How to address common entrepreneurial challenges in SA

Young entrepreneurs need to employ a problem-solving attitude and believe in their entrepreneurial endeavour enough to persevere, in spite of the many problems they may encounter. Picture: iStock
Young entrepreneurs need to employ a problem-solving attitude and believe in their entrepreneurial endeavour enough to persevere, in spite of the many problems they may encounter. Picture: iStock

While more effort from both the public and private sectors has, in recent times, been placed into creating a more conducive ecosystem for entrepreneurs to start their businesses and thrive; unfortunately, many local entrepreneurs remain challenged by a number of common barriers to entry.

These include the slow rate of economic growth and transformation, coupled with difficulty of access to funding and development opportunities, which continues to be a career-hampering burden – particularly for young entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs need to apply a fresh approach for overcoming these barriers for themselves.

Entrepreneurs are naturally driven and passionate individuals who are known for “taking the bull by the horns” when it comes to achieving their dreams. For young entrepreneurs to succeed, they need to put this into action more – they should not just accept no as an answer but approach a financier for feedback on how to improve their chances of receiving support.

The larger, more publicised initiatives by government to address entrepreneurship and youth unemployment, are important, but they cannot be successful without the solution-driven contribution of the entrepreneurial sector itself.

While the private and public sectors must help foster an environment within which young entrepreneurs can thrive, a vital component of addressing these issues lies with young entrepreneurs because of their ability to seek out opportunities amid challenges.

Here are a few key issues faced by young entrepreneurs and steps that they can take to overcome these common challenges:

1. No access to funding

Globally, entrepreneurs struggle to gain funding and attract investment into their businesses.

But there are a number of investors or financiers and opportunities for innovative solutions for fund-generation, the key is for entrepreneurs to identify and approach the one best suited for their business models.

Young entrepreneurs need to speak to those who are more established for guidance in this area. Seeking expert advice can be especially helpful when it comes to drafting a formal and comprehensive business plan, which is essential for presenting crucial information about the business and showing potential funders that they are serious about their business and its future.

2. Lack of basic entrepreneurial training

From preschool to university graduation, young South Africans are educated and prepared to join the workforce, but this training often fails to include the basic groundwork required for entrepreneurship. This omission in our education system can hamper aspiring entrepreneurs from attaining the key skills they need at the outset of their fledgling business.

This gap provides an opportunity for established entrepreneurs and corporates through their enterprise development programmes to create basic training programmes for students in their communities who require foundational entrepreneurial training, mentorship and support. However, while this is not in place, entrepreneurs should enlist the help of a good business mentor who can provide the necessary, hands-on training and advice that entrepreneurs need when it comes to making important business decisions.

3. No access to business networks

Gaining access to the right business networks can often be an intimidating task for entrepreneurs who have recently entered the playing field. Yet, many more established entrepreneurs will tell you that the key to their success is the valuable relationships and business networks they have formed along their entrepreneurial journey.

The trick is to start small when it comes to building a good network. Entrepreneurs should start with their local business community and build relationships with fellow small business owners in their immediate area. These relationships, in time, can be the best starting point for referral business.

Entrepreneurs need to treat business networks like any good relationships. Regular contact and offering as much as they are taking goes a long way to building successful relationships that will last throughout their business career.

In conclusion, young entrepreneurs need to employ a problem-solving attitude and believe in their entrepreneurial endeavour enough to persevere, in spite of the many problems they may encounter. Where they encounter challenges, they should address the issues facing their businesses head-on and always look to create new opportunities for growth.

Gugu Mjadu is spokesperson for the 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and Business/Partners

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