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Running a school like it’s a business

Elandspark school pic

This article was published in the 09-October-2014 issue of Finweek Magazine

As tech entrepreneurs, my husband and I are passionate about raising our two kids to be entrepreneurs. So we grab every opportunity we find to teach them about business. Sadly, however, the creators of South Africa’s school curricula don’t share our passion for entrepreneurship. Other than theoretical business subjects like Business Studies, Accounting, Consumer Studies, Economics, and Economic Management Studies, there is hardly any entrepreneurial training happening in most of South Africa’s schools. Elandspark School is a refreshing exception and a shining example of how to run a school like a business. Continue reading

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Great to gone to great again: bouncing back

lego-story-animatedThis article was published in the 2-October-2014 issue of Finweek Magazine

Markets change. To stay on top, you need to change with them. Economist Joseph Schumpeter spoke about the “perennial gale of creative destruction”, where technological transformation and visionary entrepreneurs give birth to new things that annihilate old things, only to see the next generation obliterate those new things. Some of the most well-known companies in history no longer appear on the Fortune 500 list, having tumbled from great to good to gone from the list—companies like Kodak, Chrysler and Warner Lambert. And, out of the 500 organisations that made it onto the first list in 1955, only 71 were still on the Fortune 500 list in 2008. However, the forces of creative destruction are not unavoidable: not every company must inevitably fall and die. After all, multinationals like Johnson & Johnson, GE and Procter & Gamble have been around for over a hundred years and their positions in the Fortune 500 have climbed. And companies like Lego and Xerox plummeted from their pinnacles, but then turned themselves around from the brink of destruction to become great once again. How did they do it? It comes down to innovation, getting back to basics, and continuously adapting to changing customer needs and changing markets. Continue reading


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Failing forward: How failing can help you succeed

persist-win

This article was published in the 18-September-2014 issue of Finweek Magazine

Back in 2008, GIBS asked a handful of MBA alumni who were internet entrepreneurs to share our biggest learnings. In all honesty, I don’t remember much about that night or what I talked about to that classroom of aspiring entrepreneurs. But the one thing I do remember as clearly as today, is the three words spoken by my classmate Justin Spratt, at the time running IS Labs. He said: “Launch, then iterate.” His sage advice came long before the global entrepreneurial Lean Start-up movement made this idea trendy. And I still swear by it to this day.

Justin explained “Launch, then iterate” along these lines: get your minimum working product out there fast, get customers using it as quickly as possible, and tweak and improve as you get their feedback. Don’t delay your launch for the day when your offering is perfect, because it will never be perfect, which means you will never launch. And that artificial goal you’re defining as perfection, may be something your customers won’t even want, let alone pay for. So don’t waste time or money building something that you haven’t yet tried out in a scaled-down form with your customers. Continue reading


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The glass is always half-full

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This article also appeared in Finweek Magazine in their 21-Aug-2014 issue

Winston Churchill famously said: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” We’ve all been through tough times at some point in our lives. We wouldn’t be human if we hadn’t. For the more resilient ones among us, it is our ability to see the positive in negative situations that helps us get through challenges and to overcome adversity.

I’m a strong believer that things happen because we’re meant to learn from them. If we didn’t have that negative hump to climb over, we wouldn’t recognise the positive staring us right in the face. I like to think of it as the universe (or G-d, depending on your beliefs) throwing you a curveball to test your bounce-back ability and how you can grow from it. And if that setback didn’t happen now, it would have to happen sooner or later, because it was placed in our path so that we could learn from it.

So the big question is: in tough times, instead of dwelling on the negative, shouldn’t we concentrate on how our setbacks transform us and transform our lives for the better? Shouldn’t we seek out the positive and what we’re meant to learn from difficult situations? Continue reading


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Welcome your bigger competitors

big dog vs little dog

This article was published in the 11-September-2014 issue of Finweek Magazine

When small businesses take on their bigger competitors, the larger companies usually win, right? In many cases, yes, but there are important exceptions. New research reveals that sometimes it helps, rather than hurts, a smaller firm if consumers see that it is competing against a larger company. In this article, we unpack why and look at the positive implications for small businesses everywhere.

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Business is changing for good

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This article was published in the 4-September-2014 issue of Finweek Magazine

Business is changing for good. The days of companies existing only to make money are dying. You don’t have to look far to see the devastating impact that unchecked greed and lust for profit has had on our planet and our lives. From global warming to the financial crisis, it’s everywhere. And so today’s generation are growing up with a conscience, far more aware than their predecessors that they need to look after what we have, to preserve it for their children and their children’s children. Call it conscious capitalism, social good or conscious business. Today’s social entrepreneurs maximise value for all the stakeholders in a business – not only for the shareholders, but also for the bigger community, the employees, suppliers, partners and the environment. Although non-profits and charities have a vital role to play, these 21st century entrepreneurs want to use for-profit business to change the world for the better. Running a profitable, sustainable company and doing good don’t have to fight against each other in business. With conscious capitalism, a profitable business has a purpose far higher than maximizing profits and shareholder value. Continue reading


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Yes, your team can have too much talent

This article was published in the 28-August-2014 issue of Finweek Magazine

We’ve all heard the catchphrases thrown around the workplace: the war for talent, managers needing to be talent magnets that attract A-players, and so on. Attracting top talent should be a top priority for competitive companies, because the more talented your team, the better the results you’ll get, right? Wrong. Ground-breaking new research indicates that there is a limit as to how much talent is good for your team. Too much talent can actually hurt, rather than help, you. Here’s why. Continue reading