Despite the enormous focus placed on encouraging entrepreneurial activities in SA, thousands of dreams continue to be shattered as SMEs falter and fail. The main reason for this, says business expert Catherine Wijnberg, is because entrepreneurs tend to follow their passion but often never stop to learn the actual nitty-gritty of running a successful business.
Wijnberg is a self-made entrepreneur and head of Fetola, one of SA’s leading enterprise development companies, which is currently accepting applications for its sponsored Legends business development programme for 2013.
In the past five years, the Legends programme has helped hundreds of participating businesses – many of which went on to win awards for performance – become financially viable, grow, create jobs and increase profits.
Wijnberg says that while a good business idea, and a passion for and knowledge of the sector in which one operates are extremely important to ensure the success of SMEs, chances of survival are slim if it is not built on sound business fundamentals.
These fundamentals are pretty consistent across industries, and easily learnt with some commitment on the part of the business leader, she says. “You may be the best ‘techie’ in the world, but if you are clueless about marketing, proper systems and human resources considerations, you are going to struggle to accomplish business viability. In any business, it is imperative that those steering the ship have a solid understanding of strategic planning, basic financial management, costing and pricing, marketing and sales, and people management,” says Wijnberg.
She says it is also very useful for young and growing businesses to become part of a community – like Legends which has been successfully operating for over five years – to get mutual support and access to opportunities. Through Legends, for example, participating businesses that qualify can get access to lucrative corporate supply chains who are increasingly seeking to engage with emerging businesses.
“Our mentors and coaches are all experts in their fields, and they know how to give emerging businesses the support they need to get to the next level, because they have done so successfully themselves,” says Wijnberg. “It can be very lonely trying to make a small business work, when you don’t have others with whom you can share ideas. Often people know where they should be headed, but they just need someone knowledgeable on their side as a ‘sounding board’ to test their ideas and get input from.”
Wijnberg encourages all SMEs and non-profits to apply for the 2013 Legends programme, which is sponsored by Old Mutual and other funders, as soon as possible, as space for participation is limited. Applicants go through a selection process and those successful could have a suite of resources and mentors at hand to help them do better business in 2013.
The programme is open to businesses and non-profits from all sectors throughout SA. Wijnberg says Legends is one of the only enterprise development programmes designed to assist businesses from rural areas.
“The Legends team has developed several innovations, such as remote mentoring, to assist beneficiaries irrespective of location, and in fact some of our best beneficiaries are quite rurally situated,” she says. “We have tried to make the programme as inclusive as possible in order to help as many organisations as we can. We do not restrict our selection to businesses run by HDI’s, but a business must be able to motivate how it stands to make a difference in its community by, for instance, local upliftment or job creation.
The Legends programme offers beneficiaries a proven combination of workshops and e-learning sessions, access to resources, mentoring and coaching (including a unique 24/7 emergency support service for those unforeseen crises), and networking.
For more information and details on the programme, or to register, go to www.golegends.co.za and submit applications before January 7, 2013. Only online applications will be considered.
No of Images Uploaded: One
To gain access to One image/s please Like, Tweet or +1 this article: