From left to right: Robin de Cauwer, DeWet Schoeman, Willemien Law, Dr Chris van der Merwe
For a successful entrepreneur passion comes before the money. Aspiring entrepreneurs should not allow thoughts about business to remain a dream, but go out and take the first step to fulfil that dream.
This was the key message by Curro Holdings CEO, Dr Chris van der Merwe, at the opening earlier this week on the Stellenbosch University campus of this year’s Young Minds Entrepreneurship Programme
. Almost one hundred participants have enrolled for the programme.
The programme, previously known as the Gap-year Programme in Entrepreneurship and Management, is presented annually by the Centre for Entrepreneurship at USB Executive Development (USB-ED), the public company of Stellenbosch University.
Dr Van der Merwe is a well-known educationalist and entrepreneur who started the successful Curro independent school group in 1998 with 28 learners in the vestry of a church in Durbanville.
As guest speaker, Dr Van der Merwe said an entrepreneur is someone that is looking for freedom, has the confidence and someone that wants to do something for him or herself. “To fulfil a dream, one has to take it one day at a time. The most important thing is to take the first step. That will show what the second step should be.”
Also remember the history of the country. While the product and service offered must be of the highest quality, it must be affordable. A profit must be made, but do not exceed limits. There must be fair value for money. To be a successful entrepreneur one must also have a competitive advantage. To achieve this, one should look carefully at why people are prepared to buy a product or service and make adjustments if necessary.
Aspiring entrepreneurs should decide on what they want to do and achieve in life, and then make sure to become a master in that they want to do. Once a master, make sure there is a market for the product or service and be realistic about what can be achieved.
The vision and company strategy must be as simple as possible to communicate, so that everybody can understand it.
“Remember that nothing in life begins ‘big.’ To make it big, one should keep to a dream. A dream should be written on a piece of paper to look at, and to remind you of it. Do not just sing about it in the shower, otherwise it will fade away. Entrepreneurs should dream big and not think that big things are not for them.
“Hang on to a dream, even when there are setbacks. Research has shown that the well-known business leaders in the world has accomplished success by hanging on to a dream. Success takes time.
Dr Van der Merwe said that in the entrepreneurial world it is accepted that talent alone is not enough to be successful. More attributes are needed like faith, enthusiasm, initiative, focus, physical exercise, perseverance, an inquiring mind, character, relationships, responsibility and confidence.
“Talent does not mean anything without that important first step to accomplish something. Success with the first step energises one to go on to the next,” Dr Van der Merwe said.
Robin de Cauwer, the programme’s top participant last year, said that after discontinuing his studies for a BSc degree two years ago, he considered himself a drop-out. He nevertheless received one more chance and enrolled for the programme.
“This was a life changing experience for me and my classmates. For me everything in life is part of a business. You just need to find out what part of business is for you.”
He launched his online business, Dietnostix, earlier this week and will be extending the business into America and Europe during the year.
“I’m not a drop-out anymore and if I can do it, everybody can,” De Cauwer said.