Entrepreneurship in South Africa – Do you have the guts?

We live in a world where start-ups and business geniuses rule the news, but what is Entrepreneurship and what does an Entrepreneur do? Because we have a deep respect for all the greats in the industry – from Elon Musk all the way through to Richard Branson – we wanted to take a closer look at not only Entrepreneurs, but Entrepreneurship in South Africa.


Job Mail wanted to know what it takes to be successful, what the opportunities are and, what some of the options on the table for these types of business-minded people are. This post is the result. Enjoy!

Side Note: If you are not yet ready to start your own business, look for jobs in South Africa that can help you hone your Entrepreneurial skills.

So, what is Entrepreneurship?

Before we can answer the question of what is Entrepreneurship, we first have to tackle the topic of an Entrepreneur. So, what exactly is an Entrepreneur?

The Dictionary defines Entrepreneurs as the people who set up a business (or even businesses), taking on the financial risk associated with the establishment of such a business with the aim of making a profit.


To be honest, this dictionary definition doesn’t really give enough credit to what an Entrepreneur really is as we all know that these type of individuals are their own sort of special, able to not only take a risk, but also to recognise a great idea, come up with unique new ideas and take initiative, showcasing the skills of a business leader. Entrepreneurs wear many hats, using a range of skills to create, innovate and succeed, but more on this later in the article…

So, what is Entrepreneurship then? Well, it is the process of launching a new business. This launch of a new business involves everything from the ability to develop an idea and then developing the business behind this idea, to organising and managing a business. Entrepreneurship involves innovation, taking on the risks and catering for these risks.

The financial payoff for a successful venture is of course profit.

The State of Jobs in South Africa

According to Statistics South Africa, the South African population reached a whopping 51.8 million people (measured in 2011). There is no arguing the fact that this is a huge number. Over the early weeks in 2016 (and still now as this article is posted) we are in a difficult economic climate.

President Jacob Zuma stated in his 2016 State of the Nation Address (SONA) on the 11th of February that both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund predicts a less than 1% economic growth for our country.

But are there business opportunities in South Africa? This writer would answer that question with a definite yes. In the SONA of 2016, President Jacob Zuma said that SA Tourism will invest an amount of R 100 million rand a year in order to promote domestic tourism, encouraging locals to see and explore their own country.

Supporting new ventures, our President also stated that Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) need empowerment on order to accelerate this part of our economy’s growth. The Department of Small Business Development was established in order to give targeted support to small businesses, one of its website slogans stating ‘Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship’.


BusinessTech reported in October of 2015 that, in the third quarter of 2015, Statistics South Africa announced that the unemployment rate in South Africa had increased to 25.5%. The article goes on to state of the 36.1 million working age population, 15.8 million people were employed, 5.4 million people were unemployed and a total of 14.9 million people were not economically active.

This article went on to state the formal sector made up for 69.1% of the ‘employment share’, with Agriculture coming in with the lowest ‘employment share’ at 5.7%.

In January of 2016 BusinessTech reported that new data and information from the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), which was presented at the OECD’s 2016 Employment and Labour Ministerial Meeting, showed that the OECD region showed a combined unemployment number of over 40 million people.


The regional averages for this came in at 6.7% of the Civilian Labour Force, South Africa’s unemployment rate reaching far above this average (at 25.4%). The unemployment rate across the OECD nations did rise as a result of the global economic crises suffered in 2007 and 2008.

BusinessTech went on to report that 65% of the unemployed South Africans have been unemployed for more than a year, while 34.5% of our youth were without work and out of education. Other reports include that our country has the lowest rates of employed women between the ages of 25 and 54 (measuring in at 50.9%) – the OECD average being 67.4%.

Furthermore it was reported that the employment percentage of our older workers (aged between 55 and 64) are at 39.8% against the OECD average of 58.2%.

Do you have what it takes to be an Entrepreneur?

There is no arguing that our unemployment rates are high. Many people struggle to find a job. Some of us however have been blessed with the right skills, the support infrastructure and the creativity to take on Entrepreneurship and Business opportunities in South Africa.


But what skills do you need and what type of person do you need to be to make it as an Entrepreneur? There are tons of tips out there on how to be an Entrepreneur and what successful Entrepreneurship in South Africa requires in terms of skills and talents, so we wanted to share some of the traits and skills that stood out to us.

First of all, you need it know the industry you are going into – whether it is a marketing, tech, engineering or even sales. Taking on a venture means that you should know the industry you are going into, the market trends and basically all the ins and out of that industry. Find something you are passionate about, learn it, live it and apply your knowledge to your Entrepreneurial undertaking.

Apart from being risk takers (something that in itself requires a brave and confident personality), Entrepreneurs also need a range of skills to be able to take an idea and make it a business.


Some of the skills required for this type of ‘profession’ include:

  • Excellent communication skills is a must have in this field, so never underestimate its power.
  • You will need to be able to not only brand your business, but yourself as well. Branding plays an important role in Entrepreneurship in South Africa and across the globe, so it is well worth investing time in. With branding, an online knowledge that involves everything from marketing and SEO to Social Networking will work in your benefit.
  • Being sales oriented will also help you in your undertakings.
  • Being a strategic thinker is also another important skill. Entrepreneurs do not focus on the ‘now’, but envision a bigger picture, always planning and developing a couple of steps ahead of where they are now. Growth is necessary and strategic planning and thinking will help you in this.
  • Finances are also another big aspect of Entrepreneurship. You will be working with money (in terms of budgets, raising money, financial projections and just about every other aspect of the financial business world) so learning how to effectively work with money is a skill that should never be overlooked.
  • You will also take on a managerial role. You will be hiring staff, working with people and even training staff. Leadership traits will help you a long way, even if it is just the ability to identify effective staff with a potential to become a key player in your business.

