An entrepreneur is a term we hear a lot in this country and South Africa has a wealth of them. These are individuals who undertake risk, who show passion and initiative, with the end goals of financial profit and benefits for their communities.
Andiswa Gumede is the Tholoana Enterprise Programme Specialist at the SAB Foundation. This programme supports small businesses that benefit or are owned by women, youth and people living in rural and or peri-urban areas, through grants and business mentorship and guidance.
Her job ensures that she works closely with entrepreneurs on a daily basis, as a mentor and guide. She is acutely aware of the struggles and rewards they face when taking the risk to start their own business.
“South African entrepreneurs are self-motivated risk takers who value passion and success above all,” she says. “With genuine passion, hard-work, a great idea, and a knack for learning, anyone can build a business and become a success.”
Gumede explains that first and foremost, entrepreneurs value independence. “They want to be their own bosses, however, they also have hundreds, thousands, or millions of bosses. They’re called customers.”
“These innovators are working to build something that will last,” she continues. “One of the defining factors for an entrepreneur is to take the necessary steps to create a business that will, when managed properly, continue making them money while they are not working.”
“Entrepreneurs are also self-reliant,” she says. “They enjoy being responsible for their own success and take pride in building something greater than themselves.”
Gumede shares some steps to take to become an entrepreneur:
Find your niche
“Finding a niche differentiates your business from the competition and allows you to excel in your sector,” she says. “Choose your target audience, determine the needs of your customers, research your customer base, create your business plan, and market your business to your specific audience.”
Research your market
“Market research helps you find customers for your business,” she explains. “Gather information to better understand opportunities and limitations for gaining customers such as data on age, wealth, family, interests, or anything else that’s relevant for your business.”
Identify a problem to solve
“Validate that there is a problem worth solving and where exactly a product or service can be most successful in solving that problem,” she advises. “The best way to validate that a problem exists is to actually jump right in and assume part of the role that your product might fill in the future.”
“There are many things that you will need to know as an entrepreneur,” she says. “Your current education cannot cover all of the necessary skills to enable you to successfully start and run a business. You need to educate yourself continually.”
Build your business in stages
“Setting up a sustainable business takes time, effort, and potentially a few setbacks,” she warns. “Instead of trying to pass through the different growth stages all at once, refine your approach if something is not working and focus more on the activities that achieve the best results.”
“Entrepreneurs have the ability to change the way we live and work,” says Gumede. “Their innovations may improve standards of living, and in addition they create jobs and contribute to a growing economy. The importance of entrepreneurship is not to be understated.”
For more information on the SAB Foundation’s Tholoana Enterprise Programme, please visit https://sabfoundation.co.za/tholoana-enterprise-programme.