New online incubator vows to increase SMME success rate

Online incubator: Heike Kannemeyer from Cape Town, South Africa created a new digital programme that speaks to today’s entrepreneur looking to put purpose behind their life’s work. Photo: Supplied/Ventureburn
Heike Kannemeyer from Cape Town, South Africa created a new digital programme that speaks to today’s entrepreneur looking to put purpose behind their life’s work. Photo: Supplied/Ventureburn

Start-up founders who work with business advisor Heike Kannemeyer will be pleased to know that her business incubator programme was inspired by a desire to get aspiring entrepreneurs in the fast lane to success.

Based in Somerset West, about 30km outside Cape Town International Airport, Kannemeyer describes her incubator as a “creative solution to a local and international movement and a massive need in South Africa.”

“There is a small business boom (a time where more small businesses are started than before) taking place in South Africa and all over the world,” she tells Ventureburn.

“There are multiple reasons for it: people have lost their jobs during the pandemic, resigned for freedom, and many more reasons. The result is that people are looking at other forms of income through starting a new business.”

This small business boom is an upside of the so-called great resignation movement sweeping the world, believes Kannemeyer.

Kannemeyer inspired by new Beyoncé hit

Knowing about the business boom while aware of South Africa’s notorious SMME failure rate, her drive to help others eventually fuelled her development of the New Business Launch Programme.

“The programme was born through my struggles as an entrepreneur while building brands and businesses for almost 14 years. I always knew I would have my own business one day, but with no business or financial training, only my PR education and experience, the journey was tough, to say the least. There are many individuals like me with an entrepreneurial mindset and great ideas, but little-to-no training to set a good foundation upon which to build their business.”

The New Business Launch Programme is a three-month online business incubator for aspiring and existing business owners. It has been designed to simplify the process of starting up, building, and launching a new product or services-based business. Participants receive the right tools, resources, and access to experts to learn from and lean on.

Kannemeyer says American singer and songwriter Beyonce’s latest release, Break my soul, brings light to the great resignation.

“The song reiterates finding your passion and breaking the boundaries of corporate expectations. The lyrics – ‘I’m looking for motivation. I’m looking for a new foundation’ – speak to so many people who are in a season of considering leaving their nine-to-five corporate jobs but haven’t had the courage, resources, or technical know-how to take the plunge and start their own business.”

The business incubator provides these individuals with an option to prepare themselves while, even before leaving their full-time jobs, allowing them to prepare ahead for their professional journeys.

However, Kannemeyer reiterates that the rising resignation movement doesn’t mean that South Africa has not been making progress in expanding its SMME pool. SMMEs account for about 98% of the country’s business network.

Only about 39% of SMMEs contribute to the country’s GDP. In the case of many ex-employees pursuing professional happiness outside the corporate world, sustaining a business can come at a quicker loss than expected. More than 71% of SMMEs fail within the first year.

“Starting, maintaining and growing a business is challenging,” says Kannemeyer.

“The moment you step away from corporate, you need to be ready to accept the responsibility of maintaining your profitability. For many, this can impact how they provide for their households and manage their and others’ livelihoods.”

According to Heike, the most common reasons for considering resigning from your job are:

  • freedom: the desire to own and run your schedule and spend more time with family.
  • money (or profit): you are not happy with your salary and want to increase your income with different forms of revenue; or
  • purpose: you do not feel fulfilled or happy in what you do daily. You feel there is more you can accomplish and desire to help others with your skills and abilities.

After 14 years in brand communication, including seven years as an agency co-owner, Kannemeyer took a six-month sabbatical before refocusing her niche and aligning it with what she loved and wanted to achieve in her life.

In 2021, she launched her consultancy, Season Seven. Shortly after, she released her small business start-up guide and e-workbook for beginners and existing business owners wanting to refresh their approaches. The 52-page guide provided a taste of what was to come: an extensive 12-module New Business Launch Programme to put serious founders on the right track to making their business work.

Want to quit your full-time job?

Kannemeyer lists seven things to ponder upon before considering leaving your full-time position to start a business:

  1. Preparation and perspective. Before you leave your job and start a business, takethe time to find perspective. Do this while you are in your current full-time position. Navigate through your pre-transition period. Find and develop your skills within your existing environment. Equip yourself and learn all you can in this time.
  2. Do you at least have six months’ salary in the bank?
  3. Equip yourself with the knowledge you need to successfully launch and maintain your business. The New Business Learning Programme can help you contextualise your professional journey – while still working elsewhere – and create a logistical map that will fast-track your goals once you are ready to move towards working for yourself. Do not leave your job if you do not have a plan in place. It may not just impact you, but your family and other dependents.
  4. Be a realist in the process.Remain objective when considering the pros and cons of being your own boss.
  5. Patience is a virtue.Trust the process, even if it takes longer than expected.
  6. Do you have an exit plan?Plan your nine-to-five exit with a future-mapping session. What if things do not turn out the way you imagined, and your business takes a bit longer to generate a profit? Take enough time to shape a 360-degree plan, from start to finish.
  7. Invest your time in researching industry trends and advances.It will help you remain excited and inspired about what you want to achieve, and continue evolving your offering.

“The online incubator was created for people serious about investing their time in equipping themselves and learning how to navigate their new business venture,” says Kannemeyer.

While it’s ideally structured to help entrepreneurs formulate their business concept and launch it within three months, aspiring business owners can take up to a year to complete the incubator’s 12 modules.

Aspiring entrepreneurs can look forward to finding their personal ‘why’ and connecting it to their business, conceptualisation, branding, building an online presence, understanding SA legal matters for small business, pricing strategies and so much more.

The 12 multimedia-packed modules include hour-long one-on-one live advisory sessions with Kannemeyer (or a suitable mentor), video, podcasts, input by external industry specialists, and over 55 downloadable resources.

Additionally, the incubator comes with an online business lounge and virtual goodie bag with access to preferred suppliers Kannemeyer has used in setting up her business, Season Seven; opportunities to meet industry experts and participants; and access to motivational InSeason podcasts, blog, and workshops.

ALSO READ: Great Resignation: How to earn employee support to beat it



Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights. sign up

Welcome to Ventureburn

Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights.