What makes an entrepreneur?

Photo by Chesney Bradshaw. Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.
Photo by Chesney Bradshaw. Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.

A few weeks ago I attended an awards function for entrepreneurs and was highly impressed with what they had achieved without any support from the sponsors of the event. The entrepreneurs were being acknowledged for their innovation and excellence despite not receiving funding, technology or initial encouragement from various public and private institutions.

These entrepreneurs had pulled themselves up by their own boot straps. They had done it by themselves. Only after they had achieved success did private and public institutions rush in to celebrate the achievement. Yes, it’s a long and lonely road as an entrepreneur. Continue reading “What makes an entrepreneur?”

Do you have the courage to invest?

English: Central business district of Standert...
English: Central business district of Standerton, Mpumalanga, South Africa. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A foreign investor was saying the other day that he had been to the country several times over many years but was still waiting to invest. From somewhere in the US in plush offices he came up with a litany of reasons why he hasn’t invested.

These are the so-called foreign investors who want royal treatment and the red carpet rolled out for them before they will put one cent in this country. But what about all those foreign investors that are already here and the local investors who make a go of it despite the political, social and economic environment. Continue reading “Do you have the courage to invest?”

Small businesses unattractive to job seekers (maybe it’s a good thing)

This image was selected as a picture of the we...

The other day I was reading about how almost 1.12-million job seekers take the National Public Servant Exam in China.

But only 19,000 positions are available. It means fewer than one in 50 candidates will be successful.

Chinese graduates are so desperate for these public servant jobs that they turn to plastic surgery for an advantage. One clinic offers noses inspired by the Eiffel Tower.

Continue reading “Small businesses unattractive to job seekers (maybe it’s a good thing)”

What small business owners can learn from Angelina Jolie about making tough decisions

English: Angelina Jolie at the Cannes film fes...
English: Angelina Jolie at the Cannes film festival. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Angelina Jolie found out how high the risk of breast cancer was to her personally she decided to be proactive and minimise the risk by having a preventative double mastectomy.

Jolie did her homework. She got the facts to make an informed decision. Consulting her doctors she confirmed that she carries a “faulty” gene, BRCA1 and her risk was 87 percent for breast cancer and 50 percent for ovarian cancer.

She did not backpedal on making her decision. She did not play it safe. She demonstrated courage by making a difficult decision.

Small business owners are faced with tough decisions in this uncertain and difficult economy. Tough decisions have to be made to ensure small business survival whether yours is a retail store or you act as an independent consultant.

Here are 10 tough business decisions that small business owners face in these rough times: Continue reading “What small business owners can learn from Angelina Jolie about making tough decisions”

One sure way to beat this fire walk

Aren’t you just tired with people who make statements about small businesses but are far removed from the trenches of real business?

Politicians make yada yada in the media about supporting small business.

Academics chirp in on how jobs should be created by small business.

Conferences and summits with hefty admission fees are held on the state of small business where there’s much dreary theory but little hands-on practical advice. Continue reading “One sure way to beat this fire walk”

Turbo charge your innovation in 2012

Hard work, dedication and perseverance are essential qualities for achieving your business goals. In this economy more is required – continuous innovation. Prepare your business for 2012 by considering where you will need to innovate to anticipate and capitalize on changes in your market niche.

Innovation, coming up with new ideas, methods and approaches, has been essential for business and personal growth in 2011, a challenging year for many. Change, whether self initiated or through external circumstances, requires new responses often unshackled from past thinking. Just look back at 2011 and consider the social, political and economic events and upheavals that have often speeded change at unprecedented rates.

For business people change requires the ability to spot and seize the opportunity in the midst of what often seems like never-ending chaos. Change requires the need for new ideas, fresh ways of thinking, often radical shifts in perspectives and innovation.

Courage to create

Most importantly, change requires courage. Rollo May, a renowned therapist, in his book “The Courage to Create” says: “Whereas moral courage is the righting of wrongs, creative courage, in contrast, is the discovering of new forms, new symbols, new patterns on which a new society can be built … In our day, technology and engineering, diplomacy, business, and certainly teaching, all of these professions and scores of others are in the midst of radical change and require courageous persons to appreciate and direct this change.”

This year ideaaccelerator.co.za has offered insights into various techniques to spur new ways of thinking, generate ideas and encourage innovation. Blog posts have covered idea generation tools such as freewriting, closely looked at business models and provided promotional ideas in a challenging economy. Other posts have explored the discipline required to create and form new works of art, businesses and even charities and see them to completion as well as case studies of innovators who have succeeded by using ideation techniques and processes.  

Outstanding results

All through the difficult economic circumstances we have held the new that obstacles and challenges can be surmounted through generating new ideas and spurring innovation. We have assisted small businesses using idea generation processes to achieve outstanding results. We have also witnessed the more successful companies innovating their technology, reformulating products, improving their service offerings, incorporating more sustainable business practices and reaching out to customers in new ways. These companies know that their success and in some cases survival depends on innovation.

Polar opposite of creativity

Yet for many business people creativity and innovation don’t sit well in an environment that has become mechanized on a massive scale. “Mechanization requires uniformity, predictability, and orderliness,” according to May. This is the polar opposite of creativity, which often requires human processes and even unconscious thinking for breakthroughs. New ideas and approaches are a hard sell to the assembly line until of course demand for poor or unsustainable products spirals into a trickle.

That’s why our approach is to work with business people who run their own businesses and who often need to respond rapidly to changing circumstances or face going out of business. Small businesses don’t have deep pockets that can keep them toiling in the wrong direction (sometimes for years); they need to move quickly, come up with smart solutions that retain, build and delight their customers. Staying ahead of their competition, fighting for smaller market niches, requires continuous innovation.

As the end of the year approaches, it is time to relax, reflect and recharge. 2012 will soon bring its unique set of challenges. For those fascinated by new ideas that “pop up” from the unconscious in response to the need to find innovative solutions to changing business circumstances, ways to excite customers or to simply raise their game, we will try to keep you inspired with innovative ideas in 2012.