Sunday, 16 November 2014

Business not as usual - letter to Business Day

First, thanks to all the regular and new readers of Tata Ma Chance Tata Ma DA who visited over the weekend. Your shared my account of events in the House of Assembly on Thursday multiple times on Facebook and Twitter, leading to a huge spike in readership. Thank you! It seems to have struck a chord.

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.

Dear Sir

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.
South Africa’s dismal record of start-up failure means we need millions more people like Precious willing to take the gap and risk everything on an idea, if we are to create 11 million jobs by 2030. To increase their chances of success, people with money  to spend (whether investors, consumers or corporate/government buyers) need to be willing to risk a little bit more on the unknown and do things differently. Business as usual will not get us there.

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.


Toby  Chance

1 comment:

  1. The endless rules and regulations (especially the racial quotas) make the seed corn impossible to germinate. Get rid of all the red tape and paperwork and the people will do your job for you