Impossible, Yes, So Let’s Get to Work

The merest attempt at estimating, the slightest unconscious recording is shrugged off as an absurd association with some never-to-be-realised dream…. as an exercise in futility….

I manage to whisper my first thought (whisper, so the demons won’t hear):

“I know it’s impossible. But I know I will do it.”

At that instant, the towers become “my towers.”

Once on the street, a new thought: Impossible, yes, so let’s get to work.

— from Man on Wire, a must-read diary of tightrope walker Philippe Petit’s conquest of the World Trade Centre

A business that is not growing, is dying

Entrepreneurship is about taking risks, about innovation, about closing a gap in the market but importantly it is also about growth. Below is a summary of the fascinating story about a startup company called Métier based in South Africa:

Métier Mixed Concrete is a private company that has been in operation since March 2007. The core business of Métier is the manufacture and supply of quality ready-mixed concrete products for the residential, commercial and industrial markets in South Africa. Métier has achieved significant growth by positioning its business in markets that offer strong and growing demand for its products.

Métier’s initial geographic focus was in Durban and Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, where it secured a fair market share, but the company has recently extended its footprint to the Gauteng market where it has established a number of operations. Métier supplies a varied range of products and is well positioned to supply a variety of standard and specialised concretes to the construction industry.

During the year to 28 February 2013, Métier’s revenue grew by 75% to R412 million, driven largely by new business in Gauteng and successful completion of work on two major projects in KwaZulu-Natal. Profits increased by 48% and while the company was able to maintain its gross profit margins it did not increase them for the first time in seven years. This is a reflection of the slow economic environment and the consequent increase in price competition.

In March 2013, six years later Sephaku Holdings (a company owned by Dangote, Africa’s richest person) acquired Métier for R365-million. A start-up company that started operations from nothing in March 2007 has been to grow to be valued at R365 million in March 2013, six years later. This is what we mean by growth. Entrepreneurship is about growth.

The basic definition of entrepreneurship is about starting something from nothing and growing it. Growth is fundamental to entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs are different, there are those who happen to own a business of the same size for a number of years, from generation to generation, those are what we typically life-style entrepreneurs. Their businesses revolve around their lifestyle.

But for serial entrepreneurs, a business that is not growing is a business that is dying. The business environment is always changing and therefore if you are not innovating and growing, other new entrants will catch up with you and render your business less competitive.

Growth means exploring other markets, introducing new products, and sometimes even acquiring other businesses through mergers and acquisitions. It is about challenging the status quo, continous improvement. Entrepeneur change things even if they are not broken in the quest to do better.

When your business is not ready for big clients, take it easy, grow organically with small clients, perfect serving small clients to an extend where big companies will see value proposition. Keep selling to small clients, the big ones will come.

Be careful when you scale your business, don’t confuse growing too quickly with success

Ps: This is extract from my upcoming book: Start-Up Revolution. The book is to be launched in May 2014

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Report 2013

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) report for 2013 has been released and having read it, I thought I will summarise some of the highlights of the report (with more emphasis to sub-Saharan Africa economies):

• GEM (Global Entrepreneurship Monitor) study represents over 75% of the world’s population and 90% of world’s total GDP.

• Namibia and South Africa are efficiency-driven economies. Angola, Botswana, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda and Zambia are factor-driven economies.

Efficiency-driven economies are driven by industrialisation and an increased reliance on economies of scale, with capital-intensive large organisations more dominant.

Factor-driven economies are dominated by subsistence agriculture and extraction businesses, with a heavy reliance on (unskilled) labour and natural resources.

• Among the factor-driven economies, the sub-Saharan African economies have the highest TEA rates, especially Zambia and Nigeria with 39% of the adult population (18-64 years old) involved in early-stage entrepreneurial activity.

• In the efficiency-driven group, the highest TEA rates were found in the Latin American and Caribbean economies, while lower levels were reported in MENA and Europe.

• Trinidad and Tobago and the United States showed the highest TEA rates among the innovation economies.

• Italy and Japan have the lowest TEA rates in 2013, 3.4% and 3.7% respectively.

• Entrepreneurs do indeed experience higher levels of job satisfaction than employees. Empirical research suggests that this is because they value the independence and lifestyle flexibility of running their own business

• Necessity-driven entrepreneurs have low well-being levels compared to opportunity-driven entrepreneurs

• Sub-Saharan African rates of female early-stage entrepreneurship are comparable to their male equivalents. Notable cases are Ghana, Nigeria and Zambia which exhibit more participation of women than men.

• Early-stage (startups) in innovation-driven economies exhibit highest degrees of well-being

• Individuals in factor-driven economies tend to report more positive attitudes on perceived opportunities to start a business

• Sub-Saharan economies exhibit lower proportions of new product with European economies. Growing emergent economies like Colombia, Chile, Taiwan and South Africa have high rates of new products (over 70%) but also high proportions in new markets (over 50%).

