Michail Myburgh is the co-founder of Cash Flow Capital, a South African company that provides loans to small and medium-sized enterprises.
1. Tell us about one of the toughest situations you’ve found yourself in as a business owner.
Ironically, one of the biggest challenges we have faced is exactly the one we tried to solve with our business: access to capital. We provide businesses with capital, but, in order to do so, we need to raise capital from institutions such as banks, private equity partnerships and investors.
This has proven to be quite a … challenge and one that has persisted since the inception of our company. Africa is not like the US, where there are hundreds of venture capital firms ready to fund a good idea. … If you need to raise capital [in Africa], you need to search far and wide.
Fortunately, we were lucky enough to partner with great individuals, who have been able to lead us through the toughest of situations. It has taught me the value of good relationships and how one cannot build a business alone.
2. Which business achievement are you most proud of?
I am definitely most proud of the team and culture we have created within Cash Flow Capital. I am in the fortunate position to have started a company with my brother and my best friend. This has meant that I could always rely on the team to have my best interests at heart, and has led to an environment which is fun, relaxed and productive.
As a result, work has never been difficult or cumbersome, but rather more of an adventure.
… The team has grown to more than 70 members and everyone shares the same values. The Cash Flow Capital office is a place where people want to be and to work.
3. Describe your greatest weakness as an entrepreneur.
… I am quite a shy person. I dislike talking to big crowds and often feel nervous [when I have] to do so.
When we picture a leader, we often picture an … extroverted person who takes charge of every situation in a bigger-than-life way. Throughout my career, I have had to remind myself that this is not the case, that leaders come in all shapes and sizes. I would even argue that, these days, more of the new Fortune 500 companies were built by introverts.
4. Which popular entrepreneurial advice do you disagree with?
I strongly disagree with the notion that you need an original idea to build a successful company. In my view, it is seldom the idea that leads to success, but rather the entrepreneur behind the idea.
Facebook was not the first social network to gain prominence; and Google was far from the first search engine on the internet. What set the companies apart from the rest was the commitment and dedication of the founders and employees.
I would much rather invest in a company that has a good leader than a company that has a good idea. A good entrepreneur can take a bad idea and build a great company. This is not true for the inverse.
5. Is there anything you wish you knew about entrepreneurship before you got started?
It is … [all right] not to know how to build a company before you start a company. I often hear from people that they will know how to build a company once they have gained experience as an employee.
This is false. No amount of experience as an employee will prepare you to be able to lead and build a company. The only way is to do it. You will learn the important lessons as you go along.