Daniel Levy qualified as an attorney in 2006, but after practicing law for a year he realised he wanted to do something more with his life. He took a leap into business ownership with two partners, both of them engineers. They founded a company called Popimedia, which placed advertising wraps around rental cars, and in turn reduced the fee paid by customers.
Daniel and his partners didn’t rest on their laurels. Through their relationship with the car rental company, they started promoting products such as GPSs, mobile phones and magazines at airports. Then they took their business one step further and created a digital platform that today manages Facebook advertising for clients from all around the world – a first for the African continent.
We spoke to Daniel to get his insights into what it takes to become an entrepreneur. Here’s what he had to say.
Becoming an entrepreneur is terrifying because the risks are huge. Even when your company is successful, there are still moments of terror every week. If you’re not afraid, you haven’t properly understood the challenges ahead of you.
If you can’t deal with the idea of living with uncertainty, stress and fear, then entrepreneurship isn’t for you. There is no end to the pressure, so be willing to embrace it.
There is no luck in becoming a successful entrepreneur. You simply have to be tenacious and extremely hard working. As they say, “The harder you work, the luckier you become.”
You will come up against many obstacles on your entrepreneurial journey and you can’t let them stand in your way. If failure isn’t an option, then no is not an acceptable answer. Ever. You have to be willing to persevere, no matter what.
Just because it was a great idea in 2006, doesn’t make it a great idea today. You have to keep your eye on the market, you have to be constantly on the lookout for new opportunities, and you have to have the confidence to take the leap into change, not once, not twice, but every time your business needs it.
Most people think of entrepreneurs as lone wolves, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. To be successful, entrepreneurs need to polarise to what they’re good at and get others to fill in the gaps. They need to be honest about their strengths and identify and partner with the right people with the right skills. And then they need to trust and let go.
If you are employed, all you have to worry about is doing your job. If you’ve started your own business, you need to think about everything – from balance sheets to sales forecasts to production to marketing campaigns to the wellbeing of your employees – all the time.
Anyone can become a business owner, but to innovate and create, you need the characteristics that Daniel mentioned. We asked him if these can be learnt, or if you have to have been born with them. “Without a doubt, the characteristics of entrepreneurship are innate. If you don’t have them, you can’t learn them,” he responded.
So if you want to create your business out of nothing but a big idea, make sure that the points we’ve mentioned describe you. These are what you need for business success.