Starting an SME is not easy – but keep at it

Starting an SME

Starting an SME sounds attractive but is not easy.  The start of a New Year (although we are now a month in) is always an interesting time of reflection which may be accompanied by hopes, plans and goals for the future but inevitably reflections of the past year. Some of the self-criticism we bestow upon ourselves as individuals can be harsh and to some extent unwarranted.

I have found this ever more so for entrepreneurs because not only do we assess ourselves as individuals, we assess our businesses as if they are a part of us.  At times the missed opportunities and goals not achieved by the business, we entrepreneurs, carry those as our own burdens of failure.

Starting an SME is difficult at the best of times. It’s even more difficult to keep it going.


Global economies have had it rough in the past few years with emerging markets bearing the brunt of most of it. Being a small business in an emerging market in these economic times can challenge even the most solid an optimist.


My message to African entrepreneurs starting and SME at the dawn of 2020, albeit a month in, is that this is a new dawn and a new day. South African President Cyril Ramaposa said in 2018 that “South Africa is open for business”. In mid 2020 we expect the signing of the Africa Continent Free Trade Area (“AfCFTA”).  This will facilitate and ease doing business in Africa.  The African Union Commission is also working on the establishment of the Enterprise Africa Network (“EAN”).   EAN will have a focus on supporting the growth of SMEs on our continent, especially those owned by women and youth.   Purposefully selected focus industries will set African SMEs on an exciting new trajectory.

Does this mean life just got easier? On the contrary.  It may in fact mean that more will be demanded of us entrepreneurs and our businesses. The possible result however is multiple fold more positive because it means, for those that push through, the probability of success has just increased significantly.

A good friend of mine said to me in the past year that the night is coldest and darkest just before the first light breaks.

I say to you SME owner, who is beating yourself up and questioning the decision you have made to leave the security of your corporate job to start a business – for whatever reason you made that decision.  To the individual who could not find a job despite your education and qualifications, you therefore resorted to creating one for yourself and others.  To you both I say :

“If you have made it this far, you can make it further, and the time could not be better for SMEs in Africa as they are today”.


Seriously and honestly;

“Push through. Push on.
Surround yourself with organisations and individuals who can support you in making the changes you need to, to ensure your business is best placed to weather the storms ahead in 2020 – because there will be storms; but weathering the storms is what being a business owner is all about.”

Keep checking in on our blog as exciting things are happening with the dawn of SME business growth breaks in Africa.  Look out for our upcoming series on the future of business opportunities on our African continent.

Stop doubting and beating yourself up about 2019. You did your best under the circumstances.

May you be successful in your endeavours in 2020.

If you need accounting, tax or advisory services for your small business – we are the only choice – contact us about the quality services we provide and find out about our SME friendly pricing, but more so – our free app!

We have several articles on how to build a successful small business including, How to survive and thrive as a SME.



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Disclaimer: The information provided herein should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your professional adviser for specific and detailed advice.