10 rules for entrepreneurs

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Entrepreneurial success can be distilled into 10 rules for entrepreneurs to live by, according to Gerrie van Biljon, executive director at South African risk finance firm Business Partners.

According to van Biljon, startup success is rooted in a disciplined attitude, and can be achieved by living by the following 10 rules.

Believe in yourself

Van Biljon says successful entrepreneurs are focused, and maintain a strong belief in their ability to achieve their goals.

“Entrepreneurs see the world not as it is, but as it can be, and then go about changing it,” van Biljon says.

“They get out of bed in the mornings believing that they have something meaningful to achieve and a legacy to leave behind.”

Never stop investing in yourself

Entrepreneurs must constantly keep learning, although this does not need to take the form of formalised education – it may be by reading, or engaging with experts and mentors, van Biljon says.

The aim of learning is continual self-improvement.”

Pursue your passion relentlessly

“The most successful entrepreneurs are those who do what they love,” van Biljon says.

This gives them the will power to weather difficult times and set-backs, he says.

Surround yourself with the right people

Lone wolves do not enjoy the same success as those who know how to pick the right startup team, van Biljon believes.  This means selecting people with varied and complementary skills.

“One of the most important rules of entrepreneurship is to find the right people, convince them to join the enterprise, and then forge a team that the work can be shared with.”

Grow your network

Successful entrepreneurs continuously grow their network of investors, advisors, suppliers, associates and customers.

Promote yourself and your business

“Entrepreneurs never pass up an opportunity to promote themselves, their vision or their enterprise, irrespective of whether it is done via their business interactions or at social occasions,” van Biljon says.

This may sound over-the-top, but he says if done with “sincerity and respect”, self-promotion can be engaging and inspiring; and can bring on board customers, potential investors, employees, partners and suppliers.

Learn how to manage risk

“For entrepreneurs, risk comes with the territory.”

However, successful entrepreneurs will mitigate risk wherever possible and try to protect against it.

A crucial form of risk in the life – and death – of a startup is cashflow. Van Biljon says successful entrepreneurs will remain “acutely aware” of their cashflow, and as such will see financial difficulties in advance and be able to plan for them.

Work hard

“In entrepreneurship there are no short cuts or half-measures.”

Stay innovative

Successful entrepreneurs will not hold on to one innovative idea, but will iterate, and adopt an innovative approach to their business activities.

According to van Biljon, this in particular involves taking feedback from customers seriously, and a “tolerance” to making mistakes.

Take care of yourself

Successful entrepreneurs stay health, and know when not to over-exert themselves.

Entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint,” van Biljon concludes.

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Inspired and excited by the African tech entrepreneurial scene, Gabriella spends her time travelling around the continent to report on the most innovative tech startups, the most active investors, and the latest trends emerging in the ecosystem.

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