After my first business failed in 2008, I pretty much lost most of what I had accumulated in the years as currency trader at the banks. Going through my files, I came across a business plan that I had drafted before starting the business. Putting it together had taken me four months of waking at 3am before work and weekends doing research, etc. Then I had filed it away as soon as the funding was secured and the business opened its doors a year later.
Bruised from the experience, I seriously considered going back to the banks or some other employment, and I think I probably made some calls. What bothered me more than financial and emotional toll was my inability to solve the problem of building and growing a business.
A few discussions with friends convinced me that I should use the benefit of my experience to consult to SMEs while figuring out my next thing. 20/20 Insight was thus born.
I had learned three key lessons from my business which have been with me since: (1) Every vocation requires a period of learning and school fees; (2) when starting a business, rather err on the side of overcapitalising it (3) Business is about relationships, and an entrepreneur’s relationship with creditors and bankers are sacred, to be nurtured and protected above all.
But still I hadn’t figured out how to ‘scientifically’ build and grow a business. Nearly four years into consulting and tinkering with all possible models, it finally occurred to me that a business is a living thing, and like most living beings it has a hierarchy of needs. Abraham Maslow had developed a neat model to demonstrate this in 1943. Paramount is survival; then safety, fitness and efficiency; integration into a community; comfort and prestige; and then finally is growth and full self-expression. These applies to all organisations, large and small, but also to countries.
South Africa has great potential. We are blessed with a beautiful climate & landscape, abundant natural resources and a citizenry that is resilient and resourceful. However, we can never fully find our place in Africa and the world, let alone fully experience the beauty of this land of ours, while we have high levels of unemployment and poverty.
I believe that we can end poverty and reach full employment within our lifetimes, but it requires all of us working together with the same level of commitment and determination that defeated Apartheid. At 20/20 Insight, we are invested in playing our part through the development of SMEs as well as efficient and effective integration of all development resources available.
We believe in constructive engagement with Government to provide feedback on B-BBEE and all development policies from the ground where we implement. These policies create an enabling environment for us to bring together various role players and enhance the developmental eco-system. We work closely with corporate companies to assist them with cost-effective B-BBEE compliance solutions that, not only improve their competitive positions, but also maximise the transformative and development impact of their resources.SMEs are they key to developing skills, ending unemployment and finally putting poverty behind us. However, they can only do this if they grow.
Driving SME growth is our passion and primary focus.
Karabo Mashugane: Founder and CEO of 20/20 Insight