2007 Ziggy and Mzwandile Thabethe from Pimville Soweto identified that they needed to target the niche market of young, up and coming professionals. Building on their own interests, they understood that this market wanted to feel a connection to South Africa’s historic and cultural identity. The brothers have a diversified business portfolio which includes a restaurant and events lounge SophiaTown Bar Lounge in Newtown and Ko’ Spotong, a sports and entertainment bar in Newtown, Melville and Ghandi Square. Kasi Times speaks to the brothers and they tell us about their lives, businesses and future plans. Read the full story

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A Second Look at First Impressions

When going for your first interview, one of the keys to your success is your first impression, which occurs in the first 30 seconds.

I recall a time when I was conducting interviews for an entry level position in my department. We were looking for individuals with little or no experience, but the standard was set quite high. With six interviews set for the morning, I was really sure I would be blown away, based on the CVs of the shortlisted candidates. The first candidate kept me waiting while she finished a conversation about the night before with her friend on her cell phone. She failed to recognize my presence and continued until her battery died. I gladly conducted the interview but kept it brief as I was annoyed by her arrogance. As the day progressed and the interviewees got worse, I wondered whether I had high expectations or whether people do not take themselves seriously.

Prior to your interview you need to make sure you do the following:

Research: Research the company and what it specialises in, when it was started and the organizational structure. Knowing as much about the company sets a good first impression. This creates the platform for you to ask the right questions.

Always bring a copy of your CV: It is always professional to have a professionally printed and stapled copy of your CV when you attend any interviews. Having your CV with you sets the impression that you know how to present yourself effectively.

Timing: Ensure that you make the necessary arrangements for you to get to your interview on time. If you are not familiar with the area the offices are located in, allow yourself plenty of time in case you get lost. But earlier isn’t necessarily better. If you arrive more than 15 minutes early and beeline for the reception area, your interviewer might feel rushed and you might appear desperate. Ideally, you should check in five to 10 minutes early and always be courteous and professional to everyone you meet – you never know how much influence the receptionist may have on the hiring decision. To make sure that you set a good first impression, make sure you call before hand to confirm your interview.

Dress code: Dress to impress, don’t over-dress or under-dress. Like it or not, you will be judged on your appearance. Never wear anything sloppy, tight or revealing to an interview. If you have researched the company well enough you would have noted the dress code the company follows. High quality, tailored business suits are always appropriate for both men and women. Don’t forget the details: Make sure your shoes and any other accessories are clean and polished. Don’t over accessorize with your perfume, make sure your hair is simple and keep your makeup minimal. Cover any tattoos, and limit visible piercings to one in each earlobe.

The perfect handshake: When you are introduced to your interviewer, never offer a limp hand shake as you send out the message that you are meek, don’t squeeze too tight either as this sends the message that you are overly excited or desperate. Shake with a firm grip which conveys confidence and authority. If you are not sure, practice with a friend until you get it right.

Focus on how you speak: Using the interviewer’s name or how they introduced themselves to you, illustrates how well you were paying attention. When asked a question, ensure that you answer precisely. If you do not understand the questions, do not be too afraid to ask for clarification. Whilst you speak or answer any questions, don’t go on about your personal life. Stick to information about your professional and academic background.

Body language: Ensure your body language signals your confidence and your professionalism. Sit upright and don’t slouch. Avoid crossing your legs or adopting a casual position. It’s true that interviews are very nerve-wrecking, however, don’t fidget, play with your hair or twirl your eyes. Make sure you keep constant eye contact with the whole panel of interviewers.

Remember all of the above points in order to set a good first impression; you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

By Lerato Makgobatlou
JCI Mogale City

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Starting a Small Business in Mzansi

So you want to start a business…

When I decided to start a business I didn’t know anything about business, small or otherwise, leaving a safe, comfortable job and going into a high risk venture. In time I learned that it was a much bigger step than I had originally thought. Starting a small business has been one of the most satisfying experiences of my life; it has been challenging and character-building.

Firstly, you have to know that you are going to make a lot of mistakes, perhaps even lose some potential clients on the way. Some of the mistakes might seem obvious but they are not obvious to the people that make them. This is a firsthand account of life at the frontline with tips and advice on how to make your small business a success and as painless as possible.

Here are some tips:

  • Think out everything in advance. Don’t assume miracles will happen somewhere along the way.
  • Know your target market.
  • Don’t rely on people providing labour for love, even if they have equity in the business. Most people drop out when it gets hard… and it usually does at some stage.
  • Don’t employ more people than you really need – too many cooks spoil the soup.
  • Make sure your business venture is viable.
  • Do proper research on your competitors and your customers.

Sometimes all it takes is for another party to point something out to you that can save a lot of money, or avoid a lot of pain. Listen to what everyone has to say with an open mind; even if you decide not to take their advice, this might help you avoid common traps.

My business is still subject to all the risks and challenges that are faced by other small businesses. I’m not an expert in small business management, but I have learned a lot in the past 6 years and I’m still learning every day. The aim is to help you learn from my experiences and the experiences of other small business people I have met over the past few years.

Make no mistake; starting a small business is not easy. Small businesses have a high rate of failure. A third of them fail in the first year, and just over a half within three years. Some people get into business thinking it will be much like the job they were in except that they’ll be their own boss. It doesn’t quite work that way. With a regular job you can go home at the end of the day and leave your work behind. When it’s your own business work becomes part of your life, whether you’re working or not. Oh and get used to the idea of working longer hours and probably less pay to start with!

It’s impossible to start a business without risks but this is not a reason to not go into business. Fear of failure can stop you from doing most of the things in life that are worth doing. Rather what you must do is make allowance in your plans for failure, so that rather than losing your home after an unsuccessful business venture, you can instead take a couple of months off, lick your wounds and do something else.

On a positive note, there’s no boss to give you a hard time and you can set up your business to suit your lifestyle. Your skills and experience will grow at an amazing rate. A business associate once said to me that in entrepreneurship, the lows are lower but when things go well, they can really go well.

Starting a business will change your life. Depending on the business you are pursuing, it will probably mean long hours, stress and risk-taking, and it will be hard on your family. On the other hand, you will find yourself doing things that you never thought you were capable of. It will bring out the best in you because starting a business is a very personal experience and I hope your journey with us will help you gather enough information to give your business every possible chance.

By Faith Mbele

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Kasi Times Supports Global Entrepreneurship Week 2010

Global Entrepreneurship Week

In support of Global Entrepreneurship Week 2010, Kasi Times will launch the Kasi Business Connection (KBC) at Two Tone Lounge in Daveyton.

The Kasi Business Connection is a platform for innovative entrepreneurs and aspiring business owners in emerging markets to interact, share ideas, business principles and referrals, and network. We work together to realize the full potential of young people and create a vibrant youth sector, which is responsive and eager for change and development. This is an exciting time to be involved, to discover opportunities, to learn and experience new things, and connect with the community.

The Kasi Business Connection sessions will be held monthly, drawing in young go-getters with a drive to make their mark in business and seeking motivation and direction. Our networking sessions inspire young people to acknowledge the power of their potential in their lives and business. Read the full story

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The Business Leadership Forum

The Business Leadership Forum (BLF), which consists of business people from various professions, is a vibrant, growing forum of business networking professionals in Soweto. They believe in business-to-business networking and aim at building sustainable long-term relationships with each other. Read the full story

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Know Your Network

We spend a lot of money on marketing and advertising efforts to get new business. These efforts are often very difficult to measure in terms of return and are pretty costly. The biggest oversight a lot of people make is not to look at your own personal network as a source of business. Read the full story

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