I have been doing this entrepreneurship thing for almost 3 years now and I must say that it is the hardest thing I have pursued. It will take everything from you, but it will give you the most fulfilling feeling on earth. As someone who does this day in and day out, you see people online waiting for a different image of this dream chasing, so I decided to pen down some of my lessons learned over the years. Here is what people on social media will not tell you about entrepreneurship.
1. You will borrow money from friends to keep your dream alive. Dreams need money, dreams are not cheap, dreams are the most expensive thing you will put your money on, so basically one hell of a gamble. Chances are the first 6 months to a year – you will not make any money as a new business because you are establishing yourself and you need people to have confidence in your business. That takes time and money to keep afloat.
2. Cashflow is KING! Without money, you can’t do anything for your business or yourself. When you understand this, your decisions are easier to make with regards to your business. We try to deal with clients that understand our position that we don’t have thousands of rands in our savings just waiting to be spent, we are not there yet, we are not big yet therefore every cent matters. We can’t wait 90 days for payment of something we have done already, what are we doing during that 90 days (3 months)? As a small business one should ask for a 50% deposit before doing anything because when your company doesn’t have the cash to do daily work you will end up being in trouble.
3. Everything you make you end up putting it back into the business, it sounds like a nice thing but its not at times (I also want those Gucci sneakers that everyone has). The biggest problem I have with being a dreamer is that you always end up putting everything back into the business or you come up with more ideas to grow the business which means more money. I can imagine a business is similar to a child, the more it grows the more demanding it gets and all that money you had plans for ends up going to the business. There are times when I have the money to do something for myself but end up putting it back into the business because the business needs it to grow.
4. Relationships are everything with friends and clients, be kind to your clients in hope that they are kind to you. I remember getting a contract because I bought this guy beer at Party People years ago. What I didn’t know is that he was down and out at the time and he didn’t have money for alcohol and the party was jumping. I bought him a beer and he had a good night. What I didn’t know is that the same guy remembered that night and based on work and then I got the contract. You never know where people will end up, therefore, be kind to people. Relationships are everything in the business world. Shout out to the clients that have been good to us, we appreciate you.
5. Don’t do things for FREE unless it builds the brand and it will make sense in the long run (Free products don’t pay any bills, unless if its a free car you can sell). We don’t except freebies as payment and we don’t do press releases either. It’s very hard to not accept things for free but you need to make a decision of whether you are a business or an influencer. Agencies get paid to push their clients’ products on different platforms, therefore, I don’t understand why they are not willing to pay to access this community that you have built. Don’t be afraid to say NO to big companies.