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Entrepreneur South Africa - January 2018

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JAN 2018
Proven success formulas for
business growth, life & money
FROM Brink of
to R700 million
in 8 years
A masterclass in business
growth from Trappers
Proven power practices to
double and triple your income
• Start an automatic online business
• Earn annuity income in dollars
JAN 2018 — ISSUE 142
R35,90 (INCL.
Rapelang Rabana
Your 2018
Life, business and money hacks
that will get you ahead in 2018
Disruptive-mindset guru, Malcolm Gladwell, local tech
entrepreneur, Rapelang Rabana and international
lifehacking expert, Martijn Aslander, are just some of
the experts who make up this year’s Toolkit. A collection
of expert ‘how to’ advice, tools and resources that will
separate you from your competition, boost your bottom
line and build your own skills and success mindset.
Become a life hacker
Learn to (really) innovate
Stay motivated, no matter what
Think strategy
Build a killer team that drives your company’s success
Tap into your customers’ psyche with the ideal
marketing strategy
Over-deliver to gain advantage
Build a disruptive attitude
Survive exponential change
Malcolm Gladwell
Martijn Aslander
Pepe Marais and Gareth Leck
almost lost their business three
times. First, when they sold it; next
when they lost 40% of their revenue
overnight when their biggest client
fired them, and finally, when they
bought their business back, only to
almost go bankrupt.
They’ve not only powered through
these hardships, but come out the
other side as South Africa’s largest
independent advertising agency, with
a turnover of R700 million and R218
million in gross profits.
This is their story.
JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8 E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A
Launching a side business that
makes money even while you’re
sleeping has never been easier.
Here’s how you can build a multimillion rand business completely on
your own, in your spare time, with
nothing more than a computer.
“Seizing an opportunity
that comes to you is great,
but creating your own
opportunities is even better.”
– Lesego Maphanga
38 Next Level: How Trappers
went from 16 stores and
R25 million turnover to
R300 million and 34 stores
45 Why you need to start
embracing change
46 SA’s law and the initial coin
offering (ICO)
58 Top lessons when launching
a successful business
Lesego Maphanga is under 30, a corporate
whizz kid as well as founder of the social
entrepreneurship movement, Unplugged and In
Charge. He’s building a personal brand for himself
based on the simple credo that you are the
master and shaper of your own destiny. These are
his six secrets to success.
E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8
60 Why your vision needs to
push boundaries
Best-selling author Brian
Tracy unpacks his seven-step
formula to setting powerful
goals to achieve greatness in
your life and business.
Once you have the plan,
you now need to execute.
Entrepreneur provides the
simple three steps you need
to take your plan and make it
a reality.
98% of people
set goals and
then never follow
through. This is
your roadmap to
joining the 2% who
follow the milliondollar habits that
drive wealth and
62 Ask Al
64 Why too much optimism can
kill your business (and how to
find the happy balance)
4 Contact Us
6 First Word
47 Digital subs
PUBLISHER Andrew Honey
Nicole Honey
COPY EDITOR Lesley Lambert
WRITERS GG van Rooyen, Nadine Todd,
Diana Albertyn, Nicole Crampton
CO-ORDINATOR Chelsea Gillespie
ONLINE EDITOR Catherine Bristow
Nicole Crampton
Saveer Sugreem
Dineo Mokgoasi
Mike Turner, Chris Wessels
Nadine Todd
Jann Becker
JHB: Clarise Sha, Nivesh Singh
CAPE TOWN: Samantha Peel
Seipati Modise
BOOK KEEPER Genevieve Reynard
EXECUTIVE PA Verna Lombard
Yvonne Botha
Janine Lombard
MANAGING Andrew Honey
DIGITAL & PRINT Nicole Honey
Amy Cosper
PUBLISHED BY Entrepreneur Media SA
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SMARTS The 7-Step Formula for Goal Setting, By Brian Tracy, Entrepreneur, 23 August
2017 * 6 Tips for Goal-Setting That, Trust Me, They Don’t Teach You in College, By Phil
LaDuke, Entrepreneur, 27 September 2016 * Follow These 8 Steps to Stay Focused and
Reach Your Goals, By Nina Zipkin, Entrepreneur, 23 October 2017 * 15 Time Management
Tips for Achieving Your Goals, By Robert Adams, Entrepreneur * 10 Great Quotes on
the Power of Goals, By Matt Mayberry, Entrepreneur, 18 January 2017 * 4 Lessons on
Achieving Your Goals, By Timothy Sykes, Entrepreneur, 31 May 2017
TOOLKIT 3 Ways Over-Delivering Value Gives Entrepreneurs an Advantage, By Glenn
Llopis, Entrepreneur, 16 November 2017
solution engineers for
society. Those were
the words spoken by Lindani
Mthwa, co-founder of Siyanda
Resources, at the 2017 EY World
Entrepreneur Awards. One of
the finalists in the exceptional
category of the awards
programme, Mthwa, a former
Union mine production manager,
has built a resources investment
company that focuses on the
acquisition and management of
mining assets.
Mthwa’s simple yet eloquent
description of what an
entrepreneur is really struck a
chord. It encompasses so many
of the most important traits that
successful entrepreneurs share:
They are solutions-orientated,
rather than dissuaded by
challenges; more importantly,
they don’t only find solutions,
they execute them. Finally,
they understand that the most
successful businesses solve
real-world problems that both
businesses and communities
need (and are willing to pay for).
In a year that saw its fair share
of economic turmoil, political and
corporate scandals, and even
natural disasters, negativity was
rife by the end of 2017. Except
amongst entrepreneurs.
Naturally optimistic and driven
to find the opportunity in every
challenge, entrepreneurs aren’t
only the change-makers, they’re
the people who carry the rest
of us along for the ride. They
change the shape of industries
and societies with timely and
appropriate solutions. They are
foreward thinkers.
Here are three trends we
believe will be shaping 2018, and
worth keeping in mind as you
build your own business.
E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8
1. Profit with purpose
Speaking at the BCX Disrupt
Summit in November 2017, local
tech entrepreneur Rapelang
Rabana highlighted that
according to Nielsen, 40% more
social entrepreneurs are growing
compared to other SMEs, and
they’re showing greater profit.
In addition, people say they
are more likely to purchase
from ethical and sustainable
What people say and how
they actually buy isn’t always
the same, but the trend is
clear — more and more,
people and businesses care
about shared value and how
business practices are impacting
communities. Interestingly,
companies already operating
on that mandate are proving
themselves to be more profitable
and sustainable.
At Entrepreneur, we’ve seen
a clear trend in the role that
purpose has played in the
growth of our cover profiles over
the past year. Each entrepreneur
we featured can pinpoint when
they found their purpose, and
how this changed the scale
and focus of the business. First,
because it gave the business
a north star to focus on, and
second, because it helped
develop a culture the entire
business could follow.
importance of limiting expenses
and building healthy cash
Find ways to run lean without
taking advantage of your
employees or affecting the
quality of your output. Think
like a start-up that needs to
bootstrap everything, and reduce
expenses. You’ll be surprised how
this mindset can boost internal
innovation as well.
2. Lean businesses prosper
Running lean isn’t anything new.
In fact, since the first recession
in 2008, business owners have
found smart ways to run lean.
As growth in the local
economy remains sluggish, this
basic business element is of
paramount importance. Just as
droughts throughout the world
(and locally in Cape Town) are
teaching us about minimising
our water consumption, so too
are businesses learning the
Entrepreneur continues to be
one of South Africa’s top-read
business magazines because
of you, our loyal readers. Thank
you. We hope you enjoy reading
this issue as much as we have
enjoyed putting it together.
3. Diversify risk, revenue
streams and currencies
One of the biggest shifts in 2017
was how many businesses were
either opening offices overseas,
or introducing new services and
products to international markets.
Consider the benefits: First,
you have international customers
paying with foreign currencies
that are not subject to the rand’s
Second, as a South African
company you can be highly
competitive internationally, both
in terms of what you offer and
the price you’re offering it for.
We live in exciting times. Yes,
they’re challenging, but ask any
entrepreneur set on growth and
they’ll tell you the same thing:
Challenges are where you find
the opportunities. It’s then up to
you to make something of them.
Nadine Todd, Managing Editor
Seizing an
opportunity that
comes to you is great,
but creating your own
opportunities is even
E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8
Standard Bank
Manager: Card
& Emerging
Africa Regions
ABOUT: At only
27, the maths
& science
whizz works at
Standard Bank
as an Emerging
responsible for
products across
multiple African
Regions. He also
has his own
radio show on
CliffCentral called
the Urban Culture
Drive, and is
founder of social
movement called
Unplugged and in
Lesego Maphanga is young (he only graduated in 2014
with an Industrial & Systems Engineering degree), yet
he has already made a name for himself in multiple
industries. His secret to success? Always doing more
than is asked of him. AS TOLD TO GG VAN ROOYEN
studied engineering knowing
right from the start that I would
never work as an engineer. I just
couldn’t see myself working at a mine,
or something like that, but I knew
that engineering would give me a
solid foundation and allow me to keep my
options open. A STEM (science, technology,
engineering, maths) degree is a great
base, as it shows that you have a mind for
numbers and the analytic mindset needed
to get things done. I don’t think you can go
wrong with a degree in one of these fields,
even if entrepreneurship is your ultimate aim.
How can I set myself apart? You have
to ask yourself this question. There’s a lot
of competition out there. You might have a
great academic history or work experience,
but so do a lot of people, so you need to
have a differentiator — something that
makes you stand out. I entered Mr South
Africa, for example, because I knew that it
would increase my profile and add something
interesting to my CV. I didn’t win, but I was
a top-five finalist, which was good enough
for me. Find interesting things to add to your
CV as well, since it’ll make it stand out in a
massive pile of similar submissions.
Always go the extra mile. I had a lecturer
who always said: “There are two kinds of
bad engineers. There are those who don’t do
what they’re told to do, and there are those
who only do exactly what they’re told to do.”
You need to add value and show that you are
a crucial part of a team, so don’t just do what
you’re told. Instead, look for ways in which
you can go beyond the brief. Work hard and
spend time coming up with your own ideas
JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8 E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A
and projects. At the end of my
studies, I interned at Standard
Bank. I knew that I only had five
weeks to make an impression,
so I gave it my all. When you’re
young, you don’t have many
responsibilities apart from
work, so that’s the time to put
everything into your work.
Be audacious and make
things happen. Seizing an
opportunity that comes to you
is great, but creating your own
opportunities is even better.
Don’t take no for an answer,
and don’t wait for someone to
give you a chance. A friend and
I had an idea for a radio show
and decided to put a proposal
together. We had no experience
and no contacts in the field,
but we emailed our proposal
to everyone we could think of.
We spammed them, sending it
out every single day. Eventually,
CliffCentral got in contact
with us.
I don’t want a ‘normal’ life. I
want an extraordinary life, so I
demand a lot of myself. I think
Elon Musk is a great example of
this. He’s doing things no one
thought possible. Of course,
it requires extreme levels of
dedication and hard work. If
you’re aiming for the top, I
don’t think work/life balance
is possible. You need work/
life integration. You need to be
pursuing your passion all the
time. If you’re on a path you’re
truly interested in, work doesn’t
feel like sacrifice.
Exercise is important to me.
I go to gym twice a day. It’s
significant to me, as it allows
me to relax and clear my mind.
It also provides structure to my
life. When I get up early and go
to gym, I find that the rest of my
day falls into place. It sets the
tone. As long as I maintain focus
in this part of my life, I find that
things overall stay under control.
Sometimes, though, I need to
take a day off and just sit in front
of the TV. Generally speaking,
however, I find that routine helps
maintain focus and momentum.
E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8
Start achieving success today with
the most effective goal-setting plan
you’ll ever learn. BY BRIAN TRACY
is a way of thinking
practiced by
optimists and all
successful people.
In future orientation, you
first develop a clear, ideal
picture of what you want
to accomplish sometime
in the future. With goal
orientation, you crystallise
that image into specific,
measurable, detailed goals
and objectives you’ll need to
accomplish to achieve that
ideal future vision.
Successful people
develop the habits of
personal strategic planning.
They sit down and make
a list of exactly what they
want to accomplish in the
short, medium, and long
term. They then use a
powerful, seven-part goalsetting methodology to
create blueprints and plans
of action that they follow
every day.
Once you develop the
habit of setting goals and
making plans to accomplish
them, it will become as
natural for you as breathing.
By following a proven
goal-setting process, you’ll
increase the likelihood of
achieving your goals by
as much as ten times, by
1 000% or more. This isn’t
just a theory; it has been
proved and demonstrated
repeatedly by almost every
person who practices it.
In February 2003, USA
Today reported on a study
of people who had set
New Year’s resolutions the
year before. They found
that only 4% of the people
who had made New Year’s
resolutions, but had not
put them in writing, had
followed through on them.
But 46% of those people
who had written down their
New Year’s resolutions
carried them out. This is a
difference in success rates
of more than 1 100%!
“I’ve spoken to people all over the world, for many years,
who’ve told me that the habit of acting every day on one
or more of their major goals has been life-transforming.
They’ve told me that this single habit has been more
responsible for their success than any other idea they
ever learnt. Try it for yourself and see.” — BRIAN TRACY
Many formulas and recipes exist
for goal-setting. As a rule, ‘any
plan is better than no plan at all.’
Here is one of the best and most
effective goal-setting plans or
formulas you will ever learn.
activities being completed in
advance. What are they, and
what is the logical order or
sequence of completion?
Step five: Identify the obstacles
everything you’ll have to do to
achieve this goal. As you think of
new items, add them to your list
until it’s complete.
or limitations that might hold you
back from achieving your goal,
both in the situation and within
yourself. Ask yourself, “Why have
I not achieved this goal already?”
Identify the most important
constraint or limitation that’s
holding you back, and then focus
on removing that limiting factor.
It could be a certain amount of
money or a key resource. It could
be an additional skill or habit
you need. It could be additional
information you require. It could
be the assistance of one or more
people. Whatever it is, identify
it clearly and go to work to
eliminate it.
Step four: Organise your list of
Step six: Once you’ve
action steps into a plan. A plan
is a list of activities organised
on the basis of two elements:
Priority and sequence.
In organising by priorities, you
determine the most important
things you can possibly do on
your list to achieve your goal.
The 80/20 rule applies: 20% of
the things you do will account for
80% of your results. If you don’t
set clear priorities, you’ll ‘major
in minors’ and spend much of
your time on small and irrelevant
tasks that don’t help you achieve
your goal.
In organising by sequence,
you determine what must be
done before something else can
be done. You create a checklist.
There are always activities
that are dependent upon other
determined your goal, developed
your plan, and identified your
major obstacle, immediately
take action of some kind toward
achieving your goal. Step out
in faith. Do the first thing that
comes to mind. But do something
to start moving toward your most
important goal.
Step one: Decide exactly what
you want in a certain area, and
write it down clearly, in detail.
Make the goal measurable and
Step two: Set a deadline for
achieving the goal. If it’s a large
goal, break it down into smaller
parts and set sub-deadlines.
Step three: Make a list of
develops within you the power
of momentum. Daily action
deepens your belief that the goal
is achievable and activates the
law of attraction. As a result, you
begin moving faster and faster
toward your goal, and your goal
begins moving faster and faster
toward you.
about and want to complete,
distractions such as social
media, doubts and other tasks
can make it nearly impossible
to concentrate on it. Don’t fret.
We’re here to help.
Check out these eight steps
to help you prioritise and clear
your mind.
1. Stop multitasking
The following excerpt is
from Brian Tracy’s book
Million Dollar Habits:
Proven Power Practices
to Double and Triple Your
Instead of trying to do a
million things at once, take
a step back and tackle one
task at a time. And while your
inclination might be to start
your day with busy work — like
checking emails — and then
move on to the harder things,
you should first try to get your
brain moving by challenging
yourself with a bigger, more
creative endeavour.
2. Block out your days
A good way to hold yourself
accountable when it comes to
quieting the noise all around
you is to specifically block out
time in your day — maybe it’s
30 minutes or an hour — to
spend on a given project.
Colour code your calendar or
set a timer to make sure you
are accomplishing the goal at
Step seven: Do at least one
thing every day that moves you
toward your most important goal.
Make a habit of getting up each
morning, planning your day and
then doing something, anything,
that moves you at least one step
closer to what’s most important
to you.
The habit of doing something
every single day that moves
you toward an important goal
Now that you have the
formula, here’s how you
achieve your goals
Accomplishing a goal can be
hard work. But even if a project
is something you are passionate
3. Get your blood pumping
You can’t focus if you’re stuck
inside and staring at a screen
all day long. Turn off your
computer and phone, and go
for a walk for 20 minutes. The
fresh air and the movement
will clear your head. Also make
sure that you are drinking
enough water and getting
enough rest.
JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8 E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A
4. Help your technology
help you
A platform like RescueTime, a
software that runs while you
work and shows you how you are
spending your day, could help
you understand why something
is taking longer to complete
than it should. Options like Cold
Turkey, Freedom and Self Control
block out the Internet entirely to
keep you off your Twitter feed
when you should be meeting
5. Meditate
Get a recommendation for a
yoga or meditation class, or
even make it an office outing
so everyone can get some time
to quiet their minds. Or look
online for a plethora of apps
and platforms whose stock
and trade is mindfulness, like
Meditation Made Simple, Calm
and Headspace. For slightly more
of a monetary investment, you
could look into wearable tech like
Thync, a device that produces
electrical pulses to help your
brain decrease stress.
6. Change up what’s in your
While background noise might
help block out a loud office
or construction outside your
window, you need to be careful
that what you are listening to
isn’t distracting you more. Music
with lyrics can sap your focus
from the task in front of you,
so consider trying classical or
electronic music instead. Or use
a playlist that is familiar to you,
so you aren’t tempted to turn all
your attention to the new sound.
7. Streamline your
If you find that all of your focus
gets trained on getting your
inbox down to zero, think about
how you can get yourself out
from under a relentless deluge
of email. Ask yourself and
your colleagues to think about
whether this conversation would
be most effective through email,
on the phone or in person.
Taking five minutes to walk over
to someone else’s workspace will
save you the time and energy
“A goal is not always
meant to be reached; it
often serves simply as
something to aim at.”
THE LESSON: Achieving our goals and dreams is
fantastic, but that’s not the most important thing about
setting goals. The most important thing is the type of
person that we become along the way.
invested into a redundant email
chain and clarify how you want to
attack a problem more quickly.
8. Find an environment with
the right kind of noise
To be most effective, you need to
strike a delicate balance between
too much noise and total silence.
According to David Burkus, an
associate professor of leadership
and innovation at Oral Roberts
University, “some level of office
banter in the background might
actually benefit our ability to do
creative tasks, provided we don’t
get drawn into the conversation,”
Burkus wrote in the Harvard
Business Review. “Instead of
total silence, the ideal work
environment for creative work
has a little bit of background
noise. That’s why you might focus
really well in a noisy coffee shop,
but barely be able to concentrate
in a noisy office.”
If you’re serious about
achieving your goals, not only
do you need to set those goals
the right way, but you also have
E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8
to get serious about avoiding
distractions and becoming too
immersed in the bad habits
that you know you need to quit.
Time-wasters need to fall by
the wayside, and serious gritand-bear-it hard work needs to
take its place.
One of the most effective skills
you can have in life is powerful
and effective time management.
If you’re not managing your time
well, there’s no way you’re going
to reach your goals at work and
the life outside of it. Sure, you
might make some progress.
But your time management will
be an uphill battle if you don't
take your time seriously. People
who squander and waste the
precious little time they do have,
know all too well how difficult
achieving even mildly difficult
goals can be.
The truth is that time is the
greatest equaliser in life. No
matter who you are, your age,
income, gender, race or religion,
you have the same amount
of time as the next person.
Whether you’re filthy rich or dirt
poor, your time is the same. It’s
not about how much time you
have. It’s about how effectively
you manage your time.
The trick? Find a good time
management system and work
it. There are many. It’s entirely up
to you which one to choose. But
if you don’t want to become part
of the 92% statistic of people
who fail to achieve their longterm goals, then you need to pay
attention to how you use the
precious little time you do have in
this world.
What are the best tips for
managing your time?
1. Set goals the right way.
There’s a right and wrong way
to set goals. If you don’t set your
goals the right way, then you’ll
lack the proper targets, which
will force you to fall off track. But
when you set them the right way,
the sky is the limit.
2. Find a good time
management system. One
of the tips for managing your
time is to find the right system
to actually do it. The quadrant
time-management system is
probably the most effective. It
splits your activities into four
quadrants based on urgency and
importance. Things are either
urgent or important, both, or
neither. Neither (quadrant 4) are
the activities that you want to
stay away from, but it’s the noturgent-but-important quadrant
(2) that you want to focus on.
3. Audit your time for seven
days straight. Spend seven days
straight assessing how you spend
the time you do have right now.
What are you doing? Record it in a
journal or on your phone. Split this
up into blocks of 30 minutes or an
hour. What did you get done? Was
it time wasted? Was it well spent?
If you use the quadrant system,
circle or log the quadrant that the
activity was associated with. At
the end of the seven days, tally
up all the numbers. Where did
you spend the most time? Which
quadrants? The results might
shock you.
4. Spend your mornings on
MITs. Mark Twain once said, “If
it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s
best to do it first thing in the
morning. And If it’s your job to
eat two frogs, it’s best to eat
the biggest one first.” His point?
Tackle your biggest tasks in the
morning. These are your most
important tasks (MITs) of the day.
Accomplishing those will give
you the biggest momentum to
help you sail through the rest of
the day.
5. Instil keystone habits
into your life. Charles Duhig
this is crucial. It’s easy to run
on fumes and not even know it.
