Eighty percent of entrepreneurs make this costly idea mistake

Train your mind to look for and create income opportunities with the “Breakthrough Ideas” manual.

Most people wanting to start a new income stream come up with the wrong ideas because they focus on a product or service idea.

You see, when you go for a new idea you can face too many obstacles. You have to spend money testing your idea. You need to develop your idea and find distribution. All this costs money. The worst thing is that you only have an outside chance of success.

Even the big companies in FMCG don’t get new product development right. Something like 76% of new products in FMCG failed between 2011 to 2013 within a year. About 66% of the products never reach the sales volume of 10,000 items, according to a news report. Continue reading “Eighty percent of entrepreneurs make this costly idea mistake”

Did this small business sign personal sureties?

Stadium progress - March 2008
Stadium progress – March 2008 (Photo credit: warrenski)

The weekend newspaper in the Western Cape covered the assets of a construction company under liquidation in its auction pages. When you look at the concrete mixer, generators and cut-off saw machine you get struck by the sadness of a business going into bankruptcy.

The sale didn’t only include these items but also the company’s construction, road and survey equipment and its office equipment and furniture. These items included containers, compactors, compressors, water pumps, moisture density gauges, generators and Leica Land Surveyor and large quantities of tools, ladders, drills and spares, scaffolding and trailers. Continue reading “Did this small business sign personal sureties?”

How to market test your product at low-cost

George opens in Johannesburg
George opens in Johannesburg

My daughter wanted a shoulder bag to take with her on an upcoming holiday and we went to the new George clothing store in the Cresta Shopping Centre, Northcliffe, Johannesburg.

We weren’t in the shop for more than five minutes when my daughter found exactly what she was looking for and better quality than she would have found in similar priced local clothing stores.

What interested me is the temporary format of this clothing store to test the local market. George, which is owned by Asda, a subsidiary of Walmart in the UK, has been brought out to South Africa by Massmart (owned now by Walmart). Continue reading “How to market test your product at low-cost”

Fishy tales of snoek in False Bay

Recreational fishermen still catch snoek in the occasional run. Local Fish Hoek business person Alf Caplen looking happy after a morning catching snoek in the bay.
Recreational fishermen still catch snoek during the occasional run in the bay. Local Fish Hoek business owner Alf Caplen looking happy after a morning of catching snoek.

Lawrence Green, the gem of South African writers who loved the country so deeply, recalls meeting the old fishermen at Saldanha who talked of the days when one man could “haul in 200, even 300 snoek in a great day’s fishing.”

As Green says, “… the fishermen needed enormous catches when a snoek fetched only twopence on the wharf.”

I never caught much above 100 snoek in False Bay and the times that I did break through the hundred mark I could count on one hand.

Already in the mid-1970s commercial fishing was taking its toll on snoek fishing in False Bay. Even the professional fishermen from Kalk Bay did not often catch 100 each a day. Yet there was a legendary skipper nicknamed “Hondered Bedonderd” (Hundred Crazy”) who regularly reached his target. Continue reading “Fishy tales of snoek in False Bay”

Big game fishing off Cape Point – the ones that got away

Credit:  U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Credit: U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

My first fishing experience goes so far back into my early childhood that most of it is like a blurry dream. Flashes of memory place me at a fishing spot behind Clovelly station off the rocks. My father had handed me the rod but I can’t remember pulling in the fish. My next image is seeing a large white Steenbras on a rock next to the water’s edge with white surf rushing in. I did not see the Steenbras escape but I know I lost it and I have always remembered the bad feeling I experienced afterwards.

Charles Horne recounts how on Wednesday, January 9, 1957 fisherman at Rooikrantz, near Cape Point, landed about 200 tunny weighing from 9 kg (20 lb) to about 20 kg (60 lb). He says in “Big Game Fishing in South Africa” that “no estimate will ever be made of the number of big fish that threw the hooks or broke away” and how many were lost on light or weak tackle. Continue reading “Big game fishing off Cape Point – the ones that got away”

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”

An idea that led an entrepreneur to a new food product

512px-Peanut_Butter_Texture (2)I spent two years working in a peanut butter factory in Randfontein, South Africa, and loved it. So forgive me when I get excited about peanut butter and associated food products.

