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Turning your idea into a business

Saturday I had the privilege of being a judge on the Cape Town Leg of Pitch and Polish.   There were about 200 people in the audience, with 5 people selected to pitch their business. A workshop, prior to the competition, helped equip the audience to “polish” these pitches. It is an impactfull way to shift people in one day towards an entrepreneurial journey.

Entrepreneurship is messy, unpredictable and a combination of a science and an art. It also happens to be a very real way to address the National crisis of unemployment and inequity. (Imagine raising 1 million entrepreneurs who have a sustainable business employing ten people each! That could mean employment for 10 million people.)

So translating an idea into a value adding business makes business and personal sense.

Here are 5 filters to consider when looking at this shift from idea to action.  I submit that the 200 people gathered yesterday have to process these principles for themselves too.

  1. Information is not the same as learning.   Attending a quality event like Pitch and Polish also means receiving really valuable information. Delegates also left with a “goodie bag” of resources. These resources and that information, however, doesn’t amount to much unless you apply it in learning. As someone said, “How do you know when spaghetti is ready? You throw it onto the ceiling and when it sticks, it’s ready!” When the information sticks (in application) then learning has taken place.
  1. Don’t buy into the myth of “I can’t do anything until I have X resources” Some of the contestants yesterday had not launched yet (still in idea mode) and said they needed R800K to a Million Rand to start. Many aspiring entrepreneurs delay the start because they think it requires major resources. Chris Guillebeau wrote a best seller called the “The 100$ start-up”. He identified 1500 individuals who started a 50 000$ annual turnover business with $100 or less. So what’s stopping you?
  1. No clear problem identified; no compelling solution offered. We are fond of reminding the beneficiaries that they must identify what “problem” they are solving with their business idea. In addition, they must be clear how their offering offers a compelling solution. A solution that their target market doesn’t want to live without.   Make sure you start with a clearly identified problem, and solution!
  1. Being hamstrung by fear. The facilitator yesterday is a speaking professional who conducts workshops and Master of ceremony engagements for a living. He reminded the audience that the fear of public speaking is rated higher than the fear of death! (In some quarters)  The point is that everyone, including the facilitator, feels fear. What matters is what you do with it and how you respond. Starting a business has many fears that can come with it. The wise entrepreneur has learnt how to navigate these fears and not be immobilised by them.
  1. Having a perspective of necessity versus opportunity. Many businesses get started out of the need to provide and put bread on the table. That is both natural and honourable. Yet there is wisdom in understanding the impact of identifying great opportunities and acting on these. By so doing, the entrepreneur can move from necessity to opportunity entrepreneurship.

I have a gift I am offering to one my readers. In order to “qualify” you need to introduce us to an aspiring entrepreneur who will be launching their business within the next 6 months.

All you need to do to stand an opportunity to win a copy of the book, “Lose the business plan, by Allon Raiz” is to respond to this email by Tuesday the 7th August.

Share the contact details of your friend/colleague and you will automatically be in the draw.  (Please note, there is only one prize. T’s and C’s apply!)

Building resilient entrepreneurs


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