A rule to help entrepreneurs with their cash flow

Jonathan Jacobs is a social entrepreneur who helps people help themselves.

His life mission is to create job opportunities for 100 000 people.

Armed with street skills and a few degrees, he has assisted and mentored numerous entrepreneurs.

He is a qualified certified forensic examiner and currently runs and manages his own company, Skylar Investment Holdings (Pty) Ltd, with interests in training, mentorship, consulting, hospitality and property. He also recently started a hotel management company and manages a 160-sleeper resort in Parys.

He recalls one of his first vacation jobs was to sweep the wood shavings up around the machines at his uncle’s furniture factory, literally starting at the bottom.

Eventually over a few years, he became part of the production line at age 16, assembling desks, tables, and chests of drawers.

He then “branched” off and made his own furniture with off-cut pieces of wood; some of his pieces still stand today after 20-odd years. This was all done while still in school.

Entrepreneurship permeated through his teenage years and he opened a boerewors stand in Athlone, and sold in volume on a Friday. For those two hours he sold his weekly quota, and bought his first motorbike and his now wife, a ring, with the proceeds of boerewors rolls.

There have been numerous business ventures; some failed, others succeeded.

The venture he enjoyed the most was where he helped other smaller businesses navigate the minefield known as entrepreneurship.

Hindsight gives one a fair amount of wisdom. Often it is actual hard lessons of loss that help to mentor and assist entrepreneurs better.

Covid-19 had a devastating effect on the tourism industry as a whole, you see this in the number of liquidations and auctions of hotels, restaurants, events companies, and other hospitality businesses. He believes that now is the time to buy if you are in the market.

Being in the leisure market, his resort in Parys took a severe knock and their clients stayed away during lockdown, and while they were awarded a small grant from the national Department of Tourism, it was a drop in the ocean.

They maintained their staff complement during the hard lockdown but all at reduced rates, creating food hampers just to help staff and their families through the tough period.

Their December windfall, which helps them get to April, was not there and maintenance and other projects had to be put on hold. The resort is still limping along, but he is revising his interest in the business.

The key lesson during Covid was the art of pivoting. If you did not make money during the lockdown, you can’t call yourself an entrepreneur. Pivoting is using your set of skills from a stagnant sector to a demand-driven industry.

The resort became a temporary chicken farm, raising day-old chicks over six weeks and then selling and giving to staff. Applying basic business acumen, they were able to do 200 chickens per month and at least put food on the table.

Another business he started during lockdown was Skylar Salvage, people were downscaling overnight and needed items removed which he did for free.

The items were then distributed, with some of these items going to the needy and some sold to cover costs. This then led to looking at auctions and buying bargains.

The economy was constrained, and people were looking for bargains and cost savings. A margin was placed on the items, but the final price would still be regarded as a bargain.

This supplemented the weekly cash flow. He is still doing this, using Facebook Marketplace as his selling platform.

He came up with the J-Rule (Jonathan). For those thinking about a side hustle, the J-Rule looks at how one bridges this:

● 70 % of your time every day should be focused on what will feed you at month-end.

A major part of your day should be spent on this to relieve any month-end pressure. Month-end often sends some entrepreneurs into a flat spin.

The “Prayroll” State refers to the time of the month when you know the paw- paw is going to hit the fan. For most regular employees this is the time when they expect to be paid. For you as an entrepreneur, this time can be quite a strain.

● 20% of your time is the new idea space (side hustle). Usually this will yield an income in the next six to 12 months. This is the place where new ideas sit, as they will only germinate in later months. Also note that only 20% of your time needs to be focused here, not 100%.

The mistake that most entrepreneurs make is that they often focus 100% of their time in this zone. Often, they would start an idea, run for three months without getting matching income. They then become disillusioned with the original idea and then divert and move on to the next idea. They barely give the idea sufficient time to grow before they cull it.

● The 10% is what you dream about, like “saving the planet, becoming the president or space travel”. These are the long-term sectors you think your business will evolve into.

Jonathan is currently on track researching property trends as he sees this as key in five to 20 years’ time, so he is starting to prepare for this.

The idea is then that over time you have more income-generating ideas moving into the 70% zone, paying you every month.

The J-Rule is merely a tool for you to prioritise your time as an entrepreneur, focusing on the less glamorous items in your daily life to relieve month-end financial pressures.

Try practising the J-Rule and you may just see things coming together for you. Make the income circle bigger!

● Steve Reid is the manager of the Centre for Entrepreneurship at False Bay College. Contact him on Steve.Reid@falsebay.org.za