Nicholas Smit runs a tutoring company called Straight A Tutors as well as the wheelchair accessories company Smergos. He is a motivational speaker on issues of disability, mathematics, creativity and entrepreneurship. He shares with us his experience of being an entrepreneur
Many people have a romantic notion of entrepreneurship, which includes flexible work hours, reasonable sleep patterns and endless coffee dates. From my personal experience, I can tell you that this is not the case. I’ve drawn up a list of tools to help those who are looking to take the plunge and become an entrepreneur.
It’s not the wake-up-at-03h00-to-seize-the-day kind of observation; it is a collection of guidelines to assist in managing the rollercoaster of entrepreneurship.
See people’s challenges as opportunities
A quick way to develop something that has a chance of being successful is to listen to what people are complaining about. Identify their pain, and develop products and services that help relieve it.
It is important to be stubborn and remain motivated. Entrepreneurs are faced with endless challenges and numerous nay-sayers who hope that they’ll fail. Remain steadfast and push yourself to attain success.
Show before you ask
People like to be able to see and experience things. Advertisers want to see some sort of proof or evidence that ideas will succeed before parting with their hard-earned money. Most first-time entrepreneurs focus on the “money first” model. Rather than trying to sell an idea, build a prototype of the product and run a test programme. With physical evidence of the product performance to show an investor, securing funding will be easier.
It’s OK to make mistakes
Entrepreneurship is not for the faint-hearted. Entrepreneurs often have to make decisions based on limited knowledge or access to resources. Sometimes mistakes are made and you need to accept that. The important thing is to learn from mistakes and recover swiftly.
Rather than quitting your job, develop your product after work or consider a part-time position. However, work demands should not keep you from trying to develop your product. You’ll never know if it can succeed if you don’t try!
In the current economic climate of South Africa, entrepreneurial ventures are becoming more and more prevalent, if not a necessity. However, entrepreneurship is not for everyone; it takes a great deal of time, effort and resilience to come out on top. Mark Zuckerberg said: “The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”