BOOK REVIEW | A Heavy Chef Guide to Starting a Business in South Africa

For those of you who haven’t heard of Heavy Chef – it really is an incredible initiative to bring South Africans together to learn about success, failure, and being a magic maker in a country rife for entrepreneurship. A brainchild of Fred Roed, co-founder of World Wide Creative, the brand stands for inspiring, doing and sharing. They host events regularly and I have become somewhat of a regular. Imagine my excitement when I saw that Fred was launching a guide to starting a business in South Africa, when the launch of my first business is a month away. Serendipity I tell you. The book launch was held on the 24th May at the V&A's Workshop17, and all attendees received a free copy of the guide. Read on if you are keen to hear my thoughts on this really nifty little book.

How many times have you heard the words “fail faster” used in the tech / start up space? Gah. It has become somewhat of a cliché because who has so little at stake that this is truly an option? Fred anecdotally spoke about having failed at his first business at the launch, and in more detail in the book in a far more refreshing way. It certainly doesn’t mean you don’t have a lot at stake! He writes, “My own story involved having three young children in my early thirties, saddled with debt and having to claw my way out of it by selling my CD collection at second hand stores to pay for food and petrol. I had lost my house, my cars, my furniture and most of my possessions. […] It was a humiliating time for me, and I learned a lot about personal pride.” What a humbling start to becoming an entrepreneur.

He later references my favourite TED talk ever – Angela LeeDuckworth’s “The Power of Passion and Perseverance.” She studied people in a broad variety of contexts to try and understand the most significant predictor of success. Wanna know what it was? “It wasn’t intelligence. It wasn’t good looks or physical health, and it wasn’t IQ. It was grit. Grit is passion and perseverance for very long term goals. Grit is having stamina, and sticking with your vision, day in, day out, not for the week or month, but for years, and working really hard to make that vision a reality.” Crikey, there’s little that has resonated so much with me in my lifetime, but that’s a story for another day.

The guide offers a balanced guide of what it means to become an entrepreneur – spoiler alert: turns out Ronan Keating was right. Life is like a rollercoaster, especially when you embark into the unknown of creating your own destiny in business. Fred is perfectly positioned to demonstrate that whilst there is no better time to start a business, thanks to laptops, smartphones and a plethora of information at our fingertips; it doesn’t make the journey to success any easier. It will be complex and messy, but worth every iota of effort.

My favourite parts of the guide? “The New Tools” section unveils a really great selection of resources for entrepreneurs – everything from advice about creating a website, to making punchy videos. A pragmatist at heart, I really appreciated “The Admin Stuff” section which explains how to register a business, a process which I have dutifully been following. Although Fred doesn’t specifically advocate for the use of a business plan, he has included a beautifully presented example which you could use as a template for your own. Finally, I loved the “Be Like Leo” analogy, and not just because Leo di Caprio is my favourite actor. Only dogged persistence can get you an Oscar almost 25 years after your first nomination.

I genuinely was blown away by the book. It is honest, it is relevant and it gives you all the feels that there are people out there who want you to succeed. Whose success is your success. Whose failures are willingly offered to mitigate your risk of making the same mistakes. And I say mitigate because I now understand that maybe Silicon Valley’s mantras are right. Failure is as much a part of the journey as success is, and keeping going is the only way to get there. As my matric Afrikaans guide to idioms said, “Agteros kom ook in die kraal”. Take that Simon Sinek.

If you are a budding entrepreneur, I would highly recommend getting your hands on the guide. It makes me excited for the future that lies ahead for me and other young entrepreneurs. S/O to Fred for lending us his wisdom. Watch this space!

All my love,

A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have” – Tim Ferriss

No comments