Some of the most useful counsel a would-be business owner can get is from a person who started a small business and failed. It is this individual’s unique perspective on what can go wrong that creates a valuable learning experience. This is one of the primary reasons Morongwa Makakane’s honest, authentic When is Enough Enough? stands out among many books targeting entrepreneurs.
Makakane started a consulting business during a time when legislation in her country, South Africa, favored black women. While she ran her business successfully for three years, Makakane was forced to shut it down because of unpaid debt. Her government clients did not pay on time, she could do nothing to collect on the unpaid invoices, she could not make good on her bank credit, and she did not have a marketing plan to get new clients. “Although I started by reviewing what I had done wrong (my current reality), this did not become my focus,” she writes. “The important thing was where did I want to go (my vision for the future), and what I could have done better, and what I need to improve (my goals and objectives), and so my personal plan started taking shape.”
Makakane weaves her own story, using failure as a springboard to tell other entrepreneurs what they can do differently. She maps out a logical thought process for anyone who wants to start a business, from understanding one’s motivation through business and financial planning. She covers topics like researching business ideas, writing a business plan, strategies for keeping overhead low, subcontracting as an alternative to adding staff, creating a marketing plan, managing client expectations, and executing and delivering projects. The author concludes the book with an inspirational chapter titled “When Things Have Not Worked Out.” In it, Makakane offers quotes about overcoming failure from well-known personalities such as Richard Branson, Henry Ford, J. K. Rowling, and Oprah Winfrey.
Makakane uses first-hand experience to guide the reader but also draws from other sources to augment her own perspective. She is unafraid to share the challenging side of starting a business; she lists seven “harsh realities” in the first chapter. For instance, she states, “Owning a business isn’t easier than working at a nine-to-five job.” In each chapter, the author presents a lesson she learned, along with detailed information that is specific and useful. The chapter about staffing requirements, for example, includes “five tips for avoiding business hiring mistakes” and “five tips for managing subcontractors.”
Two minor criticisms: The book’s title is a bit obscure, and the cover art may be a bit graphically overdone. However, these small deficiencies do not diminish the strength of the book’s content. Enjoyable, engaging, and enlightening, When is Enough, Enough? should serve as a helpful guide to anyone who wants to avoid the most common mistakes in starting a business.