Keep your mental, emotional and
physical states at peak levels by
breaking frequently.
turning into an organising
9. Make to-do lists in the
evening for the next day.
AKA Learn to see the bigger
picture to keep your eye on
the prize
Every single evening before bed,
make a list for the next day. Look
at your goals and see what you
can do to help move you closer.
This doesn’t happen overnight.
It takes time. But by making
We all have goals. How to
achieve those goals is not as
complex as you might think.
Sometimes it’s just about taking
poignantly coined the keystone
habit in his book entitled, The
Power of Habit. In architecture,
the keystone is the stone that
holds all other stones in place.
Similarly, keystone habits help
to not only solicit other good
habits, but also help to eliminate
bad habits. Focus on keystone
habits and you’ll get much better
at managing your overall time by
making your habit development
much easier.
6. Schedule email response
times. Turn off your email
throughout the day. When your
email is pouring in, it’s easy to
get distracted. Schedule time
to read and respond to emails.
If there’s something urgent,
someone will call or text you. But
when you have your email open,
those distractions interrupt your
thought flow and it’s harder to
get back on track.
7. Eliminate bad habits. One
of the biggest time-wasters we
have are our bad habits. Whether
it’s Netflix binge-watching,
excessively surfing social media,
playing games, going out
frequently to drink with friends,
or so on, those bad habits take
away the precious little time that
we do have. Use your time wisely
by eliminating your bad habits if
you’re serious about achieving
big goals in life.
8. Take frequent breaks when
working. One study suggests
that you should work for 52
minutes and break for 17. You
might not have the luxury to
do that. But you should take
frequent breaks. If you’re an
entrepreneur working for yourself,
“If you don’t know
where you are going,
you will probably end up
somewhere else.”
THE LESSON: AHighly successful organisations and
individuals all have an extremely clear vision of where
they are going.
to-do lists, you’re effectively
setting goals for the day. Daily
goals are easier to achieve while
helping to move us towards the
longer and bigger goals. But that
happens by creating to-do lists.
a step back to see the bigger
Here are three important
lessons to learn about achieving
your goals as you take on the
day (each and every day).
10. Declutter and organise.
Focus on what you need
instead of what you want
Studies have determined that
clutter in our environment
causes us to lose focus. When
we lose focus, we lose time. If
you want to avoid that, declutter
and organise. Don’t do it all at
once. Start small. One drawer
today. A shelf tomorrow. Maybe
a closet the next day. Just one
per day. You build momentum
and eventually find yourself
You might think you want that
big house and three cars, but do
you really need it? This is such
a simple way to set authentic
priorities, yet so few people
get it.
A simple ‘want’ is nothing
but a fantasy. You need to be
passionate to achieve what you
want to achieve or it’s never
While we
might all want
to achieve
in life, as much
as we might
try to stick it
out and see
things through,
we often get
As soon as
that happens,
the negativethinking gears
begin turning
and the ‘whatif’ doomsday
scenarios begin
playing out in
our minds.
Fear becomes
that stalker in
the night, ready
to suffocate us
and stave us off
from achieving
our goals. To
counteract that,
you need to
seek daily doses
of inspiration.
Reach out to
others who have
achieved the
success you're
going after.
Listen to their
stories, and
get inside their
heads. What was
it like for them
to endure failure
after failure?
How did they
bounce back and
achieve their
JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8 E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A
going to happen. It must almost
be tinged with desperation.
Learn the lessons from all of
it, positive and negative
Life is never all good or all bad,
so we have to learn from both.
When you find yourself basking
in all that is positive in your life,
think about how you managed to
succeed. How can you replicate
that same success? On the
other hand, you need to be able
to grow on the negative. Think
about why you failed and how
you can avoid doing that again.
towards my short-term,
medium-term, and long-term
goals?” Making sure that you’re
studying hard is key here.
If the answer is no then you
know you need to rethink what
you’re doing. Staying focused on
the prize is what will prevent you
from wasting your time on the
tasks that don’t matter.
The main lesson is to think
before and after
Think about what you’re about
to do and whether it takes
you closer to your goals. Think
about what you have done and
determine whether you could
have done it better or whether
things turned out the way you
wanted them to.
It can be hard to stop
when you’re in the middle of
something, but this is the most
important part of all. Once you
manage to do this you’ll get
more results for every action.
Here’s the simple reality of achieving success.
Unless you have goals, you have no way of knowing
whether or not you’ve already reached the pinnacle
of your life. But all this tends to be a bit easier to
suss out if you have those goals in hand. Setting
goals is easy — we all do it. Sticking to them is
harder. Here’s how you can stay on track.
Write goals that align with your values
There isn’t a huge difference between
corporate goals and life goals. If your career goals
aren’t supporting your life goals, you are bound to
have a miserable existence.
Set goals that you can control
Too often, we set goals that depend on other
people. Unless every aspect of the goal you set is
under your control, you have very little likelihood of
ever achieving it.
Think big
“If you aim at nothing, you will
hit it every time.” — ZIG ZIGLAR
THE LESSON: If you don’t set goals for your life then it’s almost
certain that you will be very disappointed with your results. Aiming
at nothing is setting yourself up to achieve nothing.
Set aside some time every
week to reflect on your
successes and failures. It’s the
only way you’re going to grow to
a point where you can achieve
your goals. Don’t over-think
every project afterwards but if
you can take one lesson from
each experience you know
you’ve done it right.
Set goals that you don’t think you can achieve
and work your tail off to get there. Anyone can
follow the advice of lesser men and set clearly
achievable goals, but that’s for under-achievers and
slackers. There is nothing wrong with setting your
sights higher than most might believe practicable.
Give yourself time
If you begin with the end in mind, that is to
say, if you start by visualising where you want to
end up in life, the things you need to get there are
pretty easy to plot out.
Brian Tracy is chairman and CEO
of Brian Tracy International, a
company specialising in the training
and development of individuals and
organisations. He is the leading
coach on the topics of Leadership,
Selling, Self-Esteem, Goals, Strategy,
Creativity and Success Psychology.
Phil LaDuke is an author, speaker
Plan for success
Don’t worry that your dreams aren’t realistic
or that you might not achieve them. Don’t ask ‘What
if I fail?’ Instead, ask, ‘What if I succeed?’ Worrying
about failure is pointless and destructive; the surest
way to be a failure is to spend time worrying about
it. Your goals won’t just accomplish themselves;
you will have to have a plan, and you’ll have to
work that plan.
and consultant. He writes and speaks
Stay focused on the prize
about business, worker safety, culture
It’s easy to lose focus when
you’re taking on multiple
ventures at the same time. To
make sure you stay focused on
the prize always have a plan for
the short-term, medium-term
and the long-term.
Question everything you’re
doing. Ask yourself: “Is what I
am doing right now contributing
and organisational change topics.
Robert Adams is a writer, blogger,
serial entrepreneur, software engineer
and best-selling author of dozens of
technology, SEO, online marketing
and self-development books,
Manage your risks
You will never achieve goals you didn’t set,
but then again there are precious few guarantees in
this life. While most of the things you will do on your
journey to success will carry some measure of risk,
that’s okay. Just be sure that you consider that risk
and weigh it against the reward. EM
audiobooks and courses.
Timothy Sykes is an entrepreneur
and a penny stock expert, trader and
E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8
© Entrepreneur Media Inc. All rights reserved.
How kulula work, a initiative,
makes business travel more affordable
and pleasurable.
conference or outof-town meeting
conjure up images
of dodgy motels,
delayed flights and unexpected
Uber trips, because your rental
car booking was mixed up —
Time spent on the road for
business can be a nightmare
when you don’t have an
efficient travel partner. But of
course, you’re on a budget, so
compromising comfort for cost is
your best bet in a tight economic
climate. Not necessarily.
There’s an affordable solution
to ensure you’re on time, every
time, comfortable, refreshed,
organised and stress-free when
you seal that deal you travelled a
few hundred kilometres to clinch.
Enter kulula work.
“ was built on
a culture of entrepreneurship
and we know how important
entrepreneurs are to economic
growth,” says Dawn Weir, head
of kulula work. “So, we want to
be sure that there are as few
obstacles as possible to building
a business, especially as most
new jobs in coming years will be
in small businesses.”
Growing your business means
networking, meetings and timeconsuming periods away from
your business. This is where
efficiency and resourcefulness
are key. A specialised corporate
travel service, kulula work
ensures that business people
can travel to close deals, meet
business partners or network
without incurring excessive
“Face-to-face meetings are
proven to be far more beneficial
than email conversations
or teleconferences. While
technology has a role,
personalised face-time still
beats other means of contact for
business,” says Weir.
Travelling with kulula work
guarantees the best fares of the
day on and British
Airways (operated by Comair),
and you don’t pay booking or
flight change fees — only for the
difference in fare and the airport
With kulula work, you’re also
offered competitive car hire
and accommodation options,
assisting you with all your
business travel requirements.
The cost of convenience? Great
savings and a reliable travel
service, around the clock.
“Because running a
competitive and efficient
business is about managing your
costs, kulula work offers support
on invoicing and monthly
reporting, as well as account
management and access to a
Corporate Reservations team,”
adds Weir. “They’re also available
after-hours if needed.”
kulula work’s team of
professionals features an agent
dedicated to your account who
assesses your business travel
needs and sets up a corporate
travel deal to meet your specific
For that work-life balance
you’re after, kulula work offers
an extra 20kg free baggage
allowance for travellers with
musical instruments and
sporting equipment. Because
entrepreneurs need a healthy
combination of work and play on
the road to success.
The following is
exclusively available
when your next
business trip is
booked via kulula
» Best fares of the
day on
and British Airways
(operated by Comair)
» Flexible flight
changes (only the
difference in fare &
taxes will apply)
» No booking fees
» Competitive car hire
rates with Europcar
and Avis
» Great hotel rates
with Protea Hotels
and City Lodge Hotel
» Invoicing and
» Account
» Access to our
qualified Corporate
team. *
* Legal stuff applies
Dawn Weir, head
of kulula work
kulula work on
+27 (0)11 285 3050, email or
JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8 E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A
Life, business and
money hacks that will
get you ahead in 2018
Become a life-hacker
Learn to innovate
Stay motivated
Think strategy
Become a team whisperer
Focus on content marketing
Over-deliver to gain an advantage
Build a disruptive attitude
Survive exponential change
Aslander challenges
business leaders and
helps them think
outside the box
throughout the world.
He is the co-founder
of and
wants to help shape a
better world.
Visit www.
is about
more in less time,
with less stress,
at a lower cost
with the use of
simple digital
no point in ever getting upset
when something goes wrong.
It happens. The next time you
will fly.
Martijn believes that we are
always looking for the next
challenges. Millionaires want
to be billionaires. Billionaires
want to win a Nobel Prize.
There is always another goal.
So how do you find success
and happiness? By asking how
you can contribute the most to
mankind. In many ways, Martijn
was already a life-hacker. At 17
he’d discovered a way to make
money without doing much
work, simply by being smarter
and spotting a niche.
At 27 he learnt that
possibilities are what you make
of them, and the more you
share, the greater your impact,
and the more you will receive.
These are his rules to
becoming a life-hacker, and
doing more in less time, with
less stress, at lower costs.
E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8
Don’t operate on untested assumptions
Most of the fears that people have, and particularly
entrepreneurs, are based on assumptions that they haven’t
tested. And most untested assumptions are simply not
true. They live as ghosts and monsters in your head, but
they’re not real.
We live in a very interesting time, where it’s actually risky
to be safe. Safe doesn’t exist, and it never has, because
you are never in charge of all the events that take place
around you. Change is the only constant. For centuries
we’ve operated on the notion of survival of the fittest. He
who is strongest will win. This is also a faulty assumption.
Success today isn’t about strength — it’s about the ability to
adapt to new circumstances. Over the last ten years more
circumstances than ever before have changed, and the rate
is just accelerating. You have to have an open mind; you
have to learn to be flexible.
If you’re in the business
of doing business, you will
soon be out of business
How do you measure business
success? Be careful that your
strategy isn’t focused on
possessions — fancy offices, a
big building, or cars as status
symbols. If you’re too focused
on things, you’ll be too afraid of
losing your stuff. Entrepreneurs
who are focused on a higher
purpose concentrate on
improving themselves, their
was 17, he was running a
company that had 60 part-time
employees from the back of a
classroom. By the time he was
21 he had two companies, and
was directing 140 people. At 27
he decided to sell his companies,
and ended up bankrupt as a
result of the experience.
What looked like a complete
disaster actually ended up being
the single best lesson Martijn
could learn. He woke up the next
day and everything was still
there. He had his arms and legs;
he had his health. And the worst
had happened, which meant
that nothing could go wrong
anymore. From that moment,
anything was possible.
He then asked himself a
key question: How big is the
chance you will do this again?
The answer was simple: There
was no chance. Big lessons had
been learnt. At that moment,
Martijn realised that there was
people and doing the best for
their clients. They’re far less
afraid of sudden changes and
turmoil, because possessions
aren’t as important, which
makes them agile and adaptable
— exactly who you want to be in
a changing world.
I see it as the rise of the
‘funpreneur’. The rise of a new
breed of people who are focused
on doing what they love, and
who aspire to a higher cause,
instead of just focusing on the
business side of things. It’s
tough to compete with people
who don’t do business models,
but focus on purpose instead.
I believe there are only
three things you need
for success: People,
information and ideas.
Give your teams the
freedom to adapt
There are two types of teams
— those who are flexible, have
an open mind, and are willing
to adapt to new conditions and
environments, and those who
are terrified of making mistakes
and therefore seldom venture
out of the established norm.
The type of team that forms
the foundation of your business
is up to you. Are you hiring
people with flexible, open minds
and giving them the freedom to
make mistakes, or do you stifle
innovation in your organisation?
Remember that mistakes
are often the only way to learn
something. If people are really
dissatisfied with their own errors
and performance, they will
internalise the experience far
more deeply. There will always
be some mistakes. My advice is
to create an environment where
everyone learns from mistakes
— their own and those that
others make — and try to make
mistakes that you will benefit
the most from by encouraging
your team to take chances.
This doesn’t mean it’s okay to
make mistakes on purpose, but
create a safe environment and
deal with mistakes in a way that
shares the lessons, and instils
the learnings in your business.
Make a ‘not-to-do’ list
We’re so busy making ‘to-do’ lists that we forget
to make ‘not-to-do’ lists. Remember that you’re in charge
of your life, and you can go in any direction you want. Yes,
there will be circumstances that influence your life, but
ultimately you can change everything. There’s less financial
risk than ever before in doing business. You don’t need big
offices, buildings, or cars. Everything you need to make an
impact is at your disposal. The only things holding us back
are our assumptions. While you are creating your to-do lists
and strategies, take some time to write down what you
shouldn’t be doing — what you don’t want to do, what you
should avoid — the business or person you don’t want to
be. Focus on what you love, and build a great life around
those principles. Don’t allow yourself to live in fear.
Leverage the holy trinity of
I believe there are only three
things you need for success:
People, information and ideas.
With these three things, you can
set anything in motion.
An idea in itself is worthless.
It’s really nothing else but
combined information; creatively
connecting unconnected dots.
The ability to make ideas
materialise in this world however
holds value, and for that you
need people and information.
Information is the bridge
between ideas and the people
who make them happen. What’s
incredible is that we are living
in an information society. There
are more people connected than
ever before. We’re living in a
network age and an information
age, which means you can focus
on all three, connect the dots,
and unleash an unprecedented
amount of ideas.
You don’t need a budget to
The Chief Commander of the
Dutch Army approached me to
help him find a way to innovate
that didn’t involve cutting into
his budget. My question to him
was, ‘Why do you need budget?’
There are 50 000 geeks in the
Netherlands who dream of
flying in a jet fighter or being
submerged under the ocean.
Simply by redeploying assets
they already have, the Dutch
Army can make these dreams
come true.
So many organisations
miss this crucial point. Money
is naturally scarce, and the
dynamics of money are weird.
People are afraid to spend
it because it’s scarce, and
they’re uncertain if what they’re
spending it on is a risk or not.
As soon as there’s a financial
risk, and you don’t know the
outcome, you’re hesitant to jump
in. And this ends up stalling
innovation, because there’s an
over-riding belief that you need
money to innovate.
But what about applying other
resources other than money
alone? Always consider what
you can do with the resources
you already have. This will take
financial risk out the equation,
which will lead to less fear. Once
fear is gone, people step in,
open up and contribute. If you
get rid of the risk, you enable
your team. In many cases,
finance is not an enabler, it’s a
Imagine if you could stop
asking for money and setting
your price, and instead asked
your clients to pay what they
believe your services are worth.
You’d quickly either make more
money, or realise you’re helping
the wrong businesses, or not
demonstrating your value
clearly enough.
Entrepreneurs know this —
they’re used to bootstrapping
and being creative. The problem
is that as we grow, we forget,
and start becoming reliant on
money to grow. And this stifles
So how do you begin to use
the resources you have? Start
by targeting the one percent of
your clients that are able to do
100 or 1 000 fold what they are
paying you in terms of money.
What can you barter or trade
with them? What resources can
you offer each other that are
actually more valuable than
money? What could your clients
potentially do for you that would
actually save you money? Or
what would they love to pay
for, that you potentially aren’t
offering right now?
Every single organisation has
resources that they can deploy
without financial loss. Start with
1% and build on it.
Build your social capital
Social capital builds
monetary capital. It’s not the
other way around, and yet so
often we focus on monetary
capital first. Instead, focus on
achieving something that will
lead to monetary capital. I give
away my social capital freely. I
share my books and ideas for
free. It clears my mind, and I
know that I can create ideas
faster than you can steal them
anyway. That’s how you should
view ideas. Giving away social
capital gives you access, and
then you don’t need money —
that’s the secret to success.
People are too careful with
their social capital — particularly
their ideas. I promise you this
— the chances of becoming a
millionaire with just one idea
are miniscule. If that’s your
strategy, it’s not only dangerous,
but you’re wasting your time. If
you become someone who can
share ideas freely, and focus
on bringing people, knowledge
and ideas together instead, your
chances of success have grown
Remember, people love to
share, and you want to tap into
that. Look for zero plus, not zero
JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8 E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A
Become a life-hacker
The term ‘life-hacker’ was
coined in 2005 by tech journalist
Danny O’Brien. He was covering
a group of programmers who
were very productive, and yet
they weren’t stressed. They were
satisfied. How did they manage
to be productive and stress-free?
The secret wasn’t only in what
they were doing — but in how
they were sharing those secrets
and tools.
I personally use a few hundred
tools that allow me to do a lot
more in less time, and I’m happy
to share the tactics that help
me to work smarter. This is why
I launched the
website, but all the contributors
on the site share the same
philosophy — we freely share our
insights to help others. This is a
critical element to life-hacking.
There is so much information out
there, so many ways to access
insights and information. Are you
using them? Are you learning
and using the tools available?
There are tools that can save
you hundreds of hours a year.
Tap into them. We can learn so
much from each other; get the
best people possible in your
posse and in your community.
Understand the
dichotomies of knowledge
Knowledge work is something
new. Traditional business
systems are based on hands.
You exchange time for money.
But today we are working with
our heads, and the reality is
that you cannot work with
your head for eight hours a
day, particularly in artificiallyconstructed work hours. One
third of the population work best
in the evening, and yet they’re
expected to arrive at the office
at 8am sharp. Not only are they
causing traffic jams, but they’re
not working in their optimal
conditions either. We need to
rethink the model. We need to
stop treating computers like
modern typewriters. We seem to
think that answering hundreds of
emails is working. It’s not. We’re
all just distracting each other.
Digital skills are nowhere
on the strategic agenda of
boards. The time and skills of
your employees are the most
valuable asset you have, and
yet we aren’t doing anything
to help our employees become
life-hackers. Digital skills won’t
only help your teams to work
smarter and save time, but
become real assets, and not
just glorified typists. If you
focus on digital skills, your
ability to find information
and ideas faster than anyone
else will grow, allowing you to
spread those ideas, learn faster
than your competitors and
entrench strategic skills in your
organisation. Take these skills
and invest in them heavily. It’s a
true differentiator.
After 24 years in the merit and
quantum investigation industry,
Mr Gerhardt Becker realised that
the private and government
sectors need a reliable and
ethical partner, with the
know-how and expertise to do
specialised investigations. Poor
service delivery has become
customary in South Africa and
FICS assists clients to secure
better service delivery in a costeffectively way.
FICS offers an expeditious
range of support services
to professional firms and
corporations in the legal,
accounting and financial service
industries, and Government.
Client demand resulted in
E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8
Life-hacking is all about
learning from others
and using tools and
technology to do things
smarter and faster. There
are many ways to achieve
this goal — you just need
to be open to them. Take
Pepe Marais, co-founder
of Joe Public United,
South Africa’s largest
independent advertising
Four years ago, Pepe
decided to employ a
driver. “This solution isn’t
for everyone, and it took
me a full three months
to get used to the idea,
but once I got over my
own insecurities, it was a
revelation. I have gained
32 hours a month — that’s
the equivalent of one
full work week — simply
through using my travel
time constructively.”
Tim Ferriss is
the master of
getting more
done in less
time — and
he’s made it
his business
to share these
FICS expanding its operations
nationwide based on the
franchise model with 145
franchise areas in South Africa.
A secure state-of-the-art
online IT system enables
franchisees excellent interaction
with partners and clients.
It tracks and streamlines
operations, and accounts for the
status of investigation reports.
The recently launched FICS
Mobile App, a first for South
Africa, offers new benchmark
opportunities by capturing all
tips and lessons with
Read this: Tools of
Titans, Tim Ferriss’s epic
amalgamation of hundreds
of tactics, routines and
habits, collected over
the course of two years
from the world’s most
successful business
people and world-class
performers, and distilled
into a notebook of tips and
tricks to use in your everyday life and business.
