Interesting stuff

Trust is growing in SA business

Taken from

As South Africa recovers from recent civil unrest, and grapples with continued inequality and an ongoing global health crisis, the private sector will have to double down on taking action to improve society, whether through direct intervention, speaking out or creating new partnerships. More and more, people are turning towards business for solutions, and it is up to these trusted entities to realise that the voices of their leadership are louder than ever before.

Businesses can assist through their expertise, but leaders are going to have to set their egos aside.
Global communication firm Edelman recently released its Trust Barometer update, A World in Trauma.
The report has shown that business continues to be South Africa’s most trusted institution, surpassing the mainstream media, NGOs and the state itself. The new data showed that – higher than any other country surveyed – 71% of South Africans believe the country cannot overcome its challenges without business’ involvement, from issues of job creation to Covid-19 recovery.

From the Edelman Trust Barometer

The public seems to value business’ contributions to the work often performed by government. This includes pandemic response, disseminating quality health and safety information, and even driving economic growth. Many business entities across various sectors will have to get involved in closing the gaps left by government, either by providing consultation or direct resourcing. Whether dealing with the pandemic or recovering from the damage caused by recent political unrest, relying exclusively on government response and resources is no longer an option.

Businesses can assist through their expertise, but leaders are going to have to set their egos aside. This isn’t about credit, this is about helping the country recover at a time when we are facing major upheaval. More and more, people are turning towards business for solutions, and it is up to these trusted entities to realise that the voices of their leadership are louder than ever before.

Much of this will come down to previous crisis experience, where prediction and proactive action can make all the difference when dealing with potential harm. For example, during the recent civil unrest, several businesses made pre-emptive moves to protect their employees and customers. Even before the unrest intensified across Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, it was leadership structures such as Business Unity SA (Busa) which was able to predict the need for further government intervention, maintaining calm among its members while also expressing concern about “anarchy” affecting their livelihoods. A week later, Busa used the power of its members’ voices to develop solutions, urging the state to establish a disaster relief fund to help affected businesses.

Leveraging the influence held by business for the greater good is not only about creating direct, societal change – it’s also integral to maintaining and continuing to build trust from within. From an internal perspective, it is vital for business leadership to ensure that employees know they are protected, respected and serve a greater good.
Businesses have to respond to social issues to maintain trust in their employee networks.

Even after the more intense waves of the ongoing pandemic, business will have to embrace the new ways of working that have been introduced, which includes a greater emphasis on social and personal responsibility within a business.
According to the recent data, the demand for a company to address social ills is also rising, as 86% of South African employees surveyed expected their employers to act on major social issues such as climate change or racism. Yes, this has a financial impact on a business. But getting involved in addressing societal issues such as sustainability or inclusion must be about more than rhetoric. Not only does this purpose-filled work benefit the people who need it most, it ultimately cascades into greater trust with employees, consumers and fellow business practitioners.

From the Edelman Trust Barometer

This too has a knock-on effect, where employees who believe their company has an authentic purpose are more likely to become unofficial advocates for their business. Talent retention and overall morale improves and, as many business leaders have learnt throughout the past year, keeping people’s spirits up has never been more important. Key to this is a keen focus on communication. If there ever was a time to over-communicate, now is that time.
When people are in the dark, they feel insecure, which is why transparency, accountability and connection are so important right now – especially when we can’t always be face-to-face with our colleagues.
These rising expectations on the private sector, both internally and externally, may be daunting, but this growth in public trust can be the seed that allows business to create partnerships with other entities, so no sector has to go it alone.
No one institution can solve problems of this magnitude, and it will be up to the partnerships across the spectrum – the media, the NGO space, government and the private sector – to guide us towards stability and prosperity.
Crerar is managing director of Edelman South Africa

How starting your own business is like competing in professional sports



As kids, we look up to athletes, fantasizing about being in their shoes, in all their moments of glory. But as we imagine them in all their greatness, what we don’t think about is the enormous amount of dedication, willpower and the unforeseen events that they had to overcome to achieve success.

Strangely enough, this same phenomenon occurs when we look up to business owners.

Just like athletes, entrepreneurs have a coveted acquired skill (can you build an electric car tomorrow a la Tesla? I certainly can’t…). But most importantly, they have the same grit, drive and determination that we don’t always hear about. This tenacity is what enables them to surpass the competition and create hugely successful companies. Think of how Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has dominated every industry he enters while dozens of companies struggle to find success in just one. His achievements are no accident.

People want the grand end results, but they don’t think about all the grueling steps involved or take into consideration all the unpredictable roadblocks along the way. Everybody wants to be like Steve Jobs or Richard Branson, but not everyone wants to put in the hard work and obsession-like resolve to get there.

