However, being an entrepreneur is much more than that. Entrepreneurs are generally highly independent business operators and not the kind of person who works for someone else, but prefers to personally manage most aspects of a business themselves.
The entrepreneur profile
Characteristics of an entrepreneur include spontaneous creativity, the ability and willingness to make decisions in the absence of a proven business model, and generally have a risk-taking personality. Entrepreneurs are good at identifying market opportunities and take advantage of them before anyone else.
They are innovators; this means that even though they might have a full time job they could invent a product or service in their own time and make money from their ideas. Nevertheless, entrepreneurship is about starting your own business and working for yourself – perhaps building a business empire like Virgin’s Richard Branson or Pick n Pay’s Raymond Ackerman.
Do you have what it takes?
To start and run a business it is not enough just to have a good, viable idea. You also need to have the right skills, attitude and personality to make the enterprise succeed. Think about why you want to start your own business.
- Can’t get job: If you decide to start a business without work experience never stop reading and learning and don’t be afraid to ask for advice.
- Job satisfaction: Self-employment allows you to do the job in your own way
- Money: This is not usually enough of a goal, but is the reason why many entrepreneurs are born.
Do you have the right personality?
- You have to be flexible and adaptable
- Ready to take risks
- Be hard-working, committed and determined
- Be able to handle failure
It’s lonely being an entrepreneur
- There is a lot of pressure – dealing with debt in order to finance the enterprise
- If you employ people, you will need to be positive and show leadership
- Be able to shoulder all the responsibility
- You have to work long hours which can affect family life negatively
Working experience – do you really need it?
There is no doubt that skills or working experience are helpful, particularly in the sector in which you want to start a business. Business skills are essential to develop a profitable business. All businesses require an element of selling. Initially it is important to persuade people to support you. To generate sufficient income, small businesses must be well organised and efficient.
Can you study or be taught to be an Entrepreneur?
Entrepreneurship education is available and provides students with the knowledge, skills and motivation to encourage entrepreneurial success in a variety of settings. Educational institutions such as the University of Johannesburg offer a variety of courses including a National Diploma in Small Business Management. This course equips entrepreneurs with the necessary skills to set up, run and grow a business.
Most South African Technikon and Universities offer courses in Entrepreneurship.
- National Diploma Entrepreneurship
- Btech Entrepreneurship
Government aid and training programmes
Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) offers informal training programmes.
Its products and services provide entrepreneurs with access to information and advice, training and mentoring, business planning and registration, incubation and technology transfer as well as sector-specific training and development programmes. Visit SEDA
How to complete a basic business entrepreneur course, preferably a course that is government subsidised?
Economists believe that entrepreneurship has a positive impact on the growth of GDP and employment. As a result, there are a number of government initiatives offering training to entrepreneurs.
Local Economic Development Network (LED)
LED is a knowledge and information-sharing platform that offers support to entrepreneurs in South Africa.
The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA)
The NYDA is a South African government initiative designed to help and promote youth development. Entrepreneurs’ aged 18-35 qualify for free business and IT skills training for entrepreneurs and the unemployed.
South African Institute for Entrepreneurship
A non-governmental organisation (NGO), the South African Institute for Entrepreneurship (SAIE), has imparted entrepreneurial skills to many learners. Contact the South African Institute for Entrepreneurship for details.
The Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) is an agency of the South African Department of Trade and Industry (Dti). It has been set up to help and guide entrepreneurs to start and grow businesses
Damelin College offers courses across a range of entrepreneurial skills programmes which can be completed either through correspondence or through lecture-based learning. For a list of other educational institutions that provide training for entrepreneurs visit My Dream Course’s website.
Obtaining a qualification
There are various options available in obtaining a marketing-related qualification. Depending on your circumstances (are you working full time or part time; what funds are available to you), you can choose distance or part-time learning, full time study or a learnership.
Distance and Part-time Learning
There are many opportunities for full-time courses including Certificates, Diplomas and Degrees.
If you cannot afford to pay for a formal course in marketing at a recognised and registered institution, apply for a learnership. The Institute of Marketing Management can advise learners in finding a suitable learnership programme.
Go to www.imm.co.za
What is a ‘learnership’?
An employer skilled in marketing takes on an unskilled person who has been identified by Services SETA as having the potential to learn marketing. The employer’s marketing practitioner then passes on his or her skills to the learner, using the IMM-developed structure as a guide.
MBA courses in South Africa
When selecting an educational institution at which to complete an MBA, make sure that you don’t just go for price, rather consider if you are getting real value from the institution of your choice.
Home study requires lots of self-motivation
Is it possible for you to earn an MBA via distance learning, but it requires strong self-motivation and a sense of diligence. You have to be dedicated and be able to keep going while you face the many distractions of work and family.
Is the MBA is accredited?
There are many online MBA programmes that vary in terms of content and accreditation. Make sure that whatever online MBA you choose, it is properly accredited in South Africa.
What’s on offer?
Although the GIBS MBA is expensive, it is an excellent course and certainly offers value for money and a very sound and well-respected MBA. You can investigate less expensive options such as Milpark Business School (MBS) who have been offering management education at MBA level to South Africa and Africa since 1997. The 2009 Accredited Business Schools Survey placed the MBS in the Top Ten Accredited Business Schools in South Africa.
The Nelson Mandela Metrolopolitan Business School, although located in Port Elizabeth, offers a distance learning MBA where lectures are offered via video conferencing. This part-time MBA takes three years to complete and classes are offered in Port Elizabeth and Pretoria.
The course costs R24 250 per year. MANCOSA MBA is a part-time distance learning programme. The course runs over two and a half years and costs R45 000 for the full two and half year programme. It is highly rated by The Professional Management Review (PMR). They complete an annual, national survey on Accredited Business Schools offering the MBA/MBL degrees in South Africa.
The top PMR MBA schools for 2009 where:
- The University of Pretoria’s Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS)
- Wits Business School – University of the Witwatersrand
- University of Stellebosch Business School (UBS)
- University of South Africa (UNISA) Graduate School of Business Leadership
- University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business (GSB)
- Graduate School of Business University of Kwa-Zulu NatalHenley Management College
- Potchefstroom Business School (PBS)
- Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Business School
- Management College of Southern Africa (MANCOSA) (distance learning only)
- Milpark Business School
- School of Management – University of the Free State