Global pet food pioneer gives advice to budding entrepreneurs

Published Oct 25, 2022


Johannesburg - South Africa is a hot bet for would-be entrepreneurs, the desire to start new businesses possibly spurred on by the high unemployment rate.

Starting a new business can be very daunting. Many shy away from starting an entrepreneurial venture purely because of the uncertainty that comes with taking on a new challenge.

Other than the capital required to start a business other factors such as compliance and just sheer doubt can contribute to individuals thinking twice about taking the giant leap and becoming entrepreneurs.

IOL spoke to entrepreneur Nhlanhla Dlamini about what aspirant entrepreneurs need to keep in mind when deciding to start a business.

Dlamini is the founder and CEO of Maneli Pets, which supplies pet treats to over 12 countries all over the world, and is the first South African company to export pet food to the US market.

He gave some advice for budding entrepreneurs on what to expect when starting a new venture.

Play the long game

Dlamini stresses the importance of seeing going into business as a long-term commitment as the truly great businesses are not built overnight.

“I think many people start a business or pick up on an idea and think that it is going to come to fruition in two or three years. To be honest I made that same mistake. You read a lot of case studies where people tell you that you are going to break even in three years then you start making money thereafter and that's not true, there are exceptions but most successful businesses take a generation to build,” he said.

Have a solid support structure

According to Dlamini having people to support you in all facets of your life is vital as you can lean on them to get you through challenging times. You can also leverage these relationships to your advantage. He highlights mentorship as being vital to the success of any entrepreneur.

“Find someone or a group of people to support you along the way, those in your personal space, at home as well as your friends and professionally.”

“My dad had a small shop, still has a small shop in Soweto but I never really spent much time in the shop learning from him the ins and outs. What I could have done is found other entrepreneurs or business owners who had started businesses themselves and figured out what were the big mistakes they made in the first 3 or 4 years and what I could do to stay on course correctly. (You) don't learn in the saddle for the first time as an entrepreneur”.

Make it more than about money

Dlamini advises entrepreneurs to start businesses for the right reasons.

“A lot of people think that this is just a way to build tremendous riches and wealth and that should absolutely be a motivation and one of your reasons to go into business but it cant be number one, number two or number three. You have to do something that you are deeply passionate about, that you would do even when all the chips are down, when everyone is saying no or (saying) that you should think about doing something else”.

“The people who build tremendous businesses were either trying to solve a real problem or had a deep conviction about what they decided to do. So don’t make money the leading reason for going into entrepreneurship,” concluded Dlamini.

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