While Aisha Pandor started out as a geneticist, her quest to solve life’s problems took her down the path of entrepreneurship. SweepSouth, the first consumer-based Internet platform in South Africa, has been dubbed South Africa’s Uber for home cleaning.
Today, the business has thousands of happy clients who are using their home-cleaning service app. In an industry with more than one-million workers, often underemployed or underpaid, Aisha has a big vision and aspirations. Here she shares her top six tips for personal and business success.
1. Find unique problems
When you set out to do something different or change your career path, think big and focus on unique challenges and solutions that have the potential to change people’s lives. Through technology, SweepSouth was able to address consumer issues – such as struggling to find reliable and properly vetted domestic help at decent rates – and influence a whole industry to address underemployment.
2. Redefine what success is for you
Success is not a destination, and it is natural for goalposts to shift. There is no such thing as an overnight success, and every stage of development comes with some frustration. ‘When you have a big vision, you cannot expect to reach your outcomes on day one,’ says Aisha. ‘The practical details of whatever you set out to achieve could mean you have to redefine what success looks like at every stage. Set smaller, more attainable goals along the way to keep you on track.’
‘I am convinced that there are many opportunities that entrepreneurs can take advantage of in a win-win way for everyone.’
3. A social problem could be a business opportunity
Aisha says the interesting thing about growing a business in South Africa is that you have to be creative and a problem-solver. ‘It may sometimes be something outside of your business focus or something you have to fix before you can grow to the next level. There are amazing opportunities to unearth solutions to social problems while you build your business.’
4. Broaden your network
Learn how to work with people, how to lead people and how to get people to buy into your vision. Never underestimate word of mouth and feedback to improve and build trust. In your business and in life, you don’t need to go it alone,’ says Aisha. ‘There are people who have done it before. Ask for advice, broaden your networks and share your challenges with a trusted person. When you don’t, it can be damaging to you, your business and the people who trust you to lead them.’
5. Find someone who complements you
‘It is your vision, and you need to think carefully about the partners and investors you bring on-board. Your partners should have a similar vision as you, but skill sets that complement yours,’ adds Aisha.
‘When you exclusively self-fund a business, it can take longer to get to the same stage as a business with investors. So, the right investors can be good for business. When closing an investment, people often underestimate how long it takes to conclude an agreement, so you also have to make sure you have enough runway to allow that process to unfold.’
‘The notion of overnight success is false. People often look at the end story and the outcome and what it is you aspire to. Your micro-view is not necessarily the same as that. You have to celebrate the milestones along the way.’
6. Separate your personal and business success
‘I always just try to do the best I can,’ Aisha says. For her, burnout is also real, and it is something that can always be close if you do not learn to redefine what success is to you. It is important to separate business success from your personal life. Personal success is about reaching other goals, and about how you feel about yourself. Separating personal and business success means you still set work goals, but you can feel good about yourself whether or not the business works out in the end.
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