We spoke to the dynamic and successful entrepreneur Allegro Dinkwanyane about the ins and outs of starting your own business.
Why does starting a business feel like baby-sitting a toddler?
It feels that way because you are starting from the bottom. It’s something new that will require your attention 24/7 before you can slow down a little bit on the workload and long hours. And, like any other new business, it’s not a nine-to-five. You need to be committed, consistent and passionate, even before the profits start coming in.
Do people really have to be prepared to go broke when starting up a business?
Of course! I speak from experience. I self-funded my company and I had to invest in my business before anyone else did. So be prepared to not have money for some time but, if you persevere and work hard, the money will follow.
Why do you think it’s a good idea to delay looking for funding when starting up a business?
Because sometimes we get ourselves into unnecessary debt! prioritise your goals, have a structure for your company and outline what it is you need to get the company off the ground and focus on that. Then, as you make money, invest back into the business and grow it from there. My company turns six this October and everything I’ve done thus far, I’ve done with my own money!
What are the best and worst parts about starting your own business?
The hardest part is taking that first leap of faith – that first step! It’s convincing myself and believing that against all odds, with no money, no staff, no office, no clients and no investors, I will make it happen. After that first step, hard work and prayer will seal your success. The best part about being self-employed is exactly that! That I am my own boss. I am responsible for my own success and I am creating a legacy that I will be proud of – a company that gives young people hope and an opportunity to be employed and hold a position they love and enjoy – AND, moreover, get paid well.
How do you stay motivated?
I celebrate every milestone, from the little ones all the way to the biggest ones, because that gives me hope that the future for my brand and my company looks bright. My team also keeps me motivated and vice versa! We love what we do and it’s brought us this far. When all else fails, I know for sure that God’s got me and prayer and hard work have never failed me.
Which entrepreneurs inspire you?
My mother Meriam Dinkwanyane and my uncle Phaahle Dinkwanyane, Oprah Winfrey, Diddy, Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Richard Branson, Aliko Dangote, Prophet Shepherd Bushiri, Patrice and Precious Motsepe, Khanyi Dhlomo, Carol Bouwer, Basetsana Khumalo and many other successful entrepreneurs.
You have to learn to earn. What are your thoughts on this?
I believe in this! It’s something a lot of Millennials still need to understand and come to terms with. Nothing worth having happens overnight. You have to work hard, put yourself in the right position to learn and then start making the money. Although learning never stops, it should also be the first thing you do. Before I started my business, I studied, got my degree and other academic qualifications. I interned at the SABC and at BBC Africa, worked at UJFM and many other media houses before I launched my own media company. What I was doing was not wasting time. I was learning and today I’m earning!
How have you managed to never submit a CV in your life?
I simply focused on my business and never considered a plan B.
Do you ever fear failure? If so, how did or do you overcome it?
I don’t! Instead, I constantly focus on my goals, plan for the future, learn from my mistakes and keep moving forward.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to a young entrepreneur who is struggling to get their start-up noticed?
DON’T GIVE UP! If you really love and believe in what you are doing, keep working at it. Don’t let anybody tell you you won’t succeed, just because they failed before or never even tried. And don’t allow the lack of funds to discourage you – keep knocking on those doors, one will open for you.
Before you start your own business, watch this…
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