On what makes a great entrepreneur, Sesethu says, “One of the main characteristics of an entrepreneur is grit. Entrepreneurship isn’t easy. You need to be able to take criticism as well as you take a compliment, as both are necessary. Grit ensures that you stay consistent and are not deterred when something goes wrong, and also don't just 'float' when everything is going well.

“Play to your strengths. Don't go looking for the next big thing, as it might not be for you, and you might not even enjoy waking up to doing that every day. You'd be surprised at how many of your skill sets you can monetise right now. Develop your own routine and try to be your own locus of control”.

Sandy van Dyk – Education Specialist and Co-Founder of Over the Rainbow – a social enterprise aimed at empowering new SA entrepreneurs

Sandy and her sister, Lesley Waterkeyn, founded Over the Rainbow in 2015, later joined by Dawn Nathan Jones. Together, they have published two books – The Entrepreneur’s Playbook and Hope Stories. They also conduct online courses through the Red and Yellow Business School and Edu24.

Asked what the main characteristics of a great entrepreneur are, Sandy replies, “Choosing to be an entrepreneur takes courage and being able to back yourself is one of our values at Over the Rainbow. A great entrepreneur continuously seeks out new opportunities, is decisive and highly adaptable.

“Confidence, knowledge of the market and their product, passion and excitement for their business with a good grasp of their numbers are extremely important. I always tell budding entrepreneurs to put their faith in a trusted mentor and never be afraid to ask for help”.

Akhona Mahlati – CEO of BusinessFit and Director/Principal Strategist for Ewe Sana Marketing and Communications

Akhona runs and manages two businesses – Ewe Sana Marketing and Communications and BusinessFit. Ewe Sana is an established leader in marketing, communications and Public Relations (PR), and BusinessFit is an entrepreneurship development think tank that develops and trains entrepreneurs, helping them realise their full potential.

Akhona offers these pearls of wisdom to aspiring entrepreneurs: “Believing in yourself and your abilities, being resilient to the challenges of life, being self-disciplined and remaining focused are key characteristics of a great entrepreneur.

“I believe in overcoming our challenges so we can truly know how strong we are capable of being. Strength enables us to reach greater heights in our lives. It is by defeating the demons on a particular level that you're able to get to the next level.

“If you are serious about business, start as soon as possible. Be prepared to change the way you see things and what you’ve previously been taught. It’s not a journey for the faint-hearted, but it can also be enjoyable and extremely rewarding”.

The Firstwatch Entrepreneurs Challenge is well underway, and from the successful two-day workshops held in Johannesburg and Cape Town, a top 10 was chosen for each region. Of the chosen 20 candidates, 10 will be selected to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges in competition for the top spot in the final, held in Johannesburg. Firstwatch wishes all the future business leaders competing for the title the best of luck. May every part of the journey be rewarding. Firstwatch – First for Everyday Entrepreneurs. First for Reward.

To find out more about the Challenge, visit