Let’s be honest, do you support local than what you love (which is mostly international stuff)? If you do, you are an uncelebrated hero.
Even the unions’ (Cosatu, Num, Numsa etc.) investment arms do not invest in local young start-ups. I do not know these for a fact – I am an ars…
I used to own and run 2 labels: gabble heights and Rural Joss. Most people who bought our clothes did so because they loved the brand: design, fabric, intrigue, appeal and fit. This is all from feedback. I am sure there were those who bought because we were local guys and others because they were our friends.
But I am definitely sure those who bought out of fascination with far out weighted those who supported out of ‘buy local’.
Lets us take All Star Converse as an example. It is an American brand. It is loved everywhere else in the world, especially here in South Africa. In the past it used to be associated with ma-pantsula, but now it appeals to a lot different sub-cultures. Actually it cuts across sub-cultures. For some people, they just have to have it.
When a South African buys All Star, it is because it intrigues them in one way or another. Whether it’s that it looks good on them or that it is in trend or it is their signature.
When an American buys it, either one or all of these reasons apply. The nationality of the brand could to an extend bear weight (I think it’s extremely little), but I am sure it is not a determining factor – it is just a bonus: the shoe’s intrigue, look and appeal outweigh the brand’s geographical roots.
Hence Americans can love many other European brands: Versace Versace Versace Versace Versace –or whatever number of times that songs says Versace. It is a product’s intrigue which determines if a sale is made.
I remember H20’s 2003 (am I right?) ‘wonderful’ video. It featured a whole lot of South African celebrities wearing Loxion Kulca. We immediately loved the brand either because of its appeal, design, meaning (especially for a resurging SA), intrigue and the famous stylish people who wore it. Zandi Nhlapo boss. The ‘proudly local’ factor came last, if it came – it was just a bonus.
I am not dictating how people should run their brands, but what I think will stand out is: design, meaning, appeal, intrigue and whatever reaction it gets out of people. But I strongly believe you cannot bank on the ‘buy local’ tag.
It is time we start making products which are just good on the basis of they are good.
We need as a country, to create a foundation for young entrepreneurs to start businesses of compelling value. Entrepreneurial education is schools is mere enterprising i.e. buying and selling what is available or making what the entrepreneur feels is needed – not what is usable and needed by society. When I say compelling value I mean, businesses which are not compelling because they are proudly made in SA by a South African, but because they honestly intrigue interest in people/consumers to own them and/or use their value – here and beyond South Africa.
People buy the kind of compelling value which beats substitute (competition) products with one factor or more. We can agree Blackberry is a crappy phone, but some people still buy it over (or with) Samsung and Apple because of BIS, and maybe that it has cheaper versions. I know I do. Therefore Blackberry has a feasible ‘compelling value’ given its better competition.
But please, buy my book ‘Forget The Business Plan Use This Short Model’ because it is ‘proudly local’.
Answer by Tiisetso Maloma:
Im only becoming a success is business now. I have failed a lot. Part of the failure was because i marketed to everyone and that is expensive, it let me to closing my clothing business (gabble heights). I had exhausted all the money i had on marketing.
What seems to be working now is, in all my businesses, the model is: identify who is likely to buy my product, i then give them a priority based on who is likely to buy the quickest.
The ones with high priority are those i approach first. That is where cash flow comes from. This leads to my businesses being sustainable and with repeat customers. Im able to grow with cash flow coming in.
I was giving a talk a few weekends ago at an Inspiring Women event. I spoke of the ‘importance of starting small in business. One of the examples I related was on what can be learned from how township businesses are started.
There are a number of reasons someone in the township starts a business. The exemplary world view is a mother starting a business out of the need or desperation to feed one’s family. Be it as it may, ‘passion to enterprise’ is fast overweighing the desperation to make ends meet. People are being exposed on how to offer great value even when in a dire situation.
Township business is sometimes looked down on, but it practices brilliant concepts which anyone can use to start and grow their business. However they the township businesses forget to grow and progress further on the very principles.
After the talk, 2 groups of people came to me asking further on the teachings of township business. They found the concept very enlightening and helpful.
Normally when township businesses are started, the startup products are either strategic or ‘passion products’.
What I mean by strategic is, the business owner realises there is a gap in his surrounding market. It could be he/she believes he can sell colder soft drinks than the nearest shop or that his neighbours travel far to get soft drinks.
By neighbours, I mean it in an African sense, LOL, not neighbour in the proximity sense.
A passion product is, for example: the lady starting the business could be good in making artchar or baking – so she decides to enterprise on the skill. Normally when people are passionate about something, they make sure it’s good. They have an advantageous edge on regular competition.
Ok, how they would start is, they would start with smaller quanties of stock, then add more with the proceeds to grow the business. In modern entrepreneurship definitions, this is called bootstrapping. The business is grown by funding its own growth. Isn’t this awesome, it is less risk on own funds.
Ever asked the new spaza shop down your street to sell airtime or anything you need which they don’t stock? This is it, customers will then advise the shop owner/keeper who only sells soft drinks or artchar to add something that would of convenience to them. This is called validation.
It is an easy transaction, customers are advising what to stock and they will buy.
- If you start small, you learn more with minimal investment. Of course we know of a timer who got their pension money and invested it all into something he calls a hotel but things don’t quiet work out. So they lost out big as they went in big.
- The experience which you gather informs you of where to re-invest your proceeds and invest your savings – WISELY.
So, there is hope for even businesses which are started out of desperation to feed one’s self or family. Validation and bootstrapping are important to grow any business.