Passion is not enough – compact guide in business and entrepreneurship for college and university students

January 2017. Copyright Chesney Bradshaw
January 2017. Copyright Chesney Bradshaw

If you want to form and run your own start-up business, you won’t find it landing up on your doorstep ready to turn the switch. It will take acquiring new knowledge, experience and time and effort. If you’ve never started or run a small business before, there is no other way but to put in the hours.

Where do you start? It all begins with a seed of an idea. Some instant experts claim that an idea is 1% of what it takes to start a new product or service and the other 99% is execution. It’s probably 20% idea and 80% execution. Why do I say this? It’s because you’re unlikely to come up with one promising idea and use it straight off the bat. If you have a look at my book “Breakthrough Ideas”, you’ll see that you need to generate or find several ideas before you come up with something that matches your potential market, your passion and your own skills and knowledge. Continue reading “Passion is not enough – compact guide in business and entrepreneurship for college and university students”

Juiced up about a lemon business? Think again

Cover of "We Bought a Zoo: The Amazing Tr...
Cover via Amazon

An adventure reporter with two children is widowed. He leaves his reporter’s job and decides to buy a zoo in a small rural community. Despite the misgivings of his brother and children, he goes ahead and buys the zoo.

From the outset, the new zoo owner runs into problems with everything: staff who question his motive, sick animals, zoo keeping regulations and financial hurdles.

“We bought a zoo” is a light-hearted comedy/drama family film but it has some interesting lessons for startup owners and buyers of second-hand businesses.

Benjamin Mee, the new owner of the dilapidated zoo, has to convince the small staff that he is for real. None of them are convinced that he can resurrect the zoo. Continue reading “Juiced up about a lemon business? Think again”

How do you keep a business running for 110 years?

Cecil Rabinowitz of Awerbuchs Wholesaler Clothing, one of Bloemfontein’s oldest shops, established during the Anglo-Boer War in 1900.
Cecil Rabinowitz of Awerbuchs Wholesaler Clothing, one of Bloemfontein’s oldest shops, established during the Anglo-Boer War in 1900.

I was curious to find out how a business has been running for 110 years in a small South African city. So on a recent weekend I went to visit Awerbuchs, a clothing retailer, in Fichardt Street located in downtown Bloemfontein. The store is not situated in its original location but has been operating from its present premises for many decades. Fashions have come and gone and the downtown city area has even become gentrified but the store still has a large following.

Customers include the business person who wants a tailored suit to farmers who want durable workwear and parents who want clothing for their school going children. The store is located on big premises with long aisles of trousers, casual shirts, formal shirts, accessories as well as linen. Upstairs, at the back of the store is a large footwear section. Down below is a large tailoring room. Continue reading “How do you keep a business running for 110 years?”

Would you listen to small business advice from these tee vee xspurts?

English: Johannesburg from the top of the Carl...
Johannesburg from the top of the Carlton Centre. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m probably going to get rapped on the knuckles but I’m going to say it anyway: beware of the advice that “thought leaders” dish out to small business owners on reality tee vee shows.

The advice sounds so sensible on the show but when you realise that each and every business is different, you can take it at face value – superficial generalities.

Modify your offering to suit customer needs, look for gaps in larger business offerings, compete on value for money rather than low price, create partnerships with allied businesses and think strategically about your online strategy – that’s the typical pearls spouted on these tee vee shows.

Use email to sell your products or services


Millions are made selling products and services via email. Are you using email to sell? And if you aren’t, should you give it a try?

Email has been tainted by companies that spam (sending the same message indiscriminately to large numbers of recipients on the Internet) prospects, alienating them. But by persuading prospects to opt in to your mailing list and sending them useful valuable information, you can build a relationship with them which can lead to opportunities for selling. Continue reading “Use email to sell your products or services”

An innovator shows how new uses for products can open new markets

Technology developed in Africa shows how innovation can lead to new uses for products which can open new markets.

greysanatomy1A small to medium-sized company developed an x-ray scanner for detecting diamonds at mines in South Africa. Because regular checks were made the scanner had to emit minimum levels of radiation.

