An entrepreneur is someone who assumes the financial risk of beginning and managing a new venture or business. The business can be based on a totally new idea, a new way of doing something, a new location, or attempting something no one else has done before.
Question is, are entrepreneurs born or made?
The debate still rages, but the some consensus say that successful entrepreneurs share a constellation of personality traits. In other words, some people are naturally more entrepreneurial than others. A common misconception about entrepreneurs is that they are wild risk-takers. Entrepreneurs do take risks, but only calculated ones.
Some of the main qualities entrepreneurs have are:
A determination and the undying willingness to make a business venture a success.
Perseverance – tough times never last, but tough people do.
Never leting failure determine their life span.
The rest of the qualities necessary to being a successful entrepreneur you can learn through coaching and mentoring. One can learn how to do market research which is not necessarily a personality trait.
Some facts about the South African entrepreneurial environment
Yes the country needs entrepreneurs.
For instance, Statistics South Africa has revealed
that, since 1994, South Africa has been faced with
the challenges of re-integration into world markets
as a global economy, while at the same time positioning
itself to realise the high expectations of its populace
regarding a successful transition towards a more
To achieve the objectives of economic growth through
competitiveness on the one hand, and employment generation
and income redistribution as a result of this growth
on the other, various strategies have been implemented
to stimulate and support both micro, small and large
businesses in South Africa. The growth and development
of the micro-enterprise and small business sector
is acknowledged by most interest groups and policymakers
as being of critical importance to South Africa’s
ability to address the serious problems of unemployment.
- Entrepreneur equates to small or medium enterprises
which account for 40 – 60 % of the South
African Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and this equates
to jobs, distribution of wealth, more companies
and healthy economic growth.
- Lack of management skills is the second largest
reason for small business failure.
- Currently small businesses are the fastest growing
economic sector in South Africa and the largest
job provider world wide.
- Small business in South Africa operates in an
economic environment built for big business thus
75% of businesses that are incubated are successful.
- Access to financial resources is the main stumbling
block facing entrepreneurs.
- About 80% of South African small or medium enterprises
die or go out of business within the 1st year of
operation and the reasons thereof range from lack
of management skills, finance, mentoring, coaching,
marketing and business development.
- About 40 to 60% of South African small or medium
enterprises will die in the 2nd year of operation
with the reasons above still playing a major role.
Sustainability – what keeps entrepreneurs alive is a serious issue for South Africa at the moment.
Support, mentoring, business development skills and training is not always there or is there at a cost.Free services that are available usually equate to bad services and those not free are at a cost that is sometimes too high for entrepreneurs. Government is trying to put some organizations like SEDA in place to help entrepreneurs.
There are some financial backers who sometimes make appalling demands on budding entrepreneurs.
The Idea - Every idea is not a guaranteed business and not all business starting ideas are good.
Having an idea means nothing without armunition.
Once you have a business idea, you need to evaluate whether it is something that can be done, before deciding which way to go. Ideas are usually borne out of a passion to provide a service or product to meet a particular need; having a particular talent, skill and/or interest in a specific field and identifying a gap in the market which you have the experience to fill. Is your idea unique, good to grow and can generate income or strong enough to out-compete current ideas? Think of a traffic light or “robot” as South Africans call it - that was someone else's idea then and still lives to this day. It is important to evaluate your idea …
Questions for evaluating your Idea
- It is good and well to dream of designing a new
airplane or come up with a new type of motor vehicle,
but do you have the capacity and finance to build
one? If not, do you believe that what you dream
to do can be convincing enough for financiers to
back you up with money for what you need to do
to achieve your dreams. Ask yourself, why would
an investor take such a risk in your idea – if
it’s convincing enough, someone sure will,
questions is how convincing is your idea?
- Would it fill a need or close an identified gap
in the market, is it something people would appreciate
having? Think of the arrival of a cellphone and
- Can it be done beautifully, can it outshine current
or existing ideas, would you love working with
or on it and would you love the outcome? I am sure
when Bill Gates started Microsoft, he had this
in mind and the proof is in the company’s
- Your idea might not be new, if so, can yours
be done differently so that it takes away the spotlight
from the existing ones – think of how a new
competing company that is introduced to the market
and swiftly outshines the current market players.
A good example is Google – the internet search
company - with just a search engine, they have
revolutionised how the internet is looked at better
than the old America On Line (AOL), Microsoft’s
MSN Hotmail and Yahoo combined. Why do you think
one vehicle, or computer manufacturer is selling
more and performing better than the others?
- Can your idea receive the stamp of excellence
and approval from the authorities? Unfortunately
we live in a regulated environment. In your idea
evaluation process, one might have to check with
authorities like the South African Bureau of Standards
(SABS) for its feasibility and acceptability. If
one looks at many products in the market, they
bear a sign or stamp of the regulatory authority
in question. If you build or manufacture something,
there are certain standards and rules to adhere
to either for environmental, health or safety reasons
to keep our world in order.
Tip - Most business people would advise you not to take a giant leap alone/unarmed; do your research, ask questions, dig up more, evaluate the feasibility of your idea and take calculated risks. Above all persevere and try to get away from negative people. Remember, you can only accept constructive criticism and not pessimism at this vulnerable point of life.