Advice from our thought leaders to take into the new year

Advice from our thought leaders to take into the new year

Advice from our thought leaders to take into the new yearOur thought leaders have proven themselves to be founts of knowledge in 2014. Whether they are offering advice on how to sell your business to investors, how to avoid common startup mistakes, or hacks that they wish they had known starting out. Here is some of their best advice from this year.

“Money is not a long-term motivation. Sure, employees love cash — who doesn’t? — but finding ways to engage with them rather than pay them off will result in more loyal, harder working employees”. – Stephen Read, MD and founder of incubation programme Field; Specialising in grassroot-level entrepreneurship education
“The next generation of entrepreneurs needs to have a deep and innate focus on people, the environment and the communities we operate in, over profits.” – Antoinette Prophy, MD and founder of Afrofusion Advertising, specialising in personal development

On the importance of a founder’s self-belief

“Don’t be afraid to let judges, funders or investors see your passion and belief in your idea and your ability to make it happen” – Stephen Read
“Many entrepreneurs are shy about telling their success stories and this limits their possibilities. The best person to tell your story is you” – Karabo Songo, MD and founder of Olive Communications, specialising in branding
“Funders fund people not ideas as it is people who implement and execute ideas and strategies”. – Stephen Read

“An entrepreneur’s self-belief is central to his/her success” – Allon Raiz

“We can no longer approach business with a cap-in-hand attitude. You need to believe in what you bring to the table and approach funders and clients boldly.” – Antoinette Prophy
“Values can be divided into personal and business values, both should be consistent with the brand you are developing” – Karabo Songo
“Lucky people actively create, notice and act on chance opportunities by being open to new experiences. Because they expect to be lucky, they are lucky, and the luckier they are, the better they get at being lucky. A sort of self-fulfilling prophesy” – Rick Ed, Rick specialises in business innovation, strategic decision making and sales. Rick is also the founder of the InnovateMy.Biz website

On the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make

“You as the entrepreneur might be the biggest hurdle in the creation of great work” – Karabo Songo
“Value your network but do not rely on them” – Antoinette Prophy
“In my view, unsuccessful entrepreneurs work from a paradigm of “things that can or can’t be done” and “problems that can or can’t be fixed” – Allon Raiz, CEO of Raizcorp, a business incubator
“It is vitally important to know what your product or service cost, yet I battle to find entrepreneurs who know the actual cost of the items they sell” – Stephen Read
“If you started your business because you saw so-and-so do it, you have no business being in business” – Antoinette Prophy

“Survival mode stifles innovation so GET OUT” – Antoinette Prophy”

On planning, planning, planning
“I repeatedly find that planning, brainstorming and using analytical tools such as a SWOT analysis enhance my entrepreneurial drive rather than hindering it” – Stephen Read
“Not investing in the development of your future executives will only mean that they will not have the necessary competencies to take the business through future challenges” – Kay Vittee
“Although I strongly believe in planning, without action there is no business” – Stephen Read
“What are rules of engagement? They are not battle plans or guidelines on how to have an argument or fight, but rather an approach to managing expectations and setting up roles and responsibilities for each parties” – Stephen Read
“Without working towards that exit strategy, creating value for yourself and other shareholders, what are you doing? You are chasing a salary, the same as your staff” – Stephen Read
“Although I strongly believe in planning, without action there is no business and every successful entrepreneur has always had the ability to go and speak to potential customers about their passion, their business” – Stephen Read

On the importance of changing perspectives

“Not all conflict is negative, it depends on the type of conflict it is and how well it is managed” – Kay Vittee

“It’s ok to fail” – Antoinette Prophy”

“You can’t succeed if you don’t try, and sometimes you will fail. Successful people get up again, they find out the cause of their failures. Really, it’s how you respond to misfortune that makes you lucky” – Rick Ed

On free startup hacks

“You don’t need to be fancy, just consistent” – Karabo Songo 
“Understand your customer’s needs. Make sure that what you are selling answers those needs. Sell what they need, not what you’ve got” – Rick Ed
“Investing in young talent can be beneficial to the future of your small business, the youth and the economy as a whole” – Kay Vittee
“Take your top 5 clients independently to lunch. As a startup, we need to have our finger on the pulse of what our client needs are, and where they are planning to go in future” – Karabo Songo
“Find a mentor, who will help you become a corporate pantsula. This means you don’t lose your edge but understand how to successfully attract and retain corporate business” – Antoinette Prophy
“If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to grow a business” – Antoinette Prophy 

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Lebohang Thulo
Lebohang Thulo
Lebohang Thulo is the editor of SME South Africa. She enjoys keeping up with the country’s exciting and fast developing entrepreneurship ecosystem. You can find her at @lelele3