They say, when the student is ready, the teacher will show up. As I ponder on the next chapter of my life in an entrepreneurial space…rather as I shake in my boots thinking of creating a brand new business this book was timely. The book is filled with hand advice from South Africa’s Dragons Gil Oved, Lebo Gunguluza, Polo Leteka, Vinny Lingham, and Vusi Thembekwayo. Gil Oved gifted me this book as I sat in the audience in a Think Sales Conference, copies of which he bought with the fee that he would have received from the conference – gratitude.
Lebo Gunguluza set ambitious goals for himself. Armed with a B.Comm degree he set forth on his entrepreneurial path becoming a self-made millionaire by 27. He went into financial trouble after a failed event forcing him to close shop. The failure did not deter him and he rebuilt his empire in the process earned his turn-around strategist mettle.
Polo Leteka started her entrepreneurial journey with a bed and breakfast. A common theme runs through this book – the business failed – but with that came the critical lesson, family does not necessarily share the same vision as the entrepreneur; you must employ the right people. Leteka is clear that economic development has to be addressed through entrepreneurship. She has established, with partners, an equity fund that focuses on funding high-growth women owned and led SMEs.
Vinny Lingham’s entrepreneurial journey started in the spare room of his former home that he sold to fund his business that became a R100 million business in 3 years from inception. Lingham has an impressive portfolio of over 40 companies worldwide. A man of true grit, smarts and determination “I would rather have been homeless than not start a company because I didn’t have any finances” (p.15).
Gil Oved is the founder and co-CEO of The Creative Counsel, the largest communication and adveritising group in South Africa. He has a B.Com degree (cum laude). With many business awards under his belt, Gil also mentors and helps people around South Africa set up new businesses. The Creative Counsel also has an incubator programme. Oved lives by the mantra “Bite off more than you can chew…and then chew like crazy” (p.17).
Vusi Thembekwayo is a prolific public speaker and has held global inspiration shows. Vusi dropped out university after his first year because he did not have money. His first business was a recruitment business that folded due to poorly chosen partners and being ahead of the digital curve. At 22 he was given a life-changing opportunity within the finance sector. Vusi is currently a Chief Executive at Motiv8 Advisory and Chairman of a private equity fund as well as a venture capitalist start-up.
From the above write up shaping their ‘failures’ and triumphs the book is a great bible for reimagining the world around you and stamping your mark in the world. I picked my favourite ten lessons:
- An entrepreneur has to have grit, integrity, perseverance, hardwork and street smarts.
- Use your unlimited creativity to overcome your lack of resources.
- Passion can take a mediocre idea and make it into the next big thing because you will live and breathe it.
- Take time to plan your roadmap with a business plan in order to make the dream a reality.
- You must know your game, your numbers and sell your vision and pitch your business and ideas, and yourself at every opportunity you get.
- Make social media work for you and speak to a wider global audience.
- Network with a specific goal in mind and step outside your comfort zone, including outside your industry.
- Wisdom from Warren Buffett: “It’s better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behaviour is better than yours, and you’ll drift in that direction.”
- Do not ignore marketing. Develop your personal brand, company brand and product brand because they are crucial to growing your business. Remember the media is hungry for success stories; show them you are a hero.
- When you succeed, carry others along with you. True success is measured by other successes that it creates.
This is a great book for the budding entrepreneur. The common theme is that the dragons have not always been successful but they have not given up on their dreams. The best part, their legacy will live on with the many businesses they are incubating. GO CHASE YOUR DREAMS AND BE A HERO WHOSE PATH OTHER PEOPLE WILL FOLLOW.
- And For All These Reasons … I’M IN by Gil Oved, Vinny Lingham, Polo Leteka, Lebo Gunguluza, Vusi Thembekwayo (2015)