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10 Top Lessons From Leading Entrepreneurs

As we Celebrate Entrepreneurship Month

Being an entrepreneur is no easy feat, but with a clear plan, passion and hard work – a lot is possible. As we enter Entrepreneurship Month, we speak to entrepreneurs from different fields and industries about their success and ask them their key tips on achieving greatness!

From Ignite Fitness’ CEO, Schalk Hugo and internationally acclaimed Interior Designer Tammy Holmes to the Founding Owner of Just Breethe, Marc Barnfather as well as the innovative Founder of Sloom, Rudo Kemp – you are sure to walk away feeling inspired!

1. Schalk Hugo is the Founder and CEO of Ignite Fitness and his main entrepreneurial mantra is “to get more time on the clock than others. Schalk says “hereby meaning that typically I'll start at 3am and finish at 8/9pm daily 5 days a week. All that this means is; you cannot approach entrepreneurship with a mentality of effort; it requires super efforts and consistent time. Never stop pedalling. There will come times that are tough; times that your "speed bumps" seem like the Himalayas; times that you feel trapped; like you might not have the answers. Go back to riding your bicycle - no matter how fast the downhill seems; or how severe the climb of the hill feels; if you stop pedalling; you'll fall off and fail. Never stop pedalling; no matter how hard; just focus on the next stroke.” He adds, “listen; you never know when the next learning opportunity avails itself; but to catch it; you must be looking out for it. Listen to others with your eyes and your ears.”

2. “Embark on a business idea that fills you with passion and excitement, and that you really believe in. You’ll need this to fuel you when you get told no or are pulling all-nighters! Also, understand that you’ll work harder for yourself than you will for someone else, if you wish to be successful. But, you cannot do it all, so consult with or hire experts on areas of your business or industry that you don’t understand or aren’t proficient in. You’re not expected to know everything, don’t assume you are. “ - Tammy Holmes, founder, CEO and Head Interior Designer at Ivy Décor & Design.

3. “Be Authentic! Tell your story as it can't get more authentic than that, you became an entrepreneur for a reason. Your truth will resonate with the people you reach and connect with. To add to that, it's a cliché, but it is somewhat missing so often nowadays. Your customers are the reason you have a business, treat them like gold. Everyone makes mistakes, but keeping communication lines open and actively correcting an error goes really far in leaving the customer satisfied and hopefully becomes a returning customer.” – Monique Spaltman, Formulations Specialist and original co-founder of Lulu & Marula.

4. “Success is measured in many ways, but mainly in materialistic goods. To me, it is more important to measure success through happiness and the joy of doing what you love most. If you follow your passion and work hard, success and all that comes with it, will follow you. Live life to the fullest every day, and make sure to live your passion! Always take pride in what you do, no matter if it’s work, family, or play. What you put in, is what you get out. Starting with a solid foundation will ensure the rest goes smoothly. Never forget, life is about relationships - spend time meeting and talking to people from all walks of life, whether it is about you and your business or not, it’s about the time spend, connecting. Building relationships with many people and helping where you can will give the energy to move your thoughts and ideas forward.” - Marc Barnfather, founder and CEO of Just Breethe.

5. Rudo Kemp, founder and CEO of Sloom says, “Learning creates earning. It’s important for the founder of a business to become an expert in their field, to know their product backwards - this is done in many ways. From experience to research - everything you do to grow and understand your industry has a purpose and a lesson. “My career in the mattress industry started as a salesperson in a bed shop and I soon realized how important sales skills were to further my position in the industry. I made it my mission to learn the jargon and technical specs of the products so that I can accurately guide the customer to make an informed decision. I was never one for sales theatrics or marketing gimmick to persuade someone to buy. I always prided myself in my knowledge of the products and this allowed me to advance to securing a job at a mattress factory as the Foam Plant Manager. My time was spent researching and developing new foam formulas.” says Rudo.

6. Stephan Helary is the Founder and CEO of luxury skin and body care brand, Terres d’Afrique, he says “Whatever you sell, whether it is products or service, make sure it fits the market before spending too much money. You have to know all your competitors in detail and make sure that what you offer is different or has an edge the others don’t have at the time you start. Test your product in the market first to make sure your product has interest, meaning people want to buy what you are selling. Importantly, whatever you estimate you need to get your business off the ground, multiply it by two. It will always cost a lot more than you anticipated, so make sure you are properly capitalised. Whatever you estimate your revenues will be, divide it by two. People always over estimate their growth; it will be harder than you think, but push forward and keep in mind that distribution is key.” Helary adds, “Today, people want brands that sell more than just a product. Consumers (Gen-Z & Millennial) demand change. They want companies led by people who really listen, with ethical behaviour and accountability so that we can create a better future.”

7. Small Business Owner and Solopreneur, Jana Leonard from The Baskiti Co. adds, “Being an entrepreneur seems very glamourous but it’s hard work, lots of sacrifice but also great reward. Understand your market, be flexible in your approach in reaching your goals and importantly – congratulate yourself on small successes.” She adds, “Additionally, my biggest tip is simple – always be kind, listen, care and build relationships – because at the end of the day, that is what business is all about – relationships!”

8. Chrizanda Botha, Owner of Summerhouse Fabrics says “the best plan is to never run out of plans. While there is a plan, there is hope, there is a future! Always be one step ahead – wake up early, put in the work, invest in yourself and your goals – and you will reap the rewards!”

9. Alana Groenewald, co-founder of GROEN Wallpaper says, “Start a business or venture which speaks of your authentic personality, which makes you feel genuinely excited and passionate. Be prepared to work harder than you even imagined, and never pass on the opportunity to learn and grow.”

10. Alistair Holmes from Signature Furniture Design adds, “If you are not happy to stamp your name on the piece or the service you are providing, then it isn’t finished just yet. Polish it off or fine-tune it some more and deliver it at your highest standards. At the same time you need to make sure you keep raising the bar of your standards, so that you keen improving in your field. Trying new techniques and pushing your abilities is vital to evolving your trade and keeping fresh in the market. Don’t take your foot off the accelerator when the inevitable bumps in the road come your way.”

It is no secret that being a business owner can come with challenges, but the positives always outweigh the negative. Being an entrepreneur is about resilience, focus, hard work with major reward and success.


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