Hello 2020 - Here’s to your entrepreneurial journey! - The Canvas Riversands Conferencing Venue


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Hello 2020 – Here’s to your entrepreneurial journey!

Do you want to change your life and make the leap to becoming an entrepreneur? Well, then you need to be prepared, and what better way to prepare than to hear from a successful entrepreneur?  Get to The Canvas Riversands on Thursday 7 November at 09h00, for an exciting and inspiring discussion, Hello 2020 Powering Up for the Year Ahead, led by successful entrepreneur, John Paul Waites. It could change your life.

Waites, a straight talker who’s been around the block, is the co-founder and CEO of Worx Group, a leading full-service event management and marketing company.

Waites and his wife, Kim Winstanley started the Worx Group in 2003 and over the last 16 years he, along with his four shareholders have managed to transform their business into a highly respected corporate entity.

Starting up with a shoestring budget, they managed to get some funding capital from family but they bootstrapped this business from nothing.
He says rather candidly, “This was our third attempt at starting a business, our two previous ventures were unsuccessful as we ran out of money, had to close them down and go back to work. It was a case of third time lucky with the Worx Group; we started with a small team and network. Our first customers were friends in big business who gave us our break. It was a different time back then – no real internet or social media – you had to use your networks. We got a few corporate events and just went hard.”

It wasn’t long before two additional shareholders joined the business, his younger brother Grant and one of their first employees Jessica Robertson. Using a combination of their different skill sets, Waites explains that it’s taken them 16 years to get it right, “It’s been a good journey but it hasn’t gotten easier. A lot of what we’ve done over the last decade has been less about the four founders and more about the team along the way. The people who work for us today, have been with us for the last few years and they’re the driving force behind the business. This is the definitive moment that helped us change from being family-owned to becoming a corporate. It’s been a hard journey and often start-ups underestimate how time-consuming, unglamorous, unsexy and the effort it takes to become a successful business.”

His experiences over the years make him the perfect choice for advising would-be- entrepreneurs. He shared some key pieces of advice on what it takes to make it as an entrepreneur and how to market your business.

He says,” An entrepreneur needs to realise things never happen on your schedule. You often focus on how you’re going to grow but you don’t sit back and think about the negative consequences. Journeys are often unmet and those who don’t know how to handle that will fail. As an entrepreneur, you live in two worlds – with failure on one side and success on the other – and you can’t have one without the other.

Waites’ three key tips to becoming an entrepreneur.

1. You need to have patience and be ready to do this. There’s too many “Just do it” pieces of content that says there’s no perfect starting time – to just jump in – but I’m not convinced that’s the right model. My experience in jumping too soon was that I simply wasn’t ready. I didn’t have the right mentors in place, I wasn’t accurately prepared and I hadn’t worked on my shortcomings. You have to do your preparations in advance and connect properly before you start up. Businesses that succeed are the ones that have done the work. I still have moments today where I’m jumping in – instead of preparing properly – then I have to sit back and fix something I broke along the way. Not being prepared burns budget, time and energy.

2. You need a genuine network and you must have an understanding of how the industry works. Know where your channels of entry are, who’s going to help you get in there and maintain them.

3. You have to have a sense of self-awareness – you need to know that you genuinely capable of doing this and you’ve got 20 years of hard work in you. Realise that in this journey, there’s no fall-back plan. Young entrepreneurs often underestimate the burden of the journey and the pressures they’ll face. If you can’t handle the stress you won’t be able to handle the success.

His advice on how start-ups can market their brand effectively:

People tend to look at their ability to execute a job and not execute as an entrepreneur when taking the leap into entrepreneurship. You need to have a whole host of different skill sets, and skills like social media marketing are key.

1. Target properly – rather be super narrow and oversell to a narrow gauge audience. You need to know who your customer is. Spend an exponential amount of time finding your customer base and then go directly to the market platforms they’re on.
2. You have to be consistent! Do what you’re going to do consistently, especially if social media is your platform of choice. If your audiences miss you today, then they can catch you next week – but consistency rules. Keep doing the right thing all the time.
3. Overprepare on your social media platform – make sure you understand what the platform does and then amplify your message using the tricks and tools that the platform offers. This way you’ll get exponentially better results. Often people don’t understand how these machines work – they just want to push their content out and then it doesn’t get traction – and there’s no point in publishing if you can’t get traction.

My biggest social media tip? Be where your customers are: if they’re on LinkedIn – be on LinkedIn. A good example of this is: Kylie Jenner and her successful billion-dollar make-up business. She built her business on Snapchat and when everyone moved over to Instagram and Instagram Stories she switched over and quickly became one of the most vocal and best users of the platform for her purposes. She built her community quickly and was then able to monetise by selling the product that everyone wanted. Too often people are on every platform all the time, but it’s better to be at the right place at the right time.

But despite the hard work it takes to get there, you can become a successful entrepreneur – if you want it enough.
He says, “This is one of the best and worst times ever to be an entrepreneur or marketer; you have access to global markets and social media is an amazing tool to help you launch your business. You just need to know how to use it properly.”

For more straight talk and some inspiring, motivational advice be sure to catch John Paul Waites at The Canvas Riversands in Fourways, Johannesburg.

Contact Reshma Sewraj on reshmas@riversandsihub.co.za to book your spot and unleash your entrepreneurial spirit.

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