Think big and believe that anything is possible. Starting your own business is not that unsurmountable. It is not easy either, but with the right mind-set, enthusiasm and a willingness to try, an opportunity for success will present itself at some stage.
Just look for opportunities and grab it. If in the end it does not work out, one has learned something. Just look further and try again.
This is the message to the class of 2017 of the USB-ED Young Minds Entrepreneurship Programme from the 2015 top participant, Robin de Cauwer. He and Roux van der Watt set up a promising internet business, Dietnostix, in 2016 with success slowly but surely now starting to follow.
Sponsored by Discovery, De Cauwer recently visited Silicon Valley in San Francisco, USA, as part of 17 upcoming South African entrepreneur companies. The aim of the visit was to see how start-up companies operate and are brought to bear in the world renowned American IT hub.
“We were able to make good contacts in this part of the world and realised that literally anything is possible. One just has to think bigger. In South Africa things tend to happen slowly. In America people are also much more willing to invest in start-up companies and thing happen much faster.
“In America you basically only have to see that patent rights of your business are in order and that your business idea is fully protected. This is more or less the only important prerequisite for support and funding for a start-up business.
“Investment in a product or service is done before it is in the shops, while there is also a great emphasis on the quality of the management team of a company. In South Africa the focus is simply on ‘sales’ and if you are already established,” De Cauwer says.
For him the personal development part of the USB-ED Young Minds Programme was the most valuable and something that he only realises now.
“You have to learn how to conduct and handle yourself in business and to plan for what you need to do on a daily basis. It is also important is to listen to people and try to learn from them as much as possible and the mistakes they made,” De Cauwer said.
The Young Minds Entrepreneurship Programme for 2017, presented annually by USB Executive Development (USB-ED), will kick-off on Tuesday, 7 February in Stellenbosch. Wesgro CEO, Tim Harris, will be the guest speaker at the event.
Having started with 27 participants in 2011, the program has grown over the years with more than 400 participant having completed the program with many success stories, such as that of Robin de Cauwer.
According to De Wet Schoeman, programme leader and director of the Centre for Entrepreneurship at USB-ED, the original idea was to make a gap-year more productive for young people instead of just having fun and traveling.
The Young Minds Entrepreneurship Programme has now developed into something that rather reflects a full-fledged career-focussed alternative to the so called “gap-year.”
The programme has three basic aims:
- To provide participants with personal mastery or development – to discover yourself, who you are, what you want to be and how to manage yourself to achieve success and fulfilment. It is also about the will and self‐confidence to take responsibility for decisions.
- Entrepreneurial thinking and innovation - develop and apply creativity and innovation to spot opportunities, and design a business concept to capitalise on it. This does not necessarily mean starting a businesses, but for young people to be able to recognise opportunities or creating their own.
- Principals of business management – an understanding of the dynamics of the modern business environment and implications for doing business. Whether it is to start an own business or to work for a big organisation, the principals stays the same.
“The programme presents an investment in any young person’s or adult’s life to prepare for the modern daily challenges of work and business. To have the self-confidence, to make the most of your talents and to be what you want to be,” Schoeman says.