Cell: +27 83 430 6790 | Email:mac@thehumanelement.co.za     

Lessons of a recycled start-up

A few years back I wrote a blog post about the lessons of a small business owner, and just nine months into 2016, I have learned a whole lot more!  Although I founded my business in 2005, my relocation to Cape Town from Durban in December 2013 meant that I effectively became a recycled start-up in a new city.  I hope the lessons that I learned (the hard way) will also be useful for others on their solo business journey!

  •  Recognise when a particular market has become your comfort zone.  With a background in corporate business, I persistently banged on their doors long after it was evident that they are under lock down (for now anyway).  Explore every option out there where you could add value or provide solutions – your mindset is the only limitation on what you can do!
  • Find appropriate networks and invest your time with other small business owners.  It is so easy to become isolated and overwhelmed when you work alone and have to do it all yourself. Finding others to help and share your journey with builds relationships and provides a mutual support base when the going gets tough.
  • Reinvent yourself and innovate your business.  Update the content of your website (yes, you can do it yourself) and other social media platforms.  You are the brand, so let these platforms reflect who you are – the authentic, human side too!  Innovate what you offer and how you offer it.  Check out what your competitors are doing and then offer something different. 
  • Work with people from other generations.  I am always struck by how much every generation can offer another in terms of experience, creativity, new ideas, and tech savvy, that helps everyone see the world of business in a more appealing way.  
  • Know your worth and sell it in terms of the value you add or solutions you offer.  Doing business at any cost undermines your clients’ perception of your value, as well as your own self-worth and confidence which is the death-knell of any small business owner.
  • Nuture your relationships with clients.  You want ongoing business where your clients see you as their trusted, go-to person, which allows you to diversify your offering.  One-hit wonders in business experience what those in the music industry do – they vanish into obscurity !
  • Focus on achieving daily goals that will generate business in time.  You can do anything you set your mind to, but not everything that comes across your desk!
  • Invest time in reading, listening and learning.  The pace of change and innovation is mind-boggling and if you’re not in touch, you will become obsolete.
  • Make time to do what feeds your soul.  The potential for burnout is very real for small business owners, and if you’re not looking after yourself, how can you look after anyone or anything else effectively?  More importantly…


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