|Denvor Phokaners, Enterprise Development Essentials|
Denvor Phokaners has entrepreneurship in his blood, having owned successful businesses since 1997. His latest venture is a company called Enterprise Development Essentials, which he started in 2010 with his last paycheque and a virtual office. His focus? Helping corporations increase their profitability through supplier and enterprise development, while creating jobs in South Africa.
Have you always been entrepreneurial and did you have a business plan?
I’ve always had an interest in working for myself and have been relatively good at selling and promoting my ideas, which are fundamental traits in any entrepreneur. I started my first business in 1997 as an insurance broker for Fedsure and Momentum Life, which I ran successfully for five years, but then went back into full-time employment. I stepped back into entrepreneurship in 2010 with a basic outline of what I wanted to do – I regret not having a tighter plan, but I was trusting in my own abilities, which can land you in very hot water! Successful entrepreneurs learn to go with their gut and I guess that’s what I did.
How does a new entrepreneur find business leads and profit from them?
If you don’t network with potential clients or market your products, you don’t exist. You need to first find out who your clients are and where they’re located, then what their needs are, before you venture into your business. Your product and service offering will dictate who and where you’ll find your clients or customers.
How does a new entrepreneur figure out what makes them unique and what to charge?
You need to know what your competitors are doing and, most importantly, what they’re NOT doing. You can build a strong business around that key difference. When it comes to costing your offering, people don’t buy on price, they buy on value. They will buy anything – even pay anything – for something they find personally valuable.
What are the two biggest/most common mistakes that new entrepreneurs make?
They believe that they know everything and become complacent after a few big deals. Then they take their eye off their finances!
What three character traits do all successful entrepreneurs possess?
Tolerance for pain, commitment and creativity.
What’s the motto you live by?
If you can’t sell, you don’t have a business. If you’re not networking, you don’t exist. And if you don’t know your numbers, you don’t know your business!
Do you believe in internships for your business?
Yes, internships can work, provided you know what you’re getting yourself into. You need to know your intern’s strengths and weaknesses and why you’re taking them on in the first place, so you need to have a clear strategy on what their value-add will be. Then, ensure you’ve done comprehensive reference checks. An internship is very much a “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” relationship. They need the experience; you need the resource but can’t afford the full salary, so never take advantage of an intern and make sure you’re not just giving them something to do – rather groom them for their future career.
If you could give yourself any advice when you started out, what are your top 5 wisdoms?
* Be careful who you make your partner. S/he could potentially ruin your business and reputation.
* If you can’t sell, you don’t have a business. If you’re not networking, you don’t exist. And if you don’t know your numbers, you don’t know your business!
* Service is EVERYTHING.
* Know everything about your business.
* Employ smarter people than yourself.