Reality check for entrepreneurs

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So you've started your business, but you're really struggling to come to terms with how difficult it is.

Those sales projections in your business plan are looking increasingly out of touch with the reality of securing orders.

York Zucchi, a Swiss entrepreneur who has built a pan-African business in the primary healthcare sector, offers the following reality checks to budding entrepreneurs: Forget about making a lot of money quickly. The reality is that it is highly unlikely you will. It takes time ... lots of time, lots of hard work, long hours and most probably more tears than you care to shed.

This is the reality, so don’t overdramatize when things are going badly. This is all part of your entrepreneurial adventure. As with any long journey, there are uphills and downhills. Bring perspective to your journey and don’t simply throw in the towel when things aren't going as you intended.

Don't expect to make 'perfect' decisions, which means you shouldn't beat yourself over the head for making mistakes. These are a natural progression of your development as an entrepreneur. Rather make the best decision you can, and roll it with.

Avoid becoming that person with a list of businesses as long as your arm. People tend to not take these jacks-of-all-trades very seriously - quality overrides quantity any day of the week. Rather focus on what you're good at, and stick to it.

Realize that people you engage with are equally busy and that you're likely but one meeting/idea on their table. The reality is that you are more than likely not their priority.

Key takeaway: When things are not going as you'd expected, the responsibility rests on you to find a way to make things work. Simply sitting back and complaining is not going to solve your problems. Get up, brush yourself off and get on with the business of being an entrepreneur.

 

