Advice for small business
Small business can win the war
Prof Tommy du Plessis
Whether larger companies are better creators of employment than the smaller business sector, as has been claimed by a recent poll, is an argument that I do not wish to become involved with at this stage. What is true, however, is that unemployment will destroy this country if it is not addressed now.
The harder and more relentlessly politicians and business leaders choose to argue about unemployment, the fewer the employment opportunities are that are created each year. Hundreds of thousands new entrants into the labour force each year struggle after finishing school to find work.
There is currently an ever-increasing realisation that South-Africa’s future economic growth and economic development will be strongly influenced by the success, or not, of micro-, small- and medium-sized business.
To be able to win the ‘war’ against unemployment and poverty, the SME sector should definitely receive special attention and should be addressed at an increasing pace. Obstacles should be moved out of the way, and not into the way – as increased regulations or registrations can be interpreted.
Parenthetically, the larger and healthier the micro- or ‘informal’ sector is, the larger and healthier the larger enterprises will be.
There will, however, have to be many interventions. Currently, entrepreneurship development in South Africa is not what it should be and we still appear poorly on the international entrepreneurship monitor – especially pertaining to sustainable development.
It makes no sense to annually establish ten-fold new small business venture just so that they can disappear again from the scene after three years’ tie. Then employees will merely again be unemployed.
These business and especially the owners or managers should be ‘schooled’ in proper business practices – from the establishment of a business and all the associated risks, to the stage where the business outgrows its children’s shoes to expand and to employ even more people.
Somewhere, someone will have to stop ‘speaking’ and should ‘do’ something about the situation. School children should be taught entrepreneurship skills from an early age and parents have to encourage their children to think and act like entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship days at school have to be treated different than just a mere bazaar.
There are many opportunities for young entrepreneurs. Many successful businesses developed from something small.
It is important for the young entrepreneur to receive the help and guidance from a mentor or advisor, preferably a successful businessperson who is willing to stand by the younger person throughout the entire process. They have to be exposed from an early age to basic skills, such as sales advancement, cost management, profitability and even the management of people.
They largest initial problem is usually start-up capital, but if this can be overcome and the first year can be ‘survived’, the chance to be great is so much bigger.
Many scholars dream of university or other further studies, but circumstances often make it not always possible. Just as they are prepared by their teachers for further studies, they can be prepared by their parents and other mentors for a future as entrepreneur.