There’s no ‘magic pill’ that effortlessly launches you out of your cubicle confinement and into the free world of entrepreneurship.
All the answers to your unique business lifestage questions
Every successful entrepreneur started where you are now. For some, the dream to be their own boss grows for a long time, even years before it finally comes to fruition. “Sometimes you need to face your fears and take that big leap,” says Mahadi Granier founder of Khalala.
“It didn’t take me long to realise that this wasn’t the lifestyle I wanted. I wasn’t reaching my earning potential or stretching my creative wings,” adds Jerusha Govender founder of Data Innovator.
Related: What is driving (and hindering) female entrepreneurship in SA
Female-led business growth is happening in South Africa, despite the latest Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) statistics showing that only 6.2% of South African females take the leap into entrepreneurship.
If this sounds like something you’re going through, here is the best advice from three women entrepreneurs who started their own profitable business:
1. Ask for advice
You don’t have to know everything straight out of the gate. When Granier started out she was in France, she didn’t know the market or the landscape, so she sought out South African entrepreneurs in France for advice.
“They could tell me what to avoid and where to go. By tapping into this community, my research time was reduced. I found valuable resources and trusted sources. Then I realised that no one was facilitating what I was going through — helping South Africans start businesses in the French (and broader European) market. Here was a gap that could be exploited. I felt like I’d stumbled on a super-power,” explains Granier.
2. Don’t quit
Not everyone is going to understand your path, but don’t let them deter you from reaching your dream.
“My family laughed at me when I said I was selling chairs, but I knew that it was something everyone needed, and I was right. This doesn’t mean it’s always been easy. There have been times when I haven’t had a cent in my hand, and others when I have more money than I know what to do with,” explains entrepreneur, Alicen Naicker.
“Start-ups are all about highs and lows. The important thing is to not give up, keep pushing on, and reinvest your cash into the business during flush times. It will pay off.”
Related: Support for women entrepreneurs
3. Build up your experience
“Degrees are tricky things for entrepreneurs,” adds Jerusha Govender. “You need the skills and the theory, but if you’re a creative problem solver, there often isn’t a degree that neatly packages what you want to do. I wanted to use science to help people, but no degree gave me the necessary skills. Only work experience could do that.”
This led Govender to start working for someone in order to grow her work experience, when she was ready she started out on her own. “That’s one real plus point to working for a few years before you start your own business. The industry gets to know you, you build up a track record and you develop the necessary experience and expertise to be really innovative in your field.”
- Ask for advice from other entrepreneur whether they’re in your field or not. You never know what useful information you can glean.
- Don’t quit, not everyone is going to understand your path, but don’t let them deter you from reaching your dream.
- Gain experience in your industry before starting your business, this will help you develop contacts, relationships and a track record before you ever get started.