Entrepreneurship isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s a journey filled with challenges, and if you are not cut out for it, you might quit. I have seen many people try and fail, even those with multiple degrees, including MBAs. I am sure you also know people who struggled to run their businesses. But don’t worry, some thrive in this field, persevering even when the going gets tough.

On June 20th, we hosted our third installment of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum, featuring a panel of resilient entrepreneurs:

Yondela Lesaoana 

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Founder and Director of Yolee Business Consulting. A law student with six years of experience, Yondela offers business advisory services, company registration, and funding applications.

Annelize Botha 

(Image: Supplied)

Founder of Locally Yours Shop and a part-time lecturer in insurance and finance. Locally Yours Shop features local handmade arts and crafts, along with a mix of imports and items from overtraded markets.

Nthabiseng Moshoeshoe 

Director of How to Properties at OLG Contractors, founded in 2006.

Boitumelo Monageng – Director of Swypa Delivery.

Imtiyaz Mohamed

He is a highly experienced professional with a diverse background in strategy, innovation, business development, marketing and education.

These entrepreneurs have stood the test of time and have valuable insights and journeys to share. 

Nthabiseng, could you please tell us a bit about yourself and why you decided to become an entrepreneur?

Nthabiseng: Absolutely! I used to work as a cashier before becoming an entrepreneur. I started my entrepreneurial journey at the age of 24 because I wanted to ensure a better future for my son. I knew I had to take action and do something impactful with my life.

One day, while at work, I came across a pamphlet from a company called Hold Real Estate that said, “Write your cheque.” Intrigued, I called the contact number and went for an interview. I explained that I was interested in the opportunity. Although the interviewer doubted I could handle the job at such a young age, she offered me a position as a receptionist. I accepted the role, confident that my quick learning skills would eventually earn me a chance to become a real estate agent. 

Annelize, I love your company name, Locally Yours. How did you start it?

Annelize: Thank you! In 2013, I was living in Gauteng when my husband had a stroke. We then relocated to Gqeberha, where I was born. I decided that if he had to start over, so could I. So, I walked away from a very good corporate career. My daughter even said, “Mommy, you’re going to miss your laptop terribly.”

Annelize: I started a market for only local products and called it Locally Yours. It really took off, although many people said it would never work because there weren’t enough handmade items. But it started a trend of buying locally.

When Covid hit, we couldn’t hold gatherings, and for 21 days, there was virtually no income. So, we turned the market into a shop. This December, we will be celebrating our third year!

And is your business where you want it to be at this point?

No, not quite. Our biggest focus this year is going to be online. Currently, we don’t have a lot of our products available online. Our philosophy is that when it’s handmade, each product is unique. So, when you put a product online, you need to ensure it is quickly removed from the website if it’s sold online.

Yondela, can you please tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

Yonela: Thank you for inviting me. My company primarily focuses on providing businesses with advisory services. We handle tasks such as company registration, filing applications, and business administration. We also assist startups that may not have the resources for graphic designers or other business-related needs. Our goal is to help these companies cut costs and navigate the complexities of starting and running a business.

Who is your target market?

Yondela: My target market is anybody who wants to start a company or has already started one but isn’t sure what to do next. While it’s easy to open a company through CIPC, many people are unsure of the steps that follow. We offer services like company maintenance, which involves handling returns through SARS. Many people neglect this, which can lead to their companies being deregistered over time.

Imtiyaz, can you please tell us a bit about yourself?

Imtiyaz: I work for a company called Realm Digital. We specialise in consulting in the digital tech space, and a big part of my job is helping businesses grow. Personally, I have close to two decades of experience in consulting,  innovation and strategy. I am also a part-time lecturer at two colleges.

How can you help entrepreneurs?

Imtiyaz: To assist businesses, I first consider the industry they are in. Entrepreneurship involves navigating various seasons, so understanding the changing environment is crucial. Adaptability is key. One lesson I’ve learned in helping businesses grow is the need to pivot directions as you progress.

Here are five prevalent challenges that small businesses often face, along with potential solutions:

  1. Limited Financial Resources
    • Challenge: Small businesses often struggle with limited funds for operations, marketing, and growth.
    • Solution: Seek alternative funding sources such as small business loans, crowdfunding, or investors. Additionally, focus on cost-cutting measures and efficient budget management.
  2. Limited Visibility and Marketing
    • Challenge: Many small businesses struggle to reach their target audience and compete with larger competitors in terms of marketing and visibility.
    • Solution: Utilize digital marketing strategies such as social media marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and email marketing. Collaborate with influencers or partner with other businesses for cross-promotion.
  3. Customer Acquisition and Retention
    • Challenge: Acquiring new customers and retaining existing ones can be challenging, especially with limited resources.
    • Solution: Focus on providing exceptional customer service and building relationships with customers. Offer loyalty programs, discounts, and promotions to incentivize repeat business.
  4. Managing Growth
    • Challenge: Managing rapid growth can be overwhelming and may lead to operational inefficiencies.
    • Solution: Implement scalable business practices and processes. Hire qualified staff and invest in training to ensure smooth operations during periods of growth.
  5. Adapting to Technological Changes
    • Challenge: Keeping up with rapidly evolving technology can be challenging for small businesses.
    • Solution: Stay informed about the latest technological trends and their potential impact on your industry. Invest in technology that can streamline your operations and improve customer experience.

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