Entrepreneurs don’t read

I read so little that you’d be forgiven for thinking that I’m barely literate.  I mostly read snippets of news about business, tech and politics.

Harry Truman stated:

“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers”

So, if I want to be taken seriously as a thought leader in the world of small enterprise, I really ought to read more.

When I do read, I read about entrepreneurship and South African entrepreneurs.  And, what fascinating reading that makes.  I have about thirty books about small business and entrepreneurs and most of them are South African.

I find them inspiring and informative and I was sure that most small enterprise owners felt the way that I do, wanting to know more about our fellow business pioneers.  How many people do read these books, I wondered?

I asked authors and publishers of 25 local small business books about their sales.  The responses were very disturbing. 

Allow me to digress for a minute.  Both the Global Entrepreneurship and Development Institute (GEDI) and the Global Accelerator Learning Initiative (GALI) studies show that South Africans have low ‘entrepreneurship activity’, and worse, that it has been falling in recent years.  Confidence levels in the South African SME sector are among the lowest in the world with Botswana placed ahead of us on the GEDI Global Entrepreneurship Index.

The 2016/17 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) report confirms these findings, noting that South Africans don’t take to entrepreneurship to the extent that our brothers and sisters in other African counties do.  The GEM reports that Total Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA) “rates in the Africa region as a whole are 2.5 times higher than for South Africa.[i]

So, with all this bad news, I shouldn’t have been surprised by my local small business books data, but the extent of the lack of interest by South African entrepreneurs really bothered me.

If it is true that there are 3.9 million[ii] South Africans in early stage businesses, then why have so few taken enough interest to get a local book on entrepreneurship?  Why were less than 8000 books sold in the first 6 months after they were published?

If South African small enterprise owners are serious about entrepreneurship, why aren’t they reading books on that subject?  I don’t have the answers.  Do you?

Rick Ed
Mentor, advisor and trainer at DoBetter.Business


[i] GEM South Africa report 2016/17

[ii] 6.9% TEA of 55milion South African adults


Click here if you want to discuss entrepreneurs’ reading habits

You are welcome to leave a comment

Scroll to Top