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A new model for Entrepreneurship 1



There is no doubt that we need more entrepreneurs in South Africa.  A concerning statistic is that the average rate of early entrepreneurial activity in other similar countries to South Africa (which is regarded as a upper middle-income country) is between 6 and 12 %.  In South Africa only the white and indian populations hit that percentage.   Blacks, as per the official South African definition only contribute around 4.3 % and coloureds 2.7 % even though they make up 80 % and 9 % of the population, respectively.

So, as a coloured male entrepreneur, forming part of that 2.7 %; this year (2013); I embarked on a journey with another coloured male to try and find the key to entrepreneurship and I might just have found it.

Just for the record, the reason I'm mentioning race is because it is a very important component of the South African entrepreneurship challenge and it is the context in which we have to face the challenge.  I've been fortunate to work with most cultures and races in South Africa; and they all have added value and significance to my life.

In a series on a New Model for Entrepreneurship; I am going to share the journey and the lessons and principles I've taken out of that journey with you; and hopefully be a catalyst for changing the low participation rates we have of Entrepreneurship in South Africa.

Without more Entrepreneurs stepping forward, especially from the black and coloured communities in South Africa; we are going to struggle to achieve the economic miracle awaiting us.  But I believe that just as we achieved a political miracle; now that the revered Nelson Mandela is no longer with us; we need to work as a nation to achieve the economic miracle needed to take us to the next level. 


2 Entrepreneurs working together is better than 1; even if it's for a season.  However, each one needs to bring something unique to the table.  My ex-business partner is very strong with ideas, negotiations, strategic thinking, marketing and networking.  I felt that I'm strong in terms of systems, providing resources and financials.  

The synergy that 2 entrepreneurs working together creates; can create an unstoppable team; and I think that is what happened with us.  When we started in April 2013; he wanted to work on his own and I continued with my businesses.  However, when we decided to join forces, suddenly there was an acceleration in the businesses we were involved in.  

PRO's - Working with another person gives you access to resources, skills, contacts and ideas you normally wouldn't have access to.  

Also, you are not going through the really difficult start up phase alone.  You have someone who is able to go through it with you.

CON's - Sometimes it becomes easy to lean on the other person for the breakthough; and not take ownership.

Personality clashes or other challenges could eventually cause the dissolution of the partnership.

Finding a graceful exit strategy if needed, can be difficult.  However, before and during the process, decide on what both of you would be happy with if you had to part ways.  e.g. You take ownership of Business A and B; and your partner takes ownership of Business C and D.


The last word on this principal, is that the failure rate for small businesses in the first year to the tenth year of a business is extremely high.  It's better to increase your chance of success by hooking up with someone you feel you could work with who has the necessary skill-set to complement you.

If you are interested in reading the second article in this series please click on the link below:

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Blog Post by John Volkwyn

SEDI Software and Training Specialists (Pty) Ltd.