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Can you grow a global business from South Africa?

global-business-globe-in-handThis article was published in the 31-July-2014 issue of Finweek Magazine

It is widely believed that koi and goldfish can only grow as large as the enclosure they are in. Some grow big and others stay small, it’s all about the size of the pond or bowl.

This got me thinking about businesses in South Africa and the constraints posed by our environment here. Your business can only grow as big as the environment it is in. So if you want to scale, can you do it from South Africa? Continue reading


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Is rapid growth bad for your business?

rapid growth graph tech bizThis article also appeared in Finweek Magazine in their 28-Feb-2013 issue

In 1999, the Webvan Group promised to transform the grocery shopping industry. Thanks to an über-successful IPO and other sources such as venture capitalists, it raised a staggering $1.2bn in start-up capital, rivalling big players like Amazon.com. Fast forward to 2001, when Webvan went bankrupt, barely 18 months later. The cause? It ran out of money.

How is this possible?

When investors inject capital into a business, they want a return on their money. And the expectation is that rapid growth will usually fuel this return. Americans even have an expression for fast-growing firms: “gazelles” are publicly traded companies that have grown at least 20% for each of the previous four years, kicking off with US$ 1m or more in sales.

But sometimes, growing too quickly can actually be bad for business. Continue reading


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Starting an internet business in South Africa? Be a copy-cat

This article also appeared in Finweek Magazine in their 31-Jan-2013 issue

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Starting and growing an internet business is hard. Even though the barriers to entry are dropping every day, the odds of success are still worryingly low. It is very difficult to predict what the market will like and what it won’t. Is there a way to increase our chances of success? Yes, it’s called the copy-cat strategy. Continue reading


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Supporting our women entrepreneurs: how does South Africa stack up?

This article also appeared in Finweek Magazine in their 29-Nov-2012 issue business-woman-stairs_170x170

Looking around the audience at a recent talk on entrepreneurship, I was amazed to see that I was the only female entrepreneur there. The speaker noticed this too, and posed the question, “Why are there so few female entrepreneurs, and more importantly, does it matter?” At the time I didn’t think gender differences were important in the entrepreneurship space. However, further research proved eye-opening. Continue reading


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Should Entrepreneurs Study MBA Degrees?

You’ve probably heard the age-old debate “Can you teach entrepreneurship?” As an entrepreneur myself, I recognise that not everyone is an entrepreneur and even the best teaching can’t make a successful entrepreneur out of someone who isn’t wired that way. However if entrepreneurship is in your blood, an MBA can encourage you to become a successful entrepreneur. Continue reading


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The State of Entrepreneurship in South Africa Through the Eyes of Our Youth

In a recent survey commissioned by the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship, our youth gave their perspectives on the state of entrepreneurship in South Africa. The eye-opening report at http://www.bransoncentre.org/SouthAfrica/young_upstarts_report.pdf shows that this area is in drastic need of improvement!

What can we do to fix this? Entrepreneurial role models and a positive national outlook have a vital role to play.
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Business Schools Teaching Entrepreneurship – is the Paradigm Broken?

Are there flaws in the models that business schools use to teach entrepreneurship? To unpack this question, one needs to go back to the origins of business schools and the MBA.

The first business schools like Wharton were formed in the late 1800’s to teach management. In fact the first MBA degree was offered in 1908. The fundamental challenge they aimed to solve was to train people how to manage a large corporate that needed to implement on a known problem, for example producing more cars. Continue reading