Entrepreneurs are presented with challenges on a daily basis, but, says Maponya, it’s not the restricted access to funding or bureaucratic red tape that are hindering SA’s young business people.
Instead, he believes that the entrepreneurs themselves are the ones holding back their success with their “entitlement mentality”, which has somehow become an entrenched culture in the country.
“I’m concerned by what I see – how our young entrepreneurs believe that they’re entitled to certain things, instead of them waking up and working and achieving something, and when they’re having difficulties, asking for assistance,” he says.
These are the three character traits that helped Maponya become the successful businessman he is today.
Having started his business empire during the height of apartheid, Maponya attributes the bulk of his success to sheer grit and determination in the face of the seemingly impossible.
“I started my businesses during apartheid, when things were very difficult and black people were denied all sorts of rights. I refused to accept what was being told to me and I was driven by being told I couldn’t do it. I was determined to prove people wrong.
“I never believed in failure – this is the kind of spirit we need to foster in our youth – self-initiated starters,” he says.
2. Know when it’s time to hand over the reigns
Every entrepreneur needs to prepare for the day that they hand over control of a business to a trusted protege or relative in the case of a family business.
Having roped his eight children into the family businesses, he made each child prove their leadership ability and he was more than happy to give up the day-to-day operations of the business to his daughter Chichi, who serves as group CEO.
As an entrepreneur, you’ve got to be willing to put in the hard work and make sacrifices when required. If you lack discipline in handling your finances, running your business and the service you offer your clients, says Maponya, you’re unlikely to succeed.
“I’ve learnt to be disciplined. If you have no discipline and you think entrepreneurship is about entitlement, you’re a non-starter as far as I’m concerned,” he warns.