With Global Entrepreneurship Week taking place from 8-14 November, entrepreneur & Rolux CEO Stuart Williams, shares his advice on starting a new business – big or small – and making it work

Stuart Williams, Rolux CEO

Entrepreneurship is vital during tough economic times – which is where we’re at as a country after recent knocks, including state capture, July’s rioting and the COVID-19 crisis. By spotting opportunities to innovate or simply to support themselves, entrepreneurs can raise productivity, boost economic growth and lessen unemployment.

One enthusiastic group of entrepreneurs recently saw an opportunity to take the much-loved Rolux brand under their wing and gave it a makeover, upgrading the iconic Rolux Magnum lawnmower by adding new features and broadening the brand’s product range. Panners Investments, Rolux’s new leadership team, bought Rolux in 2019. “Rolux has a colourful history in this country with so many customers nostalgic about the iconic lawnmowers, and we saw potential in bringing back its legacy of durability and reliability,” says Stuart Williams, Rolux CEO.

According to Williams, this is what entrepreneurship is all about; seeing an opportunity to do something better and running with it. “People have a misconception that when you start a business it has to be huge. From an early age we are encouraged to either work for a large corporation or create a business that will be massively successful, with vast financial gains being the end goal. But you don’t need to create a multimillion-rand business to be a successful entrepreneur. Even if you are the only member of your company, by getting out there and producing or selling something and making ends meet – you are winning.”

How to make it work

The team at Rolux believes you need three things to be a successful entrepreneur:

  • Grit. You will deal with a lot of rejection and encounter many obstacles when starting your own business. “Many people, when hit with their first roadblock, give up. But, you need to grit your teeth and get through it. When we took over Rolux, a lot of things could have stopped us, such as rejection from potential customers, but instead they made us more ambitious and driven to find more customers.”
  • Resourcefulness. Very often, startups have no budget to work with in the beginning. “You don’t actually need huge capital to start out. Use what you have to get to where you want to be. Don’t have money to fulfil a customer’s order? Confirm one customer order and use that to raise money from banks, friends or family. Dig deep to explore how your connections can assist you, whether it’s your sister who is active on social media or a former colleague whose father works at a potential customer. No marketing budget? Marketing is free on social media. Launch as cheaply as you can. You don’t need fancy logos or a massive marketing plan.”
  • Luck. You do need a certain amount of luck when starting out. Luck is mostly out of your control, but it is more about how you capitalise on whatever luck comes your way than the luck itself, according to Williams.

“You don’t have to be born with these qualities to start your business – you can learn and acquire them as you go along. If you don’t have grit, develop it. Find your own luck, accept that bad things are going to happen and learn to be resourceful.”

Sharing the love

The Rolux team is passionate about sharing their knowledge and experience with other budding entrepreneurs. “By helping others succeed in opening their own businesses, they, in turn, can employ and help other people, and this knock-on effect ultimately benefits the country,” says Williams.

And by help, Williams doesn’t just mean with capital; there are many other ways to help someone get started. “It can be money if you have it to give, but it can also be support, your time or any products you can give that they may need. “We were recently in a position to donate one of our Rolux lawnmowers to an owner of a small landscaping business, boosting his confidence and shining a spotlight on his business.”

After seeing many friends and family lose their jobs during the extended lockdown, the Rolux team came up with a way for people to make some extra money from home – in fact, from their sofas. The initiative allows you to register for a coupon code from Rolux.co.za, which you can then share far and wide on social media platforms of your choice. Customers using your code will get a discount on a Rolux product, and every sale made will earn you a 5% commission, payable into your bank account.

Williams feels that South Africans need to change their mindset about entrepreneurship. “There are plenty of opportunities to start your own business if you are constantly curious. Find something you can do and do it slightly better than the other person. The more people doing this, the better for all of us.”


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