Monday, February 19, 2007

Idea Borrowing - Should we be concerned?

Idea Borrowing - Should we be concerned?

To my surprise, while browsing the business section of an airport news agent last week I cast my eyes on the latest UK version of the Marketing Week magazine. On the cover is a picture of Stelios, the entrepreneur behind Easy Jet, the UK version of the no thrills airline idea and various other Easy branded businesses.

As you can see from the images below, the design is very similar to that of my book cover for Release Your Inner Entrepreneur. Is this simply a case of different designers coming up with a similar idea, near duplication of a great design or a plain case of copyright bridging?


This type of thing is seen all too often. Off course the two images are not exactly the same and yes both really originate from the original Super Man idea so you can’t call it duplication. So personally I prefer to take this as more of a compliment as this not only significantly reduce potential stress and time wasted on unsuccessful inquiries.

As entrepreneurs we are often so scared that someone will steal our ideas that we forget that the real key to a successful product is only about 10% dependent on the product itself and 90% dependent on how well we bring that product to the market and manage our growth from there.

Reduction in BEE regulations for small and micro enteprises

Reduction in BEE regulations for small and micro enteprises

It looks like all the research, articles, failing businesses, lack and of start-up capital and lack of confidence in small business circles have finally convinced the SA government that perhaps it’s not realistic to burden start-ups with miles of empowerment red tape. Entrepreneurs and most countries still find the start-up phase of a new venture extremely challenging, so much so that in a country like the UK where so much is being done to support small business in terms of resources, support, reduction in regulations and many other areas, there is still a staggering 60% of new firms which don’t make it past year 2 and 80% don’t make it past year 8.

The SA government recently announced their decision to substantially increase the thresholds for exempted microenterprises from R300000 to R5m, and for qualifying small enterprises to between R5m and R35m.

It must be a huge weight of the shoulders of small firms who take on huge risks to build new firms which in turn create jobs and contribute to the countries GDP, to now be free from the burden of empowerment compliance.

Lets see if our banks will now open their eyes and more importantly their pockets to support the South Africa’s entrepreneurs.

Monday, February 12, 2007

SA woman entrepreneurs take the lead

With recent research by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor indicating as can be seen here that woman in South Africa are more entrepreneurial than men, the first question we are likely to ask is why this is?

If we look at the various factors that contribute to business start-ups, there may be a whole number of factors that may play a role hear.

1) Men in South Africa are traditionally bread winners looking of more secure employment.

2) Statistics show that men are still better educated than woman and this may mean that woman see entrepreneurship as a viable alternative considering their educational backgrounds.

3) The research shows that entrepreneurship is especially strong amongst African woman. Apart from the possible assumption that black African woman are simply more entrepreneurial than the rest of the population (which may be true or not true) it may also mean that this segment of the population may be forced to find ways of creating additional income streams for their families.

4) Leading from the point that woman are still lagging behind in the education stakes, but yet are more entrepreneurial, does this mean that there may be something lacking in the way that South Africans are educated? With so much emphasis being placed on getting the right education to find the right job, there may be no space for entrepreneurial thinking to make an impact.

Whatever the reason, it is something to be celebrated that our woman are taking the lead and making things happen.

The management writer Tom Peters have for years been saying that woman are better employees and managers within organisation. Now it seems that woman are also successfully making the transition from management to entrepreneurship.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Shuttleworth Investment a shot in the arm for SA tech ventures

Multi million $ and £ investments in performing technology ventures around the world has become almost common practice again over the last two years. Few investors or small firms may have envisioned this following the bursting of the Internet bubble and crashing of technology stocks over the last decade, but it now seems that confidence, albeit a bit more cautious than the nineties version, has now been restored.

To many South African entrepreneurs the large amounts invested in start-ups abroad may have seemed like more of a mirage, we know its there but still out of reach. This dream came a little closer to reality last week when HBD venture capital fund founded by South African billionaire Mark Shuttleworth invested R15m in IncuBeta, an Internet marketing company found by Vinny Lingham, well known amongst bloggers and technology lovers in South Africa.

It is very reassuring to know that there are still plenty of funding sources available for the right idea. Technology start-ups in particular now has more support than ever before with the likes of HBD, The Innovation Hub, Enablis and many other venture firms ready to invest in solid ideas with international growth potential. One can not help but think that internet giants EBay, Google and yahoo! are indirectly to thank for this following their ongoing string of high profile and higher priced buy outs of successful Internet companies such as, YouTube, Flicker, SKype, PayPal and Picasa bit to name a few.

Congratulations Vinny for pulling this one off and I trust that as far as SA start-ups go this will be the first one of many success stories.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Business idea of the week: Climbing walls for swimming pools

Business idea of the week: Climbing walls for swimming pools

This week we look at this great little idea, which seems tailor made for the South African summer. Climbing walls for swimming pools

By this time of year apart from the vocational refreshing dip in the
pool most of us have run out of excuses to stay in the water for longer
than five minutes. What else is there to do once you have played all
the ball games you can think of and have perfected your handstands or
and bull fights. Enter the poolside climbing wall.

