Amy Kleinhans-Curd on Lifelong Entrepreneurship

Amy Kleinhans-Curd on Lifelong Entrepreneurship


From the age of 11, I got my first job delivering the Argus on my skateboard. I used the money to save up and eventually buy myself a bicycle. My dad was the headmaster of a school and my mom was a teacher.

We were four girls in the family, and so they couldn’t buy us four of everything. My mother was also very entrepreneurial. She used to sell crafts at markets on the weekends. I learnt at an early age to work for what I wanted, and to create my own destiny.

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Selling Yourself

The job that taught me the most about life skills was waitressing. When you rely on tips, you need to really sell yourself, understand customer service, and know how to read situations.

These are all skills that still help me today, more than 20 years later. Never, ever look down on a job, and never discount what you can learn from each and every experience.

Entrepreneurship to me means that I’m on my own trip to make myself happy and create the level of wealth that I’m aiming for. The path I’ve taken to achieve this has been rich and varied, from odd jobs, to modelling, and entering Miss South Africa.

All of these things added to my experiences. What’s important is what you make of them. Miss South Africa for example was an amazing year to create lasting relationships and network with incredible business people. I not only learnt a lot, but I made connections that are still important to me today.

Open to Opportunity

Always look for the opportunity. When my husband, Leighton launched his call centre, which would eventually grow into the PLP Group, I noticed that there was only a skeleton staff at night. Here was this incredible resource that wasn’t being used to its full capacity.

It was this that led to the creation of Dial a Teacher. I have a passion for education and helping others, but I also look for the business opportunities – are we making the most of what we have available?

This same thinking led to LEAP, the enterprise development and incubator arm of PLP. As PLP, we have connections, preferential supplier agreements and relationships with corporate clients that individuals and SMEs don’t have. We wanted to see how we could offer ‘fleet’ services and rates to individuals, so that we could help them grow sustainable businesses.

If you open yourself to being a change agent, you actually drive the change. Again, this is something that led directly to the creation of LEAP.

I’m passionate about education and helping others – it really drives me, and we found that many of our corporate clients were struggling to find ways to meaningfully implement proper enterprise development programmes.

As they spoke to us about these problems, our own passion came to the fore – this might not have been something we were involved in yet, but it aligned with the way we wanted to change the business landscape in South Africa. From those seeds, LEAP grew.

Challenges are Crucial

If you don’t have any challenges, you’re going backwards. Sometimes I hunger for our start-up days. We were so stressed, but they were also such exciting times. The challenge is what drives me.

I love getting my teeth into something new and solid and running with it. It’s a reminder that if you’re not growing, you’re stagnant, and with growth there are challenges. Don’t be afraid of them. Always remember that you don’t want to be sitting still if you’re striving for success.

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The Compound Effect

I’m most proud of the fact that today I’m enjoying the fruits of the ‘compound effect.’ I’m a very goal-orientated person, and I realised a long time ago that the things in life that really matter are worth waiting and working for. There’s no such thing as instant gratification, not if you want to build something sustainable.

I believe you can’t hit a target you can’t see, and so I create goals and then work backwards, planning how I will achieve them. It’s a slow build up, but the compound effect is incredible. The energy, focus and rewards are long-lasting, and well worth the wait.

Nadine Todd
Nadine Todd is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Magazine, the How-To guide for growing businesses. Find her on Google+.