I wrote this article a year ago and decided that it will be ideal for post 1000, hope it is worth the read.
So you are battling in the new South Africa? You are truly worth gold, you just don’t know it!
How realistic is it to say that we as South Africans can become the world leaders in entrepreneurship?
Is this just another thought of some dreamer that dream about his fortunes that are just at the end of the rainbow?
Once rated as one of the best Finance Ministers in the world and often called the best finance minister that this country has ever had, Minister Trevor Manuel said that unlocking entrepreneurship and improving the skills in the economy would lead to more people starting their own businesses and contributing to higher economic growth. Minister Manuel also said that entrepreneurship levels and skills in South Africa were low. This statement was made in 2005.
Entrepreneurial skills are without any doubt a very scarce but useful skill to have. The reason the word skill is used is simple. History has taught us that entrepreneurship has nothing to do with the amount of qualifications you have or any other outstanding academic performance.
Richard Branson, Chairman of the Virgin Group of over 360 companies and one of the richest people in the world, started his first business at the tender age of 16, with a poor academic record.
In 1930 a guy with the name Warren Buffet was born. As early as 1943 he filled in his 1st income tax report where he deducted $34 for his bicycle and watch for his work as newspaper delivery boy. In 1945 Buffet and his friend invested in a used Pinball machine, which they placed in a local barber shop. Within months they owned three machines at different locations. He had these successes as a teenager, before obtaining his university degrees in economics. Today he is the richest man in the world.
Sheldon Adelson, American Billionaire businessman and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, grew up as son of taxi driver in a rough part of Boston. He worked at a young age selling newspapers on street corners and owned his first business at a young 12 years of age.
Li Ka-shing, the richest person from Asian descent in the world left school at the age of 15, after his father died, to look after his family. He worked 16 hours a day in a plastics trading company. He started his first company in 1950 at the age of 22 and grew it to a leading real estate investment company in Hong Kong.
The list goes on and on as you go through the list of the richest people in the world. Education clearly played no role in the success of the world’s top entrepreneurs. Money also clearly played a small role in the success of these entrepreneurs. Anton Rupert started his business with 10 Pounds from his garage. The same can be said for Steve Jobs from Apple.
This places a very difficult task before anybody that wishes to teach people entrepreneurship. In the years gone past with topics like child labour and obsessions with discrimination and rights, South Africa has created a difficult situation, where entrepreneurs have many limitations in order to learn the rules of entrepreneurship at a young age. Despite the clear needs for this legislation, it possibly came at a price for future young entrepreneurs that grow up with restricted thinking and experience.
Apartheid also brought a legacy that will need to be erased, as the legacy taught a racially divided country that based on race you either worked as labourer or worked as a qualified employee at a company until the day you retired. The key ingredient was always, education and you need money to make money.
According to a report published by StatsSA 82,5% of businesses were financed by relatives or friends. A very small 4,9% of businesses were financed by commercial banks. When looking at the criteria commercial banks use to finance business start-ups it is not surprising though.
A further interesting fact is that 67,3% of these business owners indicated that unemployment was the main reason they started their own businesses. Only a tiny 2,6% said they started an own business for the high income.
This is not surprising given South Africa’s unique history as we have grown up with a specific thought frameset that conditioned us to survive rather than to strive for wealth. A further fact that supports this theory is that 50% of South Africans lived below the poverty line in the year 2000, according to the CIA Fact book.
With an official unemployment rate of 23,5% in 2005 South Africa has the 13th highest unemployment rate in the world. This means that, just as Minister Manuel stated, South Africa has a great need for entrepreneurs.
The current currency exchange rates also indicate that we can offer goods and services at a much lower cost internationally than many 1st world countries and this in itself is a huge benefit to the country.
In terms of labour segments it is notable that there seems to be a trend that supports this theory, with the labour force split amongst the following main categories.
• Agriculture occupations - 9%
• Industry occupations - 26%
• Services occupations – 65%
Despite a monopolised communications industry that makes telecommunication very expensive and Internet bandwidth costs that are amongst the highest in the world, South Africa can indeed play on a level field internationally as we have many factors that are in our favour.
The reason is simple. Internet entrepreneurship offers low start-up costs internationally. This in itself offers South Africans a great benefit as South Africans often do not have the cash to finance entrepreneurship. But with as little as R200 ($25) a month you can start an internet business and run it from home with very little overheads. With open source you do not even need to know much about website design and development.
Internet entrepreneurship also offers global reach of 100’s of millions of internet users. It offers several marketing strategies that can be applied at very little or no costs and accurate stats that can assist you in tweaking and improving your entrepreneurial skills.
The Internet is a prize that still hasn’t exploded in this country that’s living the legacy of the past. The Internet offers the ideal way to start a business for the thousands of South Africans that have been retrenched due to the world recession, black empowerment, the effect of the National Credit Act and companies fallen due to corruption and bad debt.
The Internet offers the one thing any entrepreneur strives for, low risk and high return. It offers the ideal way for the thousands of South Africans that are employed, to start a business whilst having the stability of a monthly income.
So what is stopping South Africans to reach for this dream? Compared to countries like the USA and UK, South Africa offers very little Internet entrepreneurship education!
There are several Internet Marketing and SEO training available but very little if any, Internet entrepreneurship education drives! Despite the previous facts that clearly indicate a serious problem when it comes to laying the foundation of true entrepreneurship, South Africa lacks a system whereby Entrepreneurs are assisted in learning how to be entrepreneurs in the global market.
In a very interesting discussion on this forum, Vincent Marino the president of the Ekurhuleni Chamber of Commerce stated that business plans as we know it is a waste of time and money. Although very controversial he made the point that the business plans required by financing institutions was meaningless for the actual success for the business as it was designed to get finance and not for the operational success of the business.
Vincent raised a very important point, a point that has been engraved in the minds of South Africans for many years. Entrepreneurs had to learn how to plan their business properly.
Educating people in business and finance management, simply equip existing entrepreneurs to improve their chances of success, however the real science of entrepreneurship which is required for wealth creation, runs much deeper.
The systems that entrepreneurs use and their psychological profiles are what make them truly successful. No amount of money or university degrees can teach an entrepreneur to be successful. It is learning and applying the systems of entrepreneurship that does.
The Internet is purely an ideal platform to step up and reach for true wealth with low risk but high return.
We as South Africans have a choice. Do you want to work your entire life to retire poor or do you want to be wealthy, retire early and enjoy life.
Do you want to work for a boss that lacks management skills and cause more frustrations than anything else, or do you want to be our own boss, whilst being able to work from anywhere in the world and spent time enjoying the fullness of life.
You have a choice, just learn the systems of entrepreneurship for the Internet and wealth and fulfilment of living your dream could be yours.