Johannesburg - Technology is fast making international markets accessible to South African entrepreneurs, but they must be sure to get their act together before venturing off into the unknown.
Technology entrepreneur Sean Riley, who operates online advertising firm Ad Dynamo, told Fin24.com: "South Africa is an invaluable market to make sure you get it right: though the market is small compared to international markets, South Africans tend to accept new things and we're a nation of risk takers."
Ad Dynamo is expanding its operations in Europe and the US.
Riley said: "We have great people and we are placed in a convenient time zone for international trading. Ad Dynamo is setting up it's London headquarters to address perceptions in the international arena, but Cape Town will be our core hub of operational activity, supporting all global markets."
He did, however, say he had some concerns about the the regulatory environment and the apparent lack of separation between SA courts and the government, which he described as "disturbing".
"I imagine most business leaders in South Africa are hoping that this remains a country well suited to entrepreneurs, but have possibly begun to toy with the idea of leaving if movements like controlling our media take hold."
Tyler Reed from tech firm Aduity was also upbeat.
"I think we are going through a lot of positive growth as a society. Issues of the past are becoming less relevant, and we are starting to focus on the challenges we currently face and those ahead.
"I also think government is getting its act together, albeit slower than most would like, but it's a very large mountain to move in a day," he said.First be a big fish in the SA pond
Speaking at the Wits Business School recently, leading SA entrepreneur David Letschert, the chief operating officer of skincare manufacturing firm Union-Swiss, was also wary of launching a new venture from South Africa but would be happy to "tweak" an existing one.
This approach was backed up by tech entrepreneur Eran Eyal, who has launched online platform Springleap.com and is now raising $5m for a new venture Evly.com.
He told Fin24.com: "SA is a small pond. Rather be a big fish here before you go to somewhere like the valley where you have mostly no one you know, and are just another guppie swimming among the sharks."
In terms of Evly, the business will retain its development team and infrastructure in South Africa while its business development team and founders will be moving overseas.
Engineering entrepreneur Jan Mostert from MyCee Technologies said: "For some people - depending on the industry - it's easier to spot opportunities in your home country, especially if you know the industry well, while for others it's easier to spot opportunities in a new environment which forces them to look at everything with new eyes."
A concern for Mostert would be regulation levels in countries outsiders were trying to get into. "Like William G Hill wrote in his book Think Like A Tycoon, if the government starts regulating an industry, it's probably the start of the end of that industry.
"If it's money you're looking for, consider pulling your investments and moving on; this is a very broad generalisation, but still wise words to keep in the back of your head," he said.
So with South Africans looking to take their businesses into international markets, how does one decide where the best opportunities lie?
According to research from the World Bank, South Africa is the 34th easiest country to do business in, and the 64th easiest to start a business in globally.
The five easiest to do business in are:
- New Zealand
- Hong Kong
- United States
- United Kingdom.