Business Lessons for Young Entrepreneurs

Updated on 17 July 2014

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Entrepreneurship is more about a person’s character and hunger to succeed, not about their brilliant ideas. This is according to the world-renowned British entrepreneur, James Caan, speaking at a young entrepreneurs group session at the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship in Johannesburg.

Caan said entrepreneurship is shedding traditional connotations and is being redefined to gain more personal characteristics.

“The main principle in business [today] is not about the product but about the person behind the concept or idea,” he said. “Investors will invest money in the person more than the idea itself.”

“Businesses don’t succeed because of the idea or product, but they succeed because of the passion of the entrepreneur”

Caan, who was in South Africa for a couple of days, shared his experiences and mentored the group on how to “sell” themselves to potential investors.

He told of how he has created thousands of successful entrepreneurs by investing in a person with or without business experience by trusting not their ideas, but their passion to succeed.

“Businesses don’t succeed because of the idea or product, but they succeed because of the passion of the entrepreneur,” he said.

In his brief address, Caan also emphasised failure and competition as key components that sharpen successful entrepreneurs.

‘Fail to succeed’

“Failure is the journey to success. Embrace failure and don’t procrastinate it. Be too quick to fail because when you do you become more smarter than you were before,” he said.

The Centre supports aspiring entrepreneurs by offering practical business skills and access to coaches who offer guidance and mentors, and also financing opportunities.

He said entrepreneurs needed to set themselves against their competitors

“Do not over-engineer the idea before you know exactly what the market wants,” he said. “Always ask yourself why your idea would fail.”

More than 10 young entrepreneurs had the opportunity to present their businesses to Caan for comment, criticism and guidance.

Among them was the inspirational Miles Kubheka who now owns and runs the franchise of Vuyo’s mobile kitchens. Miles’s peculiar business journey began after he took advantage of a fictional story of Vuyo from the famous Hansa Pilsener beer advert.

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