GEM Stats1

• 69% of individuals in the Sub-Saharan African economies often see good opportunities to start a business in the region

• 47% of individuals in the Sub-Saharan economies also exhibit having intentions to start businesses.

• Only 12.8% of South Africa’s population (18-64 years) have entrepreneurial intentions to start a business within 3 years. Uganda (60.7), Malawi (66.7), Botswana (59.2)

• Only 37.9% of South Africa’s population (18 – 64 years) perceives entrepreneurial opportunities to exist in the country.

• Only 42.7% of people in SA perceive to have entrepreneurial capabilities.

GEM Stats2

• South Africa’s Total Entrepreneurship Activity (TEA) level is now at 10.6% (2013) from 7.3% in 2012 and 9.1% (2011). Showing improvements.

• However South Africa ranks lower than other African countries in terms of Total Entrepreneurship Activity (TEA).

• TEA rate for other Sub-Saharan African countries are as follows: Zambia (39.9%), Botswana (20.9%), Malawi (28.1%), Angola (22.2), Ghana (25.8), Nigeria (39.9) and Uganda (25.2).

• Sub-Saharan Africa shows the highest regional TEA rates, there are high rates of discontinuance relative to TEA. Angola and Malawi have higher business discontinuation rate than TEA.

• The establishment rate for South Africa is 2,9% and the discontinuance rate is 4.9% which means South Africa’s economy is losing entrepreneurs more than it is establishing them.

• In the Sub-Saharan region, people between 25 & 35 years are the biggest (32%) group engaged in early-stage entrepreneurial activity.

• Primary solutions for improved TEA in the country: Primary education, health, infrastructure, macro-economy stability.

• Secondary solutions: Labour market efficiency, market openness, tech readiness, research and development transfer, cultural & social norms, commercial and professional infrastructure, physical infrastructure, access to finance, government policy and programs.

Below is the link to the full GEM 2013 report:

Good ideas come from bad ideas

When someone says to me, “I don’t have any good ideas…. I’m just not just good at that,” I ask them, “Do you have any bad ideas?”

Nine times out of ten, the answer is no. Finding good ideas is surprisingly easy once you deal with the problem of finding bad ideas. All the creativity books in the world are not going to help you if you are unwilling to have lousy, lame and even dangerously bad ideas.

One way to become creative is to discipline yourself to generate bad ideas. The worse the better. Do it a lot and magically you will discover that some good ideas slip through from the bad ideas.


We are Surrounded by Bureaucrats, Note Takers, Manual Readers, TGIF Labourers, Map Followers and Fearful Employees

The problem is that the bureaucrats, note takers, manual readers, TGIF labourers, map followers and fearful employees are in pain. They are in pain because they are overlooked, underpaid, laid off, and stressed out.

The first chapter of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations makes it clear that they way for business to win is to break the production of goods into tiny tasks, tasks that can be undertaken by low-paid people, following simple instructions. Smith writes about how incredibly efficient a pin-making factory is compared t a few pin artisans making pins by hand. Why hire a super-talented pin maker when ten barely trained pin-making factory workers using a machine and working together can produce a thousand times more pins, more quickly, than one talented person working alone can?

For nearly three hundred years, that was the way work worked. What factory owners want is compliant, low-paid, replaceable cogs to run their efficient machines. Factories created productivity, and productivity produced profits. It was fun while it lasted (for the factory owners).

Our society is struggling because during times of change, the very last people you need on your team are well-paid bureaucrats, note takers, manual readers, TGIF labourers, map followers and fearful employees. The compliant masses don’t help so much when you don’t know what to do next.

What we want, what we need, what we must have are indispensable human beings. We need original thinkers, provocateurs, and people who care. We need marketers who can lead, makers willing to be shunned if it is necessary for them to make a point.

Every organisation needs an entrepreneur, the one person who can bring it together and make a difference. Some organisations haven’t realised this yet, or haven’t articulated it, but we need such change-makers.

Entrepreneurs are people with a genius for finding a new answer, a new connection, or a new way to getting things done.

That would be you.

Professional wrestling is fake – learning how to see.

Professional wrestling is fake. Now some of you knew that before, but some of you just heard it for the first time.

When you learn to see wrestling differently, that moment when you realise that it was fake, suddenly you noticed the blood pack, you notice people pulling their punches, you notice that things are not the way you thought they were, you begin to see through the façade. Suddenly the people you thought were great athletes you realise that actually they are great actors, this changes how you see the sport.

What this means is that the way you see the world might be different than the way the world has become. As an entrepreneur, attending business seminars and thought leadership sessions are ways that can teach you how to see things differently.

