‘Do what it takes – put in work with no remuneration if need be, just to gain experience and build networks,’ is Thulani Ntshuntshe’s advice.

Smart startups should start out small and be prepared to make some sacrifices to land their first deal, contract or order, say small business experts and entrepreneurs.

“Landing contracts and deals is all about track record and traction,” says Gareth Taylor of the Awethu Project, an investment vehicle that mentors and supports small, medium and micro-sized enterprises.

From business chambers and short courses to collaborative and networking initiatives, there are plenty of opportunities for like-minded entrepreneurs to come together and make magic.

Until you have customers, you don’t have a business.

That is why marketing is “the most important thing,” says Gareth Taylor of the Awethu Project, which runs regular small-business incubation programmes.

In business, the small things count, says Mogau Seshoene.

It’s tough to get out of the starting blocks. Here are five challenges you can expect early on – and advice for hitting them for a six.

A business plan is a road map that sets out your goals for the business and how you plan to reach those goals. It doesn’t have to be a formal document, but it helps to have a guide to help you plan how to set up and grow your company.

You can update it and adjust it as times goes by.