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Issue 56|

3rd October 2019|

Barry Mitchell and the challenges faced by Entrepreneurs in South Africa, and how to overcome those challenges. This newsletter is based on an interview I had with Barry Mitchell from Uncovering Greatness.

Barry, a team of specialists in the development of entrepreneurs and I are launching a journey for the development of entrepreneurs in January 2020: If you would like to know more about the Entrepreneurial Challenge, send an sms to 34350 with journey in the subject line.

ROBERT JEWELL:  Barry, and you’ve been on my Impact Radio 103FM show Business Financial Mastery a couple of times already and we’ve had such great feedback from listeners, so it’s really awesome that we can share with our listeners and add some value today.

BARRY MITCHELL:  As always, Robert, great to be with you, great to be with Impact Radio and, yes, just thank you for giving me the opportunity to be able to serve and add value to other people.

ROBERT JEWELL:  Barry, we’ve got a really great topic for our listeners, and it is all about the challenges faced by small and medium entrepreneurs in SA and what they can do to overcome those challenges.  When you and I discussed this, we said we want to focus on the entrepreneurs whose businesses have sales over R250 000.00 per annum and less than R10million per annum because we said that we want to focus on the challenges that are unique to those size of entrepreneurs. That’s what we mean, when we talk about a small and medium entrepreneur.  Barry, let’s get right into it and let’s just talk a bit about the fundamentals of being an entrepreneur and then after that we’ll get into six key focus areas about being an entrepreneur.  Barry, you’ve been in business for years.  You’ve put a lot of entrepreneurs through your awesome sales program.  What are the fundamentals of entrepreneurship?

BARRY MITCHELL:  I think, Robert, for me, you know, the first thing is, I suppose, understanding what an entrepreneur is and our description of an entrepreneur is someone who can organize, operate, and assume the risk for a business. So essentially, someone that can organize resources.  Someone that can organize people.  Someone that can organize ideas.  Someone that can organize a vision and then move to the next step, which is the action step, which is called operations.  How many times have you heard of someone say, man, that guy or that woman is a really great operator? So the second key, fundamental of an entrepreneur, is can they operate and then the last one is can they assume the risk? There’s a big difference between being an entrepreneur and being an employee. As an entrepreneur, I know that running my own businesses I run the risk. I run the risk in all the businesses that I either own myself or that I’m a shareholder in, so I always assume the risk for my businesses. When it comes to the fundamentals, whether we’re talking about a R250 000.00 business or a R10 000 000.00 business, or lower or bigger, I think generally, the fundamentals of being an entrepreneur are very similar and you have to become good at doing those various fundamentals. To summarize, somebody who can organise, operate, and assume the risk of a business venture.

ROBERT JEWELL:  We hear economists in SA and, in fact, it’s not unique to SA.  It’s probably globally where there are challenges in economies and the talk is always about entrepreneurs coming and saving the day because they are the people who start businesses, grow those businesses and, in the end, create jobs. So a key question with all of this is, and that’s what often gets asked, are you born as an entrepreneur or can entrepreneurs be developed and made? What’s your view?

BARRY MITCHELL:  I think it’s like anything, Robert.  Certain people have certain talents, but those talents alone do not guarantee success.  They just add value right in the beginning.  How many people do you know, Robert, who have incredible talents, but have never really used those talents? And how many people do you know, who weren’t really talented or suited to what they had to do, but they just had such passion and such drive that they made a phenomenal success of it? So I think to be an entrepreneur there are certain skills and attitudes and mind-sets and behaviors that you need to adopt, but I, personally, believe that you can learn them.  I think the key component is that difference between an employee’s mind-set and a business owner’s mind-set. The reality is everyone goes to school and gets taught how to be an employee, so when you make the move to become an entrepreneur to become a small business owner, to become a larger business owner you have to focus more on changing your mind-set than anything else. I see that as one of the major stumbling blocks when it comes to entrepreneurs is when they start-out and when they get going, they treat their business like a job.  Whereas it’s very different to a job.  You know, as an accountant, the mere fact that you register a business, from the time you register a business, your life gets a little bit more complex and complicated, doesn’t it?

ROBERT JEWELL:  I want to, at this stage, just relate a story: There was this property developer and, Barry, he had such great vision.  He could look at a piece of ground and before anyone else knew what to do there he already had a vision of what he could build there. The challenge that happened in that business was that with all his vision and all the energy, and he could assemble a team like anything, the problem was that he had no financial discipline and, at the end of the day, to cut a long story short, he went into liquidation twice.  Entrepreneurs often we have certain skills, but there’s some skills they lack and that’s really what I think we’re going to get to today.  How do you see that?

