Entrepreneur, marketing and communication expert Gavin Moffat draws parallels between scuba diving and business in his book Swimming With Sharks. Duncan Guy
DURBAN - While South Africa needs the growth rate of India and China if entrepreneurship is to take it out of its economic mess, people in poor countries closer to home than the Asian giants are good examples of how to go forward.

This is according to entrepreneur, marketing and communication expert Gavin Moffat.

Many African countries where Moffat has worked might be poorer than South Africa but have many entrepreneurs with success stories.

“It has a lot to do with the culture and the attitude of the people and a bit to do with how the government supports those kind of entrepreneurs,” said Moffat.

“Maybe it’s to do with people feeling that people have to do things for themselves because if they don’t, no one will do it for them.”

Moffat, who is based in Johannesburg, is a frequent visitor to KwaZulu-Natal, particularly Sodwana Bay, where he can indulge in his passion for scuba diving.

He recently launched his book Swimming With Sharks, which offers simple business guidelines for the complex world, highlighting analogies with scuba diving.

“One of the core aspects of diving is to plan the dive and then dive the plan,” he said. “In business terms that translates to: find the strategy and follow through on it.”

Moffat said he also liked to highlight the importance of debriefing.

“At the end of a dive you go back and revisit what you did right, what you did wrong, what you saw. You ask, what will it be like the next time?”

The same applies in business, said Moffat.

“At the end of every business project we should do the same thing.”

Not doing so is like ending up in an echo chamber.

“You only hear your own good stories. You need to get constructive, useful feedback all the time in order to be able to inform the next thing that you are able to do, the changes you are going to make and the next product you are going to put on the market,” he said.

Another tip he offered was, don’t fall too much in love with your business.

“Understand that there have to be reality checks. Remember that you need a variety of clients.”