The Heavy Chef Guide To Starting a Business - Internal Training Experiment (Part 2)

This is a continuation of our internal forgood experiment to learn more about "starting a business". We're working through Fred Roed's Heavy Chef Guide to Starting a Business in South Africa and inventing some practical exercises to embed the learning.

The exercises will have a bias towards our current business, but will be flow out into the broader world of entrepreneurship incorporating examples for anything that's floating in our ecosystem (from family businesses to suppliers or competitors)

Why are we training our employees how to be entrepreneurs? Why aren't you?

Chapter 2

I really enjoyed this quote: "Business plans fail when they’re a glorified tool for procrastination". That probably sums up my views of business plans. They're the things many investors don't bother to read - but the process of writing them tends to help you do the thinking.

A fun modern tool for quick business plans is the Lean Canvas. Now, this has been hyped up a fair bit over the last few years - so don't come at it thinking it's the silver bullet to entrepreneurial success. But as a process for testing ideas, it's lean and mean and ego-breaking. Which is exactly what you want.

Here's a process to try. Think I might have pilfered this from the Seed Engine brainstorming process I was involved in with Puntr a few years back.

  • You'll need 2 people or at least 2 teams. 
  • Do the Lean Canvas exercise in 20 minutes - this ensures gut/emotional responses, these are the ones that often guide you (and are often wrong)
  • Swap your Canvas with the other team. 
  • Spend 10 min tearing holes in each of them. Go hard. Look for the gaps that the emotional entrepreneur is missing. 
  • Do the Canvas again from scratch, also in 20 min - see how far your thinking has come and how it has matured
  • Repeat if necessary.

Entrepreneurial success you want? Well, that's just about who can eat their frogs first.

Take that thing you're dreading, the thing you're avoiding, the hard thing - do it first. Straight after this blog post (I allow myself little luxuries sometimes), I'm off to write a funding proposal I've been avoiding for a week now.

Some quick thoughts about Money. 

In an immature entrepreneurial ecosystem (sorry, I love South Africa, but we have a little growing up to do)... People often site lack of funding as the PRIMARY barrier to starting a business. It isn't. It's lack of customers.

Don’t underestimate bootstrapping. Don’t believe the myth that in Silicon Valley, money just gets thrown around to anyone with an idea. Here are 2 truths that have helped me deal with the rock star entrepreneur syndrome we read about everyday.

1. The media (tech media especially) don't write about the failures. The news you read is almost entirely biased to the 1 in "a lot" successes.

2. These companies (especially the tech ones) have customers and revenue before they get all that funding. Often, a lot more than we have down here in SA.

Some quick thoughts about Compliance.

A clean company is a good company. Never before has there been more truth in a cliche. Compliance will bite you in the ass if you leave it unattended for too long. Very rarely do investors invest in messy companies - and hardly ever do they get bought. Unless you're Steinhoff.

Practical Exercises

  • Do the Lean Canvas exercise as outlined above. It's a 1 hour meeting if you're strict about it. 
  • Take a tour through your companies secretarial documentation - your compliance treasure trove. There's not a huge amount in here that is ultra secret - and all companies have varying degrees of it. So why not explore it? Just having seen this stuff, engaged with it and had the chance to ask some questions  will make the process far less scary when you have to do it for yourself. We're aiming to have a look at 
    • Elements of the Shareholders agreement that aren't confidential
    • MOI
    • CIPC Registration / Incorporation Documents
    • What a share certificate looks like / Issued vs Authorised Shares
    • Audited Financial Statements
    • BBBEE Verification and how it's worked out
    • COIDA
    • Annual Return
    • Director Amendments


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