Listen to this: A summary
of the book is available on (another key
tool for life-hacking and
a great way to maximise
your time in traffic and
the gym by listening to
business ‘how to’ books
and top biographies).
Watch for free:
Accelerated learning
with Tim Ferriss is a
13-minute video available
on Youtube. If you want
to maximise your ability
to learn quickly and
efficiently, start here.
relevant photographic and other
factual information at the scene
of vehicle accidents. This includes
information of parties involved,
witness details, statements,
GPS location, video clips and
photographs of an accident
scene, and information relating
to the vehicle damage at an
is simple: According to tech
entrepreneur Rapelang Rabana,
innovation is at its best and
greatest when it’s sourced from
your unique perspective and
accumulated wisdom, combined
with shared value and execution.
At this year’s BCX Disrupt
Summit, Rapelang broke the
process down into the three key
ingredients that together shape
innovation and success.
Rabana is
a computer
and tech
She is the
founder of
Learning and
the current
Chief Digital
Officer of BCX.
Thato Kgatlhanye, founder of
the Rethaka foundation, an
organisation that creates school
bags that are also solar panels,
and can provide schoolgoers
with energy in the evening so
that they can do their homework,
says that she is money-driven,
business-driven, and empathetic
E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8
To be a
success in
today’s fast
paced world,
you need
innovation at
the heart of
you do.
Your ability to innovate and be
creative is based on the sum of
all of your experiences. Great
ideas do not take shape in
our minds, they are the result
of external stimulus hitting a
prepared mind. We don’t think
up ideas — we notice them.
We connect the dots in new
and creative ways. And our
ability to do so is based on how
prepared we are to notice what’s
happening around us, and to tap
into that information.
When asked what it takes to
be great like Richard Branson,
Steve Jobs and Elon Musk, Musk’s
ex-wife, Justine Musk had this
advice to offer: “Shift your focus
away from what you want (a
billion dollars) and get deeply,
intensely curious about what the
world wants and needs. It helps
to have an ego, but you must be
in service to something bigger if
you are to inspire the people you
need to help you.”
So, ask yourself this: What
do you have that is so deeply
compelling and needed that no
one can outsource you or replace
you? Until you can answer
this question, keep building
your mind, your abilities and
your knowledge. Work on your
repository, and your ability to
connect the dots.
towards her people. In other
words, her business is created
through shared value, and the
desire to not only create money
for her business, but within her
communities as well.
Most successful organisations
would never have been launched
if their primary focus was for
the business to win. People
are hungry for things that are
inclusive and show positive
Consider Airbnb — the
founders had the audacity
to put a blow-up mattress in
their livingroom, and believe
that other people would find
value in their offering. And they
were right, mainly because the
business model is all inclusive.
The business wins, the hosts win
and the customers win.
According to Nielsen, 40%
more social entrepreneurs are
growing compared to other
SMEs, and they’re showing
greater profit. In addition,
people say they are more likely
to purchase from ethical and
sustainable businesses. The
cynics might say this is what
people say, not how they buy.
This may be true, but it’s also
a leading indicator of how we
will behave in the future. We’re
trying to get there, and our
behaviour will catch up to the
Always be cognisant of how
responsive the market is. Learn
to leverage public sentiment
and get attention through the
ideal of shared value. Winning
with others is the fastest way to
create value today.
When we start a project or idea,
we try to project into the future.
We want to draw a linear picture
between now and then. The
problem is that creation is far
more chaotic.
Instead, minute variations
over time create profound
changes. It’s a journey. There are
no defining moments of success
or failure; just a series of events
strung together over time. To
make the necessary minute
variations though, you need
data points and you need to take
action. Often this starts with just
beginning. If you start, you can
move forward, slowly but surely.
Progress is far more evolutionary
than simply trying to imagine
the end.
The problem is that the mind
blocks us. We essentially block
ourselves from success. How?
The ability to
execute and turn
innovation into
profit comes down
to a series of fivesecond moments
over years. Push
yourself. Get past
your mental blocks
and act on your
Building anything and trying to
be innovative requires a series
of many, many decisions made
over years and years. Many of
those decisions are made — or
not made — from a place of
fear. Our instincts tell us to do
something, and then our minds
stop us. The most incredible
things can happen if we learn to
follow our instincts though.
In her book, The Five Second
Rule, Mel Robbins unpacks the
skill of acting on your instincts.
In essence, the space between
your instinct and the moment
of hesitation that stops you
from acting is five seconds. This
means you have five seconds
to make things happen, and the
way to utilise that time and to
make things happen is to count
down from five: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. At
one, move. Get up, take action,
call the client, speak to your
boss — don’t let fear come in
and crush the instinct.
Why a countdown? A
countdown suspends — for a
moment — the self-doubt that
gives you space to move before
the brain kills it. I started using
the rule for small stuff at first. A
countdown in the morning to get
out of bed and go to gym. Then
I started using it for the harder
stuff, like not losing my temper.
If you can be aware enough to
make the countdown, you can
change your behaviour.
The ability to execute and
turn innovation into profit comes
down to a series of five-second
moments over years. Push
yourself. Get past your mental
blocks and act on your instinct.
Combine this with building
on your knowledge, connecting
the dots around you, and
understanding that value is not
given or taken, but is created
through shared value, and you
have the recipe for innovation
and success. — BY NADINE TODD
FACT: The super-successful
focus heavily on learning new
skills, reading practical books
and listening or watching
podcasts, interviews and
informational courses.
Take best-selling author
and leadership coach Simon
Sinek, who said: “My work is
never complete, we wake up
with a hunger to learn, and
no one is ever truly an expert.
Anyone who says, 'I’m an
expert at anything’ has closed
their mind to the idea that they
might not know everything.
There’s always more to learn.
I’ve never considered myself
an expert. I’m always a
student of leadership. All the
work is imperfect and all the
learning is continuous.”
Action Step: If you can read
20 full pages a day, or even
listen to an hour-long audio/
podcast, you will accumulate
more than 36+ books a year of
new knowledge.
Start here: If you’re not sure
where to start, download the
audible app ( and
browse the business books
available, or subscribe to
podcasts. Three great places
to begin are:
• Trailblazers with Walter
Isaacson, a show focused
on disruption and hosted by
the biographer of Steve Jobs,
Albert Einstein and Benjamin
Franklin amongst others.
• The Tim Ferriss Show, hosted
by Tim Ferriss and one of
the biggest podcasts on the
• Masters of Scale, hosted
by LinkedIn founder Reid
Hoffman, who chats to
some of the worlds biggest
and most successful
JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8 E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A
motivation is an
essential cog in
your overall drive
to succeed.
MOTIVATION IS a daily struggle
for entrepreneurs, so I’ve put
together these motivationboosting tips from eight of
today’s most successful
international entrepreneurs.
Fear of failure
In an article that he wrote for
Bloomberg, Mark Cuban stated
that he uses the fear of failure
for self-motivation.
“No matter what business
you’re in, you’re always at risk —
particularly in technology, where
it changes so rapidly you’ve got
to put in the effort to keep up,”
writes the US Shark Tank panel
member. “There’s always the
opportunity for some 18-yearold to come out of nowhere and
crush you — that motivates the
hell out of me.”
Failed at something? Ask
these Mark Cuban questions.
“What did I do wrong? Who did
I trust that I shouldn’t trust?
What can I learn from this
situation so I can avoid it next
Follow your passion
This is the key. However, as
Chalmers Brown, co-founder and
CTO of Due writes, “We want to
not only make a lot of money
but enjoy what we do as well.
We are willing to take on the risk
of unstable pay in exchange for
following our dreams.
“Unfortunately, your dream
job may not always be the best
decision financially. Sometimes
your hobbies are best kept as
projects in your spare time for
fun. If you do want to try to turn
your passion into a full-time
job, these tips can help you get
started the right way.”
Brown gives the tips below:
» Improve something that you’re
already doing
» Figure out where the market is
» Share your passion with
» Stay happy and motivated by
assigning tasks that you’re not
a fan of to someone else.
Keep affirmations where
you can see them
“It’s so easy as an entrepreneur
to get sucked into feeling
exhausted or frustrated, and
often the blame is yours alone,”
writes Murray Newlands, founder
of online invoicing company
Sighted. “But a negative mindset
sucks up mental bandwidth and
energy that you need to stay
focused and successful.
“It is crucial to maintain an
optimistic attitude in the face
of setbacks. Whenever you see
a quote or a picture that helps
you stay positive, place it front
and centre so you can remember
what this journey is all about.”
E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8
John Rampton is
an entrepreneur,
investor, online
marketing guru
and start-up
enthusiast. He was
recently named #3
on Top 50 Online
Influencers in the
World by Entrepreneur
Surround yourself with
highly successful and
motivated people
“No one does it alone,” said
Mark Zuckerberg during a Q&A
in 2016. “When you look at most
big things that get done in the
world, they’re not done by one
person, so you’re going to need
to build a team.” When building
your all-star team, seek out
people who excel in the areas
where you’re not strong or
have less experience. “You’re
going to need people that
have complementary skills,” he
emphasised. “No matter how
talented you are, there are just
going to be things that you don’t
bring to the table.”
Be grateful
“Most of the time when
people ask me about motivation,
80% of the time I attribute it to
gratitude. If you want real fuel
to win, be grateful,” writes Gary
“Gratitude is what has
gotten me through my
toughest moments in business.
Whenever I have lost a deal to
a competitor, or an incredible
employee, or millions of dollars in
revenue, I default to gratitude. It’s
impossible not to stay motivated
or get too down when you’re
feeling grateful.”
Never feel sorry yourself
“All of my best successes
came on the heels of a failure,
so I’ve learnt to look at each
belly flop as the beginning of
something good,” says Barbara
Corcoran, founder of The Corcoran
Group and Shark on US Shark
“If you just hang in there,
you’ll find that something is
right around the corner. It’s that
belief that keeps me motivated.
I’ve learnt not to feel sorry for
myself, ever. Just five minutes of
feeling sorry for yourself takes
your power away and makes
you unable to see the next
Don’t obsess over your vision
Yes. Think about your vision.
But don’t spend too much time
over it or it will bog you down.
Elon Musk, for example, only
spends around 30 minutes a week
on his vision of SpaceX colonising
Mars. Besides those 30 minutes,
Musk spends a majority of his
time focused on the milestones
that are the most immediate and
critical to get him there.
Leverage the power of
“On June 26, 2008, our friend
Michael Seibel introduced us to
seven prominent investors in
Silicon Valley. We were attempting
to raise $150 000 at a $1,5 million
valuation. That means for $150
000 you could have bought 10%
of Airbnb.
“Below you will see five
rejections. The other two did not
reply,” writes Airbnb co-founder
Brian Chesky on Medium. “The
investors that rejected us were
smart people, and I’m sure we
didn’t look very impressive at
the time.”
Today Airbnb is valued at just
under $30 billion.
© Entrepreneur Media Inc.
All rights reserved.
the pace of change. Economic
uncertainty, disruptive
technologies, fast-changing
consumer needs and complex
digital marketing means
entrepreneurs have to move
fast just to stand still. While
managing constant change this
is easy, but dangerous to forget
about strategy. A couple of
pertinent questions: What are
your business and marketing
strategies? Who owns them?
How many people in your
organisation understand
them? When last did you
review them to see if they are
appropriate now, and likely to
be appropriate in the next year
or two?
Every organisation, from
tiny businesses, clubs, NGOs
and start-ups to much larger
companies would benefit by
taking time out to review key
strategy issues. I suggest you
examine whether your target
markets are the right ones, and
are still buying enough to meet
your sales targets. You should
ask if your sales channels,
pricing policies, promotional
messages and the media used
are right for the times. Do you
really know what your target
market needs and how those
needs are changing? Are your
products and services providing
solutions to those changing
needs? Does everyone in
your organisation know what
differentiates you from your
competitors? Do you have the
right people? Is your financial
strategy still sound? What about
purchasing or manufacturing
— is it still as cost-effective
as it could be? What are your
competitors doing now? What
are they likely to be doing in
Get out of your comfort zone
These are tough questions,
but if you ignore them, your
organisation may drift along
in its comfort zone in the hope
that everything will work out. A
company that continues to try to
sell familiar products to anyone
who will buy, and does not know
what its competitors are doing
is taking very high risks in a
changing environment. The risk
increases if your prices reflect
your efficiency or otherwise at
product procurement rather
than the value they deliver
to customers. Risk rises to
danger levels if few people
actually know and understand
the strategy, because they will
usually keep their heads down
and do the same old things.
Start the journey
Strategy development is like a
journey. You know the starting
point, you decide on your
destination (your goals) and then
you map out how to get there,
which is your strategy. You have
to consider the time it will take,
the resources you will need,
especially money and skills,
If you want to
make money,
save money and
improve your
efficiencies in
2018, you need to
keep reviewing
your strategy.
by 25 years of
experience in the SME
marketing landscape,
Ed Hatton is focused
on new ideas and
strategies for SME
and how you will know you are
still on track (your milestones).
Start at the beginning; ‘we know
where we are’. Do not assume
everyone has the same idea of
where you are, especially your
management team; you may
be surprised at the distance
between perceptions of where
you are now. Then set the goals
and recognise that the future
may not be what you envisage.
You will have to be flexible to
cater for change in a different
economy. Using questions like
those in this article, map out
the strategy of how to get there.
An outside facilitator is a good
idea for a strategy session but if
you choose to run it yourself be
careful that your management
team does not only tell you what
you want to hear.
What great strategies are
made of
Keys to good strategy in these
turbulent times are to really
understand your target market
needs and provide solutions at a
price that the customer regards
as fair value. Two other ideals
are to provide the products or
services in a manner convenient
to the customer rather than
to you, and to inform the
customer of the advantages of
your solution in a manner and
in media that the customer
trusts. You may recognise the
venerable 4Ps of marketing in a
new guise; outwardly focused,
concentrating on the customer.
Do you know what
your target market
Do you have the right
Is your financial
strategy still sound?
How are those needs
Are your products and
services providing
solutions to those changing
Does everyone in your
organisation know
what differentiates you from
your competitors?
Are your purchasing
and manufacturing
processes still as costeffective as they can be?
What are your
competitors doing
What are they likely to
be doing in future?
JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8 E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A
nurtured on an ongoing basis
if you want to attract and
retain the best employees. You
can hire people, you can fire
people, and you can tell them
what to do. But you can’t make
them like what they do. Some
business leaders are content
with having an unhappy team;
as long as they do what they
are paid to do then the state of
their mental health is seen as
superfluous. This line of thinking
is not only wrong, but it is
entirely counterproductive to the
continued survival of a business.
Gallup has run some excellent
pieces that demonstrate the
difference between engaged
and disengaged employees.
In particular, they list several
additional things that engaged
employees bring to the table:
motivation, innovation, and a
willingness to take on more
responsibility within the
company. So how can you keep
your team engaged?
That level of motivation
contrasts greatly with
employees who don’t even
want to be there. They do their
jobs, but they never put in
more than the bare minimum
of effort. Don’t expect them to
ever go beyond what their job
description requires, and if there
is a chance for them to duck out
of work without getting fired,
they’ll take it. Obviously, you
don’t want to have a team that
consists of these people. But
without the right knowledge of
how to motivate a team, you’ll
find yourself unable to inspire
your employees to go above and
beyond what is required of them.
A great company cannot exist
without great employees, and
there are steps you can take to
mould them into the people you
want to have working for you.
These tips are proven methods
of getting your employees to
be engaged in what they do,
and anybody can learn to
apply them.
Be a team, not a dictatorship
Every ship needs a strong
captain, but that doesn’t
mean that you have to spend
every second reminding your
employees who’s the boss.
Your employees look to you for
guidance, but they also want to
feel as though you are in tune
are motivated,
and willing to
take on more
Scholtz is the South
African Master
Licensee for global
franchise company,
He specialises in highlevel personal and
business growth.
with everything that is going on.
Some managers come off as
though they are giving mandates
from heaven, or worse, they
rattle off long lists of orders
because they don’t want to do
the work themselves. If you give
the directive and then pitch in to
reach the goal, you’ll show your
employees that they are all part
of a team, and they sink or swim
Give them a chance to
It’s true that some people are
placidly content with being a
cog in the wheel. I’m sure you
know of at least one person
who is sitting in a job they are
relatively indifferent to just so
they can collect a pension in
twenty years. Those that fit that
mould will gravitate towards jobs
that give few chances to stand
out and plenty of job security.
For those who want to achieve
more, they will never settle
for a job pushing pencils all
day. These restless employees
are always looking for a way
to prove to you that they are
capable of so much more than
low-level work. Denying them
this opportunity will either push
them to greener pastures, or
if they can’t/won’t quit, cause
them to become disillusioned
with what they do.
If you find somebody who
wants to prove themselves, let
them. An employee who shows
the initiative and drive to better
themselves is a person who will
bring your business an incredible
amount of value. Don’t waste
this potential.
Don’t take them for granted
— show your gratitude
This goes beyond a simple
“thank you,” although those
two words can have quite a
bit of power in themselves. If
your employees feel like their
contributions are not recognised
Alternative finance is finance
beyond the traditional — it is
defined by the financiers’ area
of specialisation — by what
they specialise in, whom they
serve, and how they provide
their funding. It does not replace
traditional finance, but rather
functions as a complementary
and additional form of funding.
Alternative financiers are
specialists — they focus on a
particular need and on a specific
audience. As a result their ‘how’
is customised to deal with their
chosen target market and for
this target’s unique needs.
This applies to the funder’s
processes and to their level of
flexibility around things such as
An example of this is that
a SME may have an existing
R1 million overdraft (their
E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8
traditional finance) secured
by R1,5 million collateral, but
suddenly they need R5 million
for a specific contract or
bridging finance — they need it
fast and don’t have that extent
of collateral. The traditional
funder cannot provide what
they need, their process is
too long and their flexibility
is too low.
An alternative financier, that
is able to provide bridging finance
and specialises in SMEs, is ideally
positioned to fill this gap.
+27 (0)11 886 0922
or rewarded, they will feel little
incentive to go above and
beyond in what they do. How
you show this gratitude is as
important as the action itself,
because a perceived token
gesture is even more insulting
than a lack of a reward. Put
another way, if somebody comes
up with a million-dollar idea and
you give them a monogrammed
lanyard as a gift, don’t expect
that person to stick around.
Rewarding achievement is the
flip side to punishing failure,
and a balance between both
is necessary to craft the ideal
As intuitive as these three
traits seem, you probably know
from personal experience that
a lot of managers don’t quite
know how to implement these
strategies effectively.
Share the bigger picture
with them
A really important element of
keeping your team engaged is
to share the bigger picture with
them. This involves amongst
» Constantly communicate
the Vision and Mission of your
business to your team. If your
team can buy into why the
business was started, where it is
headed and why you exist as a
business, they will be able to be
as passionate as you are.
» Provide a monthly update on
how the business is tracking
against its plan and this will
empower them to focus on
the areas that matter most to
the business at that time. This
includes sharing financials with
the team — here one needs to
take into account any legislation
that might be applicable — but
the more you share, the more
you show your team that they
are trusted with the information
as well as being able to make
better decisions that affect the
» Keeping your team engaged,
excited and energised is a prerequisite to developing a high
performing team that is able
to take the business to the next
level. It takes a team of dedicated
people to build a successful
business. Without this team, your
ability to expand at the rate you
had planned to will be severely
business based in Cape Town.
READ THIS: Multipliers:
How the Best Leaders Make
Everyone Smarter, By Liz
Go to
for additional tips, tricks and
“Multipliers is profound. It’s
been lifechanging for me and
everyone that works with
me. Leadership is not about
having the best answers.
You need to ask the best
questions, and what happens
is that you are turning people
into productive engines.
Micro-managing stops people
from thinking for themselves
as they wait for answers from
you. The principle is that
micro-management on that
level means you are paying
people 100% salary for 50%
productivity. The multipliers
effect allows you to pay
100% salary for 200%
productivity.” — Robin
Olivier, co-founder and MD
of Digicape, a R240-million
• Radical Candor — The
Surprising Secret to Being
a Good Boss | First Round
• INBOUND Bold Talks: Kim
Scott “Radical Candor”
Candor means challenging
And if you’re interested in
employees directly and
really unpacking the lessons
showing you care personally
behind radical candor, read
at the same time. It will help
the book: Radical Candor:
you and your team do the
Be a Kickass Boss Without
best work of your lives.
Losing Your Humanity.
Developed by Kim
Scott — who led
AdSense, YouTube,
and Doubleclick Online
Sales and Operations at
Google and then joined
Apple to develop and teach
a leadership seminar —
Radical Candor is all about
becoming a leader who is
both respected and followed,
without being falsely ‘nice’.
There are two great
YouTube videos that will give
you her tips and lessons in
under 20 minutes:
Keeping your employees
engaged and motivated needs
time and attention.
The most effective way
to assist staff to work more
efficiently is by implementing
an incentive that can improve
performance and reward them
for their efforts.
A motivating incentive needs
to have the following areas
1. Identify the areas of
performance you want to
improve. This can be anything
from sales performance to
improved customer service
2. Measure the behaviour. By
collating relevant data, you can
measure a specific behaviour,
and track its performance
3. Reward. Selecting the correct
reward mix for your audience is
crucial. Different things inspire
E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8
different people. Providing a
tangible reward will ensure a
positive association with the
brand — which lasts much
longer than extra cash does
4. Communicate. Launching
a great incentive is all well
and good, but the trick to
keeping staff motivated is to
communicate — effectively and
5. Report and analyse. Ensure
that your incentive is returning the
right results by monitoring results
and keeping on track.
