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Learning….means being willing to fail

One of the very real challenges that budding entrepreneurs face is moving their business idea out of concept into action. It is a challenge because it is new territory; perhaps associated with fears and the possibility of failing.

It is helpful, therefore, to identify opportunities to “test” the entrepreneurs products or services.

This past Friday saw the CFE helping a handful of its beneficiaries to showcase their products and services at the local Tokai Market. The idea was to give these young entrepreneurs an opportunity to bring their goods (which included honey products; furniture; designer clothing and fresh vegetables) to the market and engage with possible customers.

Here are some lessons learnt from the event:-

Be well prepared and flexible!      AS in most things, the more one has prepared (getting petty cash ready; having market collateral; packing things for contingency) the more you can navigate the unexpected curveballs that may arise. When I visited the site 2 weeks ago, it was a beautiful, wind still day. This Friday was howling and cold winds from 4 through to 9. This certainly challenged us in our gazebo and in putting up marketing material. We called this adventure, the Start-up Shed; but had to relocate from one spot to another with the wind seemingly determined to relocate the Gazebo to Hout Bay! In addition, I want to acknowledge the great attitude that the entrepreneurs displayed in spite of the cold etc. That makes a huge difference.

Understand the market and consider ways to pivot.       This market is largely inside  a Marquis; and most attendees are there for entertainment and food/drink. This means that stalls offering products and services outside of food and drink are probably not the highest priority at the market.  A way to pivot may be to have an entire section set out for SMME’s and this may be slightly outside the official hours of entertainment. Another consideration would be to identify a market where there is a greater alignment.

Be proactive; willing to fail and be a hustler!   One way of evaluating Friday nights event is to think it was a failure. I think that is a mistake, as by merely being present, one would have learnt things, got feedback that you wouldn’t have received by just thinking about it.   The entrepreneurial journey also means that one embraces the possibility of failing. Successes are great, yet one learn much though failures as well. Finally, events such as Friday night are great opportunities to build resilience and take a more determined step into hustling. Well done to those who choose to engage, having no guarantee of success.

Which is why I leave you with this great quote by J T Shedd   “A ship is safe in harbour, but that’s not what ships are for.”      What lies outside the safety of one’s comfort zone won’t be experienced…. Except for venturing forth.

Here’s to your journey, outside of your harbour.


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