Failure just part of the learning curve

At the Fun 2 Fail workshop are, from left, Vuyo Tutu from Civitas, Danie Voigt from Celeste Daylight and Zain Mohammed from Hedge SA.
At the Fun 2 Fail workshop are, from left, Vuyo Tutu from Civitas, Danie Voigt from Celeste Daylight and Zain Mohammed from Hedge SA.

Failure is merely a learning curve that helps make better entrepreneurs, Port Elizabeth Propella Business Incubator spokesperson Aphelele Jonas said.

He was speaking at the incubator’s Fun 2 Fail workshop where entrepreneurs from around the city shared stories of their own epic failures.

Jonas said the idea for the workshop had come from the concept of failing forward.

“You must not be afraid to fail,” he said.

“Propella realises not every business an entrepreneur starts will be a success.”

Failure should be seen as an opportunity to grow.

“It is important that you know your product or service inside and out as well as your target market.”

Propella focuses on growing startup businesses in various sectors in the technology field.

The entrepreneurs were given two minutes to share the worst mistakes they had made and the lessons learnt.

Siyathetha Communications founder Ed Richardson said he had started many businesses, with most failing.

“I learnt that discipline was a key component of founding any business but most important was to focus on only one,” he said.

His first attempt was an online Eastern Cape business publication which was ahead of its time.

”We had a distribution list of over 4,000 people but could not secure advertising or subscription income,” he said.

He then founded Siyathetha Communications, based on his skills as a journalist, about 20 years ago.

“I was business editor of The Herald and Weekend Post and from there I had built up a good contact base.

“I always wanted to run my own business, and was approached by the then-biggest ad agency in the Eastern Cape to set up a public relations arm.

“They went bankrupt two years later, but Siyathetha continued trading,” he said.

Heather McEwan said she had tried to come up with a more cost-effective way to build RDP houses and even entered a competition based on a prefab design.

She failed to win the competition and linked the loss to not fully understanding the market.

“Sometimes it’s not really about there being a market for your business but rather there being a gap in the market for your business,” McEwan said.

Shannon Olivier, a software engineer for Propella, said the workshop gave her valuable insight to being an entrepreneur.

“This kind of knowledge is invaluable and all it cost me was my time,” she said.

X