What makes one small business more profitable than another?

By Chesney Bradshaw

Two small restaurant businesses started up, one after each other, in the same premises. After 18 months, the first business went to the wall and had to shut its doors. The second business took over the same premises also with a restaurant but business is strong and growing.

What made the difference between these two small businesses? What made one unprofitable and the other profitable?

If you are looking to open a new business, what key fundamentals will you look for when it comes to profitability? Even if you are presently running a small business it’s worth looking at these key fundamentals because you may be missing out on profit opportunities. Without running your business profitably you are unfortunately not going to make it over the medium-to long-term. As a start-up or any individual who is starting any income-generation opportunity, you need to carefully consider how profitable your business is going to be. Continue reading “What makes one small business more profitable than another?”

Will it fly? How do you know if your new business idea has been formed under the wrong assumptions… before you take the leap

Are you ready for the Thanksgiving turkey?

In Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s book The Black Swan, he has the example of the Thanksgiving turkey that leads a comfortable life for about 999 days, eating and ranging around a small patch of grass. The turkey becomes comfortable and assumes this cycle of eat-relax-sleep will continue on indefinitely. But on the thousandth day, Taleb’s Thanksgiving turkey finds his head on the chopping block and the good times come to an abrupt end. Continue reading “Will it fly? How do you know if your new business idea has been formed under the wrong assumptions… before you take the leap”

Original ideas — do you think they have any legs?


We went by train to Port Elizabeth in April 2017. Almost all the railway stations were in the same condition as this one at Koppies. But where has the maintenance budget monies gone? New ideas are needed to encourage local and foreign tourism.

An Internet marketer was saying on his podcast that the original business ideas don’t work. A start-up just doesn’t have the deep pockets to advertise an original product or service. Far better, he said, is to copy something that is already working.

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Is it really as simple as this? Well, for one thing if you see what is already available on the market and is being advertised, there is a good chance that the product or service has found a target markets and is bringing in revenue for the start-up or small business. The veteran Internet marketer’s advice was to go for niche markets that are already proving themselves. The trick is to check out the product or service, find its holes, flaws and shortcomings and then to produce something better. Continue reading “Original ideas — do you think they have any legs?”

How many business formats do you know that remain a sure thing like snoek kop sop?

Long  past the glory days of  100-a-man snoek in False Bay.  Copyright 2016 Chesney Bradshaw
Long past the glory days of 100-a-man snoek in False Bay. Copyright 2016 Chesney Bradshaw

We drove out during the festive season to Millers Point to buy fresh Snoek from the professional ski boat fishermen at the Rumbly Bay slipway.

The Snoek was in very good condition and was a large one with a humongous head. I couldn’t throw the head away because it had so much potential to make tasty Snoek head soup. This delicacy was a staple in our household growing up. Continue reading “How many business formats do you know that remain a sure thing like snoek kop sop?”

Promises flying like lies from politicians’ lips

Credit: Unsplash
Credit: Unsplash

A while back a report stated that more than 40 tertiary colleges were degree or diploma mills or not properly registered to do what they are offered. These so-called colleges inflict financial loss on unsuspecting students who spend their money on certificates that carry no weight or future. It is also a disappointment and setback for young people who think that these qualifications can be an entry pass to the future. Continue reading “Promises flying like lies from politicians’ lips”

At least this supermarket gives a leg up to start-ups

2016-04-30-13-34-03We were travelling through the Karoo in 34° heat. It was lunch time and during the festive season we didn’t want to stop at one of those service stations owned by the giant conglomerates that want their customers to bring two rand coins to use their toilets.

So we went down the back road and found a supermarket where we could order burgers at a third of the price of the giant service stations, get cold drinks at half the price, coffee at two thirds of the price and warm, friendly service. While we were waiting for the burgers to be prepared we wondered around the supermarket and came across an amazing display – that you won’t find in many supermarkets. Continue reading “At least this supermarket gives a leg up to start-ups”

Should you start out with a smaller project before you take the leap and run a full-scale business?

img_1805-cb-portrait-tiny-1By Chesney Bradshaw

About a year ago a fast food flame-grilled chicken outlet with a restaurant opened up in the local neighbourhood. The previous premises were completely refurbished at great expense, a new kitchen built, the table arrangement changed and the outside decor was modernised with the latest signage. The doors opened, the store traded for about 6 to 8 months and then shut down.