BARRY MITCHELL:  I agree, Robert, I mean, I’m not an accountant, but I’ve spent a lot of time in my life making myself or teaching myself how to become financially literate. A very important part of being an entrepreneur is the team that you surround yourself with.  My skill, and it has been for over 25 years, is to sell.  I’m a really great salesperson.  I can sell, I’ve been in sales for over 25 years, and we’ll talk about that just now, but there’s certain things that are not my skill.  I’m not the most organised person around , so I have to surround myself with people, as I grow my business, who have those skills and disciplines that I don’t have.  I have a really great accountant.  I have a really great team around me.  For example, when it comes to social media and technology.  Technology is not my forte.  I understand that technology is a key component of any business in this world. So part of that is analyzing where your strengths sit, focusing on driving those and then understand where your weakness sits.  It doesn’t mean that if you don’t have a team around you, you’re not responsible for taking care of things like finance and those types of things.  You are responsible, but as you grow, get clarity in what are the core fundamentals that you need, either yourself to look after or have the right people around you to look after those aspects.

ROBERT JEWELL:  Barry, you’ve touched on really what is a critical area. If we look at the income statement of a business, it measures how much sales a business has made and what are the expenses. Sales appears right at the top of the income statement. Barry, you’ve been in sales all the time.  If we talk to our entrepreneurs and our listeners:  No sales, no business, so how do you view that, Barry?

BARRY MITCHELL:  Robert, as you know, one of the key things that I teach is sales and I’ve just learnt this, that sales equals income.  If you don’t sell, you don’t earn.  If you’re not earning, your either not selling or you can’t sell. A lot of people say, if I have a job or when I start my business then I’ll make money.  Well, jobs, business are vehicles for money.  The skill that needs to be turned on and the activity that is required is the activity of selling. I will say it again, sales equals income and income equals life. It stands to reason that sales is the lifeblood of any business.  Now, I’ll put it out there.  Most people can’t sell.  Most people really try to convince people to take their stuff or they have reasons why they’re not out selling.  I’ve met way too many people that have had great ideas, great products, great knowledge and great everything to take to the market, but they’re just not getting out there.   The other side is, in sales, with the huge advent of social media and technology, a lot more people are relying more and more on social media and hoping that that’s going to bring it in.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  If you have a business today you’ve got to understand technology.  However, you could generate a whole lot of leads out of social media, for example, but if you can’t close the deal because you don’t know how to sell or you can’t connect with people, a lot of that is a waste of time. So the first and most fundamental skill in any business, in fact Robert Kiyosaki says, you cannot have a business if you cannot sell.  You have to be able to sell as an entrepreneur, to be able to generate income and as you grow you have to have a team that can sell because if you want to generate massive income you’ve got to have a team, who can get out and sell massively, so this idea of selling is not about being a sales rep.  It’s about enhancing and mastering the skill of communicating with other customers to find out what they need.  To give them what they want, so that you can get what you want in return.

ROBERT JEWELL:  Barry, let’s just touch now a bit on the entrepreneurial mind-set and that’s really all about when the going gets tough, isn’t it?

BARRY MITCHELL:  So Robert, I think its two things.  Yes, one, when the going gets tough because the deal is this.  To be an entrepreneur is not easy and it’s hard.  Look, I think you can make it simple, but you know that simple and easy are two different things, so it is when the going gets tough.  It is when things aren’t working out.  It is when you’re trying to close deals and people aren’t interested. It is when you’re expected to hit a deadline and it didn’t come through and people let you down.  It gets frustrating, so that’s part of the mind-set.  It’s called the mental strength.  Do you have the mental strength?  The other part of the mind-set is what does it take to be an entrepreneur? You know, because essentially, how we’ve been trained throughout our lives is we went to school and what does school teach? Go to school, get a good education, so you can have a good job.  School did not teach, go to school, get educated so you can become an entrepreneur, so that you can build something and build a business in order to solve problems.  That’s not what school teaches, so you have to shift your whole mind-set from the one form of thinking, which is an employee mind-set, to the entrepreneurial mind-set and be able to take that forward. So there’s a couple of critical things around mind-set. One, are you aware of how you think and where you sit? Two, how clear are you in terms of what is required in the form of your mind? When you have issues that come up your little voice is going to be screaming at you.  Can you get through that little voice because what stands between you and what you really want to achieve is you and your little voice? The bigger the game you want to play the bigger the little voice you have to overcome.  Most people are not actually working on their little voice.  What they’re working on is gaining more and more information, which is what school teaches us. So we have tons of information.  Robert, how many people know exactly what to do, but just can’t bring themselves to be able to do it? The reason is because their mind-set is not big enough. So how do you get through that? You connect with a mentor and a coach and someone that can really help you shift through what’s required, in terms of shifting your mind-set to become a great entrepreneur and take on those challenges.

