Small businesses are considered the growth engines of our economy. It is estimated that small- to medium-sized businesses’ contribution to South Africa’s GDP is well over 50%, and our contribution to employment is around 60%.
Owning your own business can be as an exciting, empowering, but also daunting, experience than running the Comrades Marathon. It is hard work and you may want to give up at some stage. Be prepared for this. Dig deep to find staying power and work strategically to win the most important marathon of your life – succeeding at your own business.
It’s not a Sprint
As entrepreneurs we are running a marathon, not a 100 m sprint. It requires thorough preparation for the long journey. We need to be equipped with the knowledge and skills that keep us moving forward; otherwise we will be disqualified. And unlike most marathons, we are not competing against anyone else (even though we will have competition in business). Managing your own business is more about running your own race, at your own pace, with your own purpose.
Be your own cheerleader
We will have doubts during the race, but we will get over these hurdles because of the encouragement of the achievement of others. Look around you – witness others who are running alongside you, with similar or even more challenges than you. Think of those who have completed the race ahead of you – business success stories are truly inspirational. Follow your business idols on social media, read their books, go for coffee with a friend who owns his or her own business – let their journeys motivate and inspire you to greater heights.
Keep your eye on the prize
We have to dispose of the things that hinder and distract us during our race. Regularly review the causes of non-delivery or losses in your business. Don’t be scared to question the reasons until you have found the root cause. In prioritising your business now, you are bound to reap the rewards at the finishing line.
Exercise focus in your business
South African athlete, Wayde van Niekerk, is testimony of the importance of focus. He had to let go of different distance races to concentrate on the 400m, with the result that he reached a world record at the Olympics. You cannot be good at everything – choose your focus or core business. Too many small businesses fail because they don’t have a definite focus. Don’t let poor decision-making or greed cloud your unique selling point.
Build your trophy cabinet
We have to remain relevant – always on top of what is happening in our respective industry and the needs of customers. This will require more than one race to run. We live in a highly competitive environment with customers looking for convenient solutions that will provide maximum return on investment. Once you complete your first race, don’t just sit back and relax – set the next goal in your business. Let growth be the constant motivator in your business.