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So, you are all but “done” going to work every day, the same grind, etc, etc. It’s old hat and you are “over it”. You wake up one morning and decide “To here and no further……” and now you want to start your own business? Everybody else is doing it right – so why not you?

So, you start your research and in the mining process, discover that Pavlo Phitidis has just released the book Sweat, Scale, $ell and in it, he tells you that 94% of businesses fail to sell. That doesn’t deter you, so enter futures guru Jonathan Cherry who the big brands like Woolworths, Santam, Sanlam, Adidas, Investec and Sony (to name but a few!) trust to help them with research and insights to carve more robust trading strategies and make better business decisions. Jonathan knows the South African economy better than most, and he’s smart. He reminds us if you are planning to start a business in South Africa, there are only 3 basics to get right:

  • Aim to construct a business with a ZAR cost base that attracts revenues in a currency stronger than the Rand.  Currency upside is not to be balked at.
  • You want a lean business that utilizes technology without leading in technology solutions, simply because those that have done it well, have been brilliant at it and most of us just aren’t in that league (unless your surname is Shuttleworth!).
  • Build a brand, not a “me-too” commodities business so that you force yourself to create a unique value offering that becomes a brand of value (which you could ultimately sell at a premium).
Sounds simple, right? So, what are Jonathan’s pics of businesses that tick these three boxes for your 2020 start-up?
  1. The exclusive tour guide – not another wine tour, winelands tour – yawn!  Different so that the multitude of tourists visiting South Africa call on you first.  Your pricing is clearly not ZAR and bingo, you are well on your way.
  2. Luxury foods or beverages – read the Inverroche story (from a family concept to a brand in the Pernod Ricard stable) and emulate that.  We have so much that makes us “South African” – rooibos, biltong, roosterkoek, the list goes on.  Cherry’s thinking is that if you are able to create a luxury food or beverage brand with similar South African roots, you are already differentiated.
  3. Vegan or vegetarian – European tourists in particular, are accustomed to a broad range of healthier and planet-friendly offerings, while South Africa has precious little.  The gap is already there!  Build a niche spot-to-be-seen destination and the tourists will flock.
  4. Local gifts – in the large gift category, South Africa offers choice to the foreign shopper, but quality small gifts for last minute buys on leaving the country do not offer the same range of choice.
  5. Street cuisine – although pop-up food trucks, coffee bars and the like are more commonplace in recent years, we do not compete on levels anywhere close to countries like Thailand, Malaysia and so forth.  Quality local cuisine in a “take out” format are virtually non-existent for a visiting tourist.
  6. Personal services – popular in the UK, this is a service that is virtually unknown in South Africa.  As a personal concierge, you would offer a one-on-one service to assist the foreign travelling business with/without family to navigate the country and truly experience the culture, making you the “go to” guide for repeat visits, friends of friends, friends of family, etc.
  7. Medicinal offerings – our country is home to a vast number of species of medicinal plants.  Take CBD oils and related products (cannabis related) – there is a massive market yearning for natural as opposed to chemical or pharmaceutical remedies for a variety of ailments.
  8. Ubuntu – find a way to package and export our culture of optimism, reconciliation and enthusiasm.  We are after all the home of Nelson Mandela, Johnny Clegg and Desmond Tutu and the world loves that story.  Find a way to commercialise the good stuff that tourists love about who we are.
  9. Insect protein – the investigative journalists of the Carte Blanche team have recently explored this in some detail and, once you get past the creeps from the mere idea, you will discover that this is an immensely attractive alternate to protein that is also planet friendly. 
Okay, so it’s not the traditional accounting practice, firm of attorneys, physiotherapist or any other mainstream business that we are accustomed to, but Cherry’s ideas really do make sense. And remember, if you decide to venture down any of these roads in your next journey, we will be waiting in the wings to assist with cost effective solutions to help you run your business.

Talk to us if you are considering starting a new business, for assistance with registering your entity, cost-effective Cloud Accounting and much more. We may be reached through our website on

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