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44 comments
  • We all have to hustle for business why does the government want to make it more difficult for entrepreneurs?
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  • I suppose this whole junkstatus thing interest rate and fuel price increases will force all of us entrepreneurs into a reality check as far as the way we do business is concerned. I mean we pride ourselves on being flexible resilient and able to persevere in the face of all hardships now we have an extra challenge.
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  • On the upside if we accept that Rome was not built in a day and we have a viable and sustainable business committed business owners will realize that they will have less competition as the current reality in RSA seems to be daunting for the non-committed entrepreneur
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  • Reading a book about businesses that started in times of hardship. Walt Disney's first company went bankrupt and Penguun books achieved record sales during world war 2!
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  • Checking out the big boys doing retrenchments may make an entrepreneur a bit nervous but on the upside.... there will be a lot more staff to choose from ??Reality checks need not necessarily from a negative perspective
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  • an owner of one ofthe smaller now succesful succesful companies was evicted from his house due to non-payment of rent lived in his business premises and used a dishwasher and hosepipe to bathe!
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  • Thecashflowguy agreed the upside is that one may have a more experienced pool of potential staff to pull from once retrenched. And another way to look at it is that there may be more entrepreneurs contesting to capture the same market you are in. These are people who have had the experience in a corporation and may have a sense of being responsible in a work place. Their disposition is that of being self driven meeting deadlines working to schedule etc. I often say to young people who want to start businesses - there are two ways you can do this and both ways are not easy - the first is to gain as much expertise in the chosen industry as possible which means work for somebody else and earn the necessary experience and identify the gap. Go start you thing. The second way is to just jump into it and learn on the job. None is easy it requires the same amount of courage resilience and perseverance.
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  • Just wondering though.... howdid he afford a dishwasher.??... probably part of the business equipment :)
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  • Thecashflowguy please share the title of the book and its author as it would be helpful to look it up. Having said that I just need to add that reading stories of other entrepreneurs can be very helpful. Finding their autobiographies biographies and even watching their documentaries are all part of immersing oneself in knowledge necessary to inspire you when the chips are down. This thing called entrepreneurship requires patience.
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  • also maybe we can negotiate better deals from suppliers better interest rates from financial institutions maybe companie sare getting of redundant equipment that we can pick up for cheaper than normal?
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  • Back to the staff reality thing.... one of the matters that we as entrepreneurs seem to battle with is the finding of good staff. You are only as good as your support staff the engine room of the business. As good as you may be at marketing and selling and manufacturing if your admin is not up to speed you will create hassles for yourself of biblical proportions.... reality check #1- get your admin up to speed
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  • Reality check#2 - Check your terms with suppliers. Important to maintain/establish good relationships with competent product providers. They may be your key to improving cash flow or surviving cash flow problems
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  • We also need to be creative in how we do business and treat this as just another challenge in our businesses. There is always another way around a challenge - you just have to think harder and work harder.
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  • okey dokey will have to go dig it out ...
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  • Yes please share the name. I find that reading books like that give me a different perspective and inspire me to look at my business challenges more clearly - it really helps sometimes to take a helicopter view although it's difficult to take a step back and look into your business as though you were a 3rd party. Any thoughts?
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  • I was in a discussion yesterday where I mentioned that there seems to be a trend to diss business plans and just go out and start the business. I sincerely believe in the second option[no more analysis paralysis please] BUT with a properly thought out business plan. Doesnt have to be a 50 page document but should address the basics such as marketing andsales strategy cash flow needs and a basic admin process
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  • So agree with you PhindileXaba!! I did exactly that - came from a big corporate and joined my current business partner on a 6 month contract nearly 11 years ago and I've never looked back... He is a great mentor to me which definitely helps and we have navigated the ups and downs of this business journey together which has not always been easy but it has been infinitely rewarding! So go for it guys!!
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  • Most probably part of the business equipment. Or may have have moved with his/her belongings because eviction doesn't mean leave your stuff behind. Rights?!?
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  • Talking about cash flow :) Another thing that may happen during a reality check is an entrepreneur may be tempted to/or need funding to establish or expand..... be careful of giving away too much equity in your busienss in the quest for cash. Very often it is difficult to buy that equity back from the investor. Try othe roptions first e.g bartering loans preferred terms extension of creditor payment periods factoring etc etc
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  • You know MichelaGordon spot on! Innovation is the mother of all solutions coupled with implementation and follow throughs will go a long way in makinga difference in the business. This may mean sleepless nights and all sweat and tears. It is worth it if you are to make it in this hard world of entrepreneurship.
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  • What do you mean by this thecashflowguy?
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  • othe roptions ??? ...other options..... aka non-traditional sources - funding from friends family fools..
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  • Admin is everything. A well rounded skilled administrator who is trainable to undertsnad the core of your business is a gift because your business can run optimally even when you are off site.
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  • apart from all the red tape small business has to comply with in order to be clear certain politicians do things that make the rest of the world doubt RSA Inc. This leads to downgrading of the country leads to ncertainty and probable interest rate hikes increase in fuel price retrenchments etc etc. We have a Small Business Minister (I think) but I dont seem to hear of or notice much change of attitude to entrpreneurs. Maybe I am missing something?
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  • Found it... book title is How they started in tough times author is David Lester. I probably bought my copy at Exclusive Books
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  • True that! Good relations with suppliers is very important they will advance you the goods you do your business work out a COD with your client pay your supplier and keep what is due to your business. Voila! You realize that you didn’t have to incur any capital outlay upfront. This reminds of a story of a 20year old (he was that old when I first met him some three years ago). He made arrangements with a supplier of off-season trendy sneakers which were very much in season in South Africa they advanced him the consignment and he had 30 days to pay off. The consignment didn't even have a warehouse it went straight to his client who ran a retail store paid COD he then paid his supplier and he was in business. He now builds skateboarding parks and continues to do the same with skateboards and skateboarding apparel.
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  • This is a brilliant idea. Try to make a loan the very last source of capital injection. Go through all sorts of alternative funding sources before getting into anything that requires you to pay interest at the very outset which can be crippling. You know thecashflowguy in my previous life when I was part of the team that founded the Women's Club which was a women'seconomic empowerment project for a publication I once was one of itsexecutive editors. We gave small loans at very very low interest. We had a bright spark in one a young lady whose business plan was amazing to perfection. She had already takenout a loan with one of the commercial banks to open a restaurant. Six months down the line she was on the verge of folding. We came in to attempt a rescue plan but it was a bit too late to try and correct something that could have been prevented. The young lady did not know nearly enough about the industry and the very small margins in profit. Even if one may have wanted to rescue it one would have taken majority equity and put too much capital into marketing -the place was not in the right address the menu was not properly priced etc.She still had to pay back the money with interest. The business died before it took off.
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  • Another reality check may be to segregate clients. I have often said no deal is better than a bad deal. I have in the past checked whether the 80/20 rule applies in my business...and it does..I.e 20% of clients generate 80% of business. Yet I was using 80% of my time in the clients that generated 20% of business. #rethink
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  • Reality checks should be scheduled. Very often a business can experience problems during good times! So if things seem to be going well reality check time. Why going well can it be improved is it because of a certain strategy or just being in the in the right place at the right time?
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  • Agreed thecashflowguy. I hear you from a national point of view I think everything is really perplexing. The political environment and economic climate arenot favourable to SMMEs and there don't seem to be supportive public policy to smallentreprises.I believe that we need people whounderstand entrepreneurship to be at the helm as you say it doesn't help tohave a minister who only has something to say when there is a crisis and hadn't initiated much of anything to support the SMMEs. I do have to say that Gauteng as a province especially the office of MEC for Economic Development Lebogang Maile has not only pushed theconversation forward on then role small businesses have in the economy. He engaged SMMEs in a public discourse that is slowly bearing fruits - township economy is becoming not only a conversation point but a reality and it is gaining traction. All of this to ensure that we can have inclusive economic roles and that we do not have to move out of our spaces when there is potential for running our businesses where we are. There are economic hubs in most townships. There is a Gauteng Economic Propellor which helps SMMEs with connecting them with providing some financial or non-financial support with cheaper office spaces or no cost office spaces internet resource centres etc.Here is what I think they need good PR!
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