Do it yourself

Are entrepreneurs born or made?

Modern day entrepreneur
Mike Eilertsen
Mike Eilertsen is a young entrepreneur and a finalist for the Sanlam Entrepreneur of the Year and the Africa SMME awards. He believes that he found his calling after a rather eventful night, while working as a waiter. 

Is entrepreneurship inherent or does circumstance open this door of opportunity? For Mike the answer is both. "I had many small businesses that ran through my days at school to the captive market of fellow scholars, but the decision to never work for someone again came down to a single moment."

Successful businesses should be built on innovation, professionalism and meeting the expectations of the client. He soon realised that the restaurant he was working for, was the complete opposite and that the staff there were ostracized and made to conform, rather than acknowledged and retained. 

It was that very epiphany that made him realize he would never work for anyone again and that a South African entrepreneur had been made.

The Breakfast Boy
Busy schedules usually mean commuting business executives rarely have time for healthy breakfasts. The meal gets sidelined, to ensure kids are ready or deadlines are met. Given my varsity commitments and an accessible market, The Breakfast Boy was started on the corner of Jan Smuts Avenue and Conrad Drive.
R10.00 got commuters driving to Sandton a breakfast bag containing a muffin, fruit, yogurt, Snacker bar, mint and a napkin. But having a great product wasn’t enough, as all good entrepreneurs know, you need something that sets you apart and communicates directly with your target market.

I added a fold over pamphlet, and provided weekly updates of the trials, tribulations and successes of running your own business. My mobile number ended the week’s learning, and allowed Sandton’s commuters to communicate directly with me for pointers, advice and new opportunities.

At 3:00am every morning I began baking muffins, so that by 6:00am I could be on the road at the intersection I had selected. My outfit included a chef’s hat, for easy identification and my signature basket with 10 breakfasts, enough to service every robot change.

Within two months I was at maximum capacity selling 60 breakfasts a morning. The R300 per morning I was making made me a millionaire in student terms, but I was loving the interactions even more, as daily messages flooded in from both those who purchased and who had just received a pamphlet.

A call came in one morning from a lady who worked at Discovery asking if I could get her promoters for her launch. That next week’s story in The Breakfast Boy pamphlet spoke of our promoters at the Discovery launch, and opened the flood gates for hundred of promoter bookings, as local business owners found other ways to support The Breakfast Boy.
S.H.O.U.T Promotions (Student House of Unbelievable Talent) was opened soon after to deal with the demand, and inevitably first year students from RAU were all in weekend jobs.

There is no space in business for ego, if you have a great idea take the plunge and do it no matter how humbling it may seem, because that courage will be rewarded tenfold when it becomes profitable. Find a way to differentiate yourself and connect with your market, because when you do, the rest will take care of itself. 

Today, Mike Eilertsen is the CEO of LIVEOUTLOUD.
A lifestyle magazine, events and travel Company. 
“Exhibiting exceptionally meritorious entrepreneurial flair is not merely about turning profits or making clients happy. Our goal is to produce more innovative, intimate and bespoke experiences for the discerning members of society who push the boundaries, seek individuality and who are never satisfied by the ordinary,” says Michael Eilertsen, recently honoured as the face in the 22nd portrait of Facing a Century by the celebrated artist, Taf.  

In contemplating his own personal journey, Michael Eilertsen says, "I have worked impossible hours, dropped balls and lost friendships...but I have learnt how deep my character goes. What I do best is taking that first step. I have taken enough 'first steps' now to know that the only thing that can ever stand in the way of anyone's potential, is them self."

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This edition

Issue 58