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Generating business ideas



In my previous article I highlighted that in the process of launching a business an entrepreneur goes through a number of critical phases namely, identification and evaluation of an opportunity or idea, development of the business plan, raising funding, and determination of the required resources and management of the enterprise.

In this article I will be discussing how an aspiring entrepreneur can generate business ideas.
Coming up with a great business idea that can be turned into a business requires a lot of thinking, a lot of creativity, and research. Most people are lazy to think creatively let alone to take time to think through certain issues.
It is said that most people use less than 10 percent of their brain capacity.

That is why entrepreneurs are hard to come by. Most people are comfortable working under someone else, but if you are going to chart your own future, the following discussion is intended to ignite that desire to move to the coal face and start carving your future.
The future is not meant for the faint hearted but for the courageous.

You should take stock of your interests. There could be a business opportunity in what you enjoy to do. For instance, you might be interested in cooking or photography.  You can then develop that passion into a business. You will obviously have to come up with a competitive advantage so that your business will stand out from other similar businesses.

One other way of developing great business ideas is by coming up with a product or service that solves a certain problem. You need to keep a record of all that people are yearning to get or some things that are a pain to people which need to be sorted out.
Uber came up with a cheaper way of travelling. You need to constantly ask yourself — what bothers people? Then go for that and develop a solution. People will rush for that product/service if it solves their problems.

Take time to talk to people and you will hear what they are looking for.
Or you might hear what products or services are scarce or in demand. This can give ideas of what product you can develop.
On your travels abroad be observant for novel ideas that you can take home and start a project. There are a lot of products or services that can be adapted to our situations after a little modification.

You don’t necessarily need to reinvent the wheel. There are a lot of ideas out there that can address our current problems.
However, you will need to carry out a market research on the product to establish if the market will accept it. Everyone these days has access to the internet.

Instead of spending too much of one’s time on social media it will be worth your while to google what products or services that are trending in the entrepreneurship field. You can identify a lot of opportunities in the process.
In developing business ideas think about a service or a product that will change other people’s lives and which they are prepared to pay for.
Try to relate this to your life or your neighbours whom you see are in need of this service or product. Creatively think how you can provide that service if it has not been provided before by anyone.

If it is already on the market but you feel you can still improve on it then you need to look at your improvement and how unique that improvement is so that it can stand against the competition.
You might have to make a choice between making a product and providing a service. Each of these have advantages and disadvantages so you need to think these through.
Developing a product would entail investing in research and in manufacturing to produce it. This can be a big investment but can prove to be very lucrative if you manage to capture a good market share.
On the other hand providing a service will eliminate the need for developing and manufacturing a new product although you would need to hire staff if the business has to make an impact. You also have to think of how you will promote your service or product.
The other ways to get business ideas flowing is to critically look at the product or service you are currently getting and try to identify a problem or problems inherent in the process.

If you feel frustrated in a product or the way the service is being provided then know that you are not alone, there are a number of other people in the same situation who will quickly seize on the opportunity you want to provide in order to get an improved service or product.
So why not develop this idea into a business and launch your product or service before anyone does so that you get the first mover advantage.
Peter Drucker once said that you need to create your own future if you have to survive in this world. Every successful entrepreneur is forward looking, he is an innovator.

You need to look at current trends, at current products and services and project into the future and think of ideas that will revolutionise that market.
Steve Jobs of Apple revolutionised the mobile phone market when he looked ahead of the current mobile phone business and he introduced the smart phone which ended up taking over the mobile phone market leaving Nokia in dire straits.
If you have certain skills that you have acquired when employed which could be creatively applied in another field, then use these skills to start a business. Skills in engineering can be used in other related fields.

Or you can creatively apply skills learned elsewhere to improve a completely different field and in the process revolutionise that field.
Be open minded as you are thinking of your business ideas so that you consider those skills you have that can come in handy in another field.
Inspiration usually comes like a flash and quickly disappears. So you need to record all ideas that come your way. The best way is to have a notebook by your side to write these brilliant ideas be they small or big write them down, you don’t know what will change your world.
Think over these ideas now and again and see how you can expand or improve them.
Being creative is like brainstorming on your own. You come up with this idea which might look stupid at first, don’t discard it.

l 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.

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

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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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