1. Natural talent can become your success
Thabo Khumalo – ToVch
“I learnt to design and sew while assisting my mother who was a seamstress, and that is when I realised that I had a talent to create,” Thabo Khumalo explains. “But I never knew I was an entrepreneur.” Thabo Khumalo started his company ToVch in 2010 and has since appeared in South African Fashion Week, Soweto Fashion Week and Mpumalanga Fashion Week.
Khumalo has a small but engaged audience, who he communicates directly with. “The brand has a dedicated audience, and the social media presence also allows me to continuously scan the fashion environment to keep up with external forces.”
One of the most challenging aspects of launching his businesses was marketing the brand with limited funds. He used social media and word-of-mouth to market. “On social media, people share your brand with others simply because they want to,” says Khumalo. “It’s a powerful platform, and it does not cost anything.” Khumalo built up his company using support from a strong online network, which became his marketing strategy.
2. Pivoting your way to success
Luvuyo Rani – Silulo Ulutho Technologies
“We realised we had recognised a market but, that the market hadn’t recognised itself,” Rani explains. “People need technology, but we were pitching to a market that simply didn’t know how to use what we were offering.”
In finding a way to teach his market how to use computers he discovered a marketable business idea that was in high demand. Silulo Ulutho Technologies now has 40 branches and counting that teaches customers how to use computers as well as supporting 5000 students a year.
“You can’t be too precious about your business model,” Rani says. “Sometimes you need to adjust your offering to suit the market. You can’t expect the market to adjust to you, simply because you are offering something. Find what they want or need, and then give them a solution.” In creating a bridge between what Silulo Ulutho Technologies was offering and his market Rani managed to find his successful business idea.
3. “Work hard in silence, let your success be your noise.”
Alex Fourie – iFix
Alex Fourie explains: “Initially, it was when I was solving my own problem. Then it was when I posted my first CapeAds ad and my phone rang 15 times on the first day. I thought that there might be a business here.”
Fourie’s business, iFix, now has 11 branches across the country and sells its own in-house product lines and insurance for selected products.
“We average about 10 000 customers monthly, 75% of which is from word-of-mouth.”
“Excellence isn’t a result of one or two good decisions. “It’s a result of thousands of small, good decisions. A bunch of above average-decisions will culminate over time. Everything you do, do it well and the rest will sort itself out.”
Fourie reveals that compared to 2010 when repairs could take up to 72 hours, 95% of iFix’s repairs are now done the same day. iFix also provides spin-off offerings linked to our core ethos, like out-of-warranty insurance because there are gaps that no other industry is targeting.
4. Your instincts will guide your way
Rapelang Rabana – Rekindle Learning
“All I knew was that I needed to find a way out of what I perceived to be a life system that imposed rules and obligations I didn’t understand the purpose of,” Rabana explains.
“The idea of working my way through more and more systems, from high school to university to the corporate world, weighed on me. But I had no idea this would mean that I would want to be an entrepreneur.”
Rapelang Rabana founded Rekindle Learning, which offers learning and development through mobile and computer learning solutions. This offering assists individual’s master knowledge in corporate and schooling environments.
“Almost 10 years back I had made the decision to start my business despite the confusion, turbulent thoughts and emotions, not knowing what life would hold,” she said. “Now the trust I had placed in myself to chart my own path was reaping rewards I never could have conceived, all because I dared to listen to myself. Knowing the value of that choice 10 years on gave me great peace.” After achieving Entrepreneur for the World, she felt a deep sense of serenity about her choices and the path she was now forging.
5. Doing good, is good business
Sizwe Nzima – Iyeza Express
“Iyeza Express is a community development project,” Nzima believes, “the purpose is also to employ members of the community to be runners, to deliver and to be management, making it not just about health care access but about job creation too.”
Raymond Ackerman inspired Sizwe Nzima and made him realise that he needed to act and make his community a better place. His company Iyeza Express, a bicycle courier service that collects chronic medication from public health facilities and delivers it directly to patient’s homes.
“The aim of Iyeza Express is to give everyone health access,” explains Nzima. “People need good health access despite their income, despite where they live – it’s a basic human right.”
Richard Ackerman inspired Nzima to do good and in return Nzima grew a good business. He continues to build businesses to help the community and is working to create a solid business model to enable his delivery service to expand across the country for those who need it, by those that need jobs.
