Sunday newspaper editors had to scurry to update their front pages, which no doubt were to be dominated by Numsa's expulsion from Cosatu until the wires became clogged with the story of police storming Parliament. For once they were spoiled for choice.
Amidst all the drama I overlooked my letter published in Business Day on Friday, reproduced below. I hope the Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu, takes my message to heart while she reflects on her unseemly behaviour in Parliament which has not gone down well, and nor should it.
Thanks to Peter Bruce for introducing his readers to Precious Eze in his Friday column last week. I called her the same day and we met shortly afterwards.
Precious has a very promising idea for a new business and has labored for the past 18 months to get it off the ground. Like most start-up entrepreneurs, she faces numerous challenges including:
- turning an idea into a saleable product or service – this involves many false starts and requires innovation, persistence and fortitude
- persuading sufficient customers to try out something new and untested – good sales skills are essential here, and not taking no for an answer
- raising money to cover initial costs such as R&D, prototypes, a website, business registration costs – personal savings, a support network and an investable business plan are essential
- whether to go it alone and boot-strap the business or seek a partner with complementary skills and resources – this is a crucial decision and can make or break the business from the start.
We also need people with experience in business to roll up their sleeves and offer to help the Precious’s of this world. The “high-touch” model of small business support will increase the success rate of start-ups. If these mentors have skin in the game and are rewarded with tax incentives to offset their losses from failed investments, our entrepreneurial ecosystem will begin to show signs of life.