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Project Isizwe founder, HeroTel executive chairman and World of Avatar founder and former CEO Alan Knott-Craig Jnr on Wednesday urged entrepreneurs to live a simple life and keep their living costs down once their income increases.
Knott-Craig was speaking at a Startup Grind Cape Town fireside chat at Workshop 17 in the city on Wednesday (3 April).
Knott-Craig (pictured above, right), who is the former Mxit CEO and a qualified chartered accountant, said by keeping their costs down, entrepreneurs will have the money available to take better advantage of opportunities they come across.
Alan Knot-Craig says building a network is more important than landing investment
During the wide ranging fireside chat, Knott-Craig spoke about his time at the helm of Mxit, the successes and challenges Project Sizwe has had, as well as the mistakes and lessons he’s learnt as an entrepreneur.
Here are a three other lessons he shared at the event.
Build a network
Responding to a question by Startup Grind Cape Town director Sandras Phiri (pictured above, left) on what advice he had for entrepreneurs in South Africa and on the continent, Knott-Craig encouraged founders to build a network. “It’s more important than capital,” he said.
“You have no real choice, You can’t really start just straight out, it’s just hard. It’s not impossible, it’s just a lot harder to start your own thing, you need people to help you,” he added.
Focus, focus, focus
Creating an environment in which you can focus, Knott-Craig said, is “quite important”. “Living in a small town like Stellenbosch for me was very good,” he said.
He advised young entrepreneurs to not think of the opposite sex “all day, every day” as this will distract them from their mission.
“As soon as you’ve taken that distraction out of your life, you’ve got a lot more energy and time to put in your business.
“I think getting married is quite important. I think you should get married young, because you don’t really know what you’re doing until you get there. If you make a mistake you get divorced young,” he said.
Finding partners is a numbers game
Knott-Craig argued that having a partner in a business makes the chances of success much higher for entrepreneurs.
He spoke about how easy it is for entrepreneurs who are desperate for cash to end up with a “bad partner” by ignoring “all the warts and red flags”. This he said, is “actually not so bad”.
“Sometimes the only way to find right partners is to have bad partners and learn from those experiences,” he said, adding that it is important for entrepreneurs to make themselves vulnerable early on in those situations.
“Don’t make it hard for people to cross you. Because all you’re doing is just delaying the inevitable. The sooner you find out that somebody doesn’t share your values the sooner you can just find somebody who does,” he said.
Mused Knott-Craig: “So maybe finding partners is more about a numbers game than a checklist”.
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Featured image, left to right: Startup Grind Cape Town director Sandras Phiri and Project Isizwe founder Alan Knott-Craig Jnr (Robert Cable)