The Heavy Chef Guide To Starting a Business - Internal Training Experiment (Part 1)

It's been a while since I've posted here, so I thought I'd document a little internal experiment we're doing at forgood. A few of our team members have expressed interest in learning a little more about the entrepreneurial journey, with the ambition of setting up their own "shops" one day.

So, to support industry mate Fred Roed, we're using his book as a structure for the training. If this wets your appetite, go buy a copy and check out a Heavy Chef training workshop.

I can already hear the primary criticism that's going to come out around this book. It's full of cheesy cliches.

But isn't that the problem with cliches? They're only cliches, because they're true. They're only cheesy, because they're things we've heard a hundred times - but somehow still don't get right.

Fred has wrapped a back-to-basics business book with heaps of South African context (very critical, there are few good introductions to entrepreneurship that celebrate South African entrepreneurs and business culture) and some casual humour. This makes it easy to read. Easy to discuss internally. And easy to design practical exercises and experiments off the back of.

What you'll see below are the points I've pulled out from the various chapters that I'm going to discuss with the team as we go through this learning experiment. And the practical exercises we're going to be doing to embed the learnings.

Chapter 1

Learn. Do. Share. 

It's a simple, but powerful framework for the entrepreneurial journey. Read, ask, meet, learn. Then do it. You'll fail. So what. But you only truly start to embed this when you share it - whether that's with your team as it grows, as a speaker, as a blogger or even later in your career.

It reminds me of a story my wife often tells, of her internship days as a doctor at Baragwanath Hospital. Fresh out of university, working the emergency room, scary stuff. Patients will come in with all manner of injuries - almost all as scary as you can imagine. Without fail, the Residents (who were in charge of the Interns) would adopt a very similar learning approach.

Knife sticking out of chest. Patient still alive? Right.

See one. Watch me do it. 

Next patient...

Do one. You do it, I'll watch. 

Next patient...

Teach one. I'm off to help someone else. You teach that Intern over there...

If it works for training doctors in an extreme environment, it'll work for training entrepreneurs. The parallels between a medical internship and a startup are worthy of a much longer post.

Ideas are not worth what you think they are. 

This is the biggest, baddest cliche of all - one that is still the stumbling block of most. The meeting-wrecker red flag in chatting to, mentoring or looking to invest in any entrepreneur is when the NDA comes out before the idea does.

Ideas are worthless. Execution is everything. You're not going to be able to craft and start executing on an idea until you share it with people.

Advice I often give out. If you're feeling stuck in business, if you're trying to get somewhere or achieve something and you're just not cracking it... Go have 10 coffee conversations. I hear it's called "rubber ducking" in the developer world: sometimes just the act of explaining the idea/challenge to someone else takes you a step closer to solving it.

You can't test your market, if you won't tell your market what you want to sell it.

Problems trump ideas. 

Talking about ideas being pretty much worthless... Problems aren't. Businesses are about solving problems.

Easiest approach? Solve a problem you have.

Harder approach, but with more scope? Solve a problem a group of people have.

Hardest approach and biggest moon shot? Solve a world problem the world has.

Want some big, hairy, audacious goals? Try these

Always dream big (South Africans often don't). But keep focused and start executing with both feet firmly planted in reality. Even Facebook started as a replacement to a university year book and an easy way to distribute class schedules. They executed better than most ever have - and through that execution, began to expand and find routes to the bigger dream.

And PS, stop thinking you're going to be Facebook. There's a fair chance you won't be. That's not a bad thing. You won't have to answer to Congress.

If you don’t enjoy sales - don’t start a businesss. 

Business are built through sales. Businesses are hardly ever built behind a desk (despite what most one-in-a-million Instagram entrepreneurs will tell you about the magic of passive income).

If you've ever thought "I hate sales", hop off the bus immediately. People vastly underestimate the amount of pavement pounding that starting a business (any business) requires.

Case in point. At forgood, a simple employee volunteering software solution, we have pitched 215 companies/entities in the last 2.5 years. In order to get our 14 active clients. Our conversion rate is roughly 7%, which from what I've heard, is pretty good!

Get out the building. It's the only place businesses are created.


  • Find a way to share the learning experience we're going through. In any creative way you want...
  • Find an SME in your network (family business, friend's business). Interview them and figure out what the problem is that they're solving. 


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