Entrepreneurial pearls of wisdom

The 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year® winners share their advice for turning 2018 into a success

When it comes to being an entrepreneur, there is no sure template to follow or instruction manual to refer to, and no two journeys will ever be exactly the same. There are, however, parallels that can be drawn and lessons that can be learnt from those who may be a little further on in their entrepreneurial journey.

In the hopes of finding some of these valued nuggets of entrepreneurial wisdom, we sat down with a couple of winners of the 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition and asked them about the biggest lessons they’re taking with them from the past year, as well as any advice they have for up-and-coming entrepreneurs who hope to make 2018 their year. 

Siphiwe Ngcobo, the founder of iLawu Hospitality Group and the 2017 Job Creator of the Year® says that the biggest lesson he learnt in 2017 was that no one has monopoly over ideas. “As an entrepreneur, you should always strive to keep abreast with what is happening around you through reading relevant literature and networking with people who will contribute in making you a better entrepreneur and human being.”

For Zenzele Fitness Group founder and Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year® winner, Tumi Phake, an important piece of wisdom came from a book he was reading. “While reading Good to Great by Jim Collins, what really stood out for me was the idea that in life, or business, you need to get the right people on the bus, put them on the right seat, and get the wrong people off the bus.

“It’s about surrounding yourself with people who bring out the best in you, people who want to make it happen and are self-motivated. If you have the right people sitting on the right seats, there’s no need to micromanage,” he says.

Tumi continues by explaining that while having a great business idea is important, it’s not critical. “The most important thing is having the ability to execute your idea – this is what investors look for. To do this you need to find people with the skills you may not necessarily have yourself.”

Siphiwe finishes off by offering the two entrepreneurial principles that he lives by. “The principles I live by are simple and usually come quite naturally to anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit. Firstly, be obsessed with understanding how things work and, secondly, take ownership. This means interrogating and understanding ideas before making a decision; and then taking full ownership of whichever path you choose.”