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Your Guide to Starting Your Own Business

BY: SGI|15 October 2019
BLOG| My future career
  • “The hustle is real.”
  • “Live like a CEO, spend like an intern.”
  • “On a mission to build an empire and leave a legacy.”


These and many more quotes on entrepreneurship, hustling and burning the candle at both ends are being extolled everywhere – from well-known magazines such as Fast Company to Instagram. And while we’d all love to build a successful company overnight, true success can’t be measured by headlines or motivational quotes. Instead, startup culture and entrepreneurship starts with you and your vision for your future.


If working a regular nine to five is just not your cup of tea and you’d rather be creating your own products and services, you’ve come to the right place! At Stellenbosch Graduate Institute (SGI), we offer online short courses that not only help established business people thrive but also provide you with the knowledge to go out on your own and get ahead.



In South Africa, nine out of 10 startups fail in the first two years of operation, says the Mail & Guardian, most frequently due to insufficient planning, poor management and a lack of financing. But don’t let this get you down! According to Ventureburn, Africa’s tech startup future is looking bright with more than US$2.3 million being invested in startup accelerator programmes. Part of starting something means spotting these opportunities and capitalising on them through sustainable ideas that solve real challenges South Africans collectively face. South Africa urgently needs entrepreneurs – SMEs are the ‘engine room’ of the economy and their growth is pivotal to moving the needle. That should be extra motivation to take your big idea to market. Here’s how to get started.


1. Evaluation is key

Before you dive headfirst into your new business proposal, ask yourself where your strengths lie and what type of business is right for you. This includes:

  • Your skillset,
  • Your passions,
  • Your areas of expertise,
  • How much capital you’ll need,
  • The lifestyle you want to live, and
  • Whether you’re motivated enough and can work well under pressure.


2. What’s your big idea?

Next, you need a winning idea, something that will knock the socks off investors and have consumers clamouring to buy your products or engage your services. Whether this is fulfilling a need or producing a product that isn’t in the market yet, you’ll need to think beyond the current hype of technology or find something that bugs you that you can fix, suggests Entrepreneur. Doing an online short course like our From idea to success (operational plan) can help plant the roots for a successful business.


3. Research, research, research

Now that you’ve got the idea, it’s time to figure out whether your product or service will meet the demands of the market. You can do this by collecting primary research through interviews, questionnaires, surveys and focus groups; collecting data through a sample set; or analysing secondary resources on similar products or services. Our brand new Creativity in Business courses could be the perfect way to conceptualise a different idea and determine how it’ll play out in practice.


4. Make it official

Once you’re happy that your new business will be able to make it, it’s time to put everything in writing. Start by writing out your business plan, then get all your legal documents in order, including:

  • Finalising your business structure,
  • Creating a business name,
  • Registering your business through the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC),
  • Registering for tax and opening your business banking accounts,
  • Obtaining any permits or licences if your business requires these, and
  • Registering any trademarks, patents or copyrights.

Go step by step. Not all these things need to be done at once – there’s time to figure things out!


5. Show me the money

While many tech startups are able to receive seed capital through incubators, other industries may also offer funding – if you know where to look. According to Forbes, you can fund your small business by:

  • Boot-strapping, which is where you fund your business through personal assets,
  • Getting an investment from friends and family,
  • Securing a personal loan through your bank, or
  • Applying to an angel investor group or venture capital investor, who may then own a piece of your business.

Be very careful with each of these options. Weigh up pros and cons before making any big decisions. Remember, you can start a business with relatively little thanks to the digital world. For example, you could set up an ecommerce website, rather than renting a physical store.

SGI’s Managing Finances online short course will help you understand the ins and outs of the financial aspects of your business.


6. Build your team

The key to any business is a great team so make sure you build one that’s effective from the start with the help of SGI’s Teaming for a purpose online short course. According to Xero, team building comprises the following:

  • Understanding the strength of each individual employee,
  • Getting your employees to buy into your vision, product and/or service offering,
  • Keeping your employees engaged and involved by challenging them and acknowledging their successes,
  • Clearly defining roles, and
  • Recognising the value diverse team members bring to the business.

Think about your business. Think about the key roles you’ll need to fill, now and in the future. Then hire for those very specific skills, with clear KPIs in place.


7. Sell yourself

Great, you’re up-and-running. Now for the tough stuff: Getting sales. While it may be difficult to hear “no”, accept that this will happen a lot in the early days of your business and keep pushing ahead. MO Agency recommends finding good-quality leads and converting these to clients by listening to people’s needs then figuring out how best to make these happen for them. Additionally, sales is one of the most important elements of a business, so should be a key priority – whether you are trying to sell a product or a service.

Get your head in the game with our Advanced Project Management online short course, which will not only help you develop project management skills but also provide you with the knowledge of putting your business strategy into practice.



Starting a new business comes with its ups and downs. As an entrepreneur, you’re never sure where your next pay cheque will come from or how a deal will see your company grow or get cut off at the knees. Use these tips to keep yourself sane even when you feel like you’re flying off the tracks.


Ditch the panic.

According to Inc., running a business can be stressful due to a high risk of failure, juggling multiple roles and facing countless setbacks. But there’s hope. Instead of panicking at the slightest hiccup, focus on small tasks to help achieve your larger goal. This will help you to not overreact over little things and be less stressed in the long term.


Create a routine.

Creating a set schedule is not just good for entrepreneurs. Many employees have found that it helps keep them centered in a chaotic environment. Minutes suggests practicing meditation or finding a time to step away from your desk to visualise your end goal.


Find a network.

Entrepreneurship can be a lonely road – but it doesn’t have to be! Leaning on mentors, friends and other entrepreneurs can help keep you from feeling isolated or ready to walk away from it all. If you work in a communal office, consider suggesting a brainstorm session with other small-business owners or grab after-work drinks to catch up on leads or simply vent.


Study up!

When you’re running your own business, learning becomes a constant. Not only will you need to brush up on your technical know-how but you’ll also need to learn how to practice emotional skills as well as how to mitigate and analyse risks. Our flagship Effective Directorship course will help you learn how to meet the basics of heading up a company.


Look after number one.

Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle, says Santam, so taking care of yourself should be high up on your agenda when you’re working irregular hours. Exercise regularly, eat healthily and find pockets of time to relax and get away from work completely. You’ve got this!



Starting your own business venture is exciting – and there’s no better time than now to begin. At Stellenbosch Graduate Institute, we aim to help you succeed as an entrepreneur with online short courses designed to help you overcome the challenges of entrepreneurship, management and more.


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