Once you’ve decided you want to start a business and you’ve decided on a business and you have the right mindset, mentality, clarity and focus. The next thing you have to do is mentally prepare yourself before starting a business, during and after you have started the business you always need to be mindful.
Like the planning of anything important, it goes without saying that you will need to have a plan to start a business, not just a business plan but a plan of action.
South Africa is a very challenging place to do business. incompetence, inefficiency, bureaucracy is part and parcel of doing business in South Africa. Right from the beginning, there is going to be a lot of setbacks that is going to weaken your resolve. These setbacks might simply be South Africa being South Africa rather than an indication of whether you are on the right track or not but you might misconstrue it as being material to business success.
No matter how much research you do, there will be some things that you will find out only once you have started the business. You can “research” or procrastinate a long time and cover all your bases and be delayed but you still only find out these things once you have started your business and you might still make expensive mistakes. The goal is to know when a setback is material to a business or now.
When you start a business you going to register a company (deal with the CIPC or an agent), open a bank account (deal with a bank), sign up for internet (deal with ISP), get a phone line (deal with a VoIP company or *gasp* Telkom), maybe get an importers code (deal with SARS). All these places have poor service records, if you look at Hello Peter poor service is to be expected, you cannot take poor service in this stage as a bad omen.
Now you’ve started your business you’ve developed your product or service and you have your business model, you have researched your industry and understand the supply and demand in your market. Now you are going to market and nobody knows who you are. Depending on the industry it might take longer than usual to get any noticeable traction or even your first order. Now comes the first real hurdle things are going slow, do you cut your losses and call it a day, pivot the business model or do you continue as is.
This is very important, one of the most important is “do it wrong quickly”, you need to know when you are on the wrong track before you spend too much money, some people will fall in love with an idea and spend a lot of money.
Every business, industry, entrepreneur is going to be different, but you have to be mindful and try to look at the situation from an unbiased perspective, if you can’t get someone that you trust, you might not believe as you are so involved but it might give you a reason to pause.
Next, I will look at pitfalls to avoid when starting a business in South Africa.