There are many assumptions about what it takes to successfully start a business. Everything from the age you should start, how much money you need, to what should motivate you as an entrepreneur. These South African entrepreneurs dispel some of these commonly held myths and share the realities they encountered when starting their own businesses.
Myth 1: The only way you can get rich is by getting a government tender or if you have a rich family.
Reality: Most entrepreneurs don’t start out with a huge cash injection let alone a tender or family money. If all the important components and talents are there, the money will follow.
Bheki Dube, founder of Curiocity Backpackers, Maboneng: “Your customers are the biggest drivers of a successful business. They are the ones that will provide you with the finance needed to maintain a sustainable and fruitful business. You don’t even need capital, my three biggest drivers are passion, vision and a great team that shares the same vision you do.”
Myth 2: When you start your own business, you get to only do the things that you enjoy.
Reality: While it’s true that as an entrepreneur you do have greater freedom to choose, that freedom is not absolute. Most businesses start out with very small teams which means, at least initially, you will be doing tasks you may not necessarily enjoy.
Machere Pooe, fashion designer and founder of Machere Fashion House: “You can do anything you want if you have all the money and rich investors but the reality is when you start your own business you have to do everything, even the stuff you don’t want to do. Things still have to be done. For me this meant compiling spreadsheets, planning ahead, marketing, there is a lot of stuff you need to consider.”
Myth 3: All businesses that fail are because the owners were not working hard enough.
Reality: There is no doubt that hard work is one of the biggest components of achieving business success, but hard work is just a piece of the larger puzzle.
Theo Covary, founder and director of Unlimited Energy Resources: “You need to make sure you are offering something that others want. It doesn’t matter if you think it is a great offering because if your customers don’t then it is over before you started. So you have to listen to your customers and by understanding their requirements you can adapt your product/service to suit their needs. That’s just for starters because once you get over that hurdle you must worry about having enough capital to survive, managing your cashflow and running your business (accounts, payroll, HR, Government submissions etc), none of which is much fun. Of course, if you get it right then it is the greatest thing doing what you enjoy – and that is when the real hard work comes in!.”
Myth 4: Entrepreneurs should be young and energetic.
Reality: Wouldn’t it be perfect if we all could be a Mark Zuckerberg who founded Facebook when he was just 19, becoming one of the youngest billionaires at 23. For those who don’t manage this feat, it’s never to late to go after your dream.
Matsi Modise, founder and CEO of Furaha Afrika Holdings and National Executive Director of the South African Black Entrepreneurs Forum (SABEF): “Yes it would be great to have energy but I don’t think that you miss the boat if you didn’t start early. There are many examples of successful entrepreneurs who started out later in life. When you are older, you have personal experience and experience working in your industry, so you are able to see opportunities where others might not be able to. At the end of the day it’s all about TIMING!”
Myth 5: Money is the sole motivation for entrepreneurs.
Reality: The reality is most entrepreneurs are driven by the need to find solutions to problems they encounter and a personal compulsion to see their idea find a market and turn profit.
Janna Koppel, owner of Janna Koppel PR: “This may be true for some, I believe that success will only appear from a motivation that is not monetary related. It’s a personal drive to succeed and be recognized by clients as an asset to their company/brand.”