Saturday, January 19, 2008

Inspiring People: Richard Branson Encourages Young Soweto Enterpreneurs

Last week I attended a prize-giving at the Branson School of Enterpreneurship. Virgin Group Chairman and CEO Richard Branson was there to hand over an award of R100 000 to budding Soweto-based entrepreneurs Musa Maphongwane and Amos Ntsolongo, founders of the Starplex Gaming Zone, a digital entertainment centre.

The cheque was part of the first for the 2007 Soweto Entrepreneur Business Plan Competition, which aims to encourage entrepreneurship among Soweto youth.

On being questioned by journalists, Branson shared some tips on enterprenuership.

He says:“Once you’ve given someone the basics, a lot of it [the work] is going to be about day to day management of the business and learning the art of survival in the jungle out there,” he said.

- Choose a business idea that can work in other places, not just in your location.
- Do something fun - You’ll enjoy the work. Also, choose a business idea that will make a difference in people’s lives.
- Invest in a business plan - If you don’t have the requisite skills to develop a good business plan, pay to get it done.
- Surround yourself with good people - If you don’t have a formal business education, surround yourself with people who do, he said. “You need to make sure that you get a good team of people,” he said. Also, you must learn to delegate some of the work.
- It helps if your business idea is the kind that generates free publicity.

Some of the stuff is obvious, but we all lapped it up. How could we not? The man has clearly used that same insight to build a multi-billion dollar empire.

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