Show Me the Money – Vusi Thembekwayo

Show Me the Money – Vusi Thembekwayo


Professional public and motivational speaker Vusi Thembekwayo has collected numerous accolades and awards as a business person and entrepreneur.

He owns his own consulting business, Motiv8, and he is also an independent non-executive director of property development group RBA Holdings.

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Watch your earnings

Ask him how he fast-tracks business growth and he’ll tell you that he measures success by constantly monitoring EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation).

That’s what he did when he started a new business division at Metcash, and turned that into a R461 million rand a year turnover business with the highest EBITDA within the Africa group.

“It’s the most critical measure of company performance and indicator of value, and I monitor that every week,” Thembekwayo says.

“In addition, we report on the daily cash balance, which helps to manage cash on a weekly basis. This is especially useful when active cash management is required for your daily cash flow.”

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Build a reputation

He says the biggest challenge of growing a business today is getting access to the market.

“In my experience, the only way to succeed is to invest time in your own development, and have skin in the game. Time enables you to build technical ability, and establishes your credibility in the market.

“When you have established a decent track record, no-one asks questions about how long you’re going to be around. That’s especially important when dealing with big organisations. You want them to trust you. They have a massive clientele, and they want to make sure that they can rely on every partner in their supply chain.”

The money is there — you just have to find it

When it comes to raising capital, he adds, you can always find ways. “It’s not easy, but it can be done. To launch Motiv8, we asked some of our clients to help finance the business and offered them a percentage of our profitability in return. Because we were essentially requesting a credit facility, they agreed to give us the cash provided that I could offer some sort of collateral. I had a stockbroking account worth around R600 000, so I promised to cede this to them if we defaulted.

“It was a great solution as the terms of the credit were far cleaner than they would have been if we had succeeded in getting money from the bank – and there was no interest to pay. It’s worth adding that these were clients for whom we were doing strategy consulting at the highest level, so it was a win-win situation for all involved.

“Again, building a solid reputation makes it possible to be more creative about finance when banks won’t give you any money. That kind of creativity is critical in a country without a robust venture capital culture.ˮ

Curb your expectations

The reality of growing a business can be quite different form your expectations, as he discovered.

“One of the things you learn to do quickly is to be more circumspect about your expectations. Many entrepreneurs want to emulate the big guys, like the Brian Joffes and Adrian Gores of this world, but that’s just ego talking.

Your business does not always require a massive infrastructure to grow quickly. If you want to be in the game for the long haul, you have to take a long-term view. Ask yourself what will work for the business, not what will merely boost your image. Understand that it’s all about delayed gratification.”

Key Lesson

Need growth funding? Vusi Thembekwayo approached his clients for the funding he needed.

 Vital Stats

  • Company: Motiv8
  • Player: Vusi Thembekwayo
  • Est: 2008
  • Visit: +27 (0)11 312 7551,


Monique Verduyn
Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.
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    “The reality of growing a business can be quite different form your expectations, as he discovered.”