Are your business skills, knowledge and understanding of the opportunities of technology past their sell-by date?

The other day my son sent me a link to an article from a UK publication pointing out how a woman just over 20 had acquired a £1 million home. She had achieved such rapid wealth through her prowess on the Internet and video sphere. If you don’t know about vlogs – video blogs – you wouldn’t have a clue how she did it. Would you know how she developed her business model?

It’s not only in the Internet marketing world where things are rapidly changing. I see people struggling with new technology, not understanding what the hang it’s about. Some small start-up business models are woefully out of date. New products are launched using old models that are doomed for failure while the start-up founder could have got up to date with lean thinking and know how to test market on a small scale before coughing up vast sums and depleting valuable financial resources on product development and marketing.

How do you stay up-to-date?

I think it all starts with having a blank slate. Why do I encourage blank-slate thinking? The reason is because we carry baggage with us. We have certain beliefs that we leave unchallenged. By putting your beliefs and attitudes to one side you can look with an open mind. Another thing is to become curious – instead of just marvelling at what others are doing you need to ask yourself: how did they do that? The answer will send you on an exploration journey and increase your learning.

You might want to also talk to younger entrepreneurs. Find out what the challenges are and how they are overcoming them. What are they doing different in today’s marketplace? How are they handling issues such as low-cost, no-cost marketing? What business models are they using? I heard the other day from an entrepreneur and business adviser about nine different subscription models for gaining additional revenue.

Another thing is to broaden your information sources. Thanks to the Internet this is much more possible and costs less than a few years ago. The Internet, despite some criticising it for its inaccuracy and bias, it provides much up-to-date information. Subscribe to newsletters, email lists, expert business advisers, pod , Twitter feeds and other social media.

Yes, look the newspapers but remember that over the past decade or so newspapers have become mainly vehicles for advertisers.

Much of the information that you get from them comes from press releases tarted up by journalists who do not investigate the facts.

They also don’t put the news into context so that you know what you are reading is important or not.

Even so-called business newspapers have deteriorated, becoming thin and filled with opinions and space that is clearly earmarked and allocated to advertisers and their press agents.

If you want to learn more about how to exploit information sources in the vast ocean of information that now exists on the Internet and use it to come up with a new business idea or two to improve your small business, then subscribe and find out more.

How small businesses can compete on quality

Loaves using six-seed wholemeal dough

Most newspapers are battling to survive in the Internet age, experimenting, coming up with new formats and trying to balance their print business with their online offering. But it seems that they are missing the one key ingredient that will attract and retain customers.

Jeff Bezos who recently purchased The Washington Post seems to be on the right track. He intends putting the focus back on the reader. It will be interesting to see how he goes about doing this because quality editorial comes at a cost. You need to train and hire journalists that come up with news and information that people either want or need. Continue reading “How small businesses can compete on quality”

Old home-based business ideas that now seem quaint and some home businesses that never die

Kitten Office
Kitten Office (Photo credits: Giphy)

I was looking through lists of home-based business ideas from some years back and found some that with the passing of time seem quaint. These businesses may once have had an appeal but are now definitely out of fashion.

One such business was a disco operator. The idea was to provide music at weddings and holiday resorts by renting turntables, flashing lights and amplifiers with a large variety of old and new records, transporting them in a van or Combi to venues. Though the disco operator has become extinct, the DJ became the modern replacement and is popular at venues throughout the country.

Continue reading “Old home-based business ideas that now seem quaint and some home businesses that never die”

Looking for opportunities? Finding them on a farm in Africa

ZOO Bratislava - African Lion (Panthera leo kr...
African Lion (Panthera leo krugeri) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All four of us went into the lion cage. My daughter was enthralled by the amazing experience of stroking a lion cub just over three months old. Even at this age the lion cubs – there were three of them in the cage – make a sort of grunting, growly sound. When any of us got around the back of them, they would immediately growl because this would make them sense danger.

After playing with the lions in the cage in the hot Free State sun, we went on a game drive to view the adult lions many of which are white lions which have been bred on this farm for other game farms. The adult lions are different. They may come to the electrified fence and view you with curiosity. Then suddenly they will come towards you even though there is a fence in between and roar while opening their jaws wide. These lions are kept in a huge fenced area on a hillside.

Continue reading “Looking for opportunities? Finding them on a farm in Africa”

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”