ROBERT JEWELL:  Barry, when I interviewed Lisa Gering, who does a lot of work with entrepreneurs, she said it just blows her mind how so many entrepreneurs operate without a strategy and without a plan and that’s fundamental to heading in the right direction, isn’t it, in terms of business?

BARRY MITCHELL:  Robert, there’s a saying that Stephen Covey has, begin with the end in mind.  I think that comes down to planning.  What do you want to achieve? And once you know where you want to go, you can dial it back to what do I need to do today, tomorrow, next week, and next month? A lot of people have plans in their heads, but they’re not written down, so I really believe that by writing it down you get clarity. It does not have to be this elaborate 500-page, or 30-page, or 40-page business plan.  It’s a one or a two-page plan on what are the key activities that I need to do, to create the results that I want to create. There are two aspects to this. One, many entrepreneurs don’t operate with a plan and two, many entrepreneurs are operating and they are so focused on developing this intricate plan that it stops them from taking action. You’ve got to find a middle ground, but without a plan, you’re not going to create anything.

ROBERT JEWELL:  Great, and that leads us onto the next topic, and that is marketing and social media.  Which is different to selling, isn’t it?

BARRY MITCHELL:  I think when I look at sales and marketing, they are cousins or brothers and sisters or they’re part of the same family, however you want to put it.  Marketing is about generating leads.  Sales is about closing those leads to generate income, so marketing is about finding customers.  Can you find customers and then, can you pitch and present to those customers.  When you find customers and then you learn how to pitch and present to them then that’s when marketing and sales starts connecting.  Now marketing, if you get this, is generating leads so you can feed the top of your funnel.  A great way to start generating leads in today’s world is the use of technology, so the use of social media.  In today’s age, we can use our phone, immediately to start connecting with people in order to promote our product and our service.  The thing is, what you need to be able to understand is the right language to speak to your customer, so in marketing it’s about language and what we call attracting.  What is the right language that you can attract your customer and one way that you can do that is through social media. If you can get those two things right you really start filling the top of your funnel and that’s when you start selling.  That’s when you start connecting with clients.  Taking them through a process and driving income out of the bottom. It is importantly to remember that you must deliver on the marketing promise of your marketing language when you create sales.  Why is that important? Because it not only allows you to find customers.  It also allows you to keep those customers and when you can keep them, you drive retention into your business, which is the most cost-effective form of sales and marketing.

ROBERT JEWELL:  Our last point, Barry, is about accounting and finance.  I’m sure you’ve seen it in business as well, that so often we spend so much money on marketing, but we don’t measure the results and so much money is wasted in that area. It comes down to keeping books, in keeping the score and measuring because so often we can peddle feverishly and run our businesses, but just head in the wrong direction and if we don’t measure, we actually don’t know where we are.

BARRY MITCHELL:  Robert, one of my mentors is Robert Kiyosaki. I’m sure our readers and listeners, if they are entrepreneurs, will know about him. The ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad,’ author.  Robert says this, never has his bank manager asked him for his report card from school.  His bank manager only asks him for his financial statement because that is the report card of a business and too few business owners understand how to read a financial statement.  Way too few business owners are financially literate.  Business is a numbers game.  You have to understand the numbers.  It doesn’t mean you have to be an accountant.  What it means is that when your accountant and your bookkeeper gives you numbers, do you know what they’re talking about? If you are running a business, and I put this out there for small to medium size entrepreneurs, if you are running a business and you are trying to do the books yourself, stop it now.  Get a bookkeeper.  Get someone that can help you with your numbers because numbers tell the story in your business and if you’re getting the wrong story, you’re making the wrong decisions.

ROBERT JEWELL:  Barry, thanks for the awesome advice for our listeners.  Tell our listeners a bit about our upcoming entrepreneurial journey.

BARRY MITCHELL:  So Robert, you and I were chatting the other day and we posed a question.  If we could take entrepreneurs, those entrepreneurs that have a business between R250 000.00 and about R10 000 000.00, and we can take them through a journey of really understanding the core fundamentals of a business.  Well, we believed it would really help them. So I’m just going to ask your listeners, those of you that are entrepreneurs, those of you that are running a business, if you would be interested in being part of a journey to really understand, learn, and go through these core fundamentals that we’ve gone through today, would that be of interest to you? If it would interest you, why don’t you send a sms to 34350, and just type in the word ‘Journey.’

ROBERT JEWELL:  Barry, thanks very much for your time.  You’ve been in business for years and you’ve got an amazingly successful business.  Where can our listeners get in touch with you?

BARRY MITCHELL:  Thanks, Robert.  Your listeners can get in touch with us if they just send an email to or go to

For further details about the entrepreneurial journey that is starting in January 2020, send a sms to 34350, and just type in the word ‘Journey.’
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