We asked four diverse and successful South African entrepreneurs what advice they would share with their younger selves on starting a business.
Here’s what they had to say.
Andile Khumalo – founder of I Am An Entrepreneur
Key insight: Other people’s money.
“My advice to my younger self would be: use other people’s money. I would absolutely advise young entrepreneurs to find the ways and means to create wealth, save wealth and invest wealth — but as and when you have de-risked yourself as an entrepreneur, borrow.”
Gavin Lucas, CEO of Stor-Age
Key insight: Passion.
“Without a doubt, it’s going to take one hell of lot of passion to grow and develop a business.Entrepreneurship is tough, it takes single mindedness and determination and relentless focus and effort and energy, coupled with passion, to build a company from the idea and start-up phase.”
“However, when you’re able to scale and take it through the various patterns and growth phases, it is tremendously rewarding – not just from a financial perspective but from a growth point of view, rewarding in a sense of what you have been a part of creating.”
Musa Kalinga, CEO and founder of Bridge Labs.
Key insight: Make more mistakes.
“My advice would be to make more mistakes and make more mistakes constructively. We have a massive cultural context as young Africans, where mistakes are not condoned – where mistakes are the end of the world and not the start of understanding.”
Stephen Koseff, former CEO of Investec
Key insight: Focus.
“For me, the key word is ‘focus’. Many entrepreneurs like to invest in multiple businesses. But, if you’re going to become an entrepreneur and grow a single business and a brand, if you’re going to have a specific approach to clients with a great product set, focus is very important. You must focus on your clients, focus on your people — and then your shareholders will be happy. Do something that will create value and make sure your business model is going to work.”
Look at your life right now
As Marnus Broodryk writes in 90 Rules for Entrepreneurs – The Codex of Hustle, “In my opinion, and in my experience, and in my life, and in my own journey, it is so damn simple. To get what you want, you must decide where you want to be and hustle your butt off to get there because nobody else is going to do it for you.”