After three business failures, here’s what one of SA’s top women in tech believes every entrepreneur should know

Business Insider SA
Darlene Menzies (Supplied)
Darlene Menzies (Supplied)

More South African entrepreneurs should embrace failure to achieve success, Darlene Menzies, CEO of startup funding platform FinFind, said.

Menzies was named one of Africa’s top 6 female tech entrepreneurs by the World Economic Forum in 2017 - sixteen years after she left her corporate job to become a serial entrepreneur.

Speaking to VIA (DStv channel 147)’s personal-finance show Geldhelde, Menzies said she launched eight products, started six businesses and got liquidated three times before she achieved success.

Today she runs three profitable businesses.

“You have to live for a few years like no one will so that you can live for the rest of your life like no one can,” Menzies said.

Menzies gave the four things entrepreneurs should know when they start a new business.

The opposite of success is actually not trying

“Failure is not the opposite of success; failure is actually part of the recipe of success,” Menzies said.

She said it's a bit like parents teaching a toddler how to walk by standing on the other side of the room calling them over.

“[The toddler] normally take a couple of steps and fall, [but] the parent doesn’t then say, ‘Well, this is useless.”

“They're never going to write them off.” The same is true for starting a new business.

Don't stay in corporate positions

Menzies believes the biggest failure of any potential entrepreneur is staying in corporate positions “where they’re comfortable, but they’re not happy”.

She said not only is a potential entrepreneur’s hesitance to start their own businesses robbing their own future - it’s also robbing the economy.

“Government is shrinking, corporates are shrinking, and we’ve got a massive unemployment problem [in South Africa] so to resolve that it’s going to have to take people starting their own businesses,” Menzies said.

“There’s a fine line between insanity and genius – and that line is success.”

Entrepreneurship gives you freedom to do what you love

Menzies said starting your own business means working harder than you would in a corporate, but it also means more freedom to do what you're passionate about.

“If you have your own business, you can decide what market you’re going to pull, what product you’re going to sell, who you’re going to employ, and how you want to build,” Menzies said.

“In a corporate, you can’t choose who you’re going to work with but in your own business you can.”

Start with whatever money you have

“Rather start small with a little bit of money and show a little bit of a track record because then you can go to a funder and say, ‘Look, I’ve been doing this for a year. It's been paying for itself. The business is starting to grow,’” Menzies said.

She said initially money is going to be scarce and then entrepreneurs should do their best to drive overheads down.

“You’re going to have some months where you either cannot earn a salary or you’ll be taking less and you can’t be paying off big [loans] on cars and big mortgages.”

Geldhelde airs every Tuesday at 20:30 on VIA (DSTV channel 147) with repeats on Wednesdays at 08:30 and Sundays at 19:30.

Business Insider South Africa is part of, which is a Media24 company, as is VIA TV.

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