#Africa 6 ways to master the challenges of building a startup


Starting a business is about passion, hard work and sacrifice. Entrepreneurs are the drivers of prosperity, but this can sometimes be a daunting task.

This is according to Daryl Blundell, managing director for Sage SSB (Start-up and small business) Accounting South and Southern Africa, who says the challenges of building a business are “immeasurable”, with small business owners often feeling “isolated, overwhelmed and despondent”.

Here are six essential skills he says can help ensure this is no longer the case.

Focus on the future and be prepared

There will always be competition, Blundell says, especially if it is an industry with low barriers of entry.

“Instead of looking in your rear view mirror, drive for daylight. Keep your eyes on the road and your focus on the horizon,” he says. “When you focus on the future you can find the gaps in your business strategy and use this to create new opportunities.”

This is also an opportunity to plan and prepare.

“Simple tasks like industry research, creating or reviewing a business plan that focuses on cost and revenue streams, tied to realistic goals and milestones will prevent a business owner from feeling overwhelmed and stuck,” Blundell says.

Fail wisely

Failure is inevitable, but it’s the scope of it that counts, says Blundell.

“Fail incrementally and not catastrophically and most importantly, as author John Maxwell says, “Fail forward”. This gives you the opportunity to use the experience as a stepping-stone to create success,” he says.

Be tech-savvy

“Technology, especially with the advent of cloud computing, software as a service and e-commerce, provides affordable and efficient solutions to enable entrepreneurs to capture market share and scale operations,” he says.

Keep your finances in order

Sound financial practice is the cornerstone of any business’ success, according to Blundell.

“There are several cloud-based accounting solutions available. These are affordable and can give you a clear view of your business’s financial health at any time,” he says.

“Good accounting software is also accurate and can automate many functions such as invoicing and payroll. Preferably choose a software vendor that has also started small and grown, so that it can both understand and assist when your business does. This will enable you to focus on your business and leapfrog into the future.”

Network with friends and foe

“Join small business forums; engage with suppliers, competitors and industry representatives.  There are many people with invaluable insight, contacts and experience that could assist the sustainable growth of your venture,” Blundell says.

Be a leader and delegate

Time management is a crucial key to small business success.

“Spending time on tasks that can be managed by members of your team, or by external consultants will allow you to focus on business critical matters,” he says.

“Change your leadership style from control to management. Delegate tasks and allow your staff to complete them. A follow-up or check-in is a good idea. Also use consultants that can assist with specialist tasks such as tax and labour matters.”

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