Latest Heavy Chef Report reveals networks are greatest predictor of entrepreneur success

he Heavy Chef Foundation, the nonprofit organisation of entrepreneur community platform, Heavy Chef, has released its latest survey the Entrepreneur Networks Report in partnership with Xero. The report reveals insights into an often-overlooked predictor of South African entrepreneurial success: the frequency and quality of interactions between entrepreneurs.

These findings challenge conventional beliefs that personality traits, access to resources and funding are the main drivers of entrepreneurial triumph.

Highlights of the report reveal that:

  • On average, founders of SMMEs with high annual revenues have regular access to 12x more entrepreneurs than those with low annual revenues.
  • Entrepreneurs estimate that the ‘right’ connection can have 75% or more impact on the growth of their business.
  • 81% of entrepreneurs say that their fellow entrepreneurs are their most valuable network.
  • 72% of entrepreneurs want to connect with a mentor in the belief that they will positively impact the growth of their business.
  • 77% say that other entrepreneurs have contributed most to their individual development as an entrepreneur.

The Heavy Chef Entrepreneur Networks Report is the first to do a deep-dive analysis of the link between entrepreneur interactions and personal and business growth.  The research includes a review of almost five years of datasets via Heavy Chef’s 45 000 member-strong community in the form of surveys, interviews, content and events.  These revealed 10 insights explored through the lens of specific types of entrepreneur networks with which entrepreneurs engage:

  1. Solo Networks
  2. Peer Networks
  3. Expert Networks
  4. Partner Networks
  5. Support Networks
  6. Technology Networks
  7. Funding Networks
  8. Community Networks
  9. Industry Networks
  10. Hub Networks

“We all instinctively know that relationships are the heart of business.  Now through rigorous research we have validated the vital role meaningful connections play in the growth of entrepreneurs and their businesses,” says Louis Janse van Rensburg, CEO of Heavy Chef Foundation.

“The primary role of the Heavy Chef Foundation is to research entrepreneurs and the way that they learn, so we initiated what has become the largest ever survey of entrepreneurial learning within South Africa,” explains Janse van Rensburg. 

“We started with a core belief that entrepreneurs can change the world for the better. They affect change faster and more efficiently than any other category of human on the planet,” he continued.

Supporting this philosophy, the report shares statistics and perspectives from ‘Chefs’ who are experienced entrepreneurs, and paints a vivid picture of the power of networks shaping their personal and business growth.

The Heavy Chef Research Centre

The release of what is now the 7th edition Heavy Chef report coincides with the opening of the Heavy Chef Research Centre, in collaboration with Workshop17 and In On Africa. It will be the first dedicated centre focused solely on researching entrepreneur learning.  

Based at Workshop17 West Street co-working space in Johannesburg, the Research Centre will be focused on studying the habits and behaviours of entrepreneur communities as well as provide research services to the broader SMME ecosystem in both South Africa and on the continent as a whole. 

All three partners bring distinct value to the research into entrepreneurship.  Heavy Chef through its community learning programmes, In On Africa with its marketing intelligence expertise, and Workshop17 with its state-of-the-art community facilities and services.

“Entrepreneurs are the protagonists for the growth of our country and Africa as a whole.  They need to be supported and understood.  Understanding entrepreneurs is the very essence of what will be done at the Research Centre,” says Jonathan Mundell, CEO of In On Africa.

“Workshop17 is driven by a strong sense of purpose, the need to create beautiful spaces to work, and the intent to grow a platform for innovation and entrepreneurship where people can do something that’s not only good for themselves but also has a positive contribution for others and the world around them. The Research Centre embodies these values,” says Paul Keursten, cofounder and CEO of Workshop17.

According to Janse van Rensburg, the Research Centre will offer research services to organisations serving SMMEs. 

“The data will be translated into policies and programmes that break down systemic barriers to entrepreneur development so that we give our entrepreneurs all the tools that they need to succeed,” he says.

Moving Forward

“Today, it’s all about moving the needle forward for South Africa’s entrepreneurs, who will ultimately be responsible for taking our economy to the next level. In a world of talkers, it’s the doers that are going to reimagine and recreate our future,” says Fred Roed, CEO of Heavy Chef. 

“For many South Africans, entrepreneurship is the only route towards making a living. This puts the responsibility on our shoulders to usher in the new future. The research from our nonprofit sister organisation provides us with valuable guidance about the next right steps.”

“The truth is that we grow by learning, doing and then sharing with each other. This is how a community works. This is how tribes work. One of the most important remits of the new Heavy Chef Research Centre will be to study ways of curating community into profitable returns for entrepreneurs.” Roed concludes.

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