This month we ask what kind of entrepreneur you are; we feature natural entrepreneur Rikesh Parthab in our success story; we celebrate young entrepreneurs at the SME Toolkit South Africa Young Aspiring Entrepreneurs Business Plan Competition function held on 15 November; Gerrie discusses the power of successful networking; and we look at how to find the right location for your small business.
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SME Business Bang
November 2012   |   Volume 4.7

Empire builder, freedom fighter or craftsman: what kind of business owner are you?

The idea of entrepreneurship and business ownership is still fast climbing up the popularity stakes in South Africa. But what kind of life are you really choosing for yourself once you decide to make a career out of owning your own business in South Africa?

Recently, hundreds of people gathered in Cape Town for a youth entrepreneurship conference which formed part of the Telkom Cape Town Entrepreneurship Week, which in turn forms part of Global Entrepreneurship Week, billed as the “largest festival of entrepreneurship in the world.”

The SME Toolkit South Africa also hosted its annual Young Entrepreneurs Business Plan Competition Awards evening on 15 November. Hosted by Business Partners, IFC and IBM, the awards event is a culmination of two months of workshops and interviews with young entrepreneurs who would like to take a leap into the field of business. The Toolkit is an online resource which offers software, business forms, tools, articles and training to help small businesses grow and prosper.

Success story:
Living the life of a natural entrepreneur

Teachers know that it is very difficult to predict who in any ordinary class of school children are going to become outstanding entrepreneurs one day - not necessarily the top performers, not even necessarily the guy who is always flogging chips and sweets to his schoolmates. But in hindsight, they usually recognise that the signs were there all along.

In the case of Rikesh Parthab, the signs were in his choice to sweat away his weekends in the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) heat as a 16-year-old petrol pump attendant while his classmates passed by, towel around the shoulders, on their way to the local municipal swimming pool. Today, he owns, among other things, the number-one Shell petrol station in KZN, one of the top ten in South Africa and one of the top 300 out of 14 000 Shell outlets in the world.

Celebrating young entrepreneurs during the Global Entrepreneurship Week

Aspiring Tshwane entrepreneur with a passion for the tourism sector was on 15 November 2012 crowned the overall winner of the SME Toolkit South Africa Young Aspiring Entrepreneurs Business Plan Competition.

The event was the culmination of a rigorous process, held under the auspices of Global Entrepreneurship Week. Siyabonga Sikosana surpassed more than a hundred of would-be entrepreneurs with his business plan and presentation skills. Entrepreneurship, the engine room of our economy, and the development of a nurturing environment for these businesses to start and flourish, is what will create jobs in the long term,” says Nazeem Martin, Managing Director at Business Partners Limited about the motivation for creating the competition.

Blog: The power of successful networking

By Gerrie van Biljon

Many entrepreneurs are highly skilled, technically knowledgeable and experienced. But, after dealing with entrepreneurs over many years there are two skills areas that are often lacking when it comes to managing a successful business: financial management and marketing.

The financial management will be addressed another day, but today I will focus on one important aspect of marketing, and that is networking.

In my view networking is nothing more than building relationships. It all starts with you. Some people don’t find it easy to build sound networks (relationships) and for others it comes naturally. 

Networking is not only about relationships with existing or potential clients. It is with everybody you deal with or bump into - from the person you buy your bread from, to the person sitting next to you on the aeroplane. You need to be so excited about what you do that you want to share it with anyone who is willing to listen. When you do get an ear to listen, share your passion with them.

Property: Finding the right location for your small business

Finding the right location for your small business is a matter of determining what is absolutely crucial and what can be safely compromised. There is a lot riding on this important decision, and with so many factors to consider, it can seem overwhelming.

Don't be intimidated into making a haphazard choice, though. If you take the process step-by-step, and get expert help along the way, you can find the location that will give your business the best possible chance to succeed.

Set the Parameters

The first step is to honestly assess two basic components of your business plan:
- Who is your target customer?
- How do you want this business to fit into your life?

Your target customer will depend on the product or service you intend to sell. A vintage clothing store will attract a different kind of customer than a designer boutique, for example. Visit businesses that are similar to yours and take a good look at the customers. Are they older? Younger? More affluent? Less affluent? Do more women frequent the business than men, or vice versa? Ask the owners what they've learned about their customers - there may be surprises.
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After reading the article, what type of entrepreneur do you think you are?

Empire builder
Freedom fighter

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BPL Venture Fund
On 16 October 2012 Business Partners Limited announced the launch of the R400 million Business Partners Limited Venture Fund, one of the largest SME financing funds in South Africa.

“This limited funding and support for SMEs often results in innovative business ideas, many of which are developed at tertiary institutions, incubator programs, innovation hubs and industry groups, never getting off the ground.The Business Partners Limited Venture Fund can now plug this hole,” says Gerrie van Biljon, Executive Director at Business Partners Limited.

The fund will consider first round finance deals up to R10 million, with the focus on the venture’s viability and high potential for growth. Consideration will be given to early stage investments after the research and development phase.
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