In Need of a Deep Breath

Well, I’m certainly not bored. I haven’t been blogging a lot because any free time I have has been spent catching up on work (or ok, yes, on Facebook – it’s so easy and you can do it in bite-size chunks).

So this week my time was actually mainly spent on Purple Heart. This is one of heart’s social enterprises that we are incubating, and the goal is to get a business plan finished by the end of June. At the same time, the enterprise is actually up and running. On Sunday night I spent about two hours getting the franchise agreement ready for prime-time as the young entrepreneurs had to sign it around 11am Monday morning.

The concept of Purple Heart is that we take young people from the townships who have demonstrated entrepreneurial drive and have some business skills a chance to practice what they have learned through selling chocolates from stands that are placed in high-traffic pedestrian areas. This is intended to be a launching pad for these people to higher-paying and more challenging careers than street hawkers, but everyone has to start somewhere and they will learn valuable skills about sales, managing money, inventory, paying back loans, etc. The model is structured as a franchise where they will start off with a loan for the inventory and pay back the loan over time with their profits, along with paying a franchise fee. This will also teach the value of hard work – the more money they make, the more they get to take home.

Anyway Purple Heart is in a pilot phase at the moment and so as it is operating we are also refining the business model. I am working very closely with the person who is running Purple Heart on developing a business plan. As he is also running the business we are essentially trading off writing sections, and reviewing each others’ work.

A developing part of the business is to develop gift hampers (gift boxes, essentially) that can be sold to corporates for employee of the month, customer gifts, etc., or to individuals. So another project of the week was to go visit a printing company to try and figure out the design for the hamper and the cost to produce it. This was great fun – the location of the printing company is a house in the suburbs, actually about 1km from the guy from whom I bought my car! The business is relatively new, which is good because they want our business – one of the problems we had had up to this point was in getting the level of customisation we wanted at low volumes. A lot of larger printers simply refused. Also, they had a cat – cute little Siamese that was very affectionate.

Of course I still have my day job, which is to say the school, and am quite busy at the moment still working on the business plan section. I spent a good amount of time trying to find this quote that I had enjoyed from my MBA. I finally reacquired it and the quote is the following: “The skills and energy of the entrepreneur can make even a mediocre idea a success, but average people will ruin even a good idea.” – Rob Kuhling, ONSET Ventures.

I think by Thursday end of day I was a little bit overwhelmed. Well, not overwhelmed so much as feeling like I’m finally back in my element. My ex-boss had it right when he said that I was happiest when I had almost too much to do. Not really odd, I suppose – forced deadlines make you more efficient with your time.

In other news, the rest over the weekend really helped my tailbone and it’s certainly not almost back to normal or anything, but standing up is no longer excruciating, so that’s a start! Monday evening was the Fran challenge at Cape CrossFit, so I brought in some beet & avocado salad that was a big hit, and had dessert in the form of chocolate paleo “ice cream” before dinner. It was nice to talk to everyone in a bit more of a relaxed setting where I wasn’t pressed for time to need to get to work.

And I picked up my grass-fed ground beef, which I was unable to locate in a grocery store. There is something a bit hilarious about buying my meat from the guys who run my gym, but I’ll take it where I can get it and darn did I make a good stew out of it, although I had to modify the recipe heavily to account for what I had on hand. There are pros and cons to the availability of items, packaging, etc. here – one big plus is that tomatoes are sold in paper containers like milk cartons rather than the PBA-lined cans we get back in the States.

So I had bought an iBurst modem from my ex-coworker, but I was unable to get it to work on my 64-bit Windows, because the software was not available for download online. I went to a reseller to get them to install the software; 30 minutes later the guy told me I had to call iBurst because he wasn’t able to help me. Luckily for me, he left the CD in the drive so I was able to get it working later. Unluckily for me, I got trapped in the elevator on the way out of the building and had to force the door open. It was actually more amusing than anything – I was only afraid because that was the day of the Fran challenge and I had somewhere I needed to be!

I spent Thursday night at home watching the World Cup kickoff concert. There was a big party in the streets down by the fan fest, but to me the World Cup doesn’t start until the first kickoff so I stayed at home to chill. But the anticipation was so thick in the air you could cut it with a knife!

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