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Owners of small businesses must work smart and not fear...

Business Maverick


Owners of small businesses must work smart and not fear failure, says entrepreneur Nic Haralambous

From left: Business Maverick’s Ray Mahlaka. (Photo: Supplied) | Entrepreneur and author Nic Haralambous. (Photo: Supplied)

At the virtual launch of entrepreneur Nic Haralambous’ latest book, ‘The Business Builder’s Toolkit’, the author shared advice on how small business owners can create sustainable ventures.

Nic Haralambous, author of The Business Builder’s Toolkit, says entrepreneurs need to reframe how they experience failure. 

This is one of the business tips Haralambous provides in his third book. It’s aimed at small business owners who lack a mentor or specialist to help them with different aspects of their business. 

“Do you think most successful people avoided failure before they reached their success? Failure is a place where we can learn from. Failure is a place to build from,” said Haralambous. 

“I hate failing… I spent the past two decades defining myself as someone who builds businesses, but I haven’t been able to do that for the past three years. Embracing failure isn’t easy, but it’s necessary,” said Haralambous.

“Let people experience your failure… There is no shame in failing. What’s embarrassing is hiding and tricking people into thinking you didn’t fail. Failure isn’t an end point, it’s a through point.” 

Business Maverick’s Ray Mahlaka, hosting the virtual launch, asked about the recurring theme of mental health in the book. 

Haralambous emphasised that he wasn’t saying hard work wasn’t required to build a successful business, but that “hustle culture” has tricked many people into thinking they need to sacrifice their physical and mental health to make that happen. 

“To build a sustainable business, you need to be a sustainable human and that means you need to eat and sleep,” said Haralambous. 

The author added that small business owners needed to adopt a work culture where rest was prioritised. 

“If you push your team to work on a Sunday at 9pm and you think that’s their best work, you’ve never seen their best work. You should rest to show your team that it’s acceptable and appropriate. When you receive an email at 2am… tell your colleague that it’s unacceptable and that they should be sleeping.”

Haralambous’ book debunks business myths such as one that suggests entrepreneurship is easy. On this, Haralambous said people see media coverage of CEOs from multinational companies making millions of dollars and think their business journey will be similar. 

“People think, ‘I have to be an entrepreneur because I want to live a good life’. But what people need to do is to define what a good life means to them… that could be working for a few hours and spending the rest of the day walking your dog. However, if you like your own time and energy, then building a business is not for you.” 

Haralambous cautions against entrepreneurs focusing all their efforts on getting funding while neglecting to find and keep customers. 

“Funding is important, but money can only solve money problems. It doesn’t fix culture problems or bad design or bad customer service.”

As to how the book came about, Haralambous said that during lockdown he approached Daily Maverick about writing something that was aimed at building small businesses. From that, came Haralambous’ newsletter, which shares the book’s title. BM/DM

You can buy The Business Builder’s Toolkit from Daily Maverick’s bookstore. 


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