Be your own boss: Entrepreneurship 101

Posted on October 07, 2019

Would you like to change your life by putting your skills and knowledge to good use? Do you have the ability to think creatively? Would you like to be your own boss? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you may have what it takes to become an entrepreneur.

According to Professor Alex Antonites, Head of the Department of Business Management at the University of Pretoria (UP), entrepreneurship is a skill that can be learnt, and all it takes to be a success is the ability to think strategically, achieve small goals in the beginning and have a long-term outlook. “You also need to be focused and be able to devote time to growing your business.”

He says most entrepreneurs fail because they do not have the necessary skills or support to continue once they hit a bumpy patch, but the need for entrepreneurs in South Africa has never been greater. “At the University of Pretoria, we have a custom-designed course and support system developed for our students. All they need to do is sign up for a free Professional Online Development (POD) course where they can learn these skills from in their own time. The course is valued at over R7 500 and teaches vital business skills to any registered student.”

In South Africa, approximately seven out of 100 people are entrepreneurs. The country needs about 20-25 out of 100 people to be entrepreneurs to grow the economy and create jobs. For each student who becomes a successful entrepreneur through UP’s support, five people will directly benefit.

UP’s support system for encouraging an entrepreneurial mindset is based on a multi-pronged eco-system approach.

Firstly, students have to sign up for and complete the POD. Then the #Start_UP phase will see the business plan or idea assessed and refined by business experts. The next phase is the #Link_UP where (if applicable) a prototype is designed with the assistance of the Library’s MakerSpace and rapid incubation (business start-up support, office and meeting space, market research and industry-linked networking). Finally, the #Grow_UP phase will provide support to grow your business. By registering early and starting on the path to becoming an entrepreneur, students have the potential to be successful business owners by the time they graduate.

The course is open to students, regardless of their field of study. The skills and support offerings are transferable to any entrepreneurial environment, whether your business idea is based on selling for profit, or offering a product or service for social change and improving lives.

This is part of the University’s strategy to become a more entrepreneurial university. According Prof Antonites, this is divided into three segments: entrepreneurial mindset, academic entrepreneurship and the commercialisation of technology and intellectual property.

He says it is important for UP to be able to produce graduates who can compete in the jobs arena and also be able to solve the issue of unemployment in the country.

“We create knowledge here. The idea is to take that knowledge and commercialise it so it’s an income stream. Secondly, it makes us more competitive, it will help us attract very specific students.  It also offers our students the opportunity to not only be employable, but self-employable.  It ultimately affects the economy in that it’s one of the ways we can help address the youth unemployment crisis, a rate that sits at 54%,” he said.

 “Self-employability is one benefit of producing graduates who are also trained as entrepreneurs. There’s also something called intrapreneurship, where you think proactively, you develop new services, programmes and products for your company and you also generate more income. This is important because it means our graduates become more desirable as potential employees,” says Prof Antonites.

This year, the entrepreneurship campaign takes on a faculty focus to help students identify and make the most of entrepreneurial opportunities that exist in their specific fields.

“The basic tenants of entrepreneurship are very generic by nature. But every industry is different. There are different cost drivers and different obstacles. We have aligned it to specific industries, qualifications and faculties. If you start, for instance, a medical practice, it’s completely different to opening a restaurant or spaza shop, so we encapsulate context within that industry,” he says.

To get on the road to being a successful entrepreneur, sign up for the Entrepreneurs POD right now. Enrol on clickUP.

- Author Masego Panyane

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