Opportunity Zone with Gift Lubele: Understanding your business

Have you ever bought something and thought you are the only one in your neighborhood with it, only to realize that there are many of you? Well, that happens a lot when it comes business and new business ideas.  

In most cases you find that in seven out of ten times, what is deemed to be a great and unique idea a person came up with, already exists. Moreover, most business ideas die before they could even take off, due to lack of validation and thorough research.

Monday, July 05, 2021, the 4IR Accelerator Programme hosted an Opportunity Zone session with a group of young entrepreneur already enrolled in the Accelerator Programme. The aim of the session was to further guide and empower entrepreneurs on the do’s and don’ts of the business.

It is easy for one to get carried away with the excitement of discovering this life-changing idea, start spending and make uninformed decisions. It is for this reasons that it is highly recommended that once an entrepreneur comes up with an idea, is to the research first.  It cannot be emphasized enough that one should take the time to investigate and ask key relevant questions to learn more about the business they wish to tap into. Great research comes from great questions, asking good question will lead to relevant answers.

According to Gift Lubele, Founder and COO of Kudoti, entrepreneurs should also try to fall in love with the problem, the idea doesn’t really matter as it will continuously change and take a different form. What matters is the answers coming from relevant stakeholders which entrepreneurs will be engaging regarding their business idea.

Committing to the idea is very crucial regardless of what happens, entrepreneurs need to be able to push. It is a fact that there will be thousands reasons for one not to pursue the idea and action what is required to be done, but you still need to step-up and make it happen. There are great companies that were created during difficult apartheid times, like Discovery and others, yet they went above and beyond to make the business idea a reality.

For any business to work, one should have unwavering commitment towards the business. “Most people start the business with the idea of becoming their own boss and enjoy the freedom, that’s temporarily because the reality is that once the business starts growing, customers, investors and shareholders becomes the boss. You will just become a person that needs to deliver. Do not make a mistake of going into business with the notion of enjoying the flexibility or to quickly earn money and become a millionaire, this is not where you need to be”, continued Mr Lubele.

Most importantly and still on commitment, one need to give it their all every single day for your business to work. However, the sad reality is that despite one’s blood, sweat and tears, still that may not guarantee success. And as an entrepreneur one need to be okay with the fact that they gave it their absolute best and still failed. The point is not to give up, but learn from it.

Entrepreneurs should appreciate and understand why they need to start the business they want to get into. As an entrepreneur, you should never spend any money building anything without validating it first. One needs to have a significant amount of people who are willing and able to pay. Those people should have issued you with letters of intent or have already paid 50% or 100% of the money required. Anything other than that means absolutely nothing.

As a start-up one needs to have a good appetite for change, flexibility and refinement. “If you are unable to change based on your customer’s needs, you are going to have a challenge”, said Mr Lubele.

As earlier indicated, the idea doesn’t matter, everyone has an idea. When one goes to market with an idea and realise what thought to be true is not or it is, but may need to be refined a bit. Those insights from customers need to be quickly converted into actionable model within a certain timeframe. You as a business owner need to be able to refine your business, refine processes and go back to the drawing board to make it work.

Second last in the process is scaling up, it should not be done without validation. Only then one can grow the business to new markets or location. However, it is imperative to do so once one has mastered the art of satisfying local customers. Being able to deliver locally and understanding the logistical processes as well as challenges that comes with it.

Alternatively, one may hire qualified people to run the business on their behalf or in those locations where they wish to scale to. Another aspect is to learn to delegate the work to someone else so they can run the business, that way, one can focus on other aspects of the business. This approach is suitable for someone who wants their business to grow as quickly as they want it to be. The final step is becoming established and becoming a unicorn.

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