6. Every voice can make a difference
Neftaly Malatjie – Southern Africa Youth Project
“I wanted to change the way young people think about themselves,” says Neftaly Malatjie, Founder of Southern African Youth Project. “The training takes place in communities in Gauteng and provides young people with enough skills to help them to get jobs.”
The projects aim is to bring hope to young people in the community through entrepreneurship training, sewing and interior design workshops, workplace skills development, career counselling, and computer training.
“Early on, I secured funding from a large corporate, and without thinking I spent the entire annual budget in a week,” Malatjie recalls. “I had signed a contract and eventually got into personal debt to cover the expenses for the rest of that year. This happens when your enthusiasm for your project overrides logic.”
“There were so many problems that need rectifying; that I wanted to fix them all at once, a lack of focus almost destroyed my dream. Whatever you set out to do, first allocate your budget and resources, especially with donor funds,” advises Malatjie.
7. Let your passion power you
Ezlyn Barends – The DreamGirls International Outreach and Mentoring Programme
Ezlyn Barends has shown the world how powerful her passion for helping others is and how it can change the world. Dreamgirls launched with no budget, but instead with her aspiration to do good and her pledge to cause. Now her concept is becoming franchises around the world.
“We have developed our own culture, which we call the DreamGirls way of doing things,” Barends says. “Because the organisation was built on a specific set of values, it is about so much more than merely helping girls to get a tertiary qualification. The essence is about being helpful and supportive of everyone involved.”
“One of most important things I have learnt is to let other people in your organisation take the lead,” explains Barends. “That has been an important realisation for me as I am involved in many initiatives, which makes time a very precious resource.”
Barends advises: “Teaming up with people who have the same values and vision as you do, letting go of the need to control, which is common among entrepreneurs, and empowering others in your organisation is key to success. That is how DreamGirls has grown and developed into a successful social business.”
8. Fill a need and it will help you succeed
Ludwick Marishane – Headboy Industries Inc.
At 17, Ludwick Marishane invented DryBath, which is a product that provides a waterless way to stay hygienic. He released his invention through his company Headboy Industries Inc. “I intend for DryBath to benefit poor, water scarce communities all around the world,” explains Marishane.
“More affluent societies will find that DryBath offers useful time savings, and a way to cut back on water usage through daily bathing. DryBath saves water and is, I believe, an important weapon in the fight against the worsening water crisis.”
Marishane had no funding of any kind and no access to a computer. “I did, however, own a basic cell phone that was web enabled so I could do research. You’ve got to work with what you have and do your very best within those limitations,” explains Marishane. He went on to write a 40 page business plan on a basic Nokia cell phone.
9. Think like your target market
Douglas Hoernle – Rethink Education
Rethink Education founded by Douglas Hoernle created an innovative digital education platform that helps high schoolers learn maths and science through their cell phones.
“The average high school student uses technology to interact. They use chat-styled community platforms such as WhatsApp, Mxit, BBM, Facebook and Twitter. Our platform feeds into that by delivering educational content through a chat interface. Think of it as an interactive textbook,” explains Hoernle.
Hoernle discloses that the entrepreneurial road is one filled with hurdles and not for the faint of heart. “There have been many challenges that we have had to overcome building an innovative education product in South Africa. Finding innovative, clever and lateral solutions to all the problems we have encountered has helped us get through most hurdles.”
10. Determination will lead to your success
Thato Kgatlhanye and Rea Ngwane – Repurpose Schoolbags
Thato Kgatlhanye and Rea Ngwane started Repurpose Schoolbags by recycling plastic and creating schoolbags for underprivileged children. The bag also contains a solar panel and LED light attached, which allows the children to finish their homework at night when they don’t have power.
“Finding corporates and individuals who want to contribute to a cause focused on education and children is what has enabled us to turn our original idea into a sustainable social enterprise that benefits kids, employs people from the community and also turns a profit,” explains Kgatlhanye.
These entrepreneurs used start-up business competitions in order to accumulate some funding to help them get their concept of the ground. Once they were in production the investors came knocking.
“Everyone thinks you need money to start a business, which is true, but we proved that you can do things differently provided you have enough drive and you’re prepared to work harder than you would ever have thought possible,” reveals Ngwane.
AUTHOR: Nicole Crampton
IMAGE CREDITS: http://jtbconsulting.co.za/