A modular system of 3' x 3' (1 x 1 m) fiberglass panels allows walls to be configured to fit any pool width and height. The panels include rock features, inset and protruding handholds, which can be moved around to vary climbing difficulty. Although the default color scheme is aqua (blues and greens), custom colors are available to match a pool's surroundings.

Any poolside product obviously needs to be very safe. AquaClimb states that its walls are safer than slides or diving boards, since children start off in the water, instead of running around the pool's edge. Also, AquaClimb frames tilt over the water, keeping falling climbers away from the side of the pool. The company recommends roping off a 10 foot area from the AquaClimb to establish a 'drop zone'. The walls don't come with weight or age restrictions, and are sturdy enough to hold adults.

Prices start at R 75 000 and average delivery time is four to six weeks, with demand obviously peaking during the summer months. Customers include public swimming pools, summer camps, residential pools, schools, recreation centers and water parks. AquaClimb is manufactured by Pyramide USA Inc., a leading sport climbing wall provider based in the USA. The company currently only has international dealers in Australia and Western Canada, and welcomes dealer applications (

Upside: No licence dealer in South Africa yet, so opportunity
to become the sole agent. With a massive market of not only homes but
also schools, clubs, pre-school facilities, health clubs and just about
anywhere else where you'll find water and kids (both young and not so
young), its difficult to see this not working.

Downside: Its difficult to see the downside on this one but marketing
and advertising cost could be fairly high in the start-up stages with
a strong sales team being a must on this one. Health n safety issues
will need consideration.

Verdict: Fantastic opportunity, easy to start, not yet available in South Africa, get there first and you have a

For expert business
plan support click here

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The flip side of budgeting

This week I offer my thoughts on budgeting and how it impacts on your business performance.

A few days ago while having a conversation with my wife who is a teacher by profession, we were discussing the effects of expectations and limiting beliefs on the young people she works with. As with most of us, those young people who have high expectations associated with them are often those you will see performing, while the opposite is true for the young people from whom their are not much expected at all.

Yesterday while having a Skype conversation with a business partner and while discussing the topic of budgets, it suddenly hit me, Your budget decides the size of your dreams.

When running my seminars with entrepreneurs and small business owners, I often hear people talk about how "hard" it is to budget at home or at work. The fact is, nothing could be further from the truth!

Done right, budgets are the sexiest, most exciting, challenging and delightful documents you'll ever read!

Your budget for 2007 tells you how much your business will grow, and how. Your budget tells you, in advance, what you will learn, what equipment or skills you will add. It gives you a "sneak peak" at your marketing, your new services, your new office, your new computer, and the world you will enjoy in the future.

It also simplifies decisions about the things you will not do. It tells you, in advance, that the car does not need replacing or that there is no room for that home theater system (as wonderful as it seems in the store).

Your budget foretells the future. Along with your goal statement and the calendar on your wall, your budget is a "crystal ball" that lets you describe, enjoy and celebrate 2007 in advance! Think of that! Everyone else has to sit and wait and wonder and hope. Those poor suckers don't get to celebrate in advance, but you do!

Your budget, both personal and business, describes the size of your dreams. It provides a glimpse and a map to the future. What is your budget saying about your dreams and who you are being as an entrepreneur?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

SARS to talk at The Big Idea

Following the news that draft regulations for small business tax amnesty has recently been announced SABusinessHub's new training and events arm, The Big Idea has announced that the current February series of events will now also include a representative from SARS to provide clarity on the amnesty and how small business can benefit.

This comes as welcome news for the many small businesses still fairly unsure about how their business is affected or can benefit from the proposed amnesty.

For details on The Big Idea, go to [url][/url] (Durban Sold Out)

For the rest of the story click here

Will be good to hear from anyone who has questions on this.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Weekly humor: Testimony From Cape Town Courts

Over the years, there have been many collections of absurd and silly exchanges in courts. Recently, my friend Mandy Schoeman sent these to me, allegedly from actual records in courts around Cape Town. Enjoy!

Judge: I know you, don't I?
Defendant: Uh, yes.
Judge: All right, tell me, how do I know you?
Defendant: Judge, do I have to tell you?
Judge: Of course, you might be obstructing justice not to tell me.
Defendant: Okay. I was your bookie.

From a defendant representing himself . .. .
Defendant: Did you get a good look at me when I allegedly
stole your purse?
Victim: Yes, I saw you clearly. You are the one who stole
my purse.
Defendant: I should have shot you while I had the chance.

Judge: The charge here is theft of frozen chickens. Are you
the defendant?
Defendant: No, sir, I'm the guy who stole the chickens.

Lawyer: How do you feel about defense attorneys?
Juror: I think they should all be drowned at birth.
Lawyer: Well, then, you are obviously biased for the

Juror: That's not true. I think prosecutors should be drowned at birth, too.

Judge: Is there any reason you could not serve as a juror
in this case?
Juror: I don't want to be away from my job that long.
Judge: Can't they do without you at work?
Juror: Yes, but I don't want them to know it.

Defendant: Judge, I want you to appoint me another lawyer.
Judge: And why is that?
Defendant: Because the Public Defender isn't interested in
my case.
Judge (to Public Defender): Do you have a comment on the
defendant's motion?
Public Defender: I'm sorry, Your Honor. I wasn't listening.