Nic Haralambous shares his lessons and secret toolkit to building successful businesses


Nic Haralambous is a South African-born entrepreneur, author, and keynote speaker. He started his journey at 12 when he built his first website and started coding.  Nic has started 13x businesses over his life, of which 10 failed and he successfully exited three. 

What made you decide to start your learning, business journey at the age of 12?

“I think not enough people will acknowledge that circumstance and privilege helped me significantly. So when I was 11, it was 1995. South Africa had just gotten the internet and for whatever insane reason my parents could afford and had the insights to buy a computer and be connected to the internet. But they were working full-time jobs and you know, when you leave kids who are 11 and 12 with a computer, they’re set to get their hands on it. I found what was basically was the first version of  WhatsApp a platform called MRC merch. It’s a chat platform, very rudimentary, and I started to connect with people like myself, who were early adopters on the internet, and we’re trying to do stuff. Through that portal, the world opened up to me, I found people who taught me how to write HTML tags and stock websites because that’s how you built websites back then. I believe a key thing is you have to be curious and act, even when you may be nervous or frustrated.  Having agency is also a very key trait to possess.”


How do you build a sense of curiosity?

“I think that people believe they just genuinely aren’t curious about things when actually they just haven’t found what they’re most curious and passionate about yet. I have yet to meet a person who’s not curious about something. What most people struggle with is to embrace their curiosity. The example, I use all the time is if you like pink fluffy slippers, often you’ll be embarrassed and you won’t talk about it, and you won’t engage with that more because your friends might mock you or whatever. The days of that are gone. Today, you’ve got a 16-year-old who won a fortnight and made a million dollars.

If you’re a nerd, follow that. If you’re a cosplayer, follow that, if you like Lord of the Rings follow that. The curiosity is about following the things you’re obsessed with shamelessly. So I think that everybody has a curiosity, then tied to that as this concept of failure. Most of the time, we don’t follow our curiosities because we are fearful of failure. And I’m very critical of the school system because generally, it teaches you how to avoid failure. And that’s, that’s a massive mistake and disadvantage. Fundamentally, life is filled with failures. If you fail your grade 10 exams, then you are held back a year or if you fail your matric exams, then you can’t get into university so you don’t learn. You learn how to pass exams. And that is fundamentally flawed.”


What do you believe is one of the biggest reasons businesses fail?

How is your new book “Business Builders Toolkit” different from other business books?

“Over the last 20 years, I’ve spent a lot of time learning the hard lessons, bumping my head against walls, and failing so that other people don’t have to. So alongside the Daily Maverick, I started writing a newsletter to help small businesses cope a little bit better with what was going on during lockdown. So every week for the last 77 weeks, I’ve written a newsletter to that audience. The Daily Maverick and I took those newsletters and thread them into a handbook for people who aren’t subscribed to the newsletter to go out and buy this mentor in your pocket. That’s why the book is a little bit different because I’m not preaching to you, if you are struggling with marketing, HR, or mental health, you can just open the book at the relevant chapter and gain some insights to help you move in your own journey.”

Nic Haralambous new book “Business Builders Toolkit” is a practical handbook for business leaders and entrepreneurs designed to give you the business fundamentals and lessons you need to succeed. Make sure to follow Nic’s incredible content on Linkedin and check out his website.

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