11 September 2012

Leron Varsha: Learning from experience

Leron Varsha, Fore Good
Leron Varsha is the CEO and co-founder of Fore Good, one of South Africa’s leading fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) brand builders. He started this family business in 2004 from his sister’s study and has since grown the company into a South African market leader through brands like Pringles, Samsung, Tang and Bioplus.

Have you always been entrepreneurial?
I started in the corporate tech world, but I have always had an entrepreneurial goal.

What were you doing before starting your business?
I was involved in all areas of technology, including web and management. I always had a desire to learn more and to go to the next level. I never wanted to remain in the same field, to keep learning different things. I returned from London and wanted to start my own business.

What kind of planning went into starting the venture?
The idea is usually only a starting point. As business evolves, it starts with a certain idea, and then alternate opportunities open up. The business plan is important to sell yourself to potential investors and to ensure that you are on track with your envisaged goals. However they need to be constantly updated. Some of the essential requirements is a brief overview of the business, the people involved (incl. their expertise), the projected expenses and incomes, as well as a start-up expense sheet.

What was your start up capital and where did you work from?
We started with basic salaries and initial funding from a partner, working from my sister’s study.

What was your big dream for this venture?
Our vision has remained constant: “Fore Good is a dynamic investment and global trading company primarily focused on the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) sector”.

How does a new entrepreneur find business leads and profit from them?
Every business has a different target for lead generation; you need to understand who your potential clients are and then service them better than anyone else.

How does a new entrepreneur figure out what makes them unique and leverage that difference?
Uniqueness can be on a product or service basis. With products an example may be performance or pricing superiority, while in a service business it may mean the best at a certain component.

How does a new entrepreneur figure out what to charge for their service/product? 
This is extremely important and often makes the difference between success and failure. Your pricing needs to be competitive in the market, however if you are offering additional value you need to ensure that you are charging for this, and that the client is willing to pay the premium. Also if you cost according to the market and do not have a good enough offering this will be an issue. Certain industries also work on scale; you need to ensure that you can compete on what you offer and the price points in the market.

What was your most epic fail in the early days?
Most perceived failures contain elements of successes and learning. For example, purchasing the incorrect product or quantity, can be painful, however you may still be able to sell to alternate channels to recover your capital investment.

What are the two biggest/most common mistakes that new entrepreneurs make?
Most new entrepreneurs are impatient and they believe success will happen overnight. They don’t understand the time, hard work and passion that are required to get a project off the ground.

Did you have a mentor?
Yes, my uncle. There’s not one most valuable piece of advice, but rather a lifetime of learning from experience. A mentor is fundamental to great success. Learn from their way of thinking.

Which three character traits do all entrepreneurs possess?
Perseverance, determination and a never let up attitude J

If you could give yourself any advice back then, what are your top 5 wisdoms?
* Listen intently to the other person, experience is essential.
* Absorb and learn as much about the industry as you can.
* Growth comes with pain; you can push yourself even further than you ever imagined!
* Understand as much about the financials as you possibly can.
* Get the right people on the bus.

Get in touch with Leron Varsha from Fore Good via email: info@foregood.com, visit: www.foregood.com or find him on LinkedIn and Twitter: @LVarsha.

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