Notes: Digify Africa panel discussion

Lessons present themselves all the time, everyday and everywhere.

And because of this, I wrote down five from the panel discussion I facilitated for Digify Africa at the J&B Hive, Braamfontein, 14 September 2019.

The topic was: How to Start a Successful Business Online.

I. Study the market

Tinker with stuff, spend time learning and then find a trade that you are comfortably good at and then own it.

It’s fascinating that as soon as you start learning a discipline, the answers present themselves. And in other cases, what begins as an email newsletter may end up a multi-million rand business. The point is to get into the groove and study your trade.   

II. There’s no getting around hard work

You’ve probably heard this one a million and one times before. 

Instruments such as talent, education, networks, materials, looks, etc., are not enough on their own. Especially when you are building a business or a career, which is often a long haul.

Nothing works unless you do.

III. Take initiative

Khuthala mtakwethu.

And just as the late South African Kwaito philosopher, Mandoza, asked the world in a song: “Uzoyithola kanjani uhleli ekhoneni?

Initiative takes different forms. You can spend time on social media looking up people who can benefit from your skills, and connect with them. You can write and send proposals with ideas that bring value for your recipients. Cold emails, written well, can help you build good long-term relationships.

The point is to do something everyday that jolts your life awake, rustle the trees and chase after opportunities.

IV. Create systems from the get-go

Play at the level of your goals.

Put another way: yeka ukuzama, wenz’ into eqondile.

It’s easy to let yourself off the hook, especially when it comes to the maintenance of lofty professional standards.

Using a systematic way of thinking will pay off in a few ways. One, it will allow you to refine your work. Two, systems help with clarity and a sharper understanding of the work process used to deliver your work. Three, when problems inevitably arise, it’s easier to understand and solve them when there’s coherent thinking to get work done.

V. Learn to decipher information

In the interconnected world that we live in, information is published everywhere.

That’s why it is doubly essential to learn to process the resources at your disposal. Seek feedback about your work. Dive into the digital data and glean insight from it.

The ability to connect the dots and find meaning from the data related to your work will teach you to look around the corners. It’s a way to make sense of the world and refine your trade.

And it’s important to make a habit to connect with other people. As time goes, you’ll have enough people in your circle who feel this way about your work… “There’s a job for you wherever I am.”

Bring value to the table when you are invited to join in and you’ll always have something to eat.

TA to every person who came through to the panel and networking discussion.

It was an amazing intellectual time we had!


Wordsmith: I write and edit words. I speak and facilitate public conversations. I think and consult.