Just imagine how much money the owner put into this restaurant. No expense was spared at bringing it up to a level that matched or even in some cases surpassed the giant fast-food chain stores. Sometimes it’s like this. A would-be owner of a small business needs to start up with everything ready so that they can serve customers with the quality and price perception that they are trying to create. To go smaller or with less bells and whistles might mean a turn off for customers. Yet the risk of going full-scale is much higher because simply the market hasn’t been tested for demand. Continue reading “Should you start out with a smaller project before you take the leap and run a full-scale business?”

Is it possible to manufacture your own lucky breaks?

Aspatat Farm, Aranos, Namibia, Copyright Chesney Bradshaw 2016

A business person was caught in a situation where he received ugly treatment from a media company and decided to throw in the towel.

There is only so much that anyone can take.

Unfortunately, despite value statements engraved in brass plaques or high-gloss and framed posters, some companies do not live up to their espoused values.

Anyway, this business person left and a few days later received a call out of the blue to say that the lease had expired on a small restaurant and would the business person like to take it over. Continue reading “Is it possible to manufacture your own lucky breaks?”

Would you do this for fun?

Credit: Unsplash
Credit: Unsplash

When I started out researching, interviewing and experimenting for my book “Breakthrough Ideas” I wanted practical, hands-on tools and resources that would give people the best possible chance and actionable results.

I pride myself on action orientation and leadership of change and used these qualities to go beyond deep research into the subject of turning new business ideas into viable products and services. I collaborated with several start-ups and experienced small business people to test-drive my concepts to ensure that they work in the real world.

One key ingredient was to ensure that the tools and techniques would be fun to use. This is important. Why would you put all the hard work, time and money into developing a promising new idea unless it was going to be fun to do?

One of the celebrity entrepreneurs who I admire says that you should ask yourself when pursuing an idea whether you would do it for fun. This comes from an entrepreneur who started at the very bottom and worked his way up. He’s not someone who has become rich and famous and dishes out advice to extend his brand personality. No, this entrepreneur walks his talk. He has a genuine interest in helping others do well for themselves – a rare quality.

Pursuing an idea that you want to turn into a small business needs to be fun. It especially needs to be fun if you think you are eventually going to make a living from it and it will be your main lifestyle. You need to put in the extra hours, burn the midnight oil, suffer the pain of the challenges that are presented to you and work weekends until you don’t even know what a break feels like. Of course, you need to take breaks but you know what I mean.

The important ingredient of fun comes with the underlying belief that doing something for yourself, starting something from scratch and making it work gives you a freedom that others year for.

Yet once you have earned your freedom through the vehicle of a successful enterprise you need to be extra careful to not give that freedom away. What do I mean by this? It’s simple. You can so easily give your freedom away to bankers when you take out loans. You can give your freedom away to shareholders who take a cut of your business. You can give your freedom away to a landlord who sinks you and your business into a deep spiral of debt by jacking up your rental with exorbitant annual increases.

You have to be on your guard. All of these and many other traps lie in wait for the unwary. They may be furthest from your mind when you start out but when you plan your formal legal structure, access to finance and location it’s important to consider how much of your freedom you are giving away to others.

Yes, that celebrity entrepreneur knows what he is talking about when he says ask yourself whether you are doing this for fun. It sounds like an innocuous question but behind it is really how much meaning does it give to you and how much freedom?

A new business idea needs this one quality to really succeed

(Copyright © 2016 by Chesney Bradshaw, all rights reserved)
(Copyright © 2016 by Chesney Bradshaw, all rights reserved)

A surfer from the Eastern Cape took his son to the beach. While they were there, his son was stung by a bluebottle or Portuguese man o war. The surfer began investigating what could work to relieve his skin because vinegar certainly didn’t. He discovered that papaya or pawpaw has a substance that works to relieve bluebottle stings. He developed this idea and now has a product that relieves a range of stings. Continue reading “A new business idea needs this one quality to really succeed”