7 secrets of being an entrepreneur

There is no such thing as a part-time entrepreneur. Yes, it sounds like so much fun to start a business. Some people will say it means that you are free and the world is your oyster. But it is all about hard work. Sure, it can be exciting, and often there are some amazing moments, but don’t expect to get much sleep. Sleeping late is fun. Being an entrepreneur is not constant fun. It is a full-time journey. Passion is the word you always hear when people talk of start-ups and entrepreneurial ventures. But it is not enough. Just like talent is not enough. It is all about your attitude. Selling is also a fundamental part of an entrepreneur’s journey. We are all selling, all the time. Internally and externally. Inspiring, motivating, sharing … we love what we do, and we do what we love. It doesn’t always love us back though. And this is where character comes into it. Being an entrepreneur requires strength, and grace.

As long as I can remember I loved to tell stories. And also, I am always captivated by a good tale. I make notes of all the compelling and colourful adventures that people share with me. I have found that entrepreneurs accumulate many many stories. Each chapter is another story: the chance taken, the moments of tension, the celebration that never ended, the pain that never lets go, the lessons learned, the ground covered, the mistakes we made, the people that we got close to, and the folk that are no longer there. Entrepreneurs are natural storytellers. Yes, not every entrepreneur is going to stand-up and make a speech to rival Barak Obama (that man sure can talk) but they all have loads of stories to share.

I have been working since I was 16 years old. At the big Hyperama in Sandton, representing Frank & Hirsch, punting Atari computers, during my last couple of high school years. Every Friday afternoon and every Saturday morning. To my 7 years of being a waiter, and the adventure of selling ties, caps and t-shirts, at the flea market on the weekends, when I got a driver’s license and realized that a car can be filled with stuff that one could take to the market and sell. Then there was contract software development when I was a Masters student at university, and of course, at the end of it all, was the start of IS. I was still waitering and working in the flea market when IS began, but stopped shortly afterwards. And through it all, the one thing remains constant: sell, sell sell, That and storytelling. All underpinned by hard work.


Tips in case you arrive late for a meeting

With many millions of meetings happening daily, there are two certainties: Someone is looking for a phone charger, and someone’s running late.

Okay, so you genuinely got stuck in traffic even though you left mega-early… but you got stopped in a roadblock that took forever.

Five minutes probably won’t register. Half an hour, not cool. An hour late is a no show.

Do you call ahead and be proactive? Do you text from the road (from a stationary car)? Do you pretend like nothing happened and immediately butt into the meeting discussion on arrival?

If it’s a first meeting then should have your homework done. Do you know where you are going and how to get there? Don’t type the address into Google Maps on your way, when you’ll unexpectedly have no Internet connectivity. And don’t make matters worse by appearing unprepared for what’s being discussed.


The overturned golf cart

Many years ago during my married days, I accidentally overturned my golf cart.

Elizabeth, a very attractive and keen golfer, who lived in a villa on the golf course, heard the noise and called out: “Are you okay, what’s your name?”

“It’s John, and I’m okay thanks” I replied as I pulled myself out of the twisted cart.

“John, she said, “forget your troubles. Come to my villa, rest a while and I’ll help you get the cart up later.”

“That’s mighty nice of you,” I answered, “but I don’t think my wife would like it.”

“Oh, come on now” Elizabeth insisted.

She was so very pretty, very, very sexy and very persuasive … I was weak.

“Well okay,” I finally agreed but thought to myself, “my wife won’t like it.”

After a couple of restorative Scotch and waters, I thanked Elizabeth. “I feel a lot better now, but I know my wife is going to be really upset. So I’d best go now.”

“Don’t be silly!” Elizabeth said with a smile, letting her robe fall open slightly. “She won’t know anything. By the way, where is she?”

“Still under the cart, I guess” I said.

What do you do when you see a typo in a mass mail shot?

We all make mistakes, er, typos. And sometimes the playful auto-correct feature turns a typo into a word that we did not intend. Yes, this is a common source of embarrassment. Sending a friend or colleague a typo is one thing, but when your company sends out a mail shot and there is a typo in it, it never feels good.

If you do send out an e-mail or a text to someone with a typo then you can always message them again and say “oops, there was a typo”, etc. But, when you are doing a mass mailer, you can’t really do that.

I have been involved in quite a few online ventures and we have had our fair share of typos. It looks amateurish when it happens and you feel stupid, but you survive.

Typos come in different shapes and sizes. Big mistakes are when you send the right mail to the wrong person. And small typos are like this won, er, this one. Ok, that was on people, er, on purpose.

Of course, if it is big typo, like you got the date wrong for the start of the big sale, then you have to send out a new mailer with an apology and a correction.

Typos are not cool, but they are part of this new world. We obviously try our best to make sure that they don’t happen.

The bottom line about a typo in a mass mail shot is this: Nothing. You do nothing. It’s too late. Don’t forget the Streisand effect. So just leave it.

If you do have a typo then life will go on. Thank those that helped you by bringing it to your attention, and put more measures in place to make sure this does not happen again.