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Why You Need To Buy Something And Sell It For More, And Other Startup Lessons Tarryn Tait launched her businesses in 2008. Ten years later, she counts Mr Price Home as one of her most valuable clients, and 40% of her revenue comes from online sales.

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Tarryn Tait

Vital Stats

  • Player: Tarryn Tait
  • Company: Colindale Trading and Online Basics Home
  • Visit: basicshome.co.za

Tarryn Tait founded furniture company Colindale Trading and Online Basics Home in Durban in 2008. Diversifying her business model, the company imports and supplies affordable furniture and homeware products to the wholesale market (including Mr Price Home) through Colindale Trading and to consumers via Online Basics Home.

Over the past three years the business has grown exponentially, with over 40% of turnover now derived from online sales.

Related: 5 Simple Steps to Importing into South Africa for Small Business Owners

As a member of Entrepreneur's Organisation (EO), Tarryn has learnt to not only analyse her business and what will lead to greater success, but to learn from past lessons as well. These are her top 8 lessons for startups.

1. Cashflow is king

We've all heard this mantra, and yet when we start our own businesses it's easy to forget. Ask any operator who has lasted past their startup years – cashflow is king. Make sure you know where your cash is coming from and that you have on-hand cash projections for at least the next six to 12 months.

You need to always keep on top of your numbers, watch your expenses, and in our case, we buy forward cover (we buy in US Dollars against a volatile rand, so it's important to protect the business).

2. Entrepreneurs don't need to be islands

Businesses are built on people – great people. If I could do one thing over from my startup years, it would be to spend more time making sure that I had the right people in place to get the roots my business needed planted. I'd certainly spend less time trying to do everything myself.

3. Do what you love

Never underestimate the power – or value – of passion. Building a business is tough, and it takes longer than expected. If you don't love what you do, it will be difficult to have the resilience to see it through.

4. We're never done learning

Network, share experiences, learn from others and help others wherever you can. Entrepreneurship is a journey. We're never isolated in that journey, and there is always something new to learn or share. This is one of the reasons why EO is so important to my business – I get to share my experiences with other entrepreneurs and to learn from them. It's an invaluable experience.

Related: If You're a Start-up, You Can Never Stop Learning

As an organisation, EO helps entrepreneurs to learn and grow through peer-to-peer learning, once in a lifetime experiences and connections to experts around the world. I also try to listen to at least one meaningful self-development podcast per day.

5. Buy something and sell it for more

This is the best business advice I've ever received. It sounds so simple, and yet many businesses struggle to break-even – or don't even know what their break-even number is. You need to know what something costs, and you need to ensure you're making a decent profit margin; otherwise, you don't have a sustainable business.

6. Your people are everything

If you want to improve outcomes and encourage proactivity in your business, give people the opportunity to do the job, let them make mistakes and then encourage them to come up with solutions. You'll build an incredible team.

7. Leaders are fundamentally different from other people

They inspire people rather than direct them. They have the ability to influence rather than manage. If you want to build a business that changes lives – for your customers and for your employees – you need to learn to become a leader.

8. Learn to step back

This will only happen as your business starts to grow, but lay the foundations earlier rather than later. The biggest change I've personally experienced – for myself and my business – has been to stop doing everything myself, or having the entire organization reporting in to me.

I've focused on making my team responsible for their individual roles in the company and put a proper structure in place so that I am not involved in all areas of the business on a day-to-day basis.

Related: 10 Cheap Businesses You Can Start In South Africa Aimed At The Local Market

Nadine von Moltke-Todd

Entrepreneur Staff

Editor-in-Chief: Entrepreneur.com South Africa

Nadine von Moltke-Todd is the Editor-in-Chief of Entrepreneur Media South Africa. She has interviewed over 400 entrepreneurs, senior executives, investors and subject matter experts over the course of a decade. She was the managing editor of the award-winning Entrepreneur Magazine South Africa from June 2010 until January 2019, its final print issue. Nadine’s expertise lies in curating insightful and unique business content and distilling it into actionable insights that business readers can implement in their own organisations.
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