30 Jun A Day In The Life Of An Entrepreneur
Our CEO, Mrs. Anastasia Machobane recently wrote this article on LinkedIn: “A DAY IN THE LIFE OF AN ENTREPRENEUR”
When I, like other “Fellow South Africans” felt the impact of COVID-19, which for me translated to being technically unemployed, I decided that it’s as good a time to review my CV and set a plan in motion to start my own businesses. I was convinced I had the right mix of education, qualifications and experience.
To be honest, I was really over the notion of working for THE MAN.
I then entered the world of the never ending beaurocracy, I do however pause here to give credit to the CIPC for their improved systems to register companies. It is what happens thereafter that is a real eye opener for an entrepreneur…
I quickly learnt that converting a dream into a reality in South Africa is not for the faint hearted. As a start-up, I needed funding to ensure that my companies as well as law firm meet compliance requirements, all these requirements needed upfront payment in order to receive the right to trade. I realised during that process, that in order to make money I have to spend money, which in most cases as an entrepreneur we actually need money so we can make money. This reversed method of doing business, in my view is the reason why most businesses do not even make it past the first hurdle.
With a twinkle in my eyes and hope in my heart, I started researching funding opportunities, especially meant for women. What a reality check I got!
Firstly, I needed a perfectly written business plan, which I would obviously have to pay for (the free online templates did not make any sense to me). Then, I needed a good credit record- forget about the impact of COVID-19 when it comes to the banking institutions, they insist on that pristine credit record, oblivious to the impact of the worldwide pandemic.
In the Development Funding Institutions, the application forms are quite daunting, even for a legal practitioner like me with over two decades of experience. I literally felt that I will be asked for a DNA test as part of this process. From engaging with fellow entrepreneurs, I was advised to have patience of a saint because these processes take a while. Alas!
Then we walk over to the tendering system, it felt like playing the lotto!
Firstly, the tender process takes a while to understand, then once you make it past the CSD registration (enter the spam emails and fake RFQ requests), you then need to meet certain requirements. These requirements include referral letters for work previously done, I then pause and think, coming from a corporate background, I have done all this work and more, but this does not count as part of the five referral letters required. That already disqualifies me. For example, my aviation experience and legal qualification cannot be used because I have not had a client in the aviation space that I personally did work for. When I scrutinise the competition in this field, I stand not a snowball’s chance in hades to be briefed, especially in the public sector, where tenders are issued.
As a business we have therefore decided to save our time, paper and ink and put that plan on the backburner.
I therefore ask myself, shall I continue to chase my dream and prophecy or shall I dust off my stilettos and suit and head back to THE MAN (if there is one to head back to-LOL!).
I do not see that as an option. I know why I am doing what I am doing. It is to create much needed jobs and to continue mentoring young people, both employed and unemployed, this allows them access to information that they would normally not be aware of. I pay my team even before I pay myself and ensure that they work in a parent friendly environment, where they do not have to make up stories to get time off to attend a recital at school.
As a team, we run a lean and mean machine. We do as much work ourselves, we prioritise and focus on what we have, instead of what we don’t.
Therefore, my fellow entrepreneurs (yes you with the bad credit record, broken nose caused by all the slammed doors, sleepless nights and bottomless coffee), we need to learn to collaborate, keep the green-eyed monster away and create real accessible funding for entrepreneurs who need a chance to get over these hurdles.
My final word is that you do not put away your bag of dreams, because that dream will haunt you and be by your side like a shadow. Keep at it, you are not alone.
Authored by Anastasia Machobane – B. Iuris, L.L.B. (University of Pretoria); MDP (GIBS/UP); Air Law Diploma (IATA); Certificate Editing and Proofreading (University of Cape Town)
This article contains the views of the writer and should not be construed to be legal advice.