The business environment changes all the time, it is when you are in the company of thought-leaders that you learn to see things as they are not as you thought they are.

Fit In or Stand Out

There are countless people waiting to tell you how to fit in, waiting to correct you, advice you, show you what you are doing wrong.

And no one pushing you to stand out.

If you add up all the books, back-benchers, bosses, teachers, parents, co-workers, employees, religious zealots, politicians, and friends who can show you how to fit in just so, it’s sort of overwhelming. It’s clear to me that we are really good at establishing and reinforcing the status quo.

Fit in too much, though, and nothing much happens. Where are the self-appointed agitators and firebrands, the people who will egg you on and push you to stand for something?

They seem to be missing.

The thing is you can fit in or stand out, but you can’t do both

The Curse of Reciprocity

Its human nature. If someone gives you a gift, you need to reciprocate. If someone invites you over for dinner, you bring something; a bottle of wine, a bowl of salads or even dessert. If people give you a Christmas gift, you can’t rest until you give them one back.

It’s reciprocity that turned the gift system into the gift economy. Suddenly, giving a gift becomes an obligation, one demanding payment, not a gift at all. So marketers use the reciprocity impulse against us, using the gift as a come-on. I will give you a free gym voucher to train at our facility for a week just for free and maybe you can consider join us.

You best give a gift without knowing or being concerned with whether it will be repaid. The magic of the gift system is that the gift is voluntary, not part of a contract.

The gift binds the recipient to the giver, and both of them to the community. A contract isolates individuals, with money as the connector. The gift bind them instead.

Three Ways People Think About Gifts

1. Give me a gift!

2. Here is a gift; now you owe me, big-time.

3. Here is a gift, I love you.

The first two are capitalist misunderstandings of what it means to give or receive a gift. The third is the only valid alternative on the list.

Some people think that you can’t be generous until after you become a success. They argue that they have to get theirs first, and then they can go ahead and give back. The astonishing fact is that the most successful people in the world are those who don’t do it for the money.

Old-school businesspeople argue for copyright and patent protection and say, “I can’t tell you my idea because I am afraid you will steal it.”

Old-school thinking is that you get paid first, you sign a contract, you protect and defend and then profit. They say, “Pay me first.”

Real entrepreneurs say, “Here I did this.” “Here I wrote this.” “Here I did this for you.”

The Paradox of the Safety Zone

The resistance would like you to curl up in a corner, avoid all threats, take no risks, and hide. It feels safe, after all.

The paradox is that the more you hide, the riskier it is. The less commotion you cause, the more likely you are to fail, to be ignored, to expose yourself to failure.

We tried to set up an economy where you could hide your big ideas, go through the motions, and get what you needed. That’s not working so well now.

21st Century Sales Person One day Workshop

Lebo Pule Business Networks
Overview, Programme and Quotation for the 21st Century Sales Person 1 day Workshop

As an Entrepreneur, sales and selling your services or products will be one of the first functions you will have to master. Sales is a dynamic function that is forever evolving, the emergence of social media in the 21st century has further transformed the function of sales. Gone are the days where all you need is a database of strangers that you can cold call. Gone are also the days of bulk emailing a 1000 people to solicit a sale. The LPBN 21st Century Sales person workshop will equip you with basic but crucial and practical skills you will need to navigate your way in selling your services or products to your market.

The workshop is ideal for emerging Entrepreneurs, Sales Reps and Business Development Executives or anyone else who needs to sell for a living.

The Outline and Programme of the Day: Facilitator: Ms. Lebo Pule
08:30 – 09:00 Arrival Tea & Coffee
09:00 – Opening and Welcome
09:00 – 09:15 Introductions
09:15 – 09 45 A brief History of Sales and Selling
09:45 – 10:30 The old vs 21st Century way of selling
10:30 – 11:30 Understanding your own personality (includes class simulation)
11:30 – 11:45 Tea & Coffee Break
11:45 – 12:30 Assessing and Understanding your prospects Personality (includes class simulation)
12:30 – 13:30 Use of Social Media to draw prospects closer to you
13:30 – 14:15 Lunch
14:15 – 15:30 The 7 steps of selling in the 21st Century

– Prospecting
– Establishing a relationship and trust
– Identifying the need
– Presenting Solutions effectively
– Answering and responding to objections
– Closing the Sale
– Getting the resale and referrals

About the Facilitator:
Lebo Pule is an entrepreneur with over 11 years of Sales Experience. She was a Strategic Sales Executive at Regenesys Business School, a position she held for a 3 year Contract. Prior to Regenesys she owned and ran her first Business Exquisite Interiors where she turned over 6 figures in her first year of operation. Sales has always been and remains her strength coupled with the ability to teach and facilitate.

