By Glory Mabuza

The bitter-sweet expedition of an entrepreneurs journey begins with a viable business idea and identification of a physical or virtual location called a ‘’market’’. It is the synergy at which this market is exploited in exchange for a profitable income that a ‘’start-up’’ emerges. But is a start-up simply an organic interaction of supply meeting demand?

Well…Yes and No. Yes, a business start-up emerges from the onset of a demand and No, it isn’t a ‘’if we build it then they will come’’. A business start-up is an ‘’art’’ of implementing and executing a viable and anomolous idea for a profitable income or possibly even add value to the world. But how does one establish a start-up that will eventually expand into a potent and large business?

1. Begin with a viable and anomalous business idea

Every entrepreneur sets off by identifying a gap in the market with a potential to be turned into a viable business. A viable business idea minimizes risks, maximizes profits and optimizes long term survival. This can constitute a product or service that is fairly new or is already in existence. The challenge with an already existing product is identifying a market in an already saturated environment. One would require to bring a ‘’fresh’’ perspective to the idea that would appeal more to the masses. In a highly competitive environment, innovation and authenticity are imperative.

2. Add value and meaning through your idea

Guy Kawasaki, the founder of CEO Garage Technology Ventures, states that ‘’Great companies are built around three kinds of meaning: to increase the quality of life, to right a wrong and to preserve something historical’’. He further states that if the vision of a company is to grow just to flip out into a large company and cash out, then ‘’you’re doomed’’. Finding value and adding meaning to your idea helps contribute to a greater society beyond monetary value. A company like ‘’Re Basadi’’ helps integrate and give voice to powerful women in business, much of whom whose potential is buffered in a thriving patriarchal business world. Therefore if you want to change or add value to the world, I’d say start an NGO or a business.

3. Identify a market for your idea

Begin by establishing a small demographic of people whom your brand will appeal to, this is your primary market. One may need to answer questions such as ‘’Why does this product or service appeal to this market?’’ or ‘’Why should individuals switch to this specific product/service?’’. Once the primary market has been identified then advertising should gravitate towards appealing this identified ‘’ideal consumer’’. Why? , because not every product or service will appeal to everyone, creating brand loyalty for an already existing market makes it easier for the business to become more diverse in the long run without losing its present consumer base. Another key factor in establishing a target market is to understand your consumer base and their needs. This is imperative in maximizing consumer satisfaction/ utility.

4. Determine the form of ownership and hire affordable talent

An important decision to make when establishing a business is how your business should be structured. This decision will have long term implications therefore careful consideration needs to be taken. Ownership can be in the form of a sole proprietorship or a ‘’one man army’’, a non-profit corporation or even a partnership. A partnership will require a level of understanding of each person’s expectations and also common vision, mission, goals and objectives need to be established. Another important factor is the outsourcing of ‘’affordable talent’’ that will constitute your team. Emphasis on affordability as a start-up is critical as it plays a crucial role in maintaining low expenses to facilitate successful operation and growth of the business.

5. Set up a funding model

Remember! Not every business idea requires funding from an external investor. Services don’t require capital, they ‘’self fund’’. Products can be funded through offering or providing a service. A Growth Fund is another significant way of funding your business’ growth. Every time you create avenue for an investor to invest in your business, remember this, you’re selling a stake of your future.

6. Protect your business idea

Find ways to protect your Intellectual Property (IP) through CIPC (Companies and Intellectual Property Commission). This can be accomplished through trademarks, patents, designs and copyrights. Another method is to find ways to protect documents that are being sent out.

7. Market your idea

Learn your market and find innovative ways to market your brand. Offer consumers value preposition. Market your brand through pre-orders (if you’re selling a product), this will provide an opportunity for you to learn your market.

8. Find and register with an accelerator programme

There are numerous innovation or entrepreneurship hubs or spaces throughout the country aimed to facilitate the growth of SMMEs. Some of these include the Standard Bank Incubator (in Rosebank and Hatfield), J&B Hive (Braamfontein), Tshimologong Precinct (Braamfontein), ThirdSpace (Fourways), The Innovation Hub, JoziHub and many more.

9. Innovation and consistency are key

Innovation is a catalyst for the growth of a business in ever changing markets. The introduction of new ideas and products helps position the business as a leader in the market. This captures the attention of the consumers and competitors. This explains why Apple continues to thrive and emerge as one of the leaders in the Tech industry; it constantly evolves and innovates to find more ways to appeal to the market.

The entrepreneurial space is overall formidable, it requires resilience. Beyond every factor, be enduring and passionate. It is easier to endure something that stems from passion. Passion neutralizes the trialing times and makes the entrepreneurial process more bearable.

“Every sunset is an opportunity to reset’’ – Richie Norton.

Make the best out of every situation you find yourself in. Not only does this alleviate the stress of having to deal with a matter, it allows you to take control of the situation instead of letting it take control over you.

The ‘’Art’’ of starting up a business begins by just starting!. Wether you start small, big or scrappy, just start!

– Vusi Thembekwayo.