It was after reading Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad that Leigh-Ann O’Hagan decided she too wanted to be financially free and in control of her own destiny. When she was retrenched at 24 in 2001, she took it as a sign that it was time to start her own business.
“Back then, website hosting and design were hugely over-priced and there were no offerings available for small businesses,” she says. “I saw an opening and came in with a good product at a very good price. Since the company’s launch more than ten years ago, our basic hosting fee of R800 per year has not changed. A four-page website with animation and access to Google Analytics starts at R2 100, making it possible for small businesses and start-ups to have their own custom-designed site.”
She ran the business solo for the first four years from a space in Lonehill that people nicknamed the ‘Harry Potter office’, because it was as tiny as the young wizard’s bedroom – a cupboard under the stairs.
“It’s important not to overcapitalise in the initial stage. The rent I paid covered the monthly cost of milk for the four tenants in the building. I really appreciate just how far the business has come. I have always believed that the company should fund itself, so only money generated by the business is used for business expenditure.”
One of the early challenges she faced was the myth that IT-related queries were best handled by men. She put a stop to that by getting her clients to understand that she was ‘the technical support guy’. Also, Google wasn’t half the search engine it is now.
Today, if you have any technology queries you can easily find help; back then, there was no-one to bounce ideas off. However, she says, it’s overcoming these challenges that has given her an enormous sense of achievement.
She stresses that advertising is important. “If Coca-Cola still advertises, it’s a sign that all business should. I started by handing out printed flyers at traffic intersections until I made enough money to hire students. Now we advertise in magazines and on radio, which has generated a lot of business for us.”
LIT Creations now has 11 employees and more than 2 700 hosted clients. Getting business is one thing, but keeping it is another. “We need to ensure our clients are happy with us and that they recommend LIT Creations to their friends and family. We do that by providing the best possible service in addition to a great product. When we promise to call back, resolve a problem or send a quote, we do it.”
Company: LIT Creations
Player: Leigh-Ann O’Hagan
Contact: + 27 (0)11 361 6060,