Please contact Uwin Iwin
Incentives on +27 (0)11 557 5700 or
I’M A FIRM BELIEVER in content
marketing. It’s a long play, but
the results speak for themselves
if you invest and keep plugging
Businesses that have invested
in content marketing in recent
years are reporting dividends
from those investments. For
example, more than 60% of
B2B marketers reported more
effective content marketing
strategies than a year ago,
showing that constant flow and
activity within content marketing
will increase ROI.
Factors contributing to that
success include better quality
content, strategy development,
more time spent on content
marketing, and better targeting
in content distribution.
To maintain this growth,
marketers need to keep up with
the ever-changing landscape of
content marketing.
Here are my three big
marketing plays for 2018.
Content marketing is moving
beyond blog ideas and articles.
Consumers want
to know who you
are. Enter content
Tinkler is the founder
of brand activation
and marketing
agency, the Cre8tive
There is a move towards a trend
in which ideas are constantly
improved upon, customised for
different audiences, and adapted
to new formats consumers are
Just hiring writers won’t cut it
anymore. The content team will
need to grow and adapt for the
next year and should include
people who are talented in:
» Video production and editing
(think TV commercials tailored
for Facebook)
» Graphic design, illustration,
and editing (think infographics,
animation and ebooks)
» Audio editing and production
(audio articles and podcasts)
» Content distribution and
promotion (Where to place it
and how to promote it).
So, invest in your content
team, consider outsourcing to
specialist agencies and provide
constant quality content for your
customer base.
In 2018 it’s not about whether
you include influencer marketing
in your marketing mix, but the
percentage of your marketing
budget you put towards it.
» 70% of millennials trust
influencer and peer opinions
over traditional celebrities
» 51% of marketers say video
produces the best ROI
» 86% of women turn to social
networks before purchasing
» 71% of consumers are more
likely to purchase based on a
social media reference
If you are in a niche sector,
working with micro influencers
who have a smaller but higher
engagement rate than traditional
celebrities might work well for
your brand. The key to influencer
marketing is someone who is
trusted and respected by your
target audience.
Marketers and brands are
jumping on the train to embrace
live video content. Facebook
video sees an average of 135%
more organic reach than images.
The engagement goes through
the roof for live video. According
to Facebook, users spent three
times more time watching live
videos than a video that’s no
longer live. They also comment
ten times more during live videos.
If that doesn’t convince you
that you need to adopt live video
for 2018, this may:
» 80% of social media users
aged 18 to 35 said they would
rather tune into a live video
than read a blog post.
» 82% of those users were
more interested in watching
live video from a brand than
reading social media posts.
Start working with live video
now — before your competitors
do — to engage your audience.
Here are three tools you can
use to easily make all kinds
of interactive content for your
marketing campaigns.
1. Apester
Apester is a tool
that allows you to
easily create polls, surveys,
personality tests, video
quizzes, and a whole lot more
to engage with your audience.
Embed your creations into
your regular blog content
to create a truly interactive
Go to:
2. Engageform
Engageform is a
super intuitive tool
to create quizzes, surveys,
and polls. The platform offers
an impressive array of visual
customisation options to make
your content really stand out.
You can also easily embed
and share your quiz, survey, or
E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8
poll on your website or social
media. Once people start
interacting, you’ll get detailed
reports of audience feedback,
stats, and lead information.
Go to:
3. Vizia
Video is probably
the most powerful
content type marketers can
use. But use a tool like Vizia,
and you can take it to the next
level. Vizia helps you create
more engaging videos by
adding questions and quizzes
to collect feedback while
people watch.
The tool makes it easy
to quickly add multiple
choice questions, polls, and
short answer questions into
your videos. Vizia videos
integrate everywhere,
including blogging platforms,
e-commerce stores, and site
builders. And the best part?
It’s 100% free.
Go to:
Wise, established
entrepreneurs know that
over-delivering value —
which simply means going
above and beyond for the
people we serve to deliver
more satisfaction for our
service and thus exceed
expectations — is crucial to
a business’s survival, growth
and future. It represents
the core of a company's
foundation. And without a
solid foundation, a business
is always vulnerable to a
person or company that does
To ensure you don’t ever
forget the importance of
over-delivering value, here
are three ways it will give you
and your company a distinct
competitive advantage:
Creates abundance
Success comes most to
those who are surrounded
by people who want their
success to continue. When
you over-deliver value,
people may be sceptical
at first, thinking that you
are expecting something
in return, but when you are
consistent and genuine with
your intentions, they begin
to trust and appreciate
that you are just thinking of
them. You never know the
value of the value you are
delivering. But I’ve learnt
that if you are consistently
delivering greater value to
people, your value becomes
more and more aligned with
the immediate needs of the
people and companies you
are serving — and abundance
in the relationship is created.
This is what over-delivering
value is all about.
Earns respect
who take
the time to over-deliver
value are the ones who
earn respect. Typically
early-stage entrepreneurs
tend to find ways to be
the recipient of someone
else’s value in a search
for momentum. You never
know which transactional
seed is going to grow,
but when adding value to
others, this type of seed is
never forgotten.
For example, every
quarter, I deliver a white
paper to clients with the
Go over and
above for the
people you serve,
and you will enjoy
the benefits of
an abundant
who add value
to others create
and sustain a
distinction in
the minds and
hearts of those
they are serving.
After all, most
people are simply
doing what
Llopis is the Chairman
they’re told to do
of the Glenn Llopis
inside the box
Group — a US-based
they are given.
human capital, and
can’t afford to do
business strategy
consulting firm.
We are the
originators, the
innovators and
the opportunity seekers. We
live our lives constantly in
search of ways to add value
to make things better. We
disrupt the status quo. We
are not in the business of
fixing the old ways of doing
things. We create new ways of
doing things. If entrepreneurs
are technically the experts
at adding value through
our products, services and
brands, why can’t we add
value through the people we
depend upon most for our
Over-delivering value is
intention to challenge
the key not only to being a
their thinking. My goal
successful entrepreneur but
is for them to know that
also to the entrepreneurial
regardless of whether I
mindset we must continually
am conducting business
cultivate in ourselves and
with them or not, I am
others. No one is successful
thinking of them and thus
alone. We must see the
strengthening our longvalue in over-delivering value
term relationship. And since
by being other-directed
my white papers focus on
and connecting dots of
predicting future leadership
opportunity with focus and
trends and business
purpose to become smarter
strategies, when a related
and wiser, while making
topic arises in one of their
ourselves invaluable to the
strategy meetings, they
people and businesses
don’t hesitate to call me to
we serve.
discuss an opportunity for
us to engage.
© Entrepreneur Media Inc.
All rights reserved.
JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8 E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A
What does
it mean to
navigate a
world and
succeed in
a marketplace that
is changing
faster than it’s
ever changed
WHAT DO YOU NEED to know to
be a success? What resources
and support do you need?
How do you need to feel
and think to be a success in a
disrupted world?
According to Malcolm
Gladwell, who spoke at the 2017
BCX Disrupt Summit, you need
three key things to succeed in
a disrupted world: Resources,
knowledge and the right
For Gladwell, Malcolm McLean
is the single biggest disruptor
of the 20th century, in that he
implemented containerised
shipping. Without this
fundamental shift in the way
we ship cargo, the modern,
connected world as we know it
today would not exist.
Crucially, McLean did not
invent containerised shipping,
but no one had been able to
make it work before a trucker
from Ohio came along, and got
irritated by how long he had to
wait at the docks to offload his
cargo (roughly 24 hours).
But McLean had an idea and
he presented it at a conference
of maritime shippers in
Amsterdam. They laughed him
off the stage. Normally, when
we are treated with this type of
derision, we get discouraged and
give up. McLean didn’t do that.
He possessed a fundamental
trait that all entrepreneurs need:
He didn’t require the approval of
others to do what he believed
was right. Entrepreneurs are
open, creative, and see solutions
to problems that others don’t;
they are also — crucially — highly
conscientious, which means they
follow through on an idea in a
detailed, disciplined way.
This is rare. You get creative
E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8
people, and conscientious
people, but it’s not easy to find
both traits in the same person.
Add to that the third trait of
disagreeableness, in that they do
not have to follow established
norms, and you have a real
McLean didn’t look at the
problem as a shipper did. He
came from an entirely new
angle, and not only found a way
to make containerised shipping
possible, but affordable too.
Ikea is a similar example.
In a nutshell, Ikea is furniture
shipped flat from Poland. Ingvar
Kamprad pursued outsourcing
on an aggressive level, had
an extraordinary amount of
creativity in solving problems,
and was very conscientious.
Consider how difficult it would
have been to build a worldclass manufacturing plant in
Poland in 1961. The country was
a post-WW2 mess, in the grip of
Malcolm Gladwell
is a five-times
New York Times
author. His
books include
The Tipping
Point, Blink and
Soviet Russia, known for shoddy
workmanship and actively
hostile to free enterprise.
And then Kamprad waltzed
in from Sweden and pulled off
the impossible because of his
single-minded grit and attention
to detail. He is the epitome
of conscientiousness and
Now consider Steve Jobs.
By the 1970s, Xerox was the
most important tech company in
the world. They were the richest,
most innovative and profitable
company, and they invested in
a state-of-the-art R&D centre
and filled it with 100 of the most
brilliant computer scientists from
around the world, and told them
to be brilliant.
And they were. As per Xerox’s
request, they reinvented the
office. They invented the
laser printer, the world’s first
word processing programme,
interfaces — and the list
And then a 23-year-old Steve
Jobs visited the centre. At that
stage, his company was making
traditional kit computers out of
a garage. He was blown away
by what he saw at Xerox Park
and all the incredible things
they were doing — particularly
when he was shown the mouse
and interface the Xerox team
had developed for personal
computers. He immediately saw
how icons and a mouse changed
everything. This was the future
of computing.
Here’s why Apple is the world’s
biggest tech company four
decades later, and Xerox is
not: While the Xerox team
understood they had changed
computing forever, there was no
urgency to be the first to market.
Jobs left that day, immediately
told his team to stop what they
were doing, because it would
soon be obsolete anyway,
and started working on a new
product based on what Xerox
had developed.
His team told him he was
nuts — they’d spent millions on
what they were doing. Jobs said
it didn’t matter. It was obsolete.
He didn’t have more resources.
He didn’t have smarter guys.
He didn’t even have a wiser and
better vision.
But he was in a hurry. And
he was able to execute on his
If you can get your mindset
right, you can gather the
resources and knowledge that
you need to be successful. Learn
as much as you can. Be open
to new ideas. And if something
is soon going to be obsolete,
walk away. Find the next big
thing. Because you’re either
being disrupted, or you’re the
Which would you like to be?
meet and greet session
at a company that turns
over R13 billion a year. As
I was introduced to other
executives, I was referred
to as ‘the guy who is at the
pinnacle of podcasting in
South Africa’. This kind of
feedback is truly humbling,
but after hearing that, the
only question I had on my
mind was: “But for how long
is anyone or any brand at
the top of any market?”
Change is no longer
happening in a linear
fashion; it’s occurring
exponentially. We love linear
thinking, because we have
been conditioned to think
in small steps (1, 2, 3, 4, 5,
6) but we totally suck at
exponential thinking (1, 2, 4,
16, 32, 1 024). To a greater
and greater extent this is
the world we are heading
Almost inevitably,
markets that used to be
relatively predictable are
winding up in an entirely
new paradigm and some
of the world’s largest
and most reputable
companies have been
caught unaware. The
main culprit? The
exponential growth
surprise factor.
For example, in
2012, Toys R Us was
a $12 billion company
with a retail footprint
comprising 1 600 stores.
In September 2017, they filed
for chapter 11 bankruptcy...
only five years later. The
message is simple: Innovate
or die.
But more importantly,
How to get out
of the habit of
thinking small,
and start thinking
in giant leaps
for radical – and
profitable –
Brown is the host
of the Matt Brown
Show, a podcast with
a listenership in over
100 countries, and
designed to empower
there is a new challenge
facing all entrepreneurs
today: How can you prepare
yourself and help your
business survive in an
exponential business world?
JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8 E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A
Here’s a four-step process
that can help you get started.
In my experience, the warning
signs of disaster are present
in every industry one to three
years before disaster strikes.
Ironically, many businesses are
simply not paying attention
to the warning signs in their
market — or even worse, do not
know what warning signs to
look out for.
Because all industries
and businesses are subject
to different warning signs, a
simple, yet highly effective
way to know when your
business is in the throes of a
critical warning sign is when
something within your industry
doesn’t make sense.
When a linear industry is
on the verge of disruption
it generally manifests into
something that doesn’t make
sense for the incumbents in
that industry.
In 2008, when blockchain
technology and the Bitcoin
first manifested itself, it
didn’t make sense to many in
financial services. Fast forward
to today and there are over
1 000 cryptocurrencies that
you can actively trade and the
promise of the decentralisation
of all industries — not just the
financial services industry — is
very real.
So, if something new enters
your industry and it doesn’t
make sense to you it’s time to
apply step number three.
most powerful yet completely
undervalued questions that any
business leader can ask.
If you ask a group of incredibly
smart people to solve a very
difficult problem and they can’t
seem to solve it, you may find
that they don’t lack collective
intelligence, but perspective on
the problem itself.
Whenever this eventuality
occurs the best thing to do is
ask “why” repeatedly until you
find the perspective that you
need to make new decisions
in your business. It’s one of
3. ACT
Almost all success in business
comes down to execution. Toys
R Us didn’t act. When all is said
and done, they simply did not
believe in the Internet and they
paid the highest price. In an
exponential world, the ability to
not just act but to act quickly
is priceless.
READ THIS: The Innovator’s
Dilemma: When New
Technologies Cause Great
Firms to Fail, by Clayton
While decades of researchers
have struggled to understand
why even the best companies
almost inevitably fail, Clayton
Christensen shows how
most companies miss out
on new waves of innovation.
His answer is surprising
and almost paradoxic: It is
actually the same practices
Recognising the value and
importance that SMEs play in
the growth of the economy,
collectively contributing
50% to 60% to GDP, Retail
Capital is partnering with
SMEs in an attempt to grow
their businesses, stimulate
the economy and create job
opportunities. “We believe
in people who believe in
themselves and have advanced
No industry is immune. Let’s
take podcasting for example. Our
data shows that the addressable
market for podcasts is already
16 million people; 50% of all
podcast consumption growth
over the last five years has
happened in the last 12 months;
and media consumption is
shifting faster than we think into
the on-demand space.
To address this exponential
shift in media consumption, the
Matt Brown Show is evolving
from a podcast into a fullyfledged new media company.
So, my question to you is simple:
How is your business preparing
itself for the future? EM
more than R1,25 billion to date
by funding SMEs to make their
vision a reality,” says Retail
Capital’s CEO, Karl Westvig.
For many small businesses,
however, continually adapting to
market changes requires cash
injections that they don’t often
have. “‘Your Vision. Our Belief.’
speaks to why Retail Capital first
opened its doors and our vision
is to harness the potential of
E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8
that lead the business to be
successful in the first place
that eventually can also
result in its eventual demise.
This breakthrough insight
has made The Innovator’s
Dilemma a must-read for
managers, CEOs, innovators,
and entrepreneurs alike.
Drawing from Matt Brown’s
article, start implementing
quarterly meetings that
review the biggest challenges
the company is facing, and
start asking the question
‘why’ of even the most basic
small businesses.”
He adds that the aim is not
to simply help one business
at a time, but to ensure that
they have the right amount of
stock, adequate cash flow, and
other systems in place to meet
the ever-changing needs of
“As a partner to many
SMEs in South Africa, we are
continually looking at new and
innovative ways to help provide
SMEs with the much-needed
support in order for them to
tenets that are being taken
for granted.
The idea is to find a new
perspective of the same
realise their visions. SMEs need to
be supported with initiatives like
targeted education and training,
supportive legislation, and funding
opportunities that collectively
help them grow our national
Jagdessi, Head
of Benefits
Consulting at Old
Mutual Corporate
A shortage of skilled workers
continues to remain a challenge
across various industries, and South
African small and medium enterprises
(SMEs), in particular, have found
themselves in a race to attract and
retain scarce talent.
to be the case.
Retaining a talented workforce
is crucial for business success.
Frequent staff turnover has
been shown to have a negative
impact on employee morale,
productivity and company
revenue. Studies predict that
every time a business replaces
a salaried employee, it can cost
the company between 20% and
21% of an employee’s annual
salary — depending on their role
and expertise.
While well-resourced
corporates tend to traditionally
hold the advantage over SMEs
in terms of offering better
benefits, SMEs are able to
tailor their benefits package
to suit their means, thereby
allowing them to gain a valuable
competitive advantage. But,
while the Monitor shows that
SMEs acknowledge the value
and role that employee benefits
can play in their business, this
isn’t translating into action.
For instance, only 32% have
retirement funding on their
One such reason for
this is that there remains a
perception that the costs and
administration outweigh the
benefits — this is despite the
vast array of workable and
affordable solutions available
that support business strategies
and businesses of all sizes,
ranging from a five-man
E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8
Start the year
off on a strong
note by giving
your employees
benefits that will
motivate them
to achieve great
SMEs in delivering tangible
benefits of retirement provision,
professional employee benefit
consultants are also available at
a minimal fee to provide support,
appropriate advice, education
and communication tools.
When implementing an
employee benefit structure,
there are typically three aspects
to take into account:
executive team to a 100+ strong
employee base.
A new generation of
retirement fund models, such as
Umbrella Funds (multi-employer
retirement funds), have
dramatically lowered the ‘burden’
to employers and decreased
costs, thanks to the economy
of scale created by group
participation. To further support
Consider how retirement
provision will be funded
SME decision-makers need
to consider whether the
business will contribute toward
employee’s savings fully,
partially or only manage the
administration thereof.
While the introduction of
enabling retirement saving will
ensure positive outcomes for
staff, debt-burdened staff may
struggle financially should they
experience a dramatic decrease
in take-home pay in favour
HE 2017 Old Mutual
Corporate SME
Employee Benefits
Monitor revealed
that the provision
of employee benefit solutions
can be a significant source of
competitive advantage for an
SME. However, the research
also found that SMEs perceive
employee benefits as another
cost or administrative burden to
‘comply’ with. This doesn’t have
of contributing to long-term
retirement savings.
To avoid such an instance,
decision-makers could consider
using a percentage of their
staff’s annual increase to fund
retirement provision before
they grow accustomed to an
increase in salary. Other options
that have often worked for a
mixed workforce (blue- and
white-collar workers), is a
‘like-for-like’ funding model
where the employer matches
the contribution made by the
Consider the levels of
flexibility required by
your workforce and the
associated cost
By limiting choices available to
low-income employees — those
who tend to rely more on their
employer to make responsible
financial decisions on their
behalf — administrative costs
can be reduced, thereby passing
on more value to employees.
White-collar workers,
however, generally want more
flexibility and control over their
investments. Albeit more costly,
companies employing highly
skilled workers — often the most
difficult to retain — may benefit
from offering their staff some
control over their contribution
level, investment choice and risk
Another option, often
implemented in a mixed
workplace, is purchasing
advanced payroll software that
allows staff to individually tailor
their contribution level. The
initial costs associated with this
offering can offset the degree of
flexibility required to encourage
positive relations with all profiles
of employees.
Consider if your staff
are investment-savvy
and what level of support is
White-collar workers tend to
have greater levels of formal
education and are in a better
position to take responsibility for
their own retirement provisions.
Often highly digitally connected,
these employees have sufficient
Typical business workplace profiles in South Africa
and products best suited to cater to their needs
Characterised by a few highly
educated professionals, this
business structure is likely
to have limited or no HR
function. These individuals
are highly educated and more
investment savvy than your
average employee. They want
flexibility and choice from
their employee benefits, and
prefer individualised attention
if and when they require it.
Old Mutual SuperFund’s
Extended Choice range
offers over 40 different
investment options,
including a number of
options outside of Old
Mutual’s investment range.
We recommend that the
members of the fund seek
advice to confirm the
validity of their decisions.
This group of employees are
less academically educated,
but often technically skilled.
Characterised by generally
access to information required to
make good decisions. However,
when needing assistance, they
generally demand immediate
individual attention.
Blue-collar employees
generally display higher rates
of consumer vulnerability. With
limited access to the Internet,
they rely on the fiduciary duty
of trustees and decision-makers
to make good decisions on their
In a workplace with both
white- and blue-collar workers,
hands-on seminars and
workshops should be facilitated
by trained employee benefit
consultants to bridge the gap
in education and financial
When making these decisions,
lower levels of income and
formal education, they tend
to require cost-efficient
retirement solutions, and
tend to look to employers
to make good investment
decisions on their behalf.
Old Mutual SuperFund Easy
is designed to suit those
who prefer simple, easy to
understand savings and risk
solutions. Pre-packaged
options put together by the
SuperFund Trustees, this
solution offers a savings
component in a high-return
smoothed fund, as well as
death cover, disability cover,
family funeral cover, lifestyle
cover and temporary
disability income.
This workplace is
characterised by a mixture
of blue- and whitecollar workers, exhibiting
characteristics and
attributes of both. This
type of workplace requires
retirement solutions that are
it can be beneficial to seek
expert advice. Employee benefit
consultants can assist in
advising on the best structure for
a specific business or workforce
not only suitable, but also
flexible enough to meet the
expectation of both groups
of people.
Old Mutual SuperFund
Choice offers a mixed group
of employees the option of a
default investment choice or
the opportunity to choose
their own mix of investment
options. The defaults could
be selected from a range
of market-linked portfolios,
index-tracking portfolios
and lifestage models.
Those who prefer to make
their own choices are able
to do so from a range of
investment portfolios.
