The 4 Lessons For Building A Business That Will Last According To Given Mkhari

Updated on 11 August 2017

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Today's Top Entrepreneurship and Business Stories (11 August)


“A coward with conviction” is how media mogul, Given Mkhari, best known as the man behind radio station Power FM, describes himself and it’s this quality he says is behind his longevity in business.

“The reason I call myself a ‘coward with conviction’ is that I don’t generally jump into something until I am convinced that I will make it better or make it different.

“I have a lot of conviction once I fixate on a proposition. I love to see it through.”

This was one of the lessons Mkhari shared during a Moneyweb interview on leadership where he shared the lessons he’s learnt during his business journey.

Mkhari is the Group CEO at MSG Afrika Investment Holdings, a black-owned media and communications group.

The company, which he co-founded in 2003, has interests in The Jupiter Drawing Room, Metropolitan RepublicCapricorn FMPower FMQuizzical Pictures, The Communications Firm (which he co-founded) and The Quarto Press.

Mkhari is one of the country’s most recognisable businessmen and has built the largest, privately owned radio network in South Africa.

Amongst other accolades, in 2014, Mkhari was awarded the Special Achievement Award at the Kaelo Awards for his transformative leadership and the significant role he continues to play in the media industry.

“Opportunity on its own is not enough. [It’s about] creating an opportunity, sustaining it, making it meaningful to all the key stakeholders”

Beyond conviction, building a business that lasts depends on another important factor – creating real value, Mkhari says.

“In every business where we’ve been successful it’s been where we can identify our value. Not just value add, our ability to create value, to add it, to sustain it, to see through for all stakeholders concerned,” he says.

Here are 4 strategies that Given Mkhari shared that can help your business last longer than the everyday trends.

1. Look Beyond Opportunity
My biggest learning is that opportunity on its own is actually not value. Opportunity on its own is not enough. [It’s about] creating an opportunity, sustaining it, making it meaningful to all the key stakeholders. This could be the shareholders, the funders, the staff, the market. A more integrated, fully informed business proposition tends to last than a pure opportunistic opportunity defined by a trend at the time.

Some people get away with that and I don’t fault them. But it hasn’t worked that much for us.

2. Energy And Learning Are Essential
For me the biggest learning starting from when I was in New York and coming back, was that the bosses that I worked for seemed to like people who raise their hands, and said ‘let me help you’. There are certain stars who are just willing and ready to pick up and run with it. I was that young man. I was a sponge. I remain one. I’m a perpetual student of work, of life.

And what that does is that it just puts you in a position of influence and power at a very young age because people know that they can rely on you. So I continue to hire energy. I believe that there are endless skills out there, what we don’t have enough of [are] energetic, passionate, hungry, curious young people who are willing to take it to another level.

3. Build A Team That Complements The Dream
Surround yourself with people who are able to challenge you, question you, but most importantly complement the dream. I believe that, particularly in the entrepreneurial environment, I believe that what makes businesses work is a concept which I believe in, which is the concept of a ‘partnership of dreams’.

When you approach a person and say ‘come and work for us’, or they apply for a job and say ‘I want to work for you’, that is essentially a formation of a partnership. And that is a ‘partnership of dreams’ so it’s important to know what the people who work with you what their dreams are and to establish if their dreams complement your dreams, because if there is no complementary relationship between what they aspire for as individuals and what the group aspires for there will be conflict.

4. Harness Your Entrepreneurial Energy
We are an entrepreneurial business. We like people who want to innovate, who want to go beyond the norm, who are not obsessed with working hours, who own the business in attitude, in passion, in energy.

So, I like entrepreneurs who see our business as a platform to express their entrepreneurial flair. Entrepreneurship for me, by the way, does not stop with ownership or equity. It’s about, if you believe this business is a platform for you to excel and you treat it as yours, you’re my guy or you’re my gal.

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