There are tons of hats Entrepreneurs wear, each hat requiring a unique set of skills and talents. Creativity, innovation and a never-die attitude are only some of the things you will need. This is a hard industry, but if you have the confidence, the personality, the knowledge and, probably one of the most important aspects, passion, Entrepreneurship might be for you.

Characteristics that will also help you in this field includes being a hard worker, having a business-oriented mind, able to identify a gap in the market and exploit that gap, being goal oriented and able to deal with the failures and still able to dust yourself off and continue. If you are able to completely commit, have a high energy and a hunger for success, very little can hold you back.

A Helping Hand for Entrepreneurship in South Africa

Because taking on business opportunities in South Africa requires that you wear a number of hats and fulfil a range of duties, completing a tertiary education, though it is not a requirement for this field, can help you get ahead.

One of the options available to you is found at the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship South Africa. It aims to help South Africans with a business by equipping them with the necessary skills, inspiration and even opportunities they will require to succeed.

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Also be sure to check out the SA Institute for Entrepreneurship and Endeavor South Africa.

Entrepreneurship in South Africa is important and so is the growth of small businesses (which can be seen by a simple glance at the Department of Small Business Development). We know the worth of these types of businesses to our economy and economic growth, and South Africa does realise that it is a sector that should be focussed on.

Jobs that require the skills of an Entrepreneur

Because Entrepreneurship requires such a range of skills and abilities, those with these skills can find employment in a number of different roles and positions. These types of jobs are perfect if you have your eye on starting your own business, but would like to build on your skills and work experience a little more.

Sales and Sales Manager jobs are a great start. Not only focusing on sales (something you most definitely need when taking on business opportunities in South Africa), here you will learn skills that include management as well as social and communication skills.


Marketing and Marketing Manager jobs are another great option for the would-be Entrepreneur as it teaches invaluable skills that can be applied within your own business.

Employment within the information technology industries are also a great place for the aspiring Entrepreneur in South Africa. Here you will learn a ton of tech skills as well as how to work with computer equipment and software.

Financial jobs offer yet another stunning industry where Entrepreneurs can up-skill. Involving everything from financial management and mathematics, those in specific jobs within this industry will also have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in fields such as financial risks, financial analytics and so much more.

Even looking at PR Jobs, aspiring Entrepreneurs can gain experience within communication and social skills.

It is important to remember the different hats Entrepreneurs wear. If you are not yet ready to take the leap and start your business, use the time and gain as much experience and skills you can (while being paid for it). From Sales and Marketing, to Financial fields, each job offers its own set of advantages for would-be Entrepreneurs.

Inspiration from two of the best Entrepreneurs in the World

Before we close off the article on Entrepreneurship, we wanted to leave you with a bit of inspiration from some of the most famous Entrepreneurs in the world.

An extraordinary man South Africans love to claim as one of their own, Elon Musk (now 44) was born in our beautiful country in June of 1971, graduating from Pretoria Boys High School. His tertiary education was completed oversees.

Involved in numerous projects (including PayPal, Tesla Motors and SpaceX to name but a few examples), Elon Musk was 38th on Forbes’ Most Powerful People list in 2015 (a big jump from being number 52 in 2014), 34th on the Forbes 400 list in 2015, 15th on Forbes’ Richest in Tech list of 2015 and 39th in the United States Forbes 100 Billionaires 2015 list.

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According to Forbes, Elon Musk has a Net Worth of $ 11.3 billion as of February of 2016.

“That’s my lesson for taking a vacation: Vacation will kill you.” – Elon Musk quote after he got Malaria while on a vacation.

“We all worked 20 hours a day, and he worked 23 hours.”

– Said by Julie Ankenbrandt, who worked with Elon Musk on the startup called X.com, which later merged with Confinity. This later lead to what we all know today as PayPal.

The next person that really stood out to us when we thought about Entrepreneurship was Richard Branson, so we wanted to add a little bit of information on him as well.

65 years of age, Richard Branson is synonymous with Virgin and all of its multitude associated endeavours. As of February, 2016, he has a Net Worth of $5 billion and made the Forbes Billionaires list at number 330 in 2015, ranking 12th in the UK. In 2014 he made the same list at number 281.

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There are numerous Richard Branson quotes to choose from to add a little inspiration to your day. Some of these quotes include:

“You can never go too far wrong by thinking like a customer who’s new to the business.”

“Screw it, let’s just do it.”

“Complexity is your enemy. Any fool can make something complicated. It is hard to keep things simple.”

Now that you know what Entrepreneurship involves and what it takes to become an Entrepreneur, we hope you feel inspired to move forward and take on amazing business opportunities in South Africa. If you are not yet ready to make that big change and start your own business, why not register your CV on Job Mail and apply for positions that will help you build your Entrepreneurial skills?

Extra Reading

You can learn more about the unemployment rate in South Africa by reading SA unemployment rate rises to 25.5% and This graphic showing the shocking state of employment in South Africa.

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1 Response

  1. Jun 9, 2016

    […] BY ANNABEL SCHOEMAN · Source : Jobmail. […]

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