Isla Sibanda is a B2B copywriter from Cape Town, South Africa with a background in computer science and ethical hacking and she is also an entrepreneur. Since 2012, She has worked with local and international companies completing hundreds of bug bounty programs and pen tests.
She believes that privacy is a fleeting privilege in today’s age and it is getting so prolific that most people don’t seem to care about what is being done with their data as much as they used to. This allows large companies to extract personal information for their means but she strives towards stopping this from happening with one of the most secure VPNs that they have carefully created.
She highly believes in prioritizing privacy and She’s working towards making a more private and secure world every day.
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Table of Contents
Thank you for joining us today. Please introduce yourself to our readers. They want to know you, some of the background story to bring some context to your interview.
Isla Sibanda: I guide individuals and organizations about the best data privacy methods and the best VPNs to use. Before starting PrivacyAustralia, I studied Cyber Security at the University of Pretoria and became a Cyber Security expert and an ethical hacker, something I have been infatuated with for most of my life.
I also knew of the growing privacy concerns when it came to large companies gathering data for advertising as well as governments that reportedly spied on people for “their good”. My partners and I always thought of this as highly unethical and started working towards giving people the ability to remain anonymous and protect their data while on the internet. It’s why we started PrivacyAustralia, to protect people from large organizations and governments that want to extract private information.
You are a successful entrepreneur, so we’d like your viewpoint, do you believe entrepreneurs are born or made? Explain.
Isla Sibanda: I believe it takes a combination of both traits and skills that you acquire over time to be a successful entrepreneur.
I started as a passionate leader during my early school days and felt like I was destined to be an entrepreneur. However, over time I realized that just a few innate traits were not enough. I got into various problems as a business owner because I lacked some of the skills needed to be an effective leader, such as being a good follower first.
I also wasn’t a great communicator and expected workers to do exactly whatever was expected of them which led to a few poor executions of projects. I learned how to communicate effectively over time and consider myself a much more effective leader ever since. Even though I felt like I was a born entrepreneur, I believe that there are a few skills that are necessary to have as well.
If you were asked to describe yourself as an entrepreneur in a few words, what would you say?
Isla Sibanda: I would preferably take more than a few words but if I had to, I would say that I’m an entrepreneur driven by a passion for technology and the desire to provide a service to society by helping them be more secure online.
Tell us about what your company does and how did it change over the years?
Isla Sibanda: My company makes independent and unbiased reviews of VPNs to help users make the best decision when subscribing to a service. In 2021 where most of the world has gone remote or hybrid, VPNs are more important than ever. Previously, VPNs were mostly used to access blocked websites are the world or to access a certain regional version, but with a significant increase in hacking after the Pandemic, concerns have shifted, and for good reason.
We shifted from providing advice on what the best VPNs are for unblocking websites to advising individuals as well as large organizations on the best data security practices and how to protect themselves from hackers online.
Thank you for all that. Now for the main focus of this interview. With close to 11.000 new businesses registered daily in the US, what must an entrepreneur assume when starting a business?
Isla Sibanda: There is so much to consider before starting a business that it is challenging to know where to start. I suppose the first thing you must consider is the basics. What market are you entering? Who are your competitors? Who would you be selling to?
Apart from those few considerations, an entrepreneur must also think about their mission or main purpose. Standing out is the most important part to assume before starting a business and an entrepreneur must know how to distinguish themselves before starting. To do so, I believe an entrepreneur must clearly define their mission statement with an ultimate goal in place so that they work hard every day to try and achieve it. Constantly having your eye on the ball helps with being focused and driven.
Did you make any wrong assumptions before starting a business that you ended up paying dearly for?
Isla Sibanda: I thought I could wing it and ended up making a few very expensive mistakes.
The key step towards making a business is choosing a legal structure to have in place and follow. This legal structure dictates the taxes, liabilities of the owners, and other legal documents that need to be made such as the Articles of incorporations and relevant licenses to do business. I was unaware of a few legal processes and ended up making some very time-consuming and expensive mistakes. For all the new entrepreneurs out there, I highly recommend seeking professional guidance.
If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what advice would you give yourself and why? Explain.
Isla Sibanda: If I could go back in time, I would only tell myself to take it easy and continue to work hard and all the pieces will fall right into place.
Passionate entrepreneurs that are on the brink of achieving their dreams often forget above their well-being and strive solely to achieve entrepreneurial success.
