Pages Navigation Menu

Self-employment Opportunities & Skills Development

Entrepreneurship in South Africa

Entrepreneurship in South Africa

South Africa MUST DO BETTER!

Owning and managing a profitable business means you are likely an employer as well, paying your employees a decent wage to improve their circumstances while contributing as a tax-payer to South Africa’s national economy. But just how easy is it these days to dream up an idea for a business start-up, test its feasibility by way of a SWOT analysis and develop a comprehensive business plan?


Entrepreneurship in South Africa has been on the decline since 2013, due to the country’s poor ratings on government programs, primary education, restricted and inhibiting regulatory environment, and restrictive labor laws. However, self-education is to my mind the best solution to these obstacles. Author Ray Bradbury said, “I don’t believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don’t have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn’t go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years.”  Besides courses and workshops to attend in real time, there are an abundance of books and online tutorials on the topic of starting a small business. The novice entrepreneur learns about different business structures, collection of business and subjective skills, the importance of adequate returns, and a whole gambit of target market considerations. Each how-to book or online tutorial concludes with the writer prompting the entrepreneur-in-the-making to “Go out there and do it!”

No matter how thorough the step-by-step process is outlined theoretically, starting with idea generation to organizing the grand opening, launching an as yet unproven business can be daunting and in most cases a feat easier said than done. It takes tremendous courage, a great deal of self-discipline, and of course enough capital to do everything to the book. Unfortunately, not every aspiring business owner is able to check all the boxes, in particular making sure they are thoroughly financially literate and have access to enough funding to keep the business afloat for at least the first 6 to 8 months following its launch.


Fear of failure remains a powerful determinant, irrespective of whether there are clear signs that with consistent hard work the business will gain momentum. Consequently, many aspiring entrepreneurs in South Africa fail to explore self-employment opportunities, and instead entertain the belief that to get a job is easier and less stressful. Regrettably, with this attitude so many good business ideas never see the light of day and more and more talented individuals join the ranks of the unemployed. I never thought I’d applaud the rising unemployment figures as a powerful motivation to get people to re-think their entrepreneurial potential.

It’s true, necessity is the mother of invention. However, due to an overall poor level of business education in the country, most start-ups fall in the category of hawking products that are already available in abundance. These highly competitive entrepreneurial activities therefore exacerbate unsustainable livelihoods, which fuels the preference to rather seek employment as opposed to self-employment. Of course, it is a vicious cycle because people lacking in-demand job skills remain unemployable. Their only recourse for survival is registering for a government grant, which instills a mindset of entitlement and an aversion to working at all.

Shoestring Budget

Running a business, however small, demands lifelong learning and continual hard work if the entrepreneur is determined to achieve a sustainable livelihood. The basics are in place in South Africa to start-up a potentially viable business. A good infrastructure and banking system are two major enablers of entrepreneurship. It’s common knowledge that most citizens are poorly educated in business skills but blaming the government for this grave oversight serves no purpose. The time for individuals “to do it for themselves” has finally arrived, to reduce unemployment and alleviate poverty.

South Africa must get it right if it is to become an efficiency-driven economy. There are many opportunities for new businesses in South Africa that can be started on a shoestring budget. Tell people in the community of your intention to start a business. Ask what product or service they would like to have available closer at hand. Determine whether there is a customer base large enough to support your business idea. Take your immediate competition into consideration. If you plan on producing a product, make a prototype to show potential customers. Take note of their comments and improve on your design.

Skills set

If it’s a service you want to market, offer it to select customers for free to grow your reputation. Don’t expect to be an overnight success. It takes time and concerted effort to get the community to trust and value what you have to offer. Generating ideas for a business should be based on what you are skilled at doing best. Do you love to cook or create crafts such as figurines, knitwear, or jewelry? If you have inexhaustible energy and enjoy teaching young children you would do well running a daycare. Offering to keep lawns and gardens in tiptop shape can eventually grow into a significant business.

If you own a suitable vehicle you could operate a delivery service in your neighborhood, and then specify the types of products and services you offer as your business grows. Most people abort any potential ideas, believing they should be highly-experienced, thoroughly-knowledgeable, and well-off to start a business. While it’s important to have at least some basic insight about your chosen niche, a commitment to continuous learning will set the entrepreneur on the road to success. Start a call center business from home. Determine whether you want to do inbound calls, outbound calls, telemarketing, or web-enabled. Just make sure your environment is quiet, with no background interference.

Start-up Ideas

Whatever type of business you choose, write out a business plan, and keep it up to date as the business grows. Consider focusing on identifying a niche product or service, such as constructing a brick outdoor barbecue, koi pond, or rockery; mobile car wash, refurbished furniture, or re-purposed items. Once you have an idea for a business obsessing your imagination, head for the book store or public library to find out all there is to know about the product or service. The Internet is a marvelous cornucopia of resources, such as Pinterest and Google.  South Africa must do better at developing its entrepreneurial culture.

Share Button
468 ad