These examples merely
highlight some potential
options. Your business is
unique and there are many
factors to consider before
suggesting an appropriate
choice. It’s always best
to speak to an employee
benefits consultant or adviser
on what is best for your
— one that not only delivers
positive retirement outcomes
for its staff, but also delivers on
long-term strategic goals for
their business.
For more information, please visit
The information contained in this document is provided as general
information and does not constitute advice or an offer by Old Mutual.
Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided meets
the statutory and regulatory requirements. However, should you become
aware of any breach of such statutory and regulatory requirements,
please address the matter in writing to The Compliance Officer, Old Mutual
Corporate, PO Box 1014, Cape Town 8000, South Africa.
JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8 E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A
When Grant Ponting took over the Trappers franchise in 2003, he
faced one overriding challenge: 16 franchisees who were used to
doing things their own way. To build a strong, cohesive group geared
for growth, he needed to win their trust and prove that business is
better when you work together. Today, Trappers has 34 stores and a
turnover of R300 million. Here’s how. BY NADINE TODD
E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8
Use strengths to
your advantage
Every business has unique strengths — are you using yours? For Trappers, the entrepreneurial nature of its
franchisees means store owners who really understand their local communities. Individual stores who cater to
their communities isn’t the usual franchise model, but Trappers is making it work to their advantage.
Don’t lose your
north star
Every brand needs a guiding principle and an ideal customer profile. If you lose sight of this, it’s easy for your
products and services to stray away from your core. In today’s competitive environment, knowing your core is
a key differentiator.
earn trust
Whether you’re working with clients, employees or franchisees, trust and transparency are the building blocks
of a good relationship. Sometimes you have to give more than you get to build that trust, and prove that
you’re willing to put the relationship and others needs ahead of your own.
Grant Ponting
(MD) and John
Black (Head of
DO: Lifestyle
and outdoor
retail franchise
R300 million
VISIT: www.
strengths and
learn to
recognise and mitigate their
weaknesses, while building
on their strengths.
When Grant Ponting and
his brother Mark bought the
Trappers franchise group in
2003, their first priority was
to determine the business’s
strengths and weaknesses,
and what it would take to
build a strong cohesive
franchise group.
At the time, Trappers’
turnover was R25 million
with 16 franchised stores.
Today, it has 34 stores and
a turnover of R300 million.
Not only has the number
of stores doubled, but
average store turnover has
This didn’t happen
overnight. It took careful
planning, patience, building
up trust and delivering on
promises — and above all it
required clear and focused
Both Grant and Mark
were familiar with the
Trappers brand before
they invested in it. Having
grown up in Nelspruit and
attended university in
Kwa-Zulu Natal, they knew
the Pietermaritzburg and
Nelspruit stores, and their
owners. It was a strong
brand that filled a niche in
farming communities, but it
didn’t have a retail footprint
in larger South African cities.
“My family were
consulting for the Nelspruit
store,” explains Grant. “The
business had three separate
shareholders. The franchised
stores were loosely affiliated,
with no strong head
office system guiding the
brand’s strategy or overall
“We believed that the
brand had legs, and that we
could leverage its strong
heritage and grow it beyond
16 stores through a franchise
model,” he says. “We realised
that we may lose stores who
did not buy into our vision at
the time, but we also knew
that making these necessary
changes at that time was
critical for the business
to grow.”
“One of the strengths
of the brand was how well
each store owner knew
and engaged with their
community,” says John Black,
who bought shares in the
business in 2011. “These
were community stores run
by entrepreneurially-minded
people. But they were not
used to being told what to
do by a brand head office.
“All 16 stores operated
independently. Our goal was
to centralise the company,
create a clear strategy
and disseminate it to our
franchisees, bringing all the
benefits of a franchise with
it, including economies of
The idea seemed simple.
The reality was not. “There
was pushback,” says Grant.
The store owners Grant and
John were attempting to
woo to their way of thinking
hadn’t joined a fully formed
franchise. “They were there
because they were good
entrepreneurs. We needed
to use that, not fight it;
that’s what had brought
JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8 E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A
the brand to where it was, and
we liked the brand. But we also
knew that any real growth would
only come if we were able to
forge a strong, unified franchise
The very thing that gave
Trappers its strength was also
the biggest barrier to its growth
as a brand. “We knew we needed
to win them over. They had to
trust us if this was going to
work. If we could harness their
entrepreneurial spirit and also
create a consistency in the
brand and its offering, we’d build
an incredibly strong business.”
Grant and John’s mission was
simple: Find a way to create
a balance that encouraged
also knew that those remaining
would have our full support.”
They needed to convince their
franchisees that their strategy
and credibility would change
each store owner’s business for
the better.
“We started by providing
them with exclusive product
ranges via a head office-owned
wholesale business, in addition
to exclusive deals and product
ranges in partnership with key
suppliers to the group,” says
John. Today, John heads up the
retail operations of the business.
“As the business grew, the
group was not only achieving
savings, service enhancements,
banking benefits and gift
vouchers. “We could do costeffective group SMS campaigns,
packaging, staff uniforms —
these are all costs that add
up,” explains Grant. “They’re
also small brand touchpoints
that don’t massively shift
brand experience alone, but
together create a consistent and
recognisable brand experience.”
“Once you get everyone
swimming in the same direction,
you enter a safe haven,” adds
John. “There’s comfort and
support that a franchise brings
its members. As a group we
are far more powerful together,
which is critical in this economy.”
individual store owners to take
guidance, input and leverage
what head office put in place
but still maintain their individual,
entrepreneurial spirits, running
competitively in their towns,
understanding their markets,
and responding to local needs.
“We lost a few at the
beginning. Some because the
model was never going to work
for them. Others because we
recommended they de-franchise
their stores. We were too far
away from them, and didn’t
believe we could give them
proper support while we were
consolidating the business. It
was in both of our best interests
to part ways,” says Grant. “We
Top advice to stay ahead
and lead from the front.
better pricing, but opportunities
to expand into exclusive
ranges presented themselves
more regularly, which in turn
resulted in the development of a
centralised merchandising and IT
model,” explains Grant.
“We also needed to create a
consistent marketing message.
There had been no consistent
strategy or brand identity.
Everything was localised. While
that’s good — you want strong,
focused localised marketing —
you also need a unified brand
message. The key is to be
consistent and centralised.”
As these started to improve,
there were economies of scale,
which brought with them cost
“In a competitive market, the
more leadership we can provide,
the better,” says Grant. “Retail
20 years ago was simple: You
just had to be a good retailer.
Now you need a social media
expert, legal experts, marketing
— all of these are specialised
services. It’s tough for a single
store operator. Then, if you
bought well and delivered
good customer service, you did
well. Now, there are so many
complexities. You might be a
good retailer, but you’ll still have
gaps. A strong head office can
fill these, either internally or with
service providers, and costs and
learnings are shared.
“There’s a lot of information
Learn to pull yourself back. What
business are we in, and what’s
important? How can we take this
to our people? If you aren’t asking
yourself these three questions regularly, you’re going
to miss changes and disruptions heading your way,
and lose touch with your employees and customers.
— Dawn Nathan-Jones, Shark on M-Net’s Shark Tank
E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8
that can be shared between
franchisees through workshops
and conferences. We also play a
key role when it comes to third
parties — landlords and suppliers
are more accommodating and
trusting of a store that’s part of a
Trappers’ success has been
based on trust and transparency
throughout the value chain. “In
the beginning, we gave more than
we took,” says Grant. “Sometimes
this was to our detriment, but it
empowered our franchisees. We
wouldn’t be where we are today
if we hadn’t. We couldn’t afford to
lose franchisees, and so we took
our time building their trust. We
listened to them, and slowly put
what we needed in place.
“We ended up compromising
a lot, but it was necessary. As
we proved ourselves and earned
our franchisees’ trust, we were
able to put more wide-reaching
systems and processes in place,
working with their knowledge of
their communities and shoppers.
Our compromises cemented
a culture of working together.
We’ve centralised the business,
and costs and efficiencies are
streamlined, but we’ve also got an
empowered group of franchisees.”
According to Grant, if a
franchisor is providing more
than franchisees are paying
the franchisor, you’re in a
good position. “If it reverses,
that’s incredibly short-sighted
— especially if you’re trying to
maximise something in the shortterm, to the detriment of your
future relationships with your
“At the end of the day, we won
our franchisees over with an
increasingly trusting relationship;
this has been the critical success
Focus on what you’re doing,
not what everyone else is
doing. In this day and age, your
competitors know what you’re
doing and you know what they’re doing. Be
careful not to let that distract you from what’s
important. Keep an eye on your competitors,
but don’t benchmark against them as a basis
factor in our relationship with
our franchisees.”
Alongside the franchising growth
strategy was a retail strategy.
From the beginning, Grant
focused on building franchisee
trust while shifting from a
wholesale to a retail model.
When the business was
acquired in 2003, it had no head
office-owned stores. Under
Grant and John, this has grown
to ten head office stores and 24
franchised stores.
When Mark exited the
business in 2012, John’s role
was to focus on the growth and
management of the retail side
of the business, having come
from a major corporate retail
background. “This has always
been an important element
of the strategy,” explains
Grant. “Head office stores are
necessary for scale. You need
both. Corporate stores allow you
to influence the overall direction
of the business, experience
what your franchisees are
experiencing daily, and they are
revenue generators.
“You also need to secure
products at competitive prices,
and for this you need scale. We
needed to expand corporate
store space to strengthen
our buying power, which was
essential when we were winning
the trust of our franchisees and
proving the benefits of a strong
franchise model.”
But there’s a balance too.
“In this, as in everything else,
transparency is key,” says
John. “We don’t dictate to our
franchisees. We encourage
them to test products within
of action. Internal
practices determine
your success. Your level
of competitiveness is a
by-product of operating
at the top of your game.
— Erik Venter, CEO,
Comair Limited
predetermined boundaries, and
we do the same in our corporate
stores. When they test a product
that works they let us know,
and vice versa. Not all tests are
successful. Retail is a mix of art
and science. We don’t want to do
anything that negatively impacts
all 34 stores, which is why tests
are important. This is a benefit
of a franchise system — you can
learn from each other.”
True to the Trappers ethos, the
brand follows a mixed system
of autonomy and franchisor
support. “It’s not a cookie-cutter
template,” explains Grant. “What
works in Joburg’s northern
suburbs doesn’t necessarily work
in Upington. We cater to local
Slowly but surely, Trappers
developed into a strong,
successful franchise group, but
another hurdle loomed. “In the
early 2000s retail in South Africa
was easy,” says Grant. “Our focus
was on building the franchise,
but the retailing side was slightly
easier. Loads of trends (like hand
held GPS units and wearables)
were taking hold at the time, and
with a lack of focus our range
assortments and the company’s
reliance on a few very successful
brands became a concern.”
And then the world changed.
The 2008 recession reached
local shores, impacting retailers.
“Some of these trends slowed
down or dried up completely,
and we realised that we needed
to refocus. We had to ask: What
are we not doing, that we were
doing ten years ago?
As a business, Trappers
needed to refocus on its original
and core customer profile,
understanding that a brand’s
heritage is often imperative to
its success.
“We had followed trends and
forgotten our customer base,
which left us exposed,” says
Grant. “You need to know who
your customer is, and focus on
that niche first.
“We don’t follow competitors.
We focus instead on the true
Trappers customer. That’s our
north star. Who is our customer
and what do they want? That’s
the question at the heart of our
retail strategy, and we ask it
Support your team’s performance.
What drives corporates to perform?
Financials are managed strictly and
there’s an obsession with performance.
They understand that if you can’t measure something,
you can’t deliver on specific objectives.
Performance management contracts are incredibly
important. Entrepreneurs often only worry about this
daily. Our core customers don’t
change, but their needs do, and
so it’s important to stay abreast
of those changes and check in
with them; listen to them.”
“This requires communication
between us and the franchisees.
“The more we share about our
customers, the stronger we are as
a brand.”
Trappers is currently in eight of
the nine provinces. “We initially
focused on areas close to our
base, but once we strengthened
the franchise and corporate
store base, we branched out,”
says Grant. “We’re now looking
to grow in the Eastern and
Western Cape, and as far afield
as Namibia. We’ve consolidated
our base. The next phase is to
continue to identify geographical
and financially sensible pockets
of our market that we are not
currently located in and place
either a franchise or a company
owned store in these areas that
best satisfy our core customer
needs.” EM
when they want to get rid of a non-performer, but it’s
actually essential to cultivate strong performers: Do
they have targets, is it clear what they do, is it clear
what your expectations are? This naturally helps with
non-performers, but more importantly it supports
— Romeo Kumalo, Washirika Holdings and Shark on
M-Net’s Shark Tank
JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8 E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A
Ten years ago, the idea that a dynamic map
could tell you there was a traffic jam ahead
and how to avoid it was unthinkable. Today
it’s a reality that you can find in your car, on
a device and even on your phone. Here’s
how TomTom Telematics is changing the
present (and the future), and the lessons in
innovation that you can learn from a gamechanger. BY NADINE TODD
COMPANY in today’s
fast-paced and everchanging market,
you need three key
ingredients: Access to markets
(which starts with products that
clients need), short-term agility
and long-term goals.
Consider the epic success of
Apple. Steve Jobs was hungry
and fast — he drove his teams
to achieve more in less time. But
he also had a long-term vision
that directed the business’s
trajectory. True innovation is the
result of looking five to ten years
into the future, and laying the
groundwork now for where the
company needs to be then.
TomTom started out in 1991
as a software provider for Palm
Pilots, long before the Internet
was a thing, or GPS had been
opened for civil usage. Today,
the listed company’s latest
acquisition is Autonomous,
a business that focuses on
navigation systems for driverless
cars. Over the course of almost
three decades, TomTom has
consistently focused on what
comes next: What do consumer
and business clients need,
where will technology take us,
and what will be possible in the
near future, enabling greater
Thomas Schmidt, MD of
TomTom Telematics, unpacks the
five lessons TomTom has learnt
while developing world-class
solutions for the consumer and
B2B markets worldwide.
Focus on the problem
you’re solving, not on
the product you produce
Companies that are too fixated
on what they do, instead of
E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8
where technology and markets
are heading, will often find
themselves left behind. The
most common example is Kodak,
who refused to see the dangers
digital photography posed.
Instead of seeing themselves as
a company that helped people
capture moments, they saw
themselves as manufacturers of
films and cameras. The rest of
course, is history.
Robust businesses reinvent
themselves, adjusting
solutions to fit the market and
making use of technological
breakthroughs. “In 1991, the
founders of TomTom launched
a company called Palmtop,”
says Thomas. “They designed
and created the software for
digital organisers. In principle,
it was like a smartphone with
no connectivity, and included a
digital bible, a digital cookbook, a
personal organiser, a
calendar and a whole host of
other features. By the late 90s
it even included a digital map,
which they had licensed through
Tele Atlas, a Belgian company
that developed very basic
digital maps.”
Here’s how it worked: You
bought a PalmPilot, purchased
the map software, uploaded it to
your device, and then purchased
the cables and mountings that
you’d need to instal the whole
system in your car. It was
complicated and something that
only techies were really trying
out, but it triggered something
in the TomTom (at that stage
Palmtop) team, who recognised
that if they could remove the
tech hurdles to get there, they’d
democratise navigation.
The company had been a
forerunner in the personal
“To stay alive, you need to
be smarter, faster and the
master in your specific
area of competence.”
Thomas Schmidt
VISIT: telematics.
organiser software business.
Based on where they believed
the market was heading
however, they began to shift
their focus to hardware, and
began manufacturing personal
navigation devices (PNDs),
complete with digital maps
licensed through Tele Atlas.
By 2003 the business had
been rebranded to TomTom and
their first device, the TomTom
Go, was launched. From there
the business consistently grew
400% year-on-year, and an IPO
was concluded in May 2005.
In hindsight, the shift looks
simple, but in reality, it’s never
easy to reinvent yourself as a
business, unless you’re agile,
adaptable, and willing to focus
on the best solution, rather than
what your current product stack
looks like.
Always look ahead
Great visions always
precede technological
solutions. If they didn’t, nothing
would ever progress or change.
The companies capable of those
visions become the trailblazers
and game-changers that shape
industries, solve problems and
drive greater efficiencies.
The evolution of TomTom’s
dynamic map data is a perfect
example of this mindset in
action, because the team
kept asking what would make
their product more useful to
consumers. They had the device,
and a digital map. What they
didn’t have was mobile data.
Instead, Tele Atlas had vans
driving around, capturing
everything. It was time
consuming, expensive, and
meant maps were always out
of date. They also weren’t
dynamic. “When you consider
the fact that 15% of a map’s data
changes yearly, we knew there
was so much more we could do
with this product if we just had
the right tools, and developed
appropriate solutions,” explains
TomTom’s team started by
looking to the future: What did
they want this product to look
like? The answer was simple:
They wanted a navigation
system that was dynamic
and up-to-date. If anything
happened, a user would know
within minutes. This would
include traffic, accidents,
traffic lights that weren’t
working, delays — anything and
everything that would add value
to a motorist or business with
vehicles on the road. Today,
this includes data drawn from
how a vehicle is operating and
how the driver is performing,
right through to its location
with regard to a dynamic map,
and the capability to send
companies and clients up-todate information.
The technology that has
made all this possible came
after the idea of what the team
wanted to achieve. With the right
starting point, they were able
to develop solutions that were
possible. “We had millions of
units on the road. We created a
functionality that allowed users
to update information on the
map when they plugged it into
their computers to update the
The problem was that it was
a slow process. By the time
TomTom gathered the data, sent
it to Tele Atlas, and the changes
were implemented and released
in an update, months had
passed. Consumers lost interest
because it took so long to see
a change.
So, the team went back to the
problem to engineer a different
solution. “We went back to the
data we were collecting, and
started comparing that data
with the map. What were speed
averages on different roads?
Based on this, we could predict
times of the day when you could
expect traffic congestion and
delays. We also paid attention
to roads on the map that no one
used, or areas with no roads that
nevertheless had traffic. These
were flagged as out-dated areas
on the map, and we could send
vans to check those areas only.
It was all based on historical
data, but we were adding more
information to the map on a
continuous basis.”
The next component to be
added to the mix was telematics.
Thomas’ company, Data Factory,
was purchased by TomTom in
2005. “Telematics brought more
data early on to TomTom. This
was real-time data that could
be deployed elsewhere. In the
early days we were using trunket
radios to capture data, but it
was all fed into the system. An
average car spends less than
an hour on the road each day.
Compare this to six hours for
a business car, and up to 12
hours for a truck, and you’ll get
a view of how much data we
were actually collecting. The trick
was to continuously ask how we
could use the data, and what we
could do with it. It was not yet
a dynamic system, but we were
constantly moving forward and
improving. We kept asking, ‘If
we had this, what could we do
with it?’”
TomTom also made another
decision, and offered to
purchase Tele Atlas in 2008.
“We recognised that the future
was fresh, up-to-date data. If
we owned the maps, we can
streamline the process. Two
different companies, even
working in partnership, create a
lot of delays.
“Increasing efficiencies
wherever you can is in our DNA.
That’s what we do for customers.
And it’s why we’ve been able to
offer our customers up-to-date
dynamic maps that are data-rich
and create a seamless customer
Adapt to the future
This takes the ideal
of looking ahead a
step further. On the one hand,
looking ahead is focused on
the lane you’re currently in, and
envisioning how you can change
customer lives. But it’s also
about paying attention to how
JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8 E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A
the world is changing, and what
the future will bring.
TomTom is currently a
software and hardware
developer. The business
has four divisions: TomTom
Consumer, TomTom Automotive,
TomTom Licensing and
TomTom Telematics. In each
case, hardware and software
solutions are deployed to drive
efficiencies and cost savings,
from consumers with a TomTom
device in their vehicles, cars with
onboard systems designed by
TomTom, telematics systems
that track a business’s entire
transport and logistics solution,
master in your specific area
of competence. At our core
we bring customers, data
and development together.
It’s always about the best
experience and solutions.”
Be fast, agile and
Even though TomTom is
a listed company, its controlling
shareholding rests in the hands
of four people — all of whom
are entrepreneurs. “TomTom’s
original founders still head
up the business and drive its
vision, and the four different
business units are run by MDs
then leave. We’re focused on
long-term, industry changing
visions that will change the way
our customers operate and do
business. That’s what gets me
up in the morning and keeps me
constantly engaged and excited.”
The business is also run on
a system of flat hierarchies,
which Thomas believes is a
key ingredient to TomTom’s
success. “No single giant
can know or understand
everything. To remain relevant,
businesses need fresh ideas,
and these come from open and
collaborative teams. As the
leader, you don’t need to come
“Increasing efficiencies wherever we can is
in our DNA. That’s what we do for customers.”
to the map data as one of the
sources for Apple’s map solution.
But TomTom is looking much
further than the solutions
it currently offers. “TomTom
democratised navigation, and
today it’s available in multiple
different ways; your phone, a
device, your car. We understand
this and move with the times.
We expect technology disruption
to go on and things to change
even faster in the future. Today
we manufacture devices. We
don’t believe we will still be
doing this in the long-term
future. How our solutions will be
accessed will change. We are
also now investing heavily in the
navigation systems and maps
autonomous cars will use. This
isn’t a big revenue stream for
us now, but it will be incredibly
important in the future, and we
will have solutions ready.
“To stay alive, you need
to be smarter, faster and the
who are entrepreneurial as well,”
explains Thomas, who is one
of those MDs, and who by his
own admission could never be a
standard employee.
“Data Factory was the third
business I built, and I sold it
to TomTom in 2005 because I
knew this was the best way to
achieve international growth.
