Nadia Elena Comãneci is a Romanian gymnast who, at the age of 14, “became the first gymnast in Olympic history to be awarded the perfect score of 10.0” at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal.
She would eventually go on to receive six more “perfect 10s” in Montreal as well as three gold medals.
A few years later, she won two gold medals at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.
Nadia is one of the best-known gymnasts and is credited with popularising the sport around the world.
One of her famous quotes is about facing challenges,“I don’t run away from a challenge because I am afraid. Instead, I run towards it because the only way to escape fear is to trample it beneath your foot”.
So how can an entrepreneur move towards achieving a 10, in spite of challenges and fears they encounter on a daily basis?
Commit to radical personal development
The journey to moving from amateur status through to competing at Olympic level is a lengthy one, which has an inbuilt requirement of constantly improving.
Gymnasts grow because they have a radical commitment to improving their technique, skills and perspective. Although some may have a large dose of natural athleticism, they still need to be seeking ways to keep current and keep growing.
The journey of an entrepreneur is also a long-term one, where a focus on personal development will help keep you current, poised to take on opportunities and keep growing.
I think of Sanda Mntundini from Port Elizabeth. His commitment saw him grow radically in public speaking, to the degree that he is being invited to open many events/ workshops as a speaker. He has a personal transport business.
Regularly enter events and competitions
Nadia didn’t start out a 10 or by entering at Olympic level. She reached that level by starting at primary school level in her town and progressing to provincial and then eventually national level.
One way you can start is to attend workshops, events and competitions. The Western Cape has a very active entrepreneurial eco-system with many events, workshops and competitions.
A great national competition which is held in eight cities in South Africa is Pitch and Polish.
You can find out more about this workshop/competition by visiting www.pitchandpolish.com
You can also find out about some workshops by visiting the website of the Centre for Entrepreneurship (CFE) at False Bay College and other organisations that play in this space.
You can consider completing a free training course. The City of Cape Town regularly advertises and runs such opportunities.
Seek business support
There are many different organisations that are committed to helping entrepreneurs become stronger.
This support may be in the form of mentoring; coaching or business advice.
It may also include assistance in registering your business so that you quickly “land” on the radar screen of key stakeholders.
In our own programmes at CFE, we supply all of the above support.
We are also glad to have strong organisations like Rotary who will be offering mentoring and specialist input.
Our team recently attended a SMME business expo, hosted by the UWC’s Centre of Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
There were many support organisations present who could offer support. One of those present was the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA), and it was gratifying to hear testimony from current beneficiaries of the support they received from that organisation.
Acquaint yourself with appropriate financial support/funding
A very real challenge of SMMEs is finding suitable funding sources and being well prepared when meeting these organisations.
A great free resource to visit is that of Finfind at www.finfindeasy.co.za
This is an initiative of USAID in response to the challenge facing SMMEs in South Africa.
They have commissioned an easy, informative website which is a unique information product that enables business owners to understand and identify the best finance solution for their needs. Don’t allow ignorance of process and procedure to hinder your growth path.
Consistently read deeply and network intentionally.
“You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read” – Charlie Tremendous Jones.
I have found great purpose and joy in the entrepreneurial development and business coaching space.
Both key books and great mentors have had a profound impact on my life.
If you are not already a reader, I want to encourage you to commit to reading at least two business books a year.
I referred earlier to Sanda, and his commitment to personal development. He reads one book a month.
Two of the best books on entrepreneurship I have read, are also written by a great mentor. Allon Raiz has written two profound books for entrepreneurs.
I had the privilege of having Allon as a boss and indirectly, as a mentor. Even if you don’t have such a privilege, there are many amazing role models out there who you can meet by intentionally networking.
Steve Reid is the manager of the Centre for Entrepreneurship at False Bay College. His column appears once a month.
Email comments or questions to Steve.Reid@falsebay.org.za or visit www.falsebayincubate.co.za for more about the CFE.