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Challenges faced by start-ups



Starting a business comes with a host of harsh challenges, albeit rewarding challenges. This can be very daunting for an inexperienced, new and young entrepreneur who is going into business for the first time. He hasn’t experienced such challenges before.
The co-founder of Y Combinator Paul Graham said: “The odds of getting from launch to liquidity without some kind of disaster happening are one in a thousand. So don’t get demoralised.”

Definitely there will be challenges. What you need is to persevere. I will be discussing some of the challenges commonly encountered by most start-ups. It’s better to be forewarned so that you know what you are getting into.
Getting into business entails moving out of your comfort zone. If you are employed you might have to leave your employment and see that your venture gets off the ground. You can’t manage your business and your career at the same time.

One will definitely suffer. And it’s likely to be your new venture that will suffer. So you will need to take sacrifices and leave your well-paying job and start from the bottom to run your business venture.
Leaving your job to do something very unpredictable, something risky is very scary, but you will have to do it if you want to design your future as an entrepreneur.

This is the first hurdle-walking into the unknown. So make sure you have made up your mind to take such a bold move.
You might have to burn the bridges so that there is no turning back to the proverbial “Egypt” when the wilderness gets tough.
Starting a business begins with a great idea to satisfy a need or fill a gap in the market. But to start the ball rolling needs finance. It can be a very big challenge to find the right investor to help you out.

Some investors demand very stiff conditions or they want a big stake in your venture before they part with their cash and invest in your business idea.
This could be a hindrance. You might have to do 101 investor pitches before you get the required funding. Or else if you do it might not cover everything that needs funding so this might require you to raise some of the cash yourself.

You need to think through all your funding options so that you get the right one which will not restrict your business growth.
You need the right team when starting a business. The challenge is you might not have run a business before so you don’t know what makes a good team.

Picking the right team for a start-up is stressful and difficult. It’s not just about picking skilled people, it’s about picking the right individuals with the right chemistry, who share your vision and are passionate about it and have the right culture so that when you work you work as a team.
Your team members should be able to carry the pain when the getting gets tough. You don’t need team members who will jump ship when things get awry because there is no cash or the business is taking inordinately long to make a dime.

Talking about finding the right team Marc Benioff, founder of Saleforce said: “The secret to successful hiring is this: look for the people who want to change the world.”
Being an entrepreneur you need to hit the ground running. There is no time to sit on your laurels even when things seem to be going well.
There is competition out there. Someone is not sleeping thinking how he can do better in what you are doing.

So, as the founder of your startup, you’ll be expected to come up with new ideas every time to be ahead of the competition. When a competitor comes knocking in your industry you have to come up with appropriate responses to avoid being swept off the market.
As an entrepreneur you need on-the-spot creative thinking. You need to think ahead. Being inexperienced can weigh down on you. It will be a challenge to be thinking on the spot and thinking ahead at the same time.

The other challenges will be the uncertainty surrounding your venture. Will the product adequately meet the need you have identified? How long will the business exist?  Will the business be profitable? How will you fend for yourself and the team members? These are some of the unknowns which you will have to grapple with as an entrepreneur just venturing into business.
Going into business can be a lonely pursuit. You only notice this once you are into it. You tend to work lots of hours. You might end up neglecting your family and your social life might have to grind to a halt.

During such times you need to ensure that your family is with you to make the burden light.
You also will need a mentor to help you along the way when you need direction and when you need a helping hand when things get a bit tough.
As your business starts running and is growing you will need to move from being entrepreneurial and start putting rules to guide your business. You need to draw up policies and procedures that will guide your operations. This will enable delegation to be done.
With rules and guidelines you will be able to assign responsibilities to your team mates. Policies and procedures are very necessary for every business to ensure stability.

An entrepreneur needs to be making tough decisions for the business. This can be very challenging because some of these decisions might impact the lives of your team members.
Nevertheless you still have to make them. Decision making can be very stressful. Your decisions have to be timely and quite often are made with insufficient information. As a new and young entrepreneur you will be forced to make hundreds of decisions daily. You therefore need to be prepared for such levels of stress.

As you get into business be prepared for some of these challenges. They are not insurmountable. You can resolve these challenges. It just need dogged determination, focus, perseverance and dedication. Work through these obstacles and you are on your way to a successful entrepreneur.
Stewart Jakarasi is a business and financial strategist and a lecturer in business strategy and performance management.
He provides advisory and guidance on leadership, strategy and execution, preparation of business plans and on how to build and sustain high-performing organisations.

l For assistance in implementing some of the concepts discussed in these articles or in strategic planning facilitation please contact him on the following contacts: or +266 62110062 or on WhatsApp +266 58881062

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LEC to switch off households over debts



MASERU – The Lesotho Electricity Company (LEC) will from Tuesday next week begin switching off clients who owe it money.

The LEC issued a seven-day ultimatum to all customers who owe it on Tuesday last week. The deadline ends on Monday.

It is expected that the LEC will begin switching off households that have defaulted.

The state-owned power company, however, is not going to touch any government department or business entities that owe it on grounds that they are in payment negotiations.

The LEC move comes barely two weeks after it cut electricity supplies to the Water and Sewerage Company (WASCO) thus causing it to fail to pump water to communities countrywide for more than two days.

The LEC says it is owed close to M200 million by government departments, businesses and individuals.

The LEC spokesman, Tšepang Ledia, told thepost that the government and the businesses will not have their electricity cut because they are in negotiations.

“We are in negotiations with the government and businesses and hopefully they will pay,” Ledia said.

“We advise the ordinary people to pay their debts before the 20th of March 2023 or else we cut the services,” he said.

The LEC says it is running short of funds for its daily operations.

