We have interviewed our fair share of entrepreneurs and business leaders over the years and they have generously shared everything from their secrets to success, founding missions and the non-negotiable entrepreneurship skills behind their success. They also haven’t been shy to share truths which go against popular opinion on everything from leadership and success to social capital.
Below is some of our favourite entrepreneurship quotes that offer an honest take on being an entrepreneur in South Africa.
Being an entrepreneur is about more than business
“Entrepreneurship is far more a personal journey than it is a business journey. The extent to which you are willing to grow as a person, has a direct impact on your business because in the early stages so much of your business is about you. I believe that true success comes from operating from an authentic space and being true to your own goals and aspirations.”
“If you try to behave like someone else, you deviate from that authentic space where your real power lies. Understanding of self, what truly motivates you, what your strengths and weaknesses are, building self-awareness are critical qualities. This is a skill available to anyone who seeks it – it’s about reflecting, reading, listening to yourself, exploring your hunches or ideas, even if they don’t seem like much.” – Rapelang Rabana, computer scientist, tech entrepreneur, and is now chief digital officer at BCX, an ICT company.
You may not be the right person to take your idea forward
“Just because there’s a problem and you are able to solve that problem [and] there’s somebody who wants that problem solved and is willing to pay more than what the problem costs you to solve, [doesn’t] necessarily mean you are the best person to solve it.” – Ludwick Marishane, inventor of DryBath and founder of Headboy Industries Inc., the product-development and commercialisation company aims to become the home of African innovation as well as provide global solutions to global consumers.
You don’t need to go global to be considered a successful entrepreneur
“There tends to be a pattern of advising entrepreneurs to only build globally scalable businesses, which can often lead to entrepreneurs abandoning really good business models that can be incredibly successful here in South Africa, in order to chase a Silicon Valley standard that just isn’t always applicable or necessary.” – Nkazi Sokhulu is the co-founder and CEO of Yalu, a digital insurer
Don’t be in business if you don’t like people
“Ain’t no sense of being in the business space if you don’t like people. You cannot ask yourself to be gifted in my world and you hate people.” – TBO Touch, media entrepreneur and owner of gin, 48Gin
Start small but don’t think small
“We can start small but not think small.”
“It’s about us realising we have to do the small things to start doing the big things.” – Vusi Thembekwayo, venture capitalist, entrepreneurship champion and author.
Being an entrepreneur doesn’t necessarily make you a leader
“You can try as much as you want, but you can’t be educated into leadership. Leadership is not about qualifications, it’s not about education, leadership is not even about tenure, you could work 20 years and do the same job and still not know how to lead.” – Vusi Thembekwayo, venture capitalist, entrepreneurship champion and author.
Entrepreneurship is not for everyone
“The struggle is real fellas. Entrepreneurship is not for the faint-hearted, weak and timid. How much are you willing to sacrifice to see your dream become a reality?” – DJ Sbu, founder of radio station, Massiv Metro, MoFaya Beverage Company
The “boring” parts of business is what will bring you success
Johannesburg-based entrepreneur Seola Mashamaite is the founder of Mon-Cal which supplies and repairs laboratory equipment for companies like B. Braun Medical, Gibela Rail Transport Consortium, TACS Laboratories and Exoweld.
Her advice regarding entrepreneurship is people should not to shy away from the “boring” parts of running a business. Unexpectedly it was Mashamaite’s history of running a very tight ship that secured both the investment to fulfill the purchase order as well as get her suppliers in the US to accept a 20% deposit, much less than the industry standard of 50%.
“Keep records, file every slip under each month. Make it a habit and it won’t be a chore anymore.”
And when it comes to building a business that is highly regarded and has a good reputation, she says, “Do what you say you do and do it right. Under promise and over deliver.”
The product does not have to be perfect for you to launch
“Many people think the product development is the most difficult part for tech startups, in reality, it is far easier to develop the product than to get it to market. Tech startups have a misconception that customers want the product to be ‘perfect’ and to offer all the possible features before they will buy it. They therefore tend to err on spending too much time over perfecting their product rather than getting to market as soon as possible. Launching is vital for gaining early customer traction which is needed to secure venture capital.” – Annette Muller, founder of FLEXY, an online skills-on-demand platform, and founder and CEO of DotNxt, a innovation management specialist firm.
Social capital makes entrepreneurship easier
“Social capital is the availability of resources through a personal network consisting of family, friends, acquaintances, existing and former colleagues. The system develops over a lifetime and career, starting as early as attending school. I see it as a ‘help option’ that can be exercised at any time to further personal objectives.
An example of social capital at its pinnacle is the Silicon Valley. With one meeting or introduction, an individual gets to plug into a vast network of fellow entrepreneurs who genuinely want to help and see you succeed in your venture. I believe this is the secret sauce behind the continued success of the valley. – Katlego Maphai, CEO of Yoco, a point of sale payments provider which helps small businesses accept card payments.
It’s not about you
“True leaders understand that their success is dependent on those they serve. When it comes to your staff, it’s imperative that you invest enough time to get to know them, and by doing so, learn what they need from you to succeed.” – Kay Vittee, CEO of Quest Staffing Solutions.
Full article: 6 Leadership Truths all Entrepreneurs Should Know