The innovative entrepreneurs making the scanner were not satisfied with this one market for their product. They began looking for new uses for applications for their scanner technology.

Now Lodox Systems has supplied more than 40 of their x-ray scanners to hospitals in South Africa and around the world. Their Xmplar-dr scanner takes 13 seconds to produce a full body overview of injuries and foreign bodies (such as bullets in gunshot victims). Continue reading “An innovator shows how new uses for products can open new markets”

Birdland, Take Five, Son of Mr Green Genes: Jazz lessons on improvisation for business

weather-report_heavy-weatherThursday evening I attended an awards function interspersed with the sounds of a jazz trio, the double bassist plucking notes that still reverberated in my head this morning.

A jazz band these days adds a touch of sophistication to an event. It’s not in-your-face music but rather brought out at the right times when the audience needs to be surprised, delighted… energised.

I am not the world’s great expert on jazz but I grew up with a jazz musician. My father was a double bass player in the 60s, playing in Johannesburg and Cape Town, while making his living as a journalist. Dave Brubeck, Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong and others filled our house in Kalk Bay with jazz sounds from a Yamaha record player. My father cut his own jazz record which I heard once and wished I still had a copy. Continue reading “Birdland, Take Five, Son of Mr Green Genes: Jazz lessons on improvisation for business”

Are you staying opportunity focused in this economy?

Credit: Creative Commons

In this economy every source of income counts. But where do you begin to discover hidden or new sources of income?

You may wonder about the term “multiple streams of income”. What is it? A buzzword from some self-help business guru that helps him or her sell their books and other products. It’s really a term to entice people into believing that it so easy to make money that you merely need to turn open a tap and money will pour into your banking account. This does not happen in the real world. You need to work long and hard for any sort of income.

In every business or new venture knowing where additional sources of income will come from is important. The simplest example is a product business that adds after-market service to their offering. This provides two sources of income: product sales and service. Continue reading “Are you staying opportunity focused in this economy?”

What sales channels will you choose to sell your new product or service?

Trolleys. (Photo credit: Polycart)

When you have developed and tested your new product or service, you will need to choose what sales channels to use to maximise your sales.

These days in competitive and uncertain markets both business-to-business and consumer businesses need to select sales channels carefully because of the increased costs of distribution and face-to-face selling.

Start-ups and small businesses are increasingly using a mix of different sales channels. These may include a retail store, a direct sales person who calls on larger companies, agents to serve the business outside its home market and an online store. Continue reading “What sales channels will you choose to sell your new product or service?”

What stands in the way of our deal in negotiations?

Istanbul Archaeological Museum – Oriental pavilion. The tablet containing the Qadesh treaty between the Hittites and the Egyptians (1269 BC.) – Picture by: Giovanni Dall’Orto, May 28 2006.

Small business owners often don’t reach deals, deadlock in their negotiations or, worst of all, reach an agreement that isn’t viable and won’t be implemented.

The average or untrained small business negotiator may tend to achieve similar results from a negotiation time and time again but not know where they are going wrong. Yet many small business owners, solopreneurs and professional consultants who possess above-average negotiation skills conclude more favourable deals.

People have been negotiating since early times. One of the earliest negotiations I could find was a peace treaty reached between the Hittite and Egyptian empires after the ca. 1274 BC Battle of Kadesh. Although it is a treaty, it has elements of negotiation such as a mutual assistance pact against attacking third parties and repatriation of refugees.

Fast forward 3000 or so years and you will find the entrepreneurial financiers such as JP Morgan in the US and financier and industrialist George von Siemens in Europe who was one of the founders of the Deutsche Bank using negotiation to build industrial empires.

As modern management developed in large businesses as well as the smaller entrepreneurial firm, you’ll find many agreements were reached and decisions made through the use of multilateral decision-making – negotiation which is the fair exchange between two parties. Continue reading “What stands in the way of our deal in negotiations?”