This country needs businesses that thrive in order for us to be able to solve the unemployment issue in this country because it’s a ticking time bomb that’s about to explode soon. Small to medium businesses are the way forward to solving the unemployment issues. As much as a lot of entrepreneurs don’t have the confidence in a lot of institutions helping them, all we can do is learn and try to make it under these conditions. So you have passed two years running your business and you know you need to expand the business…
The first two years of your business you will run it like a spaza shop and that’s ok, it happens and there is nothing wrong with that because your main focus is to not to drown, instead, it’s to get your business to work. Eventually, you are going to need to stop and clean up the business, you are going to need people to do this though. Things like using the business account for personal activities will have to come to an end at some point soon.
When you are starting a business, you are going to either work from home or Star Bucks and coffee shops because office space is expensive. As soon as your business starts making some money and you can sustain yourself, you need to invest in office space. Office space gives your business confidence no matter how small your office is, there is nothing better than telling your client to meet you at your office. Also, it gives clients the sense that you are not a fly by night.
You need to find people that believe in your dream as much as you do and let them into the business. Also find people who you can help you build the business and whom you can build friendships with as well, this is easier said than done because sometimes people want to be at the top on their own.
If you are creative, you need a non-creative partner, someone that has structure and understands numbers in your team. What I noticed with creatives is that things get uncomfortable when it comes to money issues, legal, structures and to be honest it’s not really their expertise either. Do what you are good at and what you enjoy but for the rest get others who are good at those things.
Honesty. Be honest as much as you can, honesty in business is key because it gives other people who engage with you an opportunity to grow your business and build integrity as well. Honesty builds trust and people want to do business with people they can trust.
There are people who can help you grow but they need to see your banking on yourself first to see how dedicated you are, after two years of running your business it should get easier to determine certain trends with your business. i.e. between January and April is a dry season because last budgets are getting spent and new budgets are allocated therefore your job is to make sure that you have enough to survive 12 months.
Listen to a lot of podcasts such as The Money Show, How I Build This and get engaged programmes such as The Startupper of The Year Challenger where you get financial support and mentorship to expand your business. At this rate, you need to be aware of everything that’s happening with the economy and how you can prepare your business to expand.
Your business needs marketing and you are probably the face of your business at this point. Radio, TV interviews, awards and attending events are as important because that’s where new business comes from as well. People need to see you and like you for them to do business with you. Don’t get caught up in the hype though, remember that the business comes first and media or fame comes last.
Look into bigger organizations that you can learn from with regards to tax, UIF, money, investment, tax, vat. The more you know the better you are equipped to make decisions that will affect everyone else and your business. Opportunities are always there but you need to be ready to step up, but can’t step up if you’re not aware of what’s happening in your industry.
Hire young people, young people are the future of any company, let go of how things used to be done, learn how the young ones are doing things now. Give them a voice and they will give you everything that will benefit the company in the long run. Learn to let go of the idea that things are done in a certain way because that will be the death of your company.
Through the Startupper Challenge, Total South Africa encourages the development of young entrepreneurs. South Africa has an exceptional pool of entrepreneurs with ideas that need the energy to grow. With almost 500 validated applications, the jury of the Startupper Challenge is in the process of selecting the top 15 entrepreneur proposals submitted to the Total Startupper Challenge. The Top 15 finalists will be announced in the next 2 weeks. Make sure you keep an eye on this challenge!