12 years later I’m still here as
MD of the Telematics business
because our CEO and founder,
Harold Goddijn, convinced me
to stay and grow the exciting
business unit. The fact that
we’re given so much autonomy
to grow each business unit
as a company makes us fast,
agile and adaptable. It’s the
essence of this business. We
all have a fiduciary duty to our
shareholders, but we also have
long-term visions that allow us
to be trailblazers in our industry.
“We’re not executives who
begin to implement projects and
up with all of the ideas — but
you do need to be open to fresh
thinking, even from your juniors.
Have an open door policy, and
listen to ideas when they are
shared with you. That’s how you
push the envelope.”
Give customers what
they need, not what
they want
Listening to customers is
important, but you also need to
look beyond their current needs
if you’re going to be a gamechanger — both in your own
industry, and in terms of what
you can do for your customers.
“Take note of your customers’
pain points and deliver solutions
that create value, but you can’t
innovate if you only listen to
what your customers want. You
need to be delivering to their
needs, otherwise you’re just an
executor and not an innovator.
“It’s up to you to jump to the
next step that they can’t see yet,
and often don’t even realise is
possible. Customers are focused
on the now — we need to be
looking five years ahead.”
How do you stay ahead of the
curve though? Thomas believes
it’s all about asking the right
“Consider the question, ‘What
if we had unlimited energy for
free in the world?’ So many
people stop there and don’t ask
further, because it’s seen as an
impossibility. And that’s what
kills innovation. If you remove
that obstacle, and instead look
at what this would mean for the
world, you can start shaping a
different future.
“So, what would it mean? It
would mean an unlimited water
supply, because we could easily
make drinking water from salt
water, at little to no cost. What
does unlimited drinking water
mean? An unlimited food supply,
because water is the biggest
restrictor. Once you start asking
the right questions, you reach a
future that you want to be a part
of and make happen — and that’s
when you start finding solutions.
“Solar is already doing
this, at 50% of the cost of
other alternatives. The latest
technology delivers at 50% of
the price, and it was developed
because the right questions are
being asked.
“This is how we operate. We
are always dreaming about what
we could do. This allows us to
create solutions. They don’t
always work, but we’re hungry,
and when we fail we fail fast,
learn the lessons we need and
push on. We’re always heading in
the right direction, and changing
the shape of what’s possible.”
About TomTom Telematics
TomTom Telematics is a business unit of TomTom dedicated to fleet management,
vehicle telematics and connected car services. WEBFLEET is a Software-as-aService solution, used by small to large businesses to improve vehicle performance,
save fuel, support drivers and increase overall fleet efficiency. TomTom Telematics
is one of the world’s leading telematics solution providers with more than 785 000
subscriptions worldwide, servicing drivers in more than 60 countries.
E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8
Visit and
follow us on Twitter @TomTomWEBFLEET
The only constant is change. If you can’t
learn to embrace it, you’ll be left behind.
is harder for those
who perceive
themselves to
be succeeding
than those who
perceive themselves to
be failing. Failure produces
an irresistible motivation to
reflect and to seek changes that
will eliminate the pain you are
feeling. It is those who perceive
themselves to be successful
who are most likely to stick
to the status quo in a sea
of change.
Change always happens:
Contexts change, markets
change, competitors change and
so on. So, reinforcing a strategy
and recipe for success seems
the logical thing to do, right? If it
ain’t broke, don’t fix it, goes the
mantra. Why on earth would you
mess with a winning formula?
The problem is that these
winds of change are numerous
and subtle, moving slowly and
in different directions, making
them invisible to the ‘successful’
eye. Business books are filled
with case studies like Kodak who,
despite acknowledging the threat
of digital, were so entrenched in
their current thinking that they
sailed their ship right off the end
of their flat earth.
Here are five thoughts to
provoke you and guide you in
finding the courage to change.
This too will pass
Live by the law of
impermanence that says that
nothing remains permanent;
neither failure nor success.
This should create a level of
healthy paranoia in successful
entrepreneurs that drives them
to anticipate what will change
WEF Young Global
Leader, a member
of the Global Agenda
Council on Fostering
Entrepreneurship, the
at the University of
Oxford’s Saïd Business
School and founder of
and when it will change, and
to constantly live in a start-up
mindset. Being aware, selfreflective and conscious of your
bias is the best remedy for the
allure of a permanent reality
Use what you have
One of the most common
reasons that we do not want
to change is having to admit
that the resources we have so
painstakingly and expensively
built and maintained are not
as useful anymore. The now
popular and commonly-used
terms of ‘radical’ and ‘disruptive’
conjure up scenarios of throwing
away everything we have. In
most instances where change
is required, the most successful
way to change is to use the
resources currently available in
your business in a reconfigured
manner. My rule of thumb is
that any new strategic direction
should incorporate no more
than 20% of new resources,
know-how or processes. This
approach might not be radical
or disruptive, but it ensures
that there is a higher appetite
“This should
create a level of
healthy paranoia
in successful
entrepreneurs that
drives them to
anticipate what will
change and when it
will change, and to
constantly live in a
start-up mindset.”
for change in the organisation
and a higher probability of it
Focus on the positive
energy change creates
Change is terrifying for many,
but it creates a positive energy
in a business. We often spend
too much time trying to pacify
employees who are fearful of
change. In my opinion, you
should rather be weeding these
people out of your business
as it grows. They slow down
progress and redirect valuable
time and energy from focusing on
the future and building towards
that. It is important to focus your
energy on the positive energy that
is being released when change
happens, such as excitement,
new possibilities, and new growth
opportunities for people and the
Plan your change, but also
expect the unplanned
Effective change is ideally
planned. Thought-through,
documented and communicated
phases are always better than a
chaotic laissez-faire approach.
But as Mike Tyson once said,
“Everybody has a plan until they
get punched in the face.” Life
happens, the unexpected is everpresent in our lives, and we need
to plan for this. Allowing a 10% to
20% tolerance for the unknown
is a wise thing to do to ensure
your expectations are catered for.
Accepting the potential of random
change in your planning will make
it easier to accept and manage.
Expect Magic
After the dust has settled
following a recent change
or upheaval, and nerves and
emotions have normalised,
there will inevitably be an
unforeseen positive outcome
from the change. When you
expect to find this outcome
and appreciate the chemistry
of time, resources and random
events that created it, you will
see change as the unavoidable
path to these magical events. It
makes going through the change
so much more tolerable when
you know that when this phase
of change is completed, there will
be an outcome that will make it
worthwhile. This expectation has
never failed to deliver for me.
Entrepreneurs do not have
the luxury of remaining still
and constant, even for a short
while. Mighty corporates are also
susceptible to the devastation of
the law of impermanence. But,
there is a different lens on this
that I prefer; every day and every
moment brings the gift of change
to us which is always a door to a
better, more fulfilled future. EM
JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8 E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A
Make the most
of SA’s law
and initial
coin offering
Cryptocurrencies offer
significant investment
opportunity, but
remember that when
something seems
too good to be true, it
probably is.
Co-founder of Legal
Legends, which is
revolutionising the legal
industry by being Africa’s
first eCommerce website
for quality legal services
aimed specifically at startups and entrepreneurs.
comfortably take up
a single blank page in
this glossy magazine
and still be accurate
— South Africa (and many other
countries with it) is rapidly
adopting the blockchain and
cryptocurrency revolution and
it’s all happening in a relative
legislative lacuna (my Latin
professor would be so proud).
At the outset, however,
this article relies on at least a
working understanding of some
of the underlying technology
and concepts that make ICOs
possible, and I won’t be trying to
explain them in any great detail.
Far smarter tech-journos have
written some illuminating pieces
on the topic and a Google search
will quickly yield some very
insightful guides.
In essence, however, an ICO
involves the creation of a unit of
value, called a ‘coin’ which, at a
basic level functions like most
cryptocurrencies (cf Bitcoin).
Purchasers of the coin buy the
coin at a predetermined listing
price, upon consideration of
a ‘whitepaper’, published by
the coin offeror, which eerily
resembles a prospectus for the
purchase of shares in a listed
Importantly, however, the
purchase of shares (usually)
doesn’t entitle the coin holder to
exercise any rights in relation to
the operation of the business —
this is a key differentiating factor
from shares.
From a commercial
perspective, the coin holder
anticipates that the value of the
coin purchased will increase over
time as demand surges on the
back of a (hopefully) successful
business concept. This sounds
very much like the promised
land for start-ups starved of
genuine venture capital in South
Africa. More particularly, the
150+ businesses that have raised
more than $2,5 billion would
argue that it’s a highly effective
way of raising capital from an
investor group that invests
based on very limited knowledge
and (potentially) recourse to the
In fact the South African
Reserve Bank (SARB) has stated
categorically that, because it
does not guarantee the trade or
issuance of cryptocurrencies, it
offers no recourse or protection
to consumers.
E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8
So where does this leave you,
average Joe Seffrican?
Certain key pieces of
legislation ought to be examined
and applied to your precise
scenario — both for would-be
issuers and consumers of ICOs
and other cryptocurrencies:
» The Banks Act will have
some bearing where offerors of
cryptocurrency coins fall within
the definition of deposit-taking
institutions and are thus required
to adhere to the requirements of
the Banks Act and potentially fall
within the purview of the SARB.
» Collective Investment
Schemes Act (CISCA) regulates
businesses that seek to ‘collect’
or pool funds and investments
and is regulated — and very
strictly at that — by the Financial
Services Board.
» The Financial Intelligence
Centre Act, more commonly
known as FICA, may have
significant scope over certain
transactions taking place
utilising cryptocurrencies,
especially mindful of the bydesign anonymity of blockchain
» Exchange Control
Regulations have strict
penalties for transactions
that violate the permitted
capital outflows of capital from
the Republic. Given that the
blockchain is designed to facilitate
these very outflows, in many
instances, this will be an area
of concern for businesses and
investors alike.
» Twin Peaks Financial Sector
Regulation Bill, once promulgated
would regulate all financial
service businesses that provide
the financial service and financial
intermediary services. This opens
a veritable quagmire of potential
legislative and regulatory impact
on the ICO sector.
» Here’s the big one — if it walks,
talks and smells like equity, then
the Companies Act and our courts
in enforcing the Companies Act,
are going to treat it like equity,
meaning that some coins, which
often carry rights and duties
similar to conventional equity,
may fall within the ambit of the
highly regulated arena of public
offerings of security. This is
particularly the case in the light
of our legal system’s view of the
‘substance over form’ doctrine.
» There may well be interplay
between the Companies Act
and the Consumer Protection
legislation, which may be
triggered in transactions that have
no underlying value, operate in a
manner consistent with a Ponzi
scheme or are not adequately
insured against data losses etc.
While it pains me to be the one
pointing these risks out, when all
and sundry seem to be turning
pittances into fortunes, your
grandma would be quick to point
out that if it sounds too good to
be true, it probably is.
At the end of the day, there
are profound opportunities for
both investors and businesses
to be had, but you would be well
counselled to carefully consider
the full legislative and regulatory
consequences of any purchase
of offer of any ICO coin. This
is unfortunately a classic case
of the innovators innovating
while the legislators scramble
to play catch up in a world that
is changing faster than their
arcane promulgations can seek to
regulate it. EM
AS D 24
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MARCH 1998
Pepe, Gareth and
Noel launch Joe
Public, a menubased creative
E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8
The founders make their
first million.
Flush with cash and
success, Pepe and Gareth
open a restaurant, Sloppy
Joe’s. Within six months
it closes, but they’re
locked into a three-year
lease. The entire business
venture costs them half a
million (The equivalent of
two houses).
Within two years
the business is
making a net profit
of R2 million.
A large multinational offers to buy the
young business and take Joe Public’s
‘takeaway’ concept international. The
founders agree — Noel wants to move
to New York, and Pepe and Gareth see
it as a way to extend their business
Pepe and Gareth realise the corporate
culture of the holding company is the
antithesis of how they’d been running
their agency. They quickly become
disillusioned with corporate agency
life. 9/11 happens, and New York enters
a recession, triggering hundreds of
Pepe Marais and Gareth Leck’s paths
first crossed when Gareth saved
Pepe’s life. A few years later they were
introduced by a friend who thought
they’d make excellent business
partners. He was right. Within two years,
Joe Public was making a net profit of
R1 million, and Gareth and Pepe were
persuaded to sell their business. They
were young and excited, and agreed to
the deal. It would take them eight years
to buy their business back. On the day
they signed the deal their team made a
mistake that would almost bankrupt the
company, but they’ve survived that too.
Joe Public loses its biggest client, along
with 40% of its revenue. 50% of the
company’s employees are retrenched
overnight and their Cape Town office is
closed down.
Today they’re South Africa’s largest
independent agency, with a turnover of
R700 million, and gross profits in excess
of R200 million.
Keep the business operational and build
a strong brand (the team wins four
Gold Loeries in 2008), but don’t drive
up profits or cash flow. Great profits = a
higher PE (price over earnings) ratio = a
business Pepe and Gareth cannot afford
to buy back. Keep cash flow and profits
low however, and the holding company
might agree to sell.
It’s the worst day of both Pepe and
Gareth’s careers. But perhaps it also
offers an opportunity — the business
partners have been wanting to buy
back their business. With the company’s
valuation driven down by the loss, is this
now a possibility? The holding company
says sure — for an astronomical number
that is completely out of reach for the
young entrepreneurs, and five times
what they sold their business for in
JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8 E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A
26 JANUARY 2009
Joe Public Independence Day
“Never, ever sell your soul” — the day Pepe and
Gareth buy back their company. And all they
had to do was mortgage themselves to the hilt
to do it.
On their way back to the office after signing
the deal, Gareth and Pepe receive a call — their
team has made a media mistake that will cost
them R800 000. They’ve deliberately kept cash
flow tight and cash reserves are non-existent.
They have no idea how they will cover the loss.
T WAS a July morning like any other.
Little did Pepe Marais and Gareth Leck
know they were about to get a call
that would shake the company to its
foundations, and result in 35 people
being retrenched overnight.
In 2006, eight years after launching their
business, and five years after selling it, Pepe
and Gareth’s biggest client fired them. The
account brought in 40% of their revenue,
and the company needed to retrench 50% of
its employees as a result.
It was the single worst day of Pepe and
Gareth’s careers. They no longer owned Joe
Public, but it was theirs in name and brand.
Three years later, the business almost
went bankrupt — but it was theirs again.
How were these two drastic events related,
and why did losing their biggest client allow
Gareth and Pepe to not only buy back their
business, but find their purpose and change
the course of the company as well?
The art of zigging when
others zag
To understand how losing their biggest
client could actually be the best thing that
happened to Joe Public, we need to rewind
to 2001, when three business partners at
the cusp of their thirties decided to sell their
start-up to a multinational.
Joe Public was launched in 1998 as a
rebellious, young agency that wanted to
do things differently from the rest of the
advertising world. Pepe and Noel Cottrell
were creatives, and Gareth was a young
hotshot account manager. Together, they
believed they covered all the angles to run a
new, disruptive business.
“I’d had this idea for a business, which I
wanted to call Fresh Advertising, after a night
of red wine and brainstorming,” recalls Pepe.
“My dad had a café, and I liked the idea of
MARCH 2009
The company has 30 employees,
and no cash coming in to pay
salaries. A client who had been
spending R380 000 per month
also puts a halt on all spending.
Pepe and Gareth focus on new
business, and together with the
help of Laurent, Xolisa and their
team bring in six key accounts,
keeping the business from
doing ‘fresh’ ideas and an office with
a fridge door as the front door. Our
third partner at the time, Noel, took
the idea further, and we developed
the concept into a café-style menu.
We were the creatives, and we
needed a business guy to make it
work. Noel knew Gareth, and so we
approached him to join us.”
Gareth loved the idea — he was
in his mid-20s, and didn’t have
anything to lose. There was another
power at play as well. During their
initial meeting, Gareth learnt Pepe
was a boat man, and recounted
a story of how he'd rescued a
drowning paddleskier and placed
him on a raft of piping until the
NSRI could pick him up. A chill came
over Pepe as he realised Gareth
was talking about him. He'd been
knocked unconscious paddleskiing
during the first storm of the season
in April 1995, and to that day hadn’t known
how he’d come to be lying on the piping.
They saw the business and the partnership
as fate and dived in, head first.
It was nothing like they’d imagined —
particularly for Gareth. “It’s a massive jump
from account management to running a
business,” he says. “VAT, PAYE, salaries,
traffic control, production. Suddenly these
were all my problem. I was getting up at 3am
so that I could get to the office and do cost
estimates before going to see clients. I didn’t
sleep for a year. When I did manage to get
into bed, I woke up in the middle of the night
wanting to throw up because we didn’t have
cash in the bank and I had no idea how we
were going to pay salaries.”
The partners had hit on something special
though: They were selling Rare, Medium and
Well-Done ideas, not time, and because they
E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8
Pepe and Gareth find their business
purpose. They also start to build their
cash reserves. A period of meteoric
growth follows.
2011 TO 2014
The business is growing — but
culture is getting lost. Fast growth
requires managers who tend to come
from large corporates — bringing a
corporate culture with them.
Gareth and Pepe recognise
the dangers of the new culture
permeating the business — the
business is doing well financially, but
unless they can shift course culturally,
that rise will be short-lived. They start
putting the ‘cult’ in culture, shaping
Joe Public around the ideals that the
business is built on: That Joe Public
exists to exponentially grow clients,
people and the country (in that order).
Joe Public’s year-on-year growth
averages 48% from 2009 to 2017, far
outstripping the industry average of 6%.
Turnover surpasses R700 million and
gross profit (GP) is R218 million.
were delivering quality work ‘done well’, they
were turning a decent profit. The first few
months were extremely tight while they built
up a client base, but by their second year
they’d netted R1,5 million in profit.
“We were a small, dynamic team. We could
take a concept to market within two weeks,
so we were fast, and we were also very good.
In 2000 we won five Loeries with a staff of
five people,” says Pepe.
“We offered quality,” agrees Gareth. “We
were quick and slick, and well-priced by the
time you reached the end product. The menu
concept also offered clients real transparency
in an industry known for smoke and mirrors.”
The idea had developed based on the fact
that as youngsters who hadn’t yet made
a name for themselves, they needed to be
disruptive and innovative out the gate, with
US-based holding company, and before they
knew it, they were just another subsidiary of
an international giant. Everything became
about the bottom line, and Pepe and Gareth
soon found they were compromising great
work in the pursuit of greater margins.
And then the worst — and as it turned out,
best — thing happened. Their single biggest
client fired them.
A blessing in disguise
PLAYERS: Gareth Leck
and Pepe Marais
Pepe Marais, Gareth Leck,
Laurent Marty and Xolisa
COMPANY: Joe Public United,
an integrated brand and
communications agency
TURNOVER: R700 million
R218 million
“Sometimes the
worst thing to happen
to your business is
actually the best
thing. Stop seeing
problems and passing
blame, and start
making things happen
for yourself.”
— Gareth Leck and Pepe Marais
a solid business model that would make
great returns. “We wanted to zig while others
zagged,” says Pepe.
All that zigging and zagging had the
desired effect, and business soon picked
up, but it also had another, unintended
consequence — a potential buyer came
knocking. “We’d already realised there was
a scalability issue with our business model,”
says Gareth. “How could we replicate it
without people as creative and driven as
ourselves? You hit a ceiling when growth
requires people of the same calibre as
yourself. Anyone in our business will tell
you that you can’t have a company full of
creative directors. It doesn’t work.”
But there was a second option. A multinational was offering to buy the business,
and part of the deal was that they would roll
out the menu option to their subsidiaries and
offices around the world.
“Noel was spearheading the deal — he
really wanted to move to the US, and the
deal gave him the opportunity to join the
international network’s New York office,” says
Gareth. “From our side, the idea of spreading
our model, having an international office, and
of course making money from the business
all sounded great.”
In a nutshell, they were young, the offer
was appealing — and it was the worst
decision they ever made.
“We sold completely prematurely and got
shafted,” says Pepe. “But more than that, we
ended up in a corporate environment that
was the exact opposite of everything we’d
built our business on.”
The local multinational sold to a larger
Pepe had made the decision to fire a senior
executive. “We couldn’t work with him. He
was toxic to our business. We fired him on
good intention, with a full view of how his
attitude was harming our business and staff
morale,” he explains.
The problem was that the executive in
question was very close to the company’s
biggest client. So close in fact that once
he was fired he was offered the position of
marketing director at their company. His first
order of business? To fire Joe Public.
“We were devastated. We hadn’t fully
comprehended the danger that such a
big client posed — and how drastically our
business would be affected if we lost them,”
says Gareth.
But there was another unexpected
consequence of the loss — the value of the
business depreciated. “We realised that
for the first time in five years, we had an
opportunity to buy our business back. We
immediately started negotiating with the
holding company. The problem was that
they wanted an astronominical amount for
the business, which was nowhere near what
we’d been paid for it. We didn’t have that
kind of money. We fought for three years, and
eventually resigned. We just said to them,
‘Take it all. We don’t want this.’ That’s when
they came back with a reasonable number
that we could manage.”
On the 26th of January 2009, the business
partners bought their company back. The day
is memorialised in their offices by a plaque
that reads ‘Never, ever sell your soul, Joe
Public Independence’.
On their way back to the office, they
received a call: A media mistake had
been made that would cost the company
R800 000. Gareth and Pepe had put all of
their eggs in one basket. They’d leveraged
themselves to the hilt to be able to buy back
their business. They’d also kept profits and
cash flow low since 2006.
“We didn’t have R1 million in our bank
account. We’d basically been breaking even
for the last three years,” says Gareth. “Our
revenue was R13 million, but that left very
little positive cash flow after salaries and
expenses were paid each month, and we
had no cash reserves. It had been part of our
JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8 E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A
strategy to keep our PE ratio low so that we
would be able to buy back the business. We
were doing well, winning Loeries and keeping
momentum behind the brand, but we weren’t
chasing profits. We’d never envisioned such a
disaster was possible.”
