Is Going Into Business as a Young Person Your Thing? #16Conversations
By Zuko Komisa
There has been a strong drive encouraging young people to start their own businesses with emphasis placed on sustaining it and becoming an active participant in the economy. However, with the option for many young people to spend their time studying, sifting through career portals, and staying in their respective careers; what is the reality of entrepreneurship in South Africa? With a system and a mindset that seem to perpetuate a conventional life trajectory, how can we stop young people from ignoring the possibilities that entrepreneurship could bring?
While the dream of entrepreneurship is sold, very few ‘experts’ put emphasis on how hard it is in the early years, how many time you will fall on your face and have to get up, how much money you will loose in your pursuits, how much time you will need, the consistent acquisition of knowledge, innovating in new spaces, and understanding the difference between working for a business and working on the business.
Among some of the fears associated with opening a business and venturing into unfamiliar territories, many young people face the reality that there is too much month at the end of their money to sustain their lifestyles. Money matters extend into the difficulties that can arise when looking for funding, the resources needed to set up a business as well as the administrative costs. The majority of small business owners are self-funded with many small business owners using personal savings while looking for potential investors in other avenues. It is no secret that the fears in venturing off into becoming a business owner for young people are there. We simply need to ask ourselves if the leap outweighs the fall.
Who Should Start a Business?
The drive to get young people to start businesses has created this notion that everyone can be an entrepreneur. There are many young people that don’t want the burdens of uncertainty, and the inability to enjoy the benefits of a consistent paycheck at the end of the month. Not everyone wants to be an entrepreneur, not everyone wants to be someone’s boss. If we were all entrepreneurs, who would be the employee. This, however, doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to start and run a successful business as a young person. It simply means you need a really thick skin to take it on, the country needs to hire more people for the economy to grow. This generation of youth in South Africa has so many opportunities to thrive in the field of entrepreneurship, the world is their oyster.
Solving a Problem
The genesis of any business comes from solving a problem, with most business ideas being born out of experiences, successful businesses are those that find a need and fulfill it, living in the moment and creating a solution. Learning to operate a business requires a lot of resilience and experts have advice starting very early on in life makes it easier to achieve this. Many base their success on Malcolm Gladwell’s theory of 10 000 hours. Gladwell implies that spending 10 000 hours of “deliberate practice” on anything will make you a master at it. Running a business means sacrificing. It means having to work more than 8 hours a day. Many entrepreneurs can probably show that they have not taken time off for an entire year. In the long – term running your own business has many benefits, with the biggest being that you will be making more money than you would have to work for someone else.
Young People Building Succesful Businesses
The South African entrepreneur’s mindset is different from that of other entrepreneurs in African countries. This is seen through the evident reality in many townships and corporate spaces that have the unmissable presence of foreign national entrepreneurs. There is, however, a growing number of young people who want to be self-sufficient and independent, there are many young inspiring entrepreneurs who have cracked the pavement with their innovative ideas, vigor and hard work; those who have proved it’s possible to run successful businesses.
The likes of Vusi Thembekwayo founder of My Growth Fund, Ezlyn Barends Managing Director of Dad Fund, Siyabonga Xusa a young South African scientist who has had NASA name a planet after him, in honour of his work, Nick Kaoma the founder of “Head Honcho”, Tebogo Ditshego chief executive officer of Ditshego Media, Rapelang Rabana a co-founder of Yeigo Communications and many more. They are part of a new generation of youth that has overcome their fear of starting and running their own business, blazing the trail and showing its possible.