Cost of the workshop Item
The 21st Century Sales Person

A one day workshop that is meant to bring you up to speed with the trends of sales and selling in this fast changing and challenging world of the 21st Century.

Cost per Delegate Rate

The cost includes
– work material
– 2 tea breaks and lunch

Contact Information:
Physical & Postal Address
Cnr 14th Ave and Hendrick Potgieter Road, Roosevelt Park,
Island House,
Constantia Office Park,
Weltevreden Park

Tel: (+27) 11 882-9551 | Fax: (+27) 11 675 5681

Social Address: (@LPBNSales)

Be Humble: Don’t Let Success Go to Your Head

Work Hard Stay Humble
Their stories are all too common: After years of hard work pursuing their dreams, these self-motivated high achievers reach the pinnacle of success that’s so richly deserved. And, you guessed it, they let success go to their head. Whatever happened to being humble?

These entrepreneurs think they’re so special. They buy expensive “toys” to show how successful they have become, and they push aside colleagues who’ve helped them achieve success. They abandon the values and principles that have made them successful.

And worse yet, because they’re successful in one area of their life, they come to think they’re experts in everything. Why? They’re so enamoured with their own PR that their ego hardly fits in the room. Unfortunately, a swelled ego can cut short the success that these folks worked so hard to attain.

The simple truth is that not everyone treats success the same. Some people who achieve success remain humble, never forgetting who they are and from whence they came. The others? Well, we can learn from their mistakes:

From Humble Beginnings

Success is temporary: Success is a journey, not a destination. When you become successful, don’t rest on your laurels. As soon as you take your eye off the ball, you risk losing your edge.

Stop feeding your ego: Don’t isolate yourself from reality by building relationships with people who stroke your ego. Surrounding yourself with “yes people” is just like talking to yourself.

Compete against yourself: When you compete against others, it’s easy to emphasise winning over self-improvement. However, when you compete against yourself, you both win.

Even experts have room to learn: Never stop growing. Know your limitations and admit when you don’t know something. It’ll help to keep you grounded.

Listen up: Discover what others have to offer and ask for their opinions before opening your mouth. It shows that you value their opinions as well as their insight.

No one’s perfect:
Don’t let success go to your head. Be quick to apologise for your mistakes. You’ll never learn anything or impress anyone by making excuses and diverting blame. And a little humility will remind you that you’re human.

Share your success: You may be successful, but there’s a good chance others helped you along the way. Find creative ways to share the credit and pull people up the ladder of success along with you.

Remember your roots: Remember where you came from and what you’ve learned along the way. Help others by mentoring them.

Get off your high horse: Treat everyone with dignity and respect. You may be successful, but that doesn’t make you better than anyone else.

Bragging is ugly: There’s a difference between excitement and bragging. We know you’re thrilled about your new “toy,” but others may be cutting back on their basic needs, be sensitive.

As John Wooden said, “Talent is God given, be humble. Fame is man-given, be grateful. Conceit is self-given, be careful.”

Trust me: Money and success can’t buy a person’s trust or guarantee a good reputation. You earn these through your words AND actions. There’s nothing more valuable in life than integrity. Trust me.

In My Humble Opinion

Many of us come from humble beginnings. We make something of ourselves through pursuit of knowledge, integrity, hard work, and a bit of good luck.

Yes, people have every right to be proud of the success that they’ve earned. But that doesn’t give them the right to be rude or disrespectful to others.

Some people get a big thrill from boasting about their accomplishments or showing off their possessions. They’ve convinced themselves that they’re better than others are. The fact is, some entrepreneurs let success go to their head, and they gain a weird satisfaction from pushing people around. That’s wrong.

On the other hand, just as it’s disgusting for the “haves” to look down on others, it’s equally disdainful for “have-nots” to resent those who’ve worked hard and have rightfully earned their success.

Real wealth is achieved by appreciating what you already have in life. After all, money can’t buy everything. It can’t buy a close-knit family, good friends, a clear conscience, work-life balance, a happy home, a second chance in life, or good karma, among other things.

The truth is, all the money in the world doesn’t make you a better person. It simply means that you have more money.

So, don’t let success go to your head. Be humble. Humility is a sign of strength, not weakness. People with humility possess an inner peace. They’re modest about their achievements, grounded in their values, and they have nothing to prove to others.

They’re down to earth, comfortable in their own skin, and quietly proud. Humble people shift their focus from taking to giving, from talking about themselves to listening to others, from hoarding the credit to deflecting the praise, and from being a “know-it-all” to knowing there’s so much more in life worth learning.

There’s no ego, no pretence, and certainly no gamesmanship. Humble people are authentic.

As C.S. Lewis said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”