By March, the business was on the brink of
bankruptcy. To add to Joe Public’s precarious
position, a client who had been spending
R380 000 per month put a halt on all
marketing spend — also overnight.
“I remember thinking to myself, if this all
went pear-shaped, my family and I wouldn’t
even have a roof over our heads,” says
Gareth. Although more careful than Pepe by
nature, the business partners realised they
Finding a purpose
In 2007, Pepe began a journey of selfdiscovery. His focus was not only on the
business and its needs, but on himself as an
entrepreneur and leader. Gareth began his
own personal journey two years later.
“We haven’t only worked on the business
but ourselves,” says Gareth. “All business
owners need coaching, mentorship and
counselling,” agrees Pepe. “We’ve both done
a lot of personal work and we still do. We
hit blocks and work through them. Personal
development and self-reflection are incredibly
important to the business’s overall success.”
Through this journey of self-reflection
and development, Pepe and Gareth found
“We sold completely prematurely and got shafted.
But more than that, we ended up in a corporate
environment that was the exact opposite of
everything we’d built our business on.”
needed to find a solution. Failure was not
an option. “We went out and got business,”
says Pepe. “We brought in six new accounts
that year. One of those accounts was Anglo
American. It was a small job that no one
wanted because of its size. We went all out to
get it. We understood the value that having
a blue-chip client on our books would bring
to the business. We also continued doing
work for free for the client who had halted all
spending. They were in the process of listing,
and we believed they’d come back to us once
they had, and we were right. We just needed
to show them value and loyalty.”
Step by step, Pepe and Gareth brought
their business back from the brink. From 2009
to 2010 the company’s revenue grew from
R13 million to R20 million, and the partners
started building a solid cash reserve. Today,
their reserves can carry the business for six
their purpose, both for themselves and the
business. By the time they were able to buy
the company back in 2009, they had a clear
vision of where they wanted the company to
go, and how they wanted to change course,
and it all started with not putting the bottom
line first. “When we started, our whole focus
was on the quality of the product,” says
Gareth. “We had a good business model
and we were creative and driven. A good
product led to a good brand, which resulted in
revenue. It was a good formula.”
“The year we made our first million, we
weren’t focused on the bottom line,” adds
Pepe. “We were focused on delivering the
best product and service possible, and the
natural result was a big, fat bottom line.”
After they sold, the partners soon found
themselves in a very different situation.
“When you become too focused on the
bottom line, you reach a point where you start
compromising your product in order to save
on costs,” explains Pepe. “The problem is that
you can’t put bottom line at the top. Revenue
is a lag factor. If you become too focused on it,
you lose sight of the rest of the business. You
can’t measure the health of a business on the
bottom line.”
Pepe and Gareth are the first to admit that
they’d completely lost their way. Losing their
biggest client, gaining the opportunity to buy
their business back — only to almost lose it
again — and finding a way to power through
the setbacks gave them a chance to do things
differently. They grabbed that chance with
both hands.
“You need to make mistakes to get the
lesson,” says Pepe. “We needed to re-forge the
business based on the right culture.
“We needed to bring the power of purpose
into the business. We feel it on a deep level,
and it’s now the framework of everything we
do. We exist to exponentially grow our clients,
our people, and our country — in that order. If
we focus on clients, we will grow our people,
and we will have a good organisation that can
positively impact and help the people of South
Africa. We call it growth to the power of ‘n.’”
Revenue growth has naturally followed, but
the deeper sense of purpose is helping Pepe
and Gareth make a much more meaningful
impact. Joe Public registered One School at
a Time, a non-profit organisation in 2008.
Through the organisation, they have taken
their chosen school in Soweto from one of
the poorest performing township schools in
Gauteng to in the top three. They raise
R1,2 million a year for the project, of which
R250 000 comes directly from Joe Public.
This same drive and dedication is given
to clients. “Purpose is just strategy. We do
strategy for businesses,” says Pepe. In 2005,
Laurent Marty and Xolisa Dyeshana joined the
business as shareholders. Today, Xolisa is Joe
Public’s chief creative officer and Laurent its
chief strategist.
1. Always review where your
industry is going, and how you
can best serve your clients. In
our case, we’ve realised that of
our top ten clients, more than
half of them want integrated
solutions. Large corporations
tend to work with 15 different
agencies. It’s fragmented. We’ve
launched multiple business units
with this in mind. Joe Public
Shift focuses on brand design;
Joe Public Connect is our digital
agency; Joe Public Ignite is our
beyond-the-line agency and Joe
Public Engage is our PR business
unit. Half of our revenue now
comes from specialist companies
that are the product of paying
attention to our clients’ needs.
2. Everything begins and ends
with strategy. Strategy is the
silver bullet, and creative is the
gold around it. We put our clients
brand at our centre, and then
E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8
build solutions around them with
our different business units. This
means they have one point of
contact and everything is under
one roof, but more importantly,
it means that strategy is at the
centre of everything. Never make
the mistake of thinking that what
you’re offering or doing isn’t
strategic — if it’s not strategic,
it’s not worth doing.
3. Don’t spend all your time
on process, and forget about
product. Profit is a by-product
of product, not processes.
Processes are important, but
they shouldn’t be followed at
the expense of the products you
offer your clients.
4. Look at least three years
into the future. Always remain
conscious of what’s coming
your way so that you can catch
Pepe, who is technically a creative, now also
does purpose workshops with the executive
teams of their clients. “We bring a creative edge
to board-level strategies. Our purpose is to
help our clients grow, and that starts at the top.
McKinsey has released a report stating that high
calibre work in the marketing space will give you
a seven times higher return than other work. In
other words, high calibre creative counts, and
should be part of your strategy. And nothing
inspires better work than purpose. It’s our role to
help our clients achieve just that.”
Over time, Joe Public has found its mission,
which aligns with the business’s purpose. “We
now need to develop the metrics that prove
the purpose. Every business should be able to
quantify the ROI it gives to its clients.”
The ability to course-correct
From 2009, Joe Public refocused on product over
the bottom line. Meteoric growth followed. The
problem with growth is that you need people to
manage teams and business units — and those
people were coming from traditional corporate
environments, and they were bringing preconditioned ‘bottom line’ focus with them.
“Within three years we were back where we’d
been, struggling with the wrong culture,” says
Pepe. The trouble is that you don’t always spot
a problem until it’s too late — particularly when
your numbers are good. “The business results
were excellent,” says Gareth. “We had found a
way to win pitches, the company was growing,
revenues and profits were great — but the
culture was getting lost. We learnt that you can
lose your way culturally and not financially.”
Except that culture feeds the bottom line.
Lose it, and the business will eventually start to
plummet. “We needed to radically adjust what we
were doing,” says Pepe. “We hadn’t hit a problem
yet, and our numbers were great, but we realised
we were heading towards the top of our bell
“We had already determined that the business
must succeed if we want to do more — for our
any problems ahead of the bell
curve. Purpose is essential to
this — if you’re always looking
for proof of purpose, it’s much
harder to lose your way.
5. Be a servant leader.
This took us a long time to
understand. You are not your
business, and your business
is not you. Don’t blur the lines.
Your business is your creation,
but just like your child is your
clients, our staff, and in education. Success is
fundamental to achieving our purpose. If we
didn’t want to go the way of so many companies
that reach great heights, only to miss all the
warning signs and plummet, we needed to make
some serious changes, starting with culture.”
For Pepe and Gareth, a beautiful creative
space filled with happy people is the foundation
of a company that can do great things. “It’s all
about triple profits,” explains Pepe. “Serve your
clients and keep them happy, keep your staff
happy, and your profits will be happy. A healthy
business lets you do all these things. It’s the
oxygen to deliver on all the rest. With strong
revenue streams you can achieve so much more.”
There are industry jokes that Joe Public is like a
cult. Pepe and Gareth are happy to agree. “We’ve
built the ‘cult’ into culture,” says Pepe. To achieve
a strong, client-focused culture, the partners
needed to make some tough choices, and even
exit some people who were not aligned to their
purpose of serving clients through great work.
“It’s never a nice part of business,” says
Gareth. “We’re nice people, and in some cases
we took far too long to act. We moved in on
people in the organisation who weren’t a good
cultural fit. It was damaging to our team and to
them to remain here. A happy, healthy workplace
is a team effort. You’re not doing anyone favours
by keeping toxic individuals in your workspace.
It’s been a tough lesson to learn, but we’re much
faster to act when we realise we have the wrong
people in the business now than we were before.”
Today, Pepe and Gareth follow a simple
formula. “One of our clients once told us that all
they wanted to do was serve the best possible
product to customers, with the best service, at
the right price to give value,” says Gareth. “It
really resonated with us, reaffirming everything
we believe as well. We all have a tendency to
complicate business, when what we should be
doing is serving our clients — and the best way
to do that, is to do great work.” EM
creation, you aren’t the boss of
it. You’re there to serve it and
guide it. You’re the custodian of
the organisation.
6. Stop planning and start
doing. We all tend to complicate
business with planning and
processes. These shouldn’t be
ignored, but you need to also
just start — start your business,
start that project, start walking
the path you want to be on.
7. Play your heart out and the
money will follow. Pepe learnt
this valuable lesson when he
was a student and busked at
Greenmarket Square. You don’t
stand with your hat, waiting for
cash and then play — you play
your heart out and the bills pile
up in your hat. It’s the same in
business. You can’t look at the
bottom line first; it’s the other
way around.
Matt Brown interviews
Pepe and Gareth and digs
into the details of their
rollercoaster ride building
South Africa’s largest
independant agency.
To listen to the podcast,
go to mattbrownmedia.
or find the Matt Brown
Show on iTunes or
The Matt Brown Show
is a podcast with a
listenership in over
100 countries and is
designed to empower
entrepreneurs around
the world through
information sharing.
8. Be the top-end restaurant
in your industry. People and
businesses will pay a premium
price for real quality and real
value — even in a recession.
We run our business like a topend restaurant. This is the key
to maintaining your business
and your brand. Our focus has
always been on the calibre of
our product. It’s the only way to
earn the respect of your clients
and negotiate higher fees.
JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8 E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A
You can sit at home and
answer customer emails
in your underwear, as long as
your customers are satisfied
with the product and service that
they get from your company.”
E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8
Launching a side business that makes
money even while you’re sleeping has
never been easier. Lawrence Cawood
of Vinewave explains how it's possible
to build a multi-million rand business
completely on your own, in your spare
time, with nothing more than a computer.
produce sexy
software, which
is why you’ve probably
never heard of the company.
Its most popular piece of
software, for example, is
a staff directory. But it is
special for a number of
reasons. First, Vinewave is
a South African company,
despite the fact that
you’d never guess it from
perusing the website — all
prices are in US dollars.
Another surprising aspect
of the business is its
client list. Users include
Sony, Samsung, Harvard
Business School, the United
Nations and SpaceX. Most
astonishingly, however is
the fact that, for a very
long time, it had only a
single employee: Founder
Lawrence Cawood. Since
2010, Lawrence has owned
and operated Vinewave
completely on his own, from
a single computer at his
Although he is now
looking to scale the business
aggressively, his initial aim
was to create a business
that could provide for him
and his family, without
demanding 80-hour work
“I wanted to be able to
spend time with my family,
so my aim was to create a
lifestyle business that didn’t
demand crazy hours, and
that would allow me to work
when and where I wanted,”
says Lawrence.
Vinewave ended up
being exactly what he was
looking for. Working on his
own, Lawrence created
a business that quickly
boasted around R1,6 million
in annual revenue, and a
valuation of R10 million.
Being an online business
that targeted companies
all over the world, time
and space was irrelevant.
“I would often wake up to
discover that I had made
R60 000 in sales while I was
sleeping,” he says.
Of course, that doesn’t
mean that you can become
a multi-millionaire while
watching TV in your
pyjamas. Lawrence is quick
to add that launching
Vinewave wasn’t easy.
Sales were slow to come in
and refining his software
demanded hard work.
“It took me six months
to make my first sale,” says
Lawrence. “Also, as the only
person in the business, I
had to work hard. I was
responsible for absolutely
everything: The website,
advertising, SEO, product
development, and so on.
However, the nature of
the business allowed me
to do things on my own
terms. Where and when I
did the work was irrelevant,
meaning I could spend
time with my family when I
wanted. Even though I had
to invest a lot of time and
energy into the business, it
provided a certain sense of
freedom. Normal business
limitations didn’t apply.”
As mentioned earlier,
Lawrence is now working
harder on the business
JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8 E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A
than he did in the early days,
since he is looking to scale, but
Entrepreneur spoke to him about
the ins and outs of creating a
lifestyle business or side project
that doesn’t demand absolutely
all of your time. Here’s his advice
for creating a business that can
make money while you sleep.
1. Product, not service
The more successful a service
business is, the more time
you’re likely to have to invest
in the business, since you are
essentially trading your time
for money. For example, if you
have a photography business,
every new client will cost money,
require more time and add
complexity to the business.
Selling items online, in contrast,
is easier to scale as a business,
since the difference between
selling ten and 12 items isn’t
all that much. Easiest of all is
a business that sells a digital
product. The added cost and
complexity that comes with
every added customer of a piece
of software is very small, since
there is nothing to package or
ship. For this reason, a company
like Facebook, Dropbox and,
indeed, Vinewave is hyper-
“I think it’s important to be
passionate about what you
do and to pursue something
that you’re knowledgeable
about, but you also need to be
realistic about the demands
of the business you have
in mind. Some ideas and
products demand more time
and resources than others. If
you want a business that you
can run on the side, you need a
product that is relatively easy to
ship and sell. Software is easiest,
of course, but a physical product
isn’t out of the question. Just
make sure that systems and
processes can be put in place to
streamline the process and free
up time.”
2. Build a better version
Unless you’ve got a lot of time
and money on your hands,
reinventing the wheel isn’t
a good idea. A company like
Google, Apple or Amazon can
gamble big on revolutionary
ideas, but if you’re looking for
a manageable side business,
you want to instead focus on
creating a better version of an
existing product.
“You want to look at what
is already selling, and build
something similar, but better,”
says Lawrence. “As always,
you want to identify a burning
problem, and provide an elegant
solution that people are willing
to pay for. The last thing you
want to do when you don’t have
a lot of time and money to invest
is to try and create a new market
on your own.”
3. Listen to customers
The best way to launch a
business that scales quickly and
easily is to create a product that
customers are eager to buy.
“It took me half a year to
make my first sale. I wanted to
sell a suite of products, while
customers wanted to be able
to choose the products they
needed. It’s important to listen
to customers and give them
what they want,” says Lawrence.
“Also, remember that customers
are sophisticated these days.
They have high expectations.
Even though I am selling a B2B
product, I’m cognisant of the
fact that my users are also users
of things like Facebook and
Instagram. Ultimately, people
use things that are elegant and
simple and easy to use. They
Want to create a successful business on the side? Here are five things you can do
to increase your odds for long-term business success, without quitting your fulltime job straight away. BY BRENTON HAYDEN
Many entrepreneurs have found
success by growing their side
hustles, defined as a gig on
the side that has turned into
something more. In fact, a
study by the US Academy of
Management shows businesses
that are launched while the
founder is still employed and
only later become that founder’s
full-time focus are one-third
less likely to fail than those that
started out as full-time ventures.
If you have a side project
that you’re passionate about
— one that you’ve wanted to
scale for a while — the good
news is that you don’t have to
quit your job and take a leap
into the unknown. At least not
right away. Here’s how you can
set yourself up for success by
growing your business idea on
the side.
Lay a foundation
Stepping out into the great
unknown can be dangerous,
E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8
but you can mitigate much of
that risk by creating a solid plan
before you start. The great thing
about a side hustle is that it’s
one of the best ways to assess
a business idea, giving you a
chance to prove its viability
before going all in.
Before you quit your job,
determine how much money
you’ll need to make per month
in order to quit, and decide how
much income your side hustle
needs to be generating for it
pick the best product.”
Unfortunately, this means
that there are no shortcuts to
success. A bad product won’t
find traction. Lawrence suggests
launching an MVP (minimum
viable product) and refining it.
“Listen to customers and create
something they truly want,” he
4. Think big
Lifestyle businesses used to
be small and location-specific.
Thanks to the Internet, that’s no
longer the case. Geography has
become irrelevant.
“Just because you have
a lifestyle business doesn’t
mean that you have to sell to
your immediate community,”
says Lawrence. “You can now
sell to the whole world, which
means that you can make
money anywhere, at any time.
You can sell around the clock.
This is particularly true if you’re
selling a piece of software that’s
delivered instantly, but it’s
also true of physical products.
Shipping around the country and
internationally is less difficult
than it once was. Don’t think
small. Expand your potential
market as much as you can.”
to be successful. Define your
idea of success, and then get
to work creating and tracking
financial benchmarks that will
indicate whether your project is
a sustainable business idea.
Put in the time
Prepare yourself for what’s
ahead. I won’t lie, when you first
start out, you’ll have to put in
a lot of hours. Since you’ll have
your regular job, and will also be
working on growing your startup in your spare time, you’re
going to have to make some
sacrifices. This means skipping
those after-work drinks with coworkers and giving up outings
with friends pretty much every
weekend. It does get easier, but
in the beginning your project will
take up a lot of your time.
Vinewave founder,
Lawrence Cawood
The fact is, if you’re not
excited about the thought of
spending all of your spare time
on your side project, then this
venture probably isn’t right for
you in the first place.
Scale the right way
When it comes to growing your
company, avoid the temptation
to spill lots of money into
the venture. Start-up culture
glamorises the idea of investorbacked companies, but growing
your company slowly is often
a better idea. Sure, a new desk
and computer would be nice,
but do you really need it to get
Countless entrepreneurs
have started out small. Take
Craig Newmark, for example,
founder of Craigslist. He started
the company as a side project
in 1995 and scaled it into a fullfledged company in 1999.
Test the waters and then scale
your company gradually if you
can. Always be cautious about
taking on extra, unnecessary
debt in the beginning.
Avoid burnout
Burnout is a real risk when
scaling a business. Working
around the clock at your day job
and trying to fit your side hustle
in around your off hours can be
To stave off burnout, try
to devote a few of your most
productive hours to your
company. It’s hard when you’re
working a full-time job, but it’ll
be difficult to scale a company
when you’re only working on it
5. Look and act professional
The traditional shopfront is
increasingly being replaced
by the website. Vinewave’s
customers, for instance, had no
idea that it was a small South
African company with a solitary
staff member. Lawrence spent
time and money to create a
professional website that looked
great and attracted large clients,
and that was all that mattered.
“The size and location of your
operation doesn’t really matter,
provided you appear professional
at all times, and offer great
service,” says Lawrence. “As I
said earlier, customers have
high expectations these days,
but as long as you meet those
demands, everything else is
irrelevant. You can sit at home
and answer customer emails in
your underwear, as long as your
customers are satisfied with the
product and service that they
get from your company. Around
98% of my customers are from
overseas, so I knew it wouldn’t
work if I tried to sell in rands.
Instead, I created a website that
sold in US dollars. You have to
respond to the demands and
expectations of your customer.”
6. Marketing made easy
A lot of people are intimidated
by the thought of marketing
and selling a product. For many,
the idea of creating a product is
enticing, but they are intimidated
by the thought of having to
market and sell. According to
Lawrence, however, marketing
and selling is easier than ever,
thanks to the Internet.
“I’ve almost never spoken to
a customer and I rarely interact
with them via email. If people are
happy with your product and it
does what they want it to do, you
rarely hear from them. So you
needn’t be put off by thoughts of
difficult customer service,” says
Lawrence. “The same is true of
sales and marketing. Through
things like SEO and online ads,
you can make customers come
to you. You don’t need to cold
call, just create a product people
are actively searching for. Spend
time and money on your website,
and invest in SEO and online ads.
When done properly, these things
can drive your entire business.”
between midnight and 3am.
Exhaustion leads to burnout.
You’ll want to fit in your hustle
whenever you can, but avoid the
temptation to work seven days a
week. Give yourself at least one
day off to recharge.
success, the fact is that most
companies just aren’t founded
that way. By and large, most
entrepreneurs find success by
carefully calculating their moves
and working quietly behind the
scenes to lay the groundwork
Take the leap (eventually)
Finally, keep in mind that there’s
never going to be a perfect time
to quit. At some point you’re
going to have to just go for it. If
your business idea shows great
promise and you’re checking
off your financial milestones,
the smaller details will almost
certainly fall into place once
you’re devoting more time to it.
While we all love stories of
those who leave their jobs on
a whim and, with a stroke of
genius and luck, go on to find
© Entrepreneur Media Inc. All rights
is the founder and
chairman of the board
of Renters Warehouse.
A Harvard Business
School and MIT Sloan School of
Business graduate, Hayden leads
a team of over 140 employees and
franchises in 21 states with a portfolio
of managed properties valued at just
under $1 billion.
JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8 E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A
While Relax Spas is all about rest and
relaxation, the business itself is the product of
hard work. Founder Noli Mini explains how she
got her unique business idea off the ground.
Know what you’re getting
yourself into. Passion and a fun
business idea are important, but
you also need to understand the
basics of launching a company.
How easy will it be to develop
your product or idea? How
will you market it? What sort
of financial controls will you
put in place? What regulations
must you comply with in your
industry? Are any licences
required? What are the labour
laws? These are all questions
you need to be able to answer
before launching.
Build a good team around
you. The combined effort of a
team is almost always greater
than the sum of individual
contributions. Find people
that can complement your
skillset and bring tools to the
table that you don’t have.
Improving your business
acumen and knowledge is
important, for instance, but you
don’t necessarily need to go
to university to do it. You can
also increase your knowledge
by surrounding yourself with
the right people, particularly
mentors who can guide you in
both a personal and business
Create a buzz around your
business by sharing your story.
