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Five keys to being a successful entrepreneur

About three years ago, Farah Fortune started publicity and public relations agency African Star Communications in South Africa. The company has since also expanded to Nigeria. Fortune recently shared her five keys to success at the Cape Town Entrepreneurship Week.

Farah Fortune

Farah Fortune

1. Discipline

Unfortunately because you’re the boss, there’s no one to tell you to stay longer, there’s no one to tell you to come in earlier. You need the motivation to get out of the bed every morning. If you cannot find that in yourself, you’re not going to make money. A quality entrepreneur has to have a lot of discipline. You have to know how to manage your time. As a boss you don’t get that much time off. I haven’t had a holiday since 2008. It’s hard, but the rewards that you get from it, there is nothing like it. Besides the financial rewards, the satisfaction you get in yourself is more than enough.

2. Calm

When you’re a calm person it’s so much easier to handle business. You’re the boss, everyone is looking at you. So if you’re freaking out, they’re going to freak out. You have to learn how to be calm within yourself. You have to learn how to make a situation better, without making everyone else upset. Your clients are looking at you, your staff are looking at you, people from the outside are looking at you, your competitors are looking at you. No matter what goes wrong, you need to find a solution for it and remain calm in the process. And no matter what the problem is, there’s always a solution.

3. Attention to detail

You have to put your trust in your staff and believe in them, but you need to remember that ultimately everything that goes out of your business reflects on you. So make sure that you check everything – your admin, the bulk emails that go out, whatever it is.

4. Risk tolerance

No matter how much money you have, or stand to earn on a given product . . . the market can change. You have to have a good tolerance for risk. One thing I’ve learned from being an entrepreneur is if you don’t know how to handle risk, you’re never going to succeed. You have to remember that even if you don’t want to fail, there are times when certain things do fail. To me the meaning of being an entrepreneur is being able to take that failure and build yourself back up again.

5. Balance

I have seven celebrity clients – you can imagine, I’m dealing with seven people’s egos on a daily basis. I also have five corporate clients – so now I’m dealing with a boardroom of people in each business. That’s hard. I still have to be a mommy, I still have to be a girlfriend, I still have to be a friend, I still have to be a lot of things for a lot of people. If you cannot balance your life, you’re going to find it hard to run your business. You still need to give your partner time, you still need to give your kids time. Making money doesn’t exempt you from being a husband or a wife, or a mom or a dad.

This article is an edited extract from Fortune’s presentation at the Cape Town Entrepreneurship Week

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