Focus on what you have when starting a business

I have asked many people what are the difficulties or challenges facing a new start-up? It is interesting to note their answers. Many of them appeared to focus on what they didn’t have or what they couldn’t do. For example, “I don’t have the capital to start”; or, “That business is dependent on who you know.”

While there is some truth in these answers, their focus suggests that they forget that there are solutions and answers which are within their grasp. Here are some questions to consider that will help focus on what you can do.

What do you have?

In one of his last presentations, Steve Jobs said: “It’s the intersection of technology and liberal arts that makes our hearts sing.”

What makes your heart sing? There’s a saying, don’t die with the music still in you. Jobs passed away with a heart full of song and made the world a better place because of it. Do an audit of what you have and what makes your heart sing… and leverage these strengths to supply solutions.

Who do you know?

Do you know any entrepreneurs? No, not only the international entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson, but also the owner of a local business. By intentionally meeting and getting to know a local entrepreneur, you increase the touch with reality and access to great advice.

What information is available?

You will be the same in five years from now except for two things; the people you meet and the books you read. All of us want to grow and progress, and one of the ways is to read purposely, deeply and to apply what you can to your situation. There are many sources of free information.

Consider using your library for books and magazines as well as access to the internet where a vast pool of information lies waiting for you. There are also organisations in the enterprise development space who could give appropriate direction, information and support.

What opportunities are around you?

It is said that everyone will be exposed to at least two opportunities to generate considerable wealth in their lifetime. The problem is that most people walk right past them. Why? Because they haven’t developed a curiosity and “opportunity seeking” mindset. The Kreepy Krauly was invented by Ferdinand Chauvier, a hydraulics engineer who came to South Africa from the Belgian Congo in 1951.

Chauvier quickly realised that there was a huge market for taking the hassle out of cleaning swimming pools, and went about inventing a machine that would do the job automatically, efficiently powered by the ordinary operation of the pool’s filter. So what was a “problem” for others, became an opportunity for Chauvier.

Where can you start?

“Ideas are a dime a dozen. People who implement them are priceless.” – Mary Kay Ash.

The world is full of incredible ideas that never go anywhere because great ideas are useless without someone full of passion to implement them.

What idea can you couple with determination, passion and hard work to translate into action?

It doesn’t have to be the next Tesla motor car, it just needs to solve a core group of people’s problems.

My son is a travel photographer who supplies superb content for Expedia. Yet he didn’t start there.

He began by putting his images onto an image bank.

He continued doing this for years, deriving a small and steady income. It was only later that Expedia saw his images and contacted him directly.

So a “small beginning” led to a great opportunity.

How about you? Are you focusing on what you can do, or what you can’t? The difference can be life changing.

Graduates aspiring to start or grow their own small business can contact Abe Oliver at for a practical toolkit.

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