People love hearing stories, and
I believe that just about every
start-up has a great story
to tell. Offering to write
free editorial content
for magazines is a great
way to do it. Another is
to speak at conferences.
These strategies require
effort, but they can greatly
increase your reach and
position you as a thought
leader in your industry.
Use every single
opportunity you get to
market your business.
You need to live and
breathe your brand.
Marketing is about more
than spending money. You
can market your business
by sponsoring charity
walks, wellness events
and golf days in your
community. Collaboration
is another good strategy.
There’s no better way of
building a business than
to get out there and shake
some hands. You need
to get to know people.
Also, be authentic in your
networking so that people
get to see and know the
real you.
E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8
PLAYER: Noli Mini
COMPANY: Relax Spas
ABOUT: Noli Mini started
in 2010 as a ‘mobile
spa therapist’, going
to different hotels and
offering mobile spa
treatments. The concept
has evolved and Noli has
set up bases, including
two spa suites, at various
hotels and guest houses.
An additional aspect of
Relax Spas’ offering is to
provide spa treatments
at corporate offices and
on corporate wellness
days. She also has her
own range of massage
oils and is introducing
her own brand of beauty
and skincare products. To
complete the circle, Noli
will soon be launching her
beauty and spa training
VISIT: www.relaxspas.
Build relationships. Establishing
strong relationships with your
clients and business partners is
of paramount importance. One
way you can do this is by face
to face weekly or monthly visits,
depending on the demographics
of your business. Another way is
by keeping in touch using email
or telephonically. Remember,
human interaction is key. People
love feeling appreciated. Also,
remember that customer service
is important, as a person will
usually base his or her entire
opinion of a business on a
handful of personal interactions.
So, you need to make sure
that those interactions are
positive. It’s all too easy to lose a
customer forever. EM
Previous experience in an
industry is key. Working in
an industry before launching
your own operation is crucial,
since it provides you with the
understanding and expertise
needed to successfully
launch your own business. By
working in other businesses
first, you gain a realistic idea
of what the industry is like.
You also experience different
environments. You see what
works, and what doesn’t. You
can cherry pick from different
companies and create an
organisation and culture that will
work for you.
As a start-up, does your vision push the
boundaries? Are you putting everything you
have into achieving something great? Here
are seven lessons to help you (and your
business) reach full potential. BY NADINE TODD
Wes began his career in the
people development industry.
He was involved in high-impact
training and developmental
coaching, and entrepreneurship
couldn’t have been further from
his mind. “I had no appetite for
going solo,” he recalls.
“I was employed but doing
some part-time coaching on the
side, and while this may have
seemed like a springboard into
entrepreneurship, I’ve always
viewed start-ups as requiring
three key things: Timing,
opportunity and experience.
Experience in particular was a
stumbling block for me. I was
young. I didn’t feel like I’d earned
real credibility or had enough life
experience to offer real value to
others. Who would listen to me?
I was just Wes.”
And then an opportunity
presented itself and Wes decided
to take the plunge anyway.
“After becoming an expert
in behaviour and personality
profiling, I was asked to join a
project management company.
About a year into joining them
they shut down.”
Facing unemployment, Wes
decided to take the plunge
and never work for a boss
again. Instead, he seized the
opportunity to launch his own
business and brand.
And so, Five-Star was
born, a brand that sought
to help businesses improve
their customer service by first
focusing on their employees.
E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8
Wes decided to cut his teeth
in the hospitality arena, where
customer service is the lifeblood of the industry.
The lesson: There is no perfect
time to start a business. There
will always be excuses to put
it off. You will never be 100%
ready. And yet, until you’ve taken
that first step, you can’t start
testing your model in the market,
tweaking and adjusting your
offering to suit your audience.
If your dream is to become an
entrepreneur, don’t look for all
the reasons why you shouldn’t
take the plunge, but focus on the
one reason why you should.
When Wes launched Five-Star, he
had no savings to invest in the
business and no assets. He had
himself and his experiences. “I
didn’t spend time on a business
plan or money on getting a
website up and running — that
would all come later. I spent what
I could afford on business cards,
and hit the streets. I believed I
could tell my story better than a
website could, and so I focused
on getting myself in front of
the people I needed to sell my
services to.”
Wes’ first call was to the GM
of one of the fastest growing
hotel groups in the country. “I
introduced myself as Wes from
Five-Star, told him I’d heard a lot
about how good his hotel was,
and that I’d love to take him out
for coffee to discuss what would
take them to a ten. I didn’t sell
anything over the phone — I
wanted a face-to-face meeting,
LOT OF starting
a business is just
winging it. Call it the
hustle, faking it ‘till
you make it or biting
off more than you can chew
(and then chewing like hell), the
reality is the same: Doing what
you can, when you can to get
yourself and your business out
there so that you can build a
brand with longevity.
Here are Wes Boshoff’s seven
lessons in building a brand that
matters, offering your clients
something of worth, and always
following your passions.
PLAYER: Wes Boshoff
works in what he terms
‘headspace’. His goal is
to move perspectives
by one degree, allowing
the people he works
with to see different
results. He does this
through leadership
and growth coaching,
motivational speaking,
business strategy and
VISIT: wes.
imaginethinking. or email wes@
and the opportunity to share real
value. I wanted him to see why
we should work together, rather
than make a hard sell.”
Wes is an expert in hospitality,
training and customer service.
But he was also winging it.
During the coffee meeting he
was asked to do a mystery guest
assessment, to uncover which
areas could be improved upon. “I
asked him if he’d like me to use
their report or mine, and thank
goodness he said theirs, since I
didn’t have one.” Nine years later,
that hotel group is Wes’ longeststanding client.
This is the tactic Wes has
used to build his business and
brand ever since: He focuses on
face-to-face meetings, sharing
his story, who he is and what
he’s learnt, and really listening to
his clients’ challenges so that he
can offer advice and add value —
even if they don’t end up doing
business together.
The lesson: Entrepreneurs make
things happen for themselves.
Wes personally does not like cold
calls, and so he’s found a sales
strategy that works for him. How
you sell isn’t as important as
the fact that you are out there,
selling yourself, your business
and the solutions you can offer.
If you aren’t out there selling,
you’ll never build a sustainable
In Wes’ own words, he’s not
a book smarts guy, but a street
smarts guy. “It’s why a business
plan didn’t work for me — I
needed to be out there, testing
my model and my theories,
and tweaking and adjusting my
offering. I paid my school fees,
and used those learnings to
develop the tools I needed to
deliver results.
“I love developing models.
Applied knowledge is power.
But don’t overcomplicate things.
There’s a simple process to
learning and development: The
stages of knowledge start with
a revelation, new knowledge,
followed by realisation — making
it real — and finally a revolution,
which leads to purpose
and progress. That’s what I
help people to do — create
perspectives, interrogate the
perspective, and then affect
real change in their lives and
The lesson: The more open you
are to learning and adjusting
your solutions, the more you’ll
be able to offer to your clients.
Any tools you can develop to
add to the overall experience are
value-adds that benefit yourself
and your clients.
The report that the hotel
gave Wes for his first mystery
guest assessment became the
template for a report he built
for himself. Over the years he
has developed numerous tools,
building on his experience with
Discus and other methodologies
to create frameworks for his
motivational talks, training and
coaching programmes.
“In the early days I couldn’t
afford to purchase tools, so I
had to really listen to my clients
and develop what they needed.
There are so many resources
available to us today. You just
need to do your research, know
your industry and be constantly
tweaking your offering based on
what works best.”
on anything. I believe great
businesses and brands are built
when you add value before you
add an invoice.”
This has been Wes’ motto
throughout his career, long
before he launched his own
business. “I’ve always put my
hand up when a new challenge
or task has presented itself.
I don’t believe in constantly
looking for what’s wrong in
what’s right. Face the reality,
and determine the best way to
get the opportunity out of the
obstacle. You need to choose to
be opportunistic. I’m a realist,
but that doesn’t mean I want to
live in a negative environment.
“I’ve brought this attitude to
everything I do, including how
I view my clients’ businesses.
It’s not about what I can get
from them, but what I can add
to them. Some of this I can
charge for, but valuable advice
should be freely given. I believe
in cultivating an opportunistic
mindset; and I want to help my
clients and their employees to
do the same.”
The lesson: As an entrepreneur,
you need to walk the talk. If you
truly care about your customers,
add real value without always
Wes is a born networker. He
loves meeting new people,
sharing his story, and finding
out more about the people
he’s networking with. He’s
also very good at uncovering
the challenges they face and
offering solutions, even if
those solutions aren’t one of
the products he offers. “When
you increase your network,
you increase your net worth. I
believe in being the go-to guy
for my clients. I want them to
feel comfortable picking up the
phone and asking my advice
expecting something in
return. You’ll build long-term
relationships built on trust and
mutual respect.
It’s a common problem
amongst start-up entrepreneurs.
Early wins leave you feeling
overly confident and eager for
more. It’s at this stage that many
business owners start looking
for new challenges, and where
else they can divest their energy
for new and exciting wins.
For Wes, this diversion
was cars. “I’d been accepted
into the Branson Centre for
Entrepreneurship, but instead
of focusing on Five-Star, I was
looking for a way to combine my
passion for cars with business.”
What Wes found was Plastic
Dip, a US-based product used to
wrap cars. “I stopped focusing
on Five-Star and launched
Plastispray,” he recalls. “I had
this massive vision, with not
much support. I forgot the
cardinal rule that I’d learnt in
Samuel Chand’s book, Who’s
Holding Your Ladder, and that’s
the importance of support. We
might be the sole founders of
our businesses, but that doesn’t
mean we don’t need support
systems. Who is holding your
ladder? Who won’t get bored
and walk away?
“I ended up in a situation
where my focus was completely
scattered, I wasn’t managing my
personal life, and the business
I was trying to build just didn’t
have legs. I even landed this
incredible project, building a
Mini Cooper for the launch of
Virgin Mobile. We turned it into
a photo-booth and broke a
world record for the most people
squeezed into a Mini — which
was 25.
“I thought, that’s it, after this
project, the business will just
take off. And nothing happened.
It opened no doors.”
It was a hard lesson to learn,
and one that took its toll on
Wes emotionally. “2013 was the
lowest year of my life,” he says.
“I started seeing a psychologist,
and spent 2014 rebuilding
myself. I realised I needed to
work on my attitude, my fears
and my business. I also needed
to learn how to focus again. We
can’t achieve anything in life if
we aren’t focused.
“I failed hard, but it also gave
me perspective. When you learn
you win — which means that
failure isn’t actually losing. It’s
important to understand that,
and it’s what pushed me through
the tough times. Sometimes you
win, sometimes you learn.”
Once Wes regrouped and
renewed his focus on Five-Star,
the business started taking off.
“People outside of the hospitality
industry started asking me for
JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8 E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A
help. I was invited to speak
at international leadership
conferences, and work with
businesses on turnaround
strategies. From there the
business has just grown from
strength to strength.”
The lesson: Focus is essential.
It’s easy to get distracted and
chase the next trend or hot idea,
but real success takes time to
build, and sticking to anything
long-term takes focus. The more
focused you are, the higher your
chances of success.
For nine years Wes has operated
the business under the Five-Star
name. The longer he’s been in
the industry however, the clearer
it’s become that his brand isn’t
the business, it’s himself, and
his ideas.
“I’m always, unapologetically,
‘just Wes’,” he says. “You’ll never
be everything to everyone.
The best thing you can be is
authentic. Some people will
love you, others won’t. That’s
okay. Just be true to yourself.
I’m not a suits guy. I arrive
how I am, share my story, my
lessons, and give the best advice
I can. I share tools and tips to
become the best version of you.
I wouldn’t be able to do that if I
wasn’t completely myself when I
work with my clients.”
It’s for this reason that Wes
has recently rebranded the
business to ‘Wes’, with the
tagline, Imagine Thinking. It’s an
ideal closely linked with his talks,
his philosophy, and his name
in the market. “I’m becoming a
thought leader, and that comes
with risks,” he says. “When you
put yourself out there, you need
to have enough confidence
for people to disagree with
you, because that’s hard. Not
everyone will like what you’re
saying or agree with you on a
particular issue. You put yourself
out there in the public domain
and if you aren’t sure of who
you are and what you stand for,
insecurities can come to haunt
“I tell everyone I speak to,
‘disagree with everything I say...’
I can’t change the way people
think, or what they think — I
just want to challenge them to
think for a change. I want you
to consider your opinions and
question them. Imagine thinking.
Thinking is a verb. You have
to do something — you need
to disagree to set your own
thoughts in motion. Be brave;
share your thoughts so that we
all benefit together.
“I used to take myself
seriously; I don’t anymore. I don’t
want to offend, but I’m okay if
you don’t agree with me.”
The lesson: Your personal and
business brands tell a story.
They let your customers know
who you are, what you stand for,
and what your values are. People
do business with people, not
companies, so don’t be afraid to
authentically share your story.
For Wes, too many organisations
have a vision that’s external
and designed for clients. But
he believes vision is an internal
thing. “As an entrepreneur, your
vision should be for you and your
employees. It should be your
guiding light. It’s your future, and
it should consistently grow.
“If you don’t achieve your
vision, it’s because you don’t
have an appetite for the mission.
If you’re only looking two to five
years into the future, that’s a
goal, not a vision. Your vision
should scare you. It should
wake you up and keep you up. It
should drive you.”
“The mission is how you
achieve the vision. You need
to know what it will take to get
there, and this usually includes
a lot of hard work, stress, fear,
and living on the edge. But that’s
okay, because we’re designed to
stretch ourselves. That’s when
we discover our full potential.”
The lesson: Don’t ever be too
scared to think big. Thinking
small isn’t what entrepreneurs
are built for. Big hairy audacious
goals (or BHAGs) are the
foundation of successful,
game changing businesses
— and successful, fulfilled
entrepreneurs. EM
E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8
From raising capital to getting the
most from your employees, business
ownership is all about living your dream.
How do I chase
my dream?
— Sam
First, you need money.
Moola. Cash. Capital.
Chasing your dream
without enough capital is
akin to having a premature
baby. All the baby’s energy
goes into survival rather
than growth.
Start-ups are not about
survival (paying the bills).
They’re about growth
(getting rich).
Before you chase your
dream, make sure you
have enough capital. Keep
your lifestyle simple and
living costs down. Save up
enough to last two years.
Or marry rich.
I’m considering
selling my
business. I need
help. — Clark
Before you enter M&A
conversations, first decide:
“Am I a seller?”
You won’t find it easy
backing out during
negotiations. Don’t start
a process you can’t finish.
Don’t look for buyers if you
don’t want to sell.
Most people I know that
sold their business regret
it, unless they had a very
specific reason: i.e. the
business was about to die,
or the business can’t grow
without a big brother, or
they want to leave the
If that’s your reason,
go ahead and sell. If it’s
simply to have a pile of
cash, reconsider.
What are you going to
do with the money? Put it
in your bathtub and wash
yourself with notes? Buy
fancy cars? Buy a fancy
Lots of money in your
pocket can only tempt you
to the dark side.
Eventually you’ll get
bored and you’ll want to
start a business again, and
you’ll start all over.
If you don’t need to,
don’t sell.
How do you instil
an ownership
mindset in your
staff? — Johan
It’s hard to work with
people that have no drive.
Some people just come
to work and go home with
no planning or vision or
Start with getting rid of
the bad apples, then start
fine-tuning recruitment to
only let in the folks with a
good attitude.
Use some of these
methods to motivate and
Alan Knott-Craig’s
latest book, 13
Rules for being an
Entrepreneur is now
encourage buy-in from staff:
» Delegate.
» Ask staff for feedback.
» Do not tolerate mediocrity.
» Make sure everyone knows
their job.
» Share information. Keep
everyone in the loop.
» Look after your staff and
they’ll look after you.
» Lead by example. Pick up
litter. Be first to office. Be last
to leave.
How do I determine
what venture to
dedicate my energy
to and when do I know when
to stop pursuing one of the
opportunities? — Mike
Go with whatever gets traction
first. Ruthlessly scratch
everything else off your to-do
list. Generally speaking, go with
the business with the most triedand-tested business model.
I left my former
employer to move
away from the legal
side of things. I know that I
have the technical skills in
this area and I have used that
in completely running the
legal side of the micro lending
venture, but the ultimate
aim is to be an entrepreneur/
businessman rather than
constantly seen as the ‘lawyer’.
Do I discontinue the legal
consulting or slowly taper off?
— Mike
If you can live without the
sideline income, do so. Focus
100% on business. If you need
the money, keep selling hours on
the side
I have a very
successful farm
store. I’m considering
expanding countrywide. Any
advice? — Elo
Ask yourself “why?”
If the answer is to get
rich, that doesn’t necessarily
mean you need to scale your
successful farm store.
Maybe a better option is to
take the free cashflow of your
farm store and invest it in a
different business. An annuity
revenue business.
A business that will make
Successful businessman,
bestselling author and
social entrepreneur.
Named a Young Global
Leader by the World
Economic Forum in 2009,
and now passionate about
sharing what he wishes he
knew when he started his
own business.
money while you sleep, rather
than only when you’re behind
the till.
Cash cows are hard to come
If you don’t want to lose your
cow, don’t try to scale it unless
you’re 100% sure you never
have to sell it.
Can you help me flesh
out the detail of a
pitch to investors?
— Mamkhele
There’s only so much you can
rely on others for. At some point,
you need to man up and do
the work yourself. You need to
answer the questions yourself.
The answers for all pitchrelated questions are on the
Internet. Google it.
No one will save you, only you
will save you. EM
It’s easy to be an
entrepreneur. It’s
also easy to fail.
What’s hard is
being a successful
For an
entrepreneur, there
is only one important
metric of success:
Money. But life is not
only about making
money. It’s about
being happy.
This book is a
collection of tips and
wisdom that will help
you make money
without forgoing
To download the
book, purchase
a hard copy, or
browse Alan’s other
books, visit
Do you have a
burning start-up
Email: alan@herotel.
JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8 E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A
NO MATTER how bad your day’s
going, it’s probably nothing
compared to your average day
at the ‘Hanoi Hilton’. This was the
euphemistically-named prisonerof-war camp (actually called Hoa
Lo Prison) where American soldiers
were interned during the Vietnam
War. Pilot Jim Stockdale was shot
down on 9 September 1965 and
sent to the prison. While there,
he was tortured, denied medical
Entrepreneurs tend to depend on optimism in the
attention, kept in a windowless cell
same way that fish depend on water. It’s absolutely
and locked in leg irons at night.
Stockdale spent almost eight years
crucial for survival. In fact, it’s arguably the single
in the prison, and while many other
most important character trait that a successful
American soldiers died there,
entrepreneur can have, but it also has a dark side…
he survived.
This brings us to the topic of
optimism. You don’t survive eight
years in a prison camp by
giving up hope. Despite
almost impossible
conditions (and odds), you
need to stay optimistic.
Stockdale never lost
» Lead with
questions, not
“I never lost faith in
the end of the story. I
» Engage in
never doubted not only
dialogue and
that I would get out,
debate, not
but also that I would
prevail in the end and
» Conduct
turn the experience into
the defining event of my
without blame.
life, which, in retrospect,
» Build red flag
I would not trade,”
Stockdale later said about
his time in the prison.
So, Stockdale was an optimist
right? Yes, but it’s a bit more
complicated than that. Jim Collins
interviewed him while writing his
seminal book Good to Great: Why
Some Companies Make the Leap...
and Others Don’t. After hearing
how Stockdale refused to give
up hope and stayed optimistic
throughout his internment, Collins
asked him who didn’t make it
out alive.
“Oh, that’s easy,” he replied.
“The optimists. They were the
ones who said: ‘We’re going to be
out by Christmas.’ And Christmas
would come, and Christmas would
go. Then they’d say: ’We’re going
to be out by Easter.’ And Easter
would come, and Easter would go.
And then Thanksgiving, and then
it would be Christmas again. And
E N T R E P R E N E U R M AG .CO. Z A JA N UA RY 2 0 1 8
they died of a broken heart.
“This is a very important
lesson. You must never confuse
faith that you will prevail in the
end — which you can never afford
to lose — with the discipline to
confront the most brutal facts
of your current reality, whatever
they might be.”
From this, Collins identified
one of the key things that
differentiated great companies
from others: The ability to accept
brutal facts. Greatness demands
optimism, but not in the face of
obvious disaster. Collins called
this the Stockdale Paradox.
What happens when a bunch of
executives enter a boardroom with
their charismatic founder? The
founder is optimistic, inspiring...
and demanding. He has absurd
expectations. He wants the
impossible. (Steve Jobs was a
good example, who employees
said had a ‘reality distortion field’
around him). The executives are
eager to seem equally gung-ho, of
course, even those who know that
a crucial deadline won’t be met,
so the brutal facts are ignored.
“We’re going to be shipping product
by Christmas,” they all say. And
Christmas comes, and Christmas
goes. Then they say: “We’re going
to ship by Easter. And Easter
comes, and Easter goes. And
then Thanksgiving, and then it’s
Christmas again…
An overdose of optimism is a
dangerous thing. While optimism is
a crucial tool in the entrepreneurial
kit (especially when it comes to
motivating employees), it can lead
to disaster if administered too
liberally. Like morphine, a sensible
amount can take the edge off a
scary reality, but too much will
distort reality to such an extent
that you become oblivious to
existential threats.
And how do you keep your
company off the morphine? Collins
suggests four things: Lead with
questions, not answers. Engage in
dialogue and debate, not coercion.
Conduct autopsies without blame.
Build red flag mechanisms. If
you do this, optimism becomes
a powerful tool, and not a ticking
time-bomb. EM
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