In December last year the company increased power tariffs by 7.9 percent on both energy and maximum demand charges across all customer categories for the Financial Year 2022/23.

Last week the LEC boss, Mohato Seleke, said postpaid consumers and sundry debtors owe the company M169.4 million.

He said unless the debtors pay he will be unable to buy electricity from ’Muela Hydropower Project, Eskom in South Africa and Mozambique’s EDM.

This, he said, could cause serious load shedding in the country and could be devastating for businesses.

Seleke said the LEC spends M630 million monthly to buy electricity.

“If postpaid consumers do not settle their debts this could prevent the LEC from being able to buy electricity which can lead the country to encounter load-shedding,” Seleke said.

Seleke said collecting debt from government department ministries was a challenge as there is an understanding that since LEC is a state-owned company, it will continue supplying government agencies with electricity and they will settle their bills when they have funds to do so.

Seleke said the LEC has lost M21 million to vandalism during this financial year.

Relebohile Tšepe

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Bumper payout for former mineworkers



MASERU – AT least 11 316 current as well as former mine workers are set for a bumper payout after Tshiamiso Trust began disbursing the first billion Maloti to workers who are suffering from silicosis and tuberculosis.

The payment comes two years after Tshiamiso Trust began processing claims for the historical M5 billion settlement agreement between mineworkers and six gold mines in South Africa.

Speaking at the payment announcement in Maseru last week, the Trust’s CEO, Lusanda Jiya, said it has been two years since they officially began accepting claims.

“Our people come to work every day with the mission of impacting lives for the better, and the first billion rand paid out to over 11 000 families is just the beginning,” Jiya said.

“We know that there is no compensation that will ever be enough to undo the suffering endured by mine workers and their families,” he said.

“However, we are committed to deliver our mandate and ensure that every family that is eligible for compensation receives it.”

Jiya said the Trust is limited both in terms of the time in which they can operate, and the extent to which they can assist those seeking compensation.

Broadly speaking, the eligibility criteria include among others that the mineworker must have worked at one of the qualifying gold mines between March 12, 1965 and December 10, 2019.

Secondly, living mineworkers must have permanent lung damage from silicosis or TB and deceased mine workers representatives must have evidence that proves that they (the deceased) died from TB or Silicosis.

Tshiamiso Trust has a lifespan of 12 years, ending in February 2031.

Over 111 000 claims have been received to date, through offices in South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, eSwatini, and Mozambique.

The Trust is working with stakeholders in these countries and others to mobilise its efforts and expand operations.

The history of silicosis in South Africa goes back to the late 1880’s when the first gold mines began operations.

The gold was stored and locked in quartz, a special rock that contains large amounts of silica.

Crystallised silica particles can cause serious respiratory damage if inhaled.

In the earlier days of gold mining, dust control, health and safety standards and the use of PPE (personal protective equipment) were not as advanced as they are today.

Tshiamiso Trust was established in 2020 to give effect to the settlement agreement reached between six mining companies.

The companies are African Rainbow Minerals, Anglo American South Africa, AngloGold Ashanti, Harmony Gold, Sibanye Stillwater and Gold Fields.

The settlement agreement was reached and made after a ruling by the Johannesburg High Court as a result of a historic class action by former and current mineworkers against the six gold mines.

Justice for Miners is a coalition of interested parties in the mining sector launched at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg in 2020.

The Johannesburg High Court approved the setting up of the Tshiamiso Trust to facilitate payment by the companies to affected miners.

Keith Chapatarongo

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Farmers cry over cost of livestock feed



MASERU – Lehlohonolo Mokhethi is a farmer who has been running a successful poultry business, thanks to a small loan he got from a local bank.

He now has 300 chickens.

He says his vision is to rear 5 000 chickens by 2025 and employ 30 youths. But he is now grappling with a new challenge: the ever increasing cost of chicken feed.

That is threatening the viability of his business.

“The biggest challenge is that food prices increase every day, feeding is expensive,” Mokhethi said.

“It is quite difficult to make profit in business if each and every day food prices increase. Today I am buying a bag of food with a certain amount then the next day the price has increased,” he says.

“Our customers fail dismally to understand that food has increased and the Chinese are taking our market because they sell at a low price thus I run at a loss.”

Last week, a top attorney in Maseru who is also a prominent farmer, Tiisetso Sello-Mafatle, called a meeting for farmers to discuss these challenges.

She says the government must regulate the prices of livestock feed.

That is critical if the farming business is to succeed, she says.

Attorney Sello-Mafatle says farmers must come up with a structure for livestock feed prices which they would present to the government for gazetting.

“We should state our regulations and give them to the government to make everything easy for both parties because we cannot wait for the government to make regulations for us,” Sello-Mafatle says.

She adds that “farmers should be bullish about what they want and never have fear endorsing new things”.

“I will not be challenged or cry (because of) what life throws at me but I will cry when things are not happening the right way,” she says.

Mafatle says farmers need to know who they are and know the capabilities they have.

“This will help a farmer in becoming the best in any field they are in once they are confident about themselves,” she says.

Karabo Lijo, another participant, said they have to influence the cost of inputs in agriculture, especially livestock feed.

“We have to go back to cost-price analysis where as farmers we are able to derive the selling price and the break-even point in our production,” Lijo said.

“We can also derive the stable or constant mark-ups on our products,” he said.

“We need to do research to increase the ability to produce byproducts which are likely to have the longest shelve life,” he said.

The meeting urged farmers to diversify their products by introducing such things as mushroom farming. They said mushrooms can grow very well in Lesotho due to its favourable climate.

The farmers also demanded that there should be regulations on how land can be sold or borrowed in Lesotho.

Tholoana Lesenya and Alice Samuel

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