8 lessons for entrepreneurs who want to conquer the world


Every entrepreneur wants to conquer the world, but few manage it.

According to Ivan Epstein, president at Sage International for Africa, Australia, Middle East, and Asia, and chairman of Sage Foundation there are a few key lessons he learnt during his years running a startup business that can make such success more of a likelihood.

Data doesn’t tell you everything

“Most successful entrepreneurs trust their gut and instinct as much as they trust formal market research,” Epstein says. “Creating a new business is about defying the odds and finding opportunities. It’s about heart and courage as much as it is about intellect and analysis.”  

Disputes can arise with business partners

Entrepreneurs that have partnered with other people to build a business should be ready for potential disputes once the idealistic glow has worn off.

“Be sure that your partners complement your strengths and weaknesses and that you are able to turn the challenges in the relationship into a net positive. Conflict, if well managed, can create great opportunities,” Epstein says.

The first employee is an important milestone

“When your business is a startup, you’ll find it hard to attract the right people. Your budget will be limited which means your choices of potential employees will be too,” he says.

Talented people usually want to work for well-known and successful brands, but startups should not make a bad appointment out of desperation.

“Take your time to find the right fit. Remember that you’re not just hiring a techie or a sales rep – you’re laying down the foundation for your future culture,” Epstein says.

Don’t be seduced by your own PR

“As your business takes off, you might get opportunities to attend gala events with established business people. You could also get some PR. That’s all great, but don’t let it go to your head,” he says.

“Make sure you are focusing on your business fundamentals and not just your image.  And remember, the press can be unpredictable.”

As your company grows, your control may diminish

Though many entrepreneurs dream of securing funding, being acquired or going public, it is important to be willing to let your role evolve if you embrace such changes.

“You may need to be more transparent and flexible as well as delegate aspects of the business to others,” says Epstein.

Learn how to cut your losses

Product line or a division in your business failing? Act quickly.

“If it’s beyond redemption, dispose of it as cleanly and rapidly as you can. Don’t let a failing part of your business disrupt your strategic direction.”

Share the wealth

“As your business grows, make sure that your people’s prosperity grows, too,” Epstein says. “Making people feel that they’re recognised and valued is vital to employee engagement and retention of wonderful talent.”

Change the world!

Epstein says entrepreneurs should use their talent and organisation to make a difference in the world.

“Give something back. It instils in your people a wonderful feeling of being part of something amazing. It also attracts investors, customers, and other stakeholders who want to be associated with a company that has a heart.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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