My passion and respect for entrepreneurship began many years ago when my mom opened up her own business – supplying hotels, B & Bs and guest houses with everything they needed. She was charming and her service was on point so, naturally, she got away with being somewhat overpriced and turned the business into a successful asset.
I worked at a business incubator in 2011, where I assisted in building entrepreneurial businesses on a day-to-day basis, and I can honestly say that this taught me that I could never see myself in the soulless corporate environment. The voracious enthusiasm and raw talent that I was fortunate enough to witness every day filled my heart to bursting. *insert inspirational violins here*
The fact remains, however, that the odds are not in favour of South African entrepreneurs. South Africa has a very low TEA (Total Entrepreneurial Activity) rate in relation to its infrastructure and resources. We can sit back and blame this on some easy scapegoats such as poverty, education, Government, BEE or the endless red tape offered up by SARS and the CIPC, but what is actually being done? Well, it’s a slow process. Pravin Gordhan stated that 68% of private sector jobs are being filled by companies with a staff complement of 50 or less. This implies that entrepreneurs are the fastest growing sector in the economy and current entrepreneurs have taken on an early adopter status. They can no longer be ignored or bullied.
To further my point, let me put it to you this way: If you view South Africa as a country torn in two – the rich and the poor – something needs to be done to close this gap. SMMEs build that middle-class and slowly fill the divide, building a more inclusive economy. Take a minute to think about how many other issues this could solve.
Look, I don’t have all the answers. Starting your own business is far more challenging than sitting in a cosy corporate cold room, but the rewards received and personal wealth gained are invaluable. If it’s not for you, that’s ok, too, but should it not float your boat, then the least you can do is support the smaller guys. After all, you will receive more personal service and, more often than not, more affordable rates. Seems like a no-brainer, right?