It turns out that running a business — and all of the stress and mental anxiety — is similar to that feeling you get when you push yourself past your breaking point while working out. It’s akin to that nauseous, can’t-make-it-any-further-without-dying feeling. (Trust me, I know from first-hand experience.)

When you decide to run your own business, it’s like you’re choosing to become a professional athlete —you will work hard, you will fight with every ounce of your being, and yes, you might just get sick. The good news? It is ALL worth it if you love what you do.




It’s easy to focus on the glamor of entrepreneurship, as startup worship is turning a growing number of once Average Janes and Joes into global celebrities. But, the truth is, starting a business is incredibly hard work. Even the savviest entrepreneur can’t perfectly anticipate the challenges of growing a company.

A decade ago, I co-founded Pluralsight with three very smart and talented individuals. Now, as I look back on my entrepreneurial journey, I humbly offer 10 helpful observations from my 10 years as an entrepreneur and CEO:


1. Find your passion and build from there. Make sure you’re fully invested in your cause since, after all, it’s what you will be eating, sleeping and breathing for several years. At Pluralsight, all the founders were passionate about education. When we realized that passion would sustain us, we quit our day jobs and got to work.

2. Work with partners who have the same goals and expectations. It is imperative that founders and ground-floor employees share the same vision from the start. It’s helpful to go through the exercise of taking the company to a series of possible conclusions so when road bumps occur you’ll have the confidence and collective muscle memory of knowing how to deal with it.

3. Don’t raise funding without a reason. Too many founders rush into the Series A because they lack discipline or feel it’s a rite of passage. Venture backing validates a company and provides essential growth resources, but it also reduces autonomy and can make a startup fat and lazy. Accordingly, it’s important to have a very specific purpose for independent financing before getting on the fundraising circuit.

4. Be open to growing quickly through acquisitions. Sometimes an M&A strategy is the best (and quickest) growth path. In our case, our professional audience was hungry for IT, open source and creative content beyond our core software development offering. Using our venture funding, we acquired four companies in eight months to plug these holes and meet customer expectations as quickly as possible.

5. Pivot often. The road to startup success is littered with the remains of companies that were either complacent or too comfortable with the status quo to pivot on their business models. Pluralsight started out as a classroom training company. Eventually, we realized we were limiting our audience with this offline approach. In 2008, we moved our entire business online, a pivot that has paid huge dividends for us.

6. Rally your team around an aspirational mission. Every company needs to know why it exists and the value it provides. Ideally, a company’s vision will convey professional and personal growth opportunities for employees and the sense of being part of something that will make a credible impact on the world.

7. Culture trumps everything in hiring. You don’t want your employees and new hires to look at their job as a “desk sentence.” Find people who embody your company’s core values and are a cultural fit.

8. Hire people who are smarter than you. This point might bruise your ego but, in the words of Bill Nye, “Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.” Companies stand to gain from bringing new perspectives, different backgrounds and brighter minds into the fold.

9. Continually improve. Push employees to hone their skills and develop new ones. Consider offering tuition reimbursement programs and paying for certification exams to encourage this behavior. Management needs to continually improve as well. As an executive team, we read a different book together each quarter to make sure our playbook stays focused and fresh.

10. Be OK with being wrong sometimes. Does your work environment embrace new ideas? We understand, as all companies should, that honest attempts at getting it right will sometimes result in failure. That is a rudimentary part of the learning process. As long as failure doesn’t stem from negligence or incompetence, it should be welcomed as part of the process that moves the company forward.

Building my first company has been a rewarding, exhausting and enlightening experience, and it’s given me perspective I wish I’d had a decade ago. Here’s to the next 10 years!

Being in business means being a difference maker



Starting and running a business is fraught with challenges and risks, yet some 25 million Americans rise up to meet these hurdles every year, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. Why do they do it? The answers run the gamut from enticing opportunity at one end of the spectrum, to stark necessity at the other. In a recent survey, the two most common motivations cited were, “ready to be my own boss” and “wanted to pursue my passion.” But no matter what their individual reasons for taking the plunge, business owners all share one important characteristic: they are difference makers.

Being a difference maker is inherent in the very nature of what you do as a business owner. Some entrepreneurs see an unmet need in the marketplace and decide to fill it. Some look at existing products or services and imagine ways to provide them better, faster, cheaper–or all three! But, all business owners believe that what they are doing, or plan to do, is going to make a difference in people’s lives, including their own. They are driven to continuously improve themselves and the world around them in new and different ways.

At Lenovo, we share that mindset because, like you, we believe that different leads to better. We are dedicated to providing the technology, services, and support you need on your journey to make a difference, and this eBook is a part of that effort.

Every business is unique in some ways, but all have certain needs in common. If you’re going to start and run a business, you need the right financing, the right people, and the right technology. The chapters that follow cover each of these topics through the lens of how they can help your business be the difference maker you want it to be–now and in the future.