Stats SA announced an increase in South Africa’s unemployment rate to 27.6% in the first quarter of 2019. These numbers highlight the need to develop entrepreneurship in South Africa and support the rise of SMEs.
However, starting a business in the current economic climate is far from easy. It’s not impossible though, as proven by Bheki Kunene, Naasier Adams, and Zumurrud Rinquest, three SME business owners and beneficiaries of the Innovator Trust.
Through innovative development programmes, the Innovator Trust provides small business owners with the necessary skills to navigate the entrepreneurial landscape. Beneficiaries receive training, mentorship, exposure and development to equip their business with the tools to achieve their goals.
Kunene, founder of Mind Trix Media says managing a fast-growing business and its people was a challenge starting out. “Entrepreneurs tend to juggle everything when the business is in the earlier phases,” he says.
Adams, Senior Partner and Design Director of Scamp Creative Studio, agrees. “Every movement starts with nobody but the leader. When I started, I had three customers, then four customers, then six and so on. The same opportunity is there for everyone - you used to need millions to go on TV, now you need R100 to go online.”
To overcome these (and other) challenges, Rinquest, founder of Curious & Creative, says: “Firstly, prioritise your challenges, accept help and guidance from those willing to share and ideally who have been down this road before, and join a business incubation programme specialising in the growth of SMEs.”
“A mentor is a must,” says Adams. “Find someone who has built a successful business that is willing to share their valuable insights and lend you some of their time.”
Standing out from the crowd
Differentiating yourself from the thousands of other SMEs is perhaps the greatest challenge an entrepreneur will face. For Kunene, Mind Trix Media stands out from the crowd because of its creative team. “Working with passionate people that enjoy what they do makes us stand out. As a team, we have been consistently delivering award winning work over the last ten years and still remain focused on our core values.”
Adams also believes in the value of values. “By valuing the service I offered I found customers whose business values aligned with mine.”
Learning from mistakes
Kunene says that in order to learn, he had to embrace failure. “I failed fast and learnt faster how to do it better. I was open to listening to those ahead of me and finding mentors whom I could bounce ideas off.”
Advice for young entrepreneurs and SMEs
“Work hard with people that bring out the best in you as a leader,” says Kunene, who adds that bad news travels fast, so always treat people the way you want to be treated. “Make big promises in your pitches and stick to your word. Keep your clients happy and staff happy.”
He concludes: “Wealth is not the money we earn but the money we keep. Therefore, always ensure you spend less than what you earn.”