All4Women Entrepreneurs is a monthly feature where we put the spotlight on amazing female entrepreneurs starting businesses in South Africa. This month we spoke to Anele Mkuzo who busts five myths about entrepreneurship that could change how you see starting a business.
Zinde Zinde founder, entrepreneur and celebrated academic Anele Mkuzo says that understanding the truth behind the myths can change the course of your entrepreneurial journey.
Deciding whether or not to start your own business can be difficult; this choice is made even harder by the half-truths and myths about entrepreneurship that have been told so many times they have become common knowledge. How many of these myths do you believe?
Entrepreneurship is the easiest way to get rich quickly
Disheartening economic conditions, growing unemployment and overwhelming desperation have led to an increase in survivalist entrepreneurs. Anele says the need to survive has forged many entrepreneurs who aren’t actually interested in growing a business.
“When you are unemployed and looking for a quick income, you don’t want to invest in a business, you want to make money fast. The truth is, entrepreneurship isn’t a quick fix to your financial problems; many survivalist entrepreneurs struggle to keep their businesses afloat in the long term because they cannot afford to reinvest the money they make from the business,” she says.
It usually takes three years before a business can truly become profitable, and this may take even longer if an entrepreneur cannot afford to reinvest in the business.
Everyone should be an entrepreneur
Whether we are talking about side hustles or finally putting your big idea into action, there are an endless number of people calling for more people to become entrepreneurs.
Although entrepreneurs are an important part of the South African economy, Anele says that entrepreneurship isn’t for everybody.
“Young people are always encouraged to consider entrepreneurship, but honestly if you are looking for the security of a steady income, benefits and set working hours, then entrepreneurship isn’t for you. Building your business as an entrepreneur isn’t easy or glamorous; it’s hard work,” she explains.
Entrepreneurs all create employment opportunities
“One of the reasons young people are encouraged to be entrepreneurs is so they can employ other young unemployed people, but not every entrepreneur needs employees – especially not in the beginning.”
Working as a consultant, Anele says she has no need for permanent staff, and while her business offers Adhoc employment to a few people at a time, like many other entrepreneurs, Anele is a jack of all trades and has had to learn multiple skills to keep her business operating on her own.
“In the beginning, you might not be able to afford staff. You’ll need to learn to be everything your business needs, which can be a tall order. While some businesses can employ permanent staff as they grow, it isn’t always necessary or even possible,” she adds.
If the aim of your business is to create employment in your community, you need to consider whether your business can afford or needs permanent staff. Anele says it is very important to make these considerations before hiring anyone, as South African law is very strict about how employees are treated and dismissed.
You should never give up on your business idea
Not only should you be willing to give up on your business idea, but Anele says you should never over-commit to any idea.
“You should never be married to a business idea. The first step to building a successful business may be having a good idea, but that idea should be able to change and develop through research. Your research might even show that you need to abandon your idea and as an entrepreneur, you should be willing to do just that,” is her advice to entrepreneurs.
In her experience, the most successful entrepreneurial endeavours are well researched and cater to the needs of a target market. “If your market doesn’t need your business, then you need to look into what they do need and build your business around that.”
Academic success is the only key to business success
Many universities and tertiary learning institutions now offer entrepreneurship as an academic course. While valuable lessons can be learned from entrepreneurial and business courses, Anele knows that this is not the only way to learn.
“Studying isn’t essential to the success of an entrepreneur, but learning is. Whether you are learning from a mentor, YouTube tutorials, books or conversations with other people, developing and growing your knowledge on aspects of your business is vital for every entrepreneur,” says Anele.
Having spent many years in academia, Anele has first-hand experience showing that the structures of formal learning aren’t always tailored for practical life as an entrepreneur.
“A formal education isn’t the best option for every entrepreneur, but the best thing you can do for yourself and your business is to learn constantly. Learn from whatever resource you have at your disposal,” she advises.
Read more of the stories in our All4Women Entrepreneurs series:
- The Lazy Makoti’s guide to finding your spot in the market
- 3 things small business owners should look for in an employee
- How Liz Senior built a 65-franchise business from her backyard
- 5 things to consider when turning your small business into a franchise
- How Ubuntu Baba’s Shannon McLaughlin took on big business and won
- 5 secrets to becoming a successful mom-preneur from Ubuntu Baba’s founder
- How Mbali Nwoko started farming without funding
- Mbali Nwoko busts 3 myths about starting a farming business