Last year Pick ‘n Pay introduced the Planters range of peanut butter in its stores but sadly with the economy as it is even its flagship on William Nicol Drive, Bryanston, no longer stocks Planters. Pity. But they’ve cut away a lot of frills since opening that store including sometimes no flowers, fancy hand wash or electronically dispensed paper towels in the men’s toilets.

The interesting and innovative part of the Planters product, a company always known for its quality nuts, was that it decided after something like 80 years to introduce a peanut butter. Not only that but the positioning is towards the more mature adult rather than children.

I came across an entrepreneur Justin Gold who came up with an idea from goo packs, gels another squeezable energy boosts sold in stores. Continue reading “An idea that led an entrepreneur to a new food product”

Winter snoek fishing from Hout Bay and mountain water

English: Hout Bay, South Africa
English: Hout Bay, South Africa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When you are young the places you experience and the people you meet seem so extraordinary that you promise yourself you’ll never forget those great days that seem to have come out of a dream.

Growing up we lived in Kalk Bay, which sits in the heart of False Bay, and did most of our fishing there in the summer and autumn months. But when the winter came with the cold and the rain and those strong North Easters we’d head out to Hout Bay, travelling across Chapman’s Peak towing the ski boat behind the Land Rover at four in the morning.

One morning when we got to the ski boat slipway at Hout Bay harbour the queue was long. It was so freezing cold that time of the morning that my friend Peter and me took an empty two-stroke oil can, filled it with sand and poured petrol into it. After a few attempts we lit the petrol and huddled around the lighted can to keep our hands warm. Continue reading “Winter snoek fishing from Hout Bay and mountain water”

5 overlooked opportunities for your small business in this sick economy

Shipyard_Crane (Photo credit: shoebappa)

I heard this story once about a shipbuilder who would wait for an economic recession to build new ships. He could get labour, steel and services far cheaper when times were bad. By the time the economy mended itself and was growing again, the shipbuilder would sell his ships. Demand for ships was stronger again. That’s how he made big money.

This economic downturn has been running for five years. In South Africa, although we experienced 0.9 percent GDP growth in the first quarter (not unlike Mexico, at 0.8 GDP growth, mind you) we still haven’t gotten into negative territory. Some sectors have but here we are talking overall.

Look what the sick economy has brought: high administered prices, shocking energy spikes (electricity and petrol), tightening of cash and weak demand. As costs have risen so has inflation and wage demands. Small business has experience increased theft, stock loss and armed robberies.

Yet while many things are going south in this rocky economy, smart-thinking small business owners have been fine-tuning their costs, negotiating harder and sweeping out the dead wood.

Here are five overlooked opportunities for your small business in this sick economy: Continue reading “5 overlooked opportunities for your small business in this sick economy”

How innovation can help your business thrive in this economy


A new demonstration gearing solutions factory in Fellback, Germany, will continuously interlink machines, product equipment and semi-finished products via the Internet – so that specification of a gearwheel can be altered at the last minute.


The interlink process will be integrated into a “thinking” production operation known as cyber-physical systems. This will contribute towards securing the future of Germany’s industrial base.


Another innovation of the gearing solutions factory is that it has been designed to integrate into a densely populated urban environment. Eco-relevant issues such as noise, flue gas, waste, CO2 emissions, water and effluent as well as energy consumption are minimised.


This modern factory may be far removed from the everyday reality of small retail, service and manufacturing businesses in South Africa. Yet local business people need to be just as innovative in their thinking to thrive in this economy, especially businesses that export.


Where do new ideas come from? Without people, there are no ideas. How are ideas formed? An idea results from combinations, associations, connections and recombinations people make in their brains during conscious or unconscious thinking. Continue reading “How innovation can help your business thrive in this economy”