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Small Business Article: Using What we Know to make Money.

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Small Business Article: Using What we Know to make Money.

by Kurt Carstens
20 Apr 2007

I have many friends and colleagues who are always asking me to assist them with business ideas or marketing concepts in order to start or grow their business. Most times they will give it a good try, but inevitable give up after 5 minutes. Simply put, every individual is wired differently, what sounds like a good idea to me, may be complete hogwash to the next guy.



Could you use an extra R500 or R1 000 a month?

What have you done about it?


Just yesterday a friend was telling me that he wanted to save some money by growing his own vegetables. He decided to grow 10 Cabbages as a trial run. By some complete miscalculation he ended up with 300 cabbages.
He ate cabbage for a month, but also managed to sell 250 to his local grocer. He sold the huge, organicly grown cabbage at R2 each , and made R500 profit. A light bulb moment. He created 10 vegetable gardens at various neighbours and family homes. He was welcomed, as most of them had scraggly patches of grass where the gardens now stand. Every week he goes to local grocers selling a range of fresh, organically grown vegetables and pulls in a tidy sum of R 2 500 every month from his hobby. The homeowners receive a huge basket of fresh vegetables every second week for their own use ( Saves him from paying a rental and saves them the cost of purchasing produce at a store), he pays school kids to ensure that his veggies are watered daily and to pick off all the bugs ( Its cost him R100 a month per kid - 3 kids ) They enjoy the pocket money, he enjoys the free time ... and the profits)

...a tidy sum of R 2 500 every month from his hobby.

I have many friends and colleagues who are always asking me to assist them with business ideas or marketing concepts in order to start or grow their business. Most times they will give it a good try, but inevitable give up after 5 minutes. Simply put, every individual is wired differently, what sounds like a good idea to me, may be complete hogwash to the next guy.

My ideas will never work for someone else, because its only when you are aware of your own skills, abilities and drive, that you can conceptualise and capitalise on ideas that appeal to you. My ideas may not work for you, they may not be bad ideas, but my suggestion that you start a catering business may sound like crap, if you really love taking apart car engines. Catering really is a good idea, but may not work for you.

...if you dont have a passion for what you are doing, then forget about it.

You need to examine your own skills, abilities, work history, etc. to develop ideas that meet your expectations.
No matter how good your idea is, if you dont have a passion for what you are doing, then forget about it.

I live by three rules, when it comes to idea building, marketing concepts, and when doubt starts creeping in.

Nobody ever has enough money and everybody has debt - Everybody wants something - Anything can be sold

Take note of these Three important Lessons I Live by:

i) Nobody ever has enough money and everybody has debt! I am not alone in this, and I like knowing that If I make the slightest effort to make an extra R100 a month, I could turn my financial situation around.

ii) Everybody wants something. It does'nt matter how many times you tried to sell a service or product to somebody, if you haven't sold it, its because they cant afford it, it doesn't hold enough value or you've annoyed them. But secretly, they yearn for your product! All that has to be done is for me to identify the problem and implement the changes.

iii) Anything can be sold ... if packaged correctly. Old, dirty shoelaces can be re-sold, if the right celebs are spotted wearing them ... argue with that! Old Toothpaste can be resold as refreshing, temporary, wall plaster sealant for the DIY enthusiast ... if packaged correctly. I can see the advertisment now... "WALL PASTE ... no bad smell, easy-to-spread, temporary sealant, easy to remove, just rinse with water"

Once you've acknowledged the above statements as a core beliefs, the rest of the excercise gets easier.

Work on the following tips to create a base of operations for your business.

1. Make a List of your abilities, interests, special skills, favourite topic of conversation.
This will determine your business product / service.

2. List your family, friends, aquaintances, work colleagues, sports club buddies, neighbours.
Don't stop till you hit 100 names with at least 40% cell numbers or email addresses.
You've just created the initial market for your product.

3. List your resources: Example vehicle, spare room, pens, paper, R100, spare envelopes, access to a fax, cellphone or the internet. Create your own resource factory, stationery supply room, communications centre, work station. A Computer is a great item to have, but not essential.

Normally we think only about selling boerewors rolls ... expand your thinking and even combine some other ideas.

To help you generate your business idea, which is what this exercise is all about, I've sourced some inspiration from the Web which describes business ideas that can start small and grow exponentially.

Normally we think only about selling boerewors rolls at sports events or try to force family members to buy no-name-brand dishwashers and fragrances, expand your thinking and even combine some other ideas.

Let us know if you were inspired to get off you couch and start a small business.

Write to me.


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Need to stock up on stationery for school, projects or the office? Athlone Stationers has a full range of stationery products available. Give them a call on 0216963663.


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