Beyond the Corner Store – 3 Ways Township-based Entrepreneurs Can Scale Their Businesses

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This article forms part of SME South Africa’s Township Entrepreneurship series. In the month of October we will explore the complexities, challenges and success stories of the township entrepreneurship ecosystem.

What’s needed to grow township businesses beyond the corner store and into commercially viable enterprises able to scale? It begins with seeing your business as an opportunity business and not as a response to circumstance and necessity, says Bulelani Balabala, an entrepreneur and motivational speaker. Balabala is CEO of Intercessor Army Franchising (IAF Brands) an award-winning printing and branding manufacturing company. He is also the founder for the Annual Township Business Innovation Summit taking place in Tembisa on the 16 and 17 November 2018.

If you are not growing, business becomes stagnant and will eventually die. This applies whether you are running a retail, tourism or transport business.

Balabala shares 3 innovative ways township entrepreneurs can shift to a growth mindset.

Desire for growth

It begins with the entrepreneur desire to grow beyond that corner car wash, beyond that one shisa nyama. It is when you see yourself beyond that one car wash and more as an entity. When you see your business as more than living hand to mouth. When you start looking at it like that, you will always be thinking of strategies to grow the business, how to increase revenue and how to scale it.

It’s that personal intuition that got that to start the business in the first space, use it to push yourself daily.

Take advantage of any opportunity to meet relevant and like-minded people or potential customers and investors

Build up your knowledge

Reading is the easiest and the cheapest way for entrepreneurs to unlock their mind beyond their borders. I always advise entrepreneurs to read whatever they have access to. Online, magazines, books any opportunity you get. Being informed opens you up to more opportunity. Also, read material from the rest of the African continent, as well as international publications. All will play a role in shaping your mind.

As you read – you will be inspired them to dream bigger, to strive to make a bigger impact in your community and beyond.

Network like a pro

Take advantage of any opportunity to meet relevant and like-minded people or potential customers and investors. Networking is very important cause business is people. You need to get up and go get it. Get in a taxi and go to that conference or expo, that’s the only way you will meet the right people not only for the business you are working on right now, but networks for life.

Another way of exposing yourself to opportunities is visiting the offices of organisations that help small and medium enterprises. These are mostly government agencies/organisations that are set up to support entrepreneurs. They also have outlets in many townships across the country so there is no excuse, entrepreneurs need to take full advantage of these outlets.

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