5 tips for staying in business

01 June 2018 - 12:00 By KimBarty
Staying in business in South Africa.
Staying in business in South Africa.
Image: 123RF/Kurhan.

Twenty years ago, a brave and unknown South African entrepreneur took a risky flight to the US to claim the licensing rights of a global student management system. 

This year his organization celebrates twenty years of being in business and is now a leader in education technology in Africa.  Chairman of Eiffel Corp, Andre van der Merwe, reminisces about the last 20 years and outlines five tips for staying in business.

Ideas are dangerous - choose them carefully

Ideas are mostly capital depleting and very few are capital creating. See ideas in the context of a ‘romance’. Let the ideas work for you, don’t do all the work.  Once you commit to an idea, you’re committing capital, capital is limited, ideas are not.

Remain a student

Keep your ear to the ground and listen to the marketplace, your competitors and your staffing, remain paranoid about the future and make momentum your best friend. 

Learn to crawl before you walk

Be patient with your first idea.  Make sure that your first good idea is established before you move on.  For a visionary it’s challenging to be in the detail, but build systems and processes that make your product or service repeatable.

Purpose before profit

In the wise words of Simon Senek, find your why and stick to it.  In my experience, when I have stuck to the purpose of my business and the solutions we provide, the profit has followed.  Never be tempted by short term gains which sacrifice your values and ethics. 

Choose your people carefully

I have worked with an excellent team over the years, who have built long-term relationships with our partners and clients.  In my experience, good people = a good business.


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