South African Entrepreneurs Open Up About the Hidden Cost of Entrepreneurship

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Seed Academy’s State of Entrepreneurship survey revealed that most businesses cannot sustain the livelihood of owners. There is little doubt that many South African entrepreneurs are in dire straits.

For example, 52% of businesses surveyed are pre-revenue with 73% generating revenues of less than R100K per annum. The worry of  income is one of the stress factors entrepreneurs deal with.

Sibusiso Ngwenya, the South African entrepreneur who’s known for his colourful, luxury socks brand, recently shared his own struggles on Twitter this week, sharing the hardships he is facing as a business owner.

Ngwenya who established his brand Skinny Sbu Socks when he was 23 years old in April 2013, told his followers: “Honestly I feel like giving up now – I used all I have, sold my car to save the business, use my personal cash I make from speaking endorsements to grow this sock business. Things are not as fancy. I’m tired, I’m drained, I’m just here.”

Ngwenya told Destiny Man that he produces only 250 pairs of each of its designs, creating an exclusivity known only to a few other sock brands in the world. He also said that his brand is 100% South African – it is manufactured locally.

With World Mental Health Day being commemorated on 10 October, here are three other well-known entrepreneurs who have opened up about the mental health issues they faced when difficulties hit their businesses.

The struggle is real fellas. Entrepreneurship is not for the faint hearted, weak and timid – DJ Sbu

Siya Beyile – founder of The Threaded Man

TimesLIVE reported last year that Siya Beyile, owner of the online fashion store The Threaded Man, said on social media that he often battles with depression. He said there were months that were hard on him because he put pressure on himself to excel.

“My whole system crashed in a way I never imagined and I found myself feeling like I can’t keep going and at the same time my company going through extreme difficulties. I had many days where I couldn’t leave my bed. I would turn off my phone because of extreme anxiety and days where I was like ‘it’s over and it’s time to give up,'” he said. In the interview with TimesLIVE, Beyile says he had accepted his situation and turned to friends and family for support.

DJ Sbu – founder of radio station, Massiv Metro, MoFaya Beverage Company

DJ Sbu was booted off the Metro FM line up several years ago. The entrepreneur of the energy drink Mofaya, made headlines after he said on Instagram that he had no income for 13 months and borrowed money from friends. He is quoted saying: “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?”

Jannie Mouton – founder of PSG Group

Jannie Mouton is the founder of the independent financial services group, PSG Group, one of South Africa’s most successful investment companies. He had been fired by his fellow partners at stockbroking firm Senekal, Mouton & Kitshoff, which he co-founded. He admitted that he kept his firing a secret from his wife, family and friends.

“It was a shock. I lost my company that I started, and I lost my friends. I was confused and depressed. And then I realised the future is in my hands and in my hands only.”

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Melissa Javan
Melissa Javan
Melissa Javan is a writer with nine years' experience in the media industry. She enjoys blogging and taking part in Twitter chats. You can find her on Twitter @melissa_nel.

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