I would tell myself not to stress so much and to value my health just as much as I value the success of my business. Valuing health goes beyond just exercising and eating healthy, it also means helping your mental health and taking breaks, going out, socializing, and doing all that you can to remain happy and the best version of yourself. By being in a good mental and physical state, you’re more likely to succeed with whatever you do anyway.
What is the worst advice you received regarding running a business and what lesson would you like others to learn from your experience?
Isla Sibanda: Doing it alone is probably the worst advice that I have ever received. When you’re establishing a business, you’ll need a support system. It’s essential to have a family member or friend with whom you can bounce ideas off and who can listen compassionately to your current company start-up problems. When it comes to initiating a business, the finest support system is family and friends along with perhaps a mentor. New entrepreneurs should try to have a support system or a mentor to help them out whenever they feel like they’re at a dead end.
In your opinion, how has COVID-19 changed what entrepreneurs should assume before starting a business? What hasn’t changed?
Isla Sibanda: I think COVID-19 has shown entrepreneurs that being adaptive and flexible is one of the most essential parts of being an entrepreneur. Businesses that pivoted and changed mostly survived and in some cases, even thrived. On the other hand, Businesses that refused to change died out with a whimper. I think because of what happened in 2020, entrepreneurs are prioritizing flexibility and trying to learn a plethora of new skills to achieve it.
To be honest, I believe the importance of flexibility hasn’t changed, it was always there. Just the realization of its importance has changed. Some industries operate in fast-changing markets and if they were not flexible, they were never going to survive.
What is a common myth about entrepreneurship that aspiring entrepreneurs and would-be business owners believe in? What advice would you give them?
Isla Sibanda: The most common myth would probably be that entrepreneurship leads to freedom and more time. Many people are drawn to the notion of establishing their own business because it allows them to break free from the typical 40-hour workweek. Many people discover that, despite leaving behind their former schedules and creative constraints, they are replaced with new demands. Sure, there will be more freedom in some ways, but entrepreneurship sometimes necessitates significant sacrifices. It has the potential to devour every waking moment of your life; the job doesn’t stop when the clock hits 5 p.m.
What traits, qualities, and assumptions do you believe are most important to have before starting a business?
Isla Sibanda: Being a risk-taker is probably the most important trait for me as with great risks come great rewards. Not much can be achieved if you’re not taking risks.
Being benevolent is an extremely important quality to have as it is one of the distinguishing features of a boss from a leader. leaders are adored as they inspire and motivate and benevolence is the key to becoming an effective leader.
The most important assumption for me is to never expect that things will come easily. You’ll need to work hard for every objective that you need to accomplish while staying prepared for any potential problems.
How can aspiring leaders prepare themselves for the future challenges of entrepreneurship? Are there any books, websites, or even movies to learn from?
Isla Sibanda: Identifying weaknesses is extremely important. Examine your business for weaknesses regularly and honestly. Examine how each department functions, noting any flaws in personnel, procedures, performance, budgets, services, emotions, and culture. Look for common trends in these flaws. Do difficulties with processes and culture arise as a result of a leadership problem, for example?
Consider possible remedies and seek solutions that solve the most problems with the fewest modifications. If the overriding issue is leadership, a change in staff might fix a slew of other problems. Identifying issues and implementing any required changes can benefit your business and position it for maximum success while preparing it for any future challenges.
Awaken The Giant Within by Tony Robbins is possibly my favorite book regarding entrepreneurship and is a classic in the personal development field. I highly recommend it to all entrepreneurs.
You have shared quite a bit of your wisdom and our readers thank you for your generosity but would also love to know: If you could choose any job other than being an entrepreneur, what would it be?
Isla Sibanda: I have a background in ethical hacking and I would enjoy practicing it yet again for organizations around the world. I would look for vulnerabilities within the security systems of companies which may seem dull, but it’s kind of like a puzzle and I enjoy it thoroughly.
Thank you so much for your time, I believe I speak for all of our readers when I say that this has been incredibly insightful. We do have one more question: If you could add anyone to Mount Rushmore, but not a politician, who would it be; why?
Isla Sibanda: Michael Jordan: I believe he’s the greatest athlete of all time. Michael Jackson: He has been my favorite music artist ever since I was a child.
Elon Musk: He’s one of those people that will probably change the world for the better forever and set in a new age.
Edward Norton: Showed the world that their privacy was under threat and that everyone needs to be mindful of protecting it.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Isla Sibanda for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Isla Sibanda or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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