“Don’t do things for FREE unless it builds the brand and it will make sense in the long run” – George Matsheke
I have been doing this entrepreneurship thing for years now and I must say that it is the hardest thing I have pursued. It will take everything from you, but it will give you the most fulfilling feeling on earth. As someone who does this day in and day out, you see people online waiting for a different image of this dream chasing, so I decided to pen down some of my lessons learned over the years. Here is what people on social media will not tell you about entrepreneurship.
1. You will borrow money from friends to keep your dream alive. Dreams need money, dreams are not cheap, dreams are the most expensive thing you will put your money on, so basically one hell of a gamble. Chances are the first 6 months to a year – you will not make any money as a new business because you are establishing yourself and you need people to have confidence in your business. That takes time and money to keep afloat.
2. Cashflow is KING! Without money, you can’t do anything for your business or yourself. When you understand this, your decisions are easier to make with regards to your business. We try to deal with clients that understand our position that we don’t have thousands of rands in our savings just waiting to be spent, we are not there yet, we are not big yet therefore every cent matters. We can’t wait 90 days for payment of something we have done already, what are we doing during that 90 days (3 months)? As a small business one should ask for a 50% deposit before doing anything because when your company doesn’t have cash to do daily work you will end up being in trouble.
3. Everything you make you end up putting it back into the business, it sounds like a nice thing but it’s not at times (I also want those Gucci sneakers that everyone has). The biggest problem I have with being a dreamer is that you always end up putting everything back into the business or you come up with more ideas to grow the business which means more money. I can imagine a business is similar to a child, the more it grows the more demanding it gets, and all that money you had plans for ends up going to the business. There are times when I have the money to do something for myself but end up putting it back into the business because the business needs it to grow.
4. Relationships are everything with friends and clients, be kind to your clients in the hope that they are kind to you. I remember getting a contract because I bought this guy beer at Party People years ago. What I didn’t know is that he was down and out at the time and he didn’t have money for alcohol and the party was jumping. I bought him a beer and he had a good night. What I didn’t know is that the same guy remembered that night and based on work and then I got the contract. You never know where people will end up therefore be kind to people. Relationships are everything in the business world. Shout out to the clients that have been good to us, we appreciate you.
5. Don’t do things for FREE unless it builds the brand and it will make sense in the long run (Free products don’t pay any bills unless if it’s a free car you can sell). We don’t except freebies as payment and we don’t do press releases either. It’s very hard to not accept things for free but you need to make a decision of whether you are a business or an influencer. Agencies get paid to push their client’s products on different platforms therefore I don’t understand why they are not willing to pay to access this community that you have built. Don’t be afraid to say NO to big companies.
6. Almost 98% of the people will not see your vision therefore don’t expect any support until you are 2 years into your business. I have been told by friends that this business will not last a year, I have heard that I will never make anything out of these magazine dreams before. The same people are the ones telling everyone that they knew you when you had nothing. It’s YOUR dream, it’s YOUR vision, a lot of people will not see it until you make them see it but it’s not for them either, it’s yours.
7. Not everyone wants you to succeed even those who tell you that you are doing well. People with small dreams don’t put other people on because they are scared that you will make it big first. People will always tell you that you are doing well and maybe that’s true but I am afraid of getting a big head therefore I stay away from compliments. At the end of the day I am human, if I surround myself with people who tell me I am great all the time, I will believe it and that may lead to my downfall. I am not great yet, therefore I have so much space for improvement, to learn and unlearn, to grow and discover new things.
8. Remember that people do business with you because they like you and you are an extension of your business. I struggled with this, I saw myself as different to my business until people started calling me Marvin in meetings. What I do outside the business is a reflection of who I am. I hate meetings but I realized that people love meetings and that’s when they decide whether they like you or not and if they do then they will do business with you. I am not the only entrepreneur doing what I am doing but my values will differentiate me from the rest.
9. Surviving solely on your business is very hard especially when you don’t have any backup whatsoever. I don’t have much, I don’t have parents, or a trust fund or a rich uncle to bail me out, this is all I have. I depend on my business to survive and I am still here, for me that is an achievement because it takes a lot for you to depend on your business alone. The pressure of not having any backup as well helps you figure out different ways to make money such as public speaking and consulting.
10. Follow that dream. If you fail you are not a failure – Marvin is the 4th magazine I have started in the last 10 years so things take time. Culture Shock, Studio83, and Celebrate Life were the other magazines that I owned but didn’t get the same progress as Marvin did, but Marvin is here because of that experience in failing and starting again and again and again. All the things I am doing today are ideas that I have always had from those years – I’m glad that I didn’t give up on this magazine dream because I don’t know what else I would be doing if this is what I didn’t do every day. When it comes to your successes and struggles, when you come up, everything you have been through – comes through with you.