Entrepreneurship do's and don’ts - Vusi Thembekwayo

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Vusi Thembekwayo 14 August 2019

This is from a piece authored by Sahara Ventures on my recent Entrepreneurship MasterClass held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

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Coming to Tanzania without speaking to entrepreneurs is not happening. When is the Master Class?

These words echoed from the serial entrepreneur, a business mogul, and Africa’s most paid speaker as he took the stage during the first of his many master classes in Dar es Salaam at Sahara Ventures.

With presence and humor, he clarified how much knowledge we accumulate should be shared by others.

“The ecosystem that supports entrepreneurs today is worth more than the entrepreneurs collectively put together” — Vusi Thembekwayo, the Black Dragon

As he has spent 5 years studying the nature of business and entrepreneurs in Africa, the dragon declares that the biggest problem in our continent is that there is no free movement of goods. A lot of taxes and bureaucracy is involved. This inhibits our ability to grow as entrepreneurs.

Furthermore, insightful lessons emerged as he answered questions that were raised by entrepreneurs.

1. Don’t raise funds too soon

When entrepreneurs raise money for the sake of raising money, they start to raise funds too early. too soon. “It’s absurd. You want someone to pay you to follow your dreams. Why should I take my money and pay for your dreams and not mine?” We’ve got to agree on the stage your business is in. How do you earn the badge to be called an entrepreneur? sleepless nights, no friends, no credit cards but still thriving forward. It only becomes real when you have been through so much and have lost so much. Prove to yourself that you can do it for yourself.

2. Don’t sugar coat your journey

Be authentic but be patient enough with yourself. Business is not easy. It is hectic but we make it look good. Because we are lying to each other, we are denying the opportunity to learn from each other. We need to have conversations that are authentic. talk it out. Most of us have no clue what we are doing. and it is okay. Being an entrepreneur is lonely- Deal with it.

3. Don’t value content over context

“I’d rather be rare and impactful than being everywhere and not impactful”, The black dragon declared with a cocky smile! Always strive to ensure that the content you share is contextualized to the people you are communicating to.

4. Don’t nurse the do-it-myself syndrome

Every entrepreneur building his business from scratch is struggling with this. Vusi admits to struggling with it himself. You cannot do it all. And they won’t do it exactly the way you do it, deal with that. Learn and grow your ability to inspire, equip and trust that your people will get it done.

5. Don’t just hire doers.

Doers are great, but thinkers change the game. You need thinkers around you. Yes, thinkers are lazy but they will continuously come up with creative ways to solve challenges.


6. Do clarify your story

Can you write in three paragraphs a clear well-narrated story of your business? Clarity is powerful.

7. Do understand the problem you are solving

What really is the problem you are solving? Is the problem big enough? Can you scale it? A lot of businesses fail to scale because the owners have not really clarified the problem they are solving and to whom they are solving it.

8. Do go where there is the most difficult thing to do

C’mon, let’s all be a little honest, do you really think the biggest problem is your app? Just stop running away from solving actual real problems. Easy is crowded. Go to where there is the most difficult thing to do. We need to constantly push for our best. The more difficult the problem the more scalable your solution.

9. Do understand the long term

It took over 72 dynasties to build the Great Wall of China, this is more than a thousand years to build a wall. One wall. The Chinese understand the long term. Think long term, this will allow you to look at your failures as learning opportunities that will serve you in the long run.

10. Do Fire your mentors

Avoid having mentors. The reason we have mentors is that we don’t want to take ultimate responsibility for our decisions. Instead, have maps and mirrors. Maps are the people who have been through the path that you want to go on. Consult with them every four months, share with him where you want to go and from their experience, they will be able to look at your plan and tell you exactly what to do. Get their access. You can have up to 5 maps.

Mirrors are people who connect to the human you. You cannot motivate or inspire yourself. It is easier to motivate, encourage others as a way of creating a sense of certainty to your people but you cannot do that for yourself. That is what mirrors are for.

11. Do understand the currency of knowledge.

How else is he the most paid speaker on the continent? Vusi has invested handsomely in ensuring that he is updated and the information he is sharing is backed up with data. Scan around, look for idle resources and see how you can always be informed and ahead of your game.

Bonus point:

When you have to sell, effectively communicate the following:

1. What they don’t know. 
No audience will ever have the level of knowledge that you have. Train your mind to think in their shoes. Do no be technical when communicating this.

2. Why should they care? 
The only way to do this is to use human stories. Have stories in a context relevant to your audience.

3. What makes you the authority? 
Learn to get comfortable telling people how awesome you are. If you can’t believe you are good enough, it is difficult to tell the world.

4. What must they do? 
Yeah, you’ve shared all that. Now, what’s the point? You need to be very clear about what people must do. don’t leave them assuming. be forceful.

Be serial. Go get it!