How do you find partners you can trust?

I am regularly asked how does one find co-founders or partners in business. In other words, how can you tell whether you can trust someone?First, its important to understand that trust is not only about integrity. Its temperament, a shared worldview and values.Some people panic when faced with problems, you definitely don’t want them as shareholders or…

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Entrepreneurs build trusting teams

“Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.” Yoda Respect, or the lack thereof, is the foundation of the culture of a company. In our company we show respect to everyone, regardless of race, income or status. Respect is shown by observing cultural norms. Learn the culture of your colleagues. Remember the basics: Greet…

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Titles are not important

I remember when I started by first business: Cellfind. The most exciting moment was printing business cards with the title Managing Director.I was the man! I’m the chief! See my business card? Business cards never lie.Since then I’ve learnt a couple lessons. I’ve swung between thinking titles are super-important (iBurst), to banning them in the…

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How I made myself anti-fragile to coffee

Nassim Taleb’s book, Antifragile, was a game changer to me. The theory is to set up your life in such a way that not only are you resilient to shocks, you actually benefit when adversity strikes.One of the best examples he uses is debt. Debt makes you fragile. If interest rates go up or the…

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My conclusion after 530,000km of travelling in South Africa

A recent report by Boston Consulting Group compared South Africa to its global peers: Algeria, Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Peru, IndonesiaReally? Algeria is a peer of our? Egypt?Apparently our advanced peer group comprises countries with GDP/capita 200% greater than SA and includes Brazil, Chile, Malaysia, Poland, Romania, and Turkey.Anyone who has travelled to any…

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Extracts from Zero to One: Notes on Startups, Or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel

Start-up thinkingNew technology tends to come from new ventures – start-ups. Small groups of people bound together by a sense of mission have changed the world for the better. The easiest explanation for this is negative: it’s hard to develop new things in big organisations, and it’s even harder to do it by yourself. Bureaucratic…

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4 tips for angel investors in SA

There are two kinds of businesses you can invest in:Those with a variable cost of sale (consulting firms selling hours or retailers selling stock), and those without a variable cost of sale (IP businesses).The former brings returns that are a function of capital employed, whilst generally carrying a lower risk.The latter brings returns that are…

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Entrepreneurs know how to sell to CIOs

The central truth of selling IT products to enterprises is that procurement behavior is driven by career risk.CIO’s are agents, not principals. They make IT decisions on behalf of management and employees.As an employee your prime directive, as Keynes knew so well, is first and last to keep your job. To do this, he explained…

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Entrepreneurs do not die

Many people think that the first step after starting a business is to make a profit. That is not true.The first step after starting a business is ensuring you don’t make a loss. Making losses = going out of business = death (metaphorically speaking). Once you’re sure you can’t die, then you start thinking about making…

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Entrepreneurs don’t delegate the details

Its easy to delegate the small stuff whilst you stick to the big picture, handle relationships, make high-level decisions.It makes sense that your time is not spent doing mundane things. Your time is expensive. You’re important. You must focus on shaking the tree whilst others rake in the leaves.Famous last words for an entrepreneur: “I’m…

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What rental cars taught me about product innovation

Every time I fly to Jhb I get a new rental. Cheapest car with aircon.I’ve driven the Chevy Spark, Hyundai i10, Datsun, Nissan Micra, Peugeot, Toyota, Ford, all of them.I’ve noticed that the worse the car, the more innovative the dashboard.For instance, the Peugeot has a truly inventive aircon setup. But it’s also the worst…

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Antifragile: an excellent book on how to live life

Just finished Antifragile by Nassim Taleb. In a word: Brilliant.I found myself regularly punching the air in silent joy that I’m not alone in the world (although I don’t understand half of what he’s taling about).His main thesis is that we can find ourselves in one of three states: Fragile (you are exposed to adversity,…

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