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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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.
11 Things Very Successful People Do That 99% Of People Don’t
Consistency is a big part of succeeding. The top 1% of performers in the world know this is the secret to their success.
Becoming wealthy and leaving an impact on the world is not an easy feat. If it were, everyone would go around doing it. At that point, it would not be much of an accomplishment at all.
Rather, being extremely successful requires an extreme amount of work. Especially when there is nobody looking. The best people have developed habits that help them reach their goals. These routines are not necessarily challenging to form, but they take consistent effort over extended periods of time. Creating these tendencies in your own life will propel your success.
Here are 11 things, that 99% of people (myself included) do not do, but really should.
Brian Tan Of FutureLab.my – Bridging The Knowledge Gap Through Social Learning
Brian Tan a young Malaysian Entrepreneur whom has built the largest social learning platform in South-East Asia.
“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away” – Pablo Picasso
As a keen observer of the behaviour of successful entrepreneurs I have learnt that:
“You do not attract what you want but you attract what you are”
Brian Tan truly believes in what FutureLab stands for and therefore has attracted the belief of key partners such as Cradle whom has invested in his ground-breaking project.
Brians’ gift is to solve big problems. In unison with his two other co-founders he is giving this gift away in the Form of FutureLab, a company obsessed with learning and more specifically bridging the gap between education and careers.
Brian wants to play a role in making humanity better by applying his knack for solving unique problems and firmly believes that quality and ongoing education is a powerful catalyst for positive change. FutureLab is a social learning platform featuring diverse applications that not only connects mentees to mentors but also empowers several companies to track their employees utilising Futurelabs’ technology as they navigate through development and talent development programs.
Slowly but surely FutureLab is becoming much needed feedback loop between university and industry and brings exposure to people who have not had it before. Brian believes that a lot of people have not fullfiled their potential due to low standards of education in general.
I fully realised that I was engaging a modern entrepreneur as he described his company culture as:
‘Geeky, awesome & badass.’
He elaborated on that by explaining that his team do not follow trends, that they authentically like what they like, and do what they love in their unique way. When you act according to the Leadership principle of Authenticity you avoid having regrets as you did not apply unnecessary energy to attempt to become someone that you are simply not.
This unique company is founded upon three core values which flows through all the activities that they engage in:
- Giving back to society
- Continuous Learning
- Creating your own reality.
The FutureLab team does not only pay lip service to these values but instead actualise them as a matter of regular practice. Brian gives his team ‘homework’ in terms of things that they need to learn and the CEO of FutureLab himself is engaged in a lifetime commitment to learning. Regular ‘Stand up meetings’ are held were team members give feedback and hold each other accountable.
Brian is a Biochemist by trade whom constantly seeks opportunity to learn more about business and has completed several business programs to learn how to build a company which included spending 3 weeks at Stanford University studying entrepreneurship and meeting teams from Google, Apple, Facebook and Pinterest as part of a government initiative for the top 25 Malaysian start-ups. This young entrepreneur believes that his passion for teamwork has helped him a great deal to transform from being a biochemist to being an entrepreneur. He finds joy in ‘pushing a team forward’, as he puts it and loves seeing his team members grow in self-confidence and belief in the vision of the company that he co-founded. He has a keen knack for finding potential and then helping his team members to unleash their inherent talents.
What follows is Brians’ clear description of how Futerelab obtained cradle funding and how they managed to secure the top universities in Malaysia as clients, in his own words:
“We wanted to prove that FutureLab was solving an actual problem before applying for Cradle funding so what we did was to invite mentors from specific industries (at this early ideation stage of FutureLab it was our own personal networks).
“We started with mentors from Management consulting and posted a google form up on Low Yat and Facebook to see whether anyone wanted to speak to them. Within a couple of days, we had 20 people signup to meet our mentors. At this point, we decided to close the google form since we didnt know what kind of people would show up. We set the meet up at a local coffee shop and only spent RM 50 on buying coffee for the 5 mentors from Accenture, BCG, PWC, Ethos Consulting and Deliotte. We split the mentees into mini groups and they cycled from one mentor to the next, the last stop for each mentee group was with me telling them what we are trying to build, how much we are thinking of charging and how would the system work. We got really good feedback from the participants and the mentors.
Me being a scientist by training, I like to see whether results are repeatable so we organised 6 of these meet-ups over the whole year inviting mentors from different industries, lawyers, accountants, entrepreneurs, doctors and we even tested on online mentoring session using google hangouts. At this point, we were convinced that FutureLab should exist. This is when we applied to Cradle for Funding along with all the evidence we collected on why FutureLab should exist.
When FutureLab was first launched, we already had 40 mentors and 60 mentees that were waiting to use the platform that we were building. Mentees really enjoyed speaking to our mentors and vice versa for mentors, our growth has been mostly from word of mouth from mentors and mentees eventually universities started being aware of our mentoring community and started asking us to get more involved with their students. Our mentors are big advocates for our platform and they are based in large companies around the world. So they play a big role in opening doors for us.
Yet another key business learning he has acquired is to always guard against complacency and this knowledge is encapsulated by the following quote that he shared:
“What got you here cannot get you there”
Meaning that the same behaviours and habits that got you to this point will not be enough to move you forward, you have to keep on evolving to remain relevant and successful.
Brian is passionate about FutureLab and business in general and reminds us that:“When you are passionate work is the fun part of the day”. His advice to other entrepreneurs is to truly find a project that you are passionate about and truly believe in. He is most certainly passionate about the future of his projects and wants to build an eco-system that generates high volumes of cash that will empower his company to invest in start-up projects.
In general he wants to invest in entrepreneurs that are solving ‘big problems’ and wants FutureLab to become an innovation company. He poses this challenging question to those thinking on starting their entrepreneurial journey:
‘Are you merely attempting to do what others are already doing or are you really solving a problem?”
He finds that many entrepreneurs overthink and then do little. The more you do and if done at a rapid pace the more you learn to become adaptable and will find that there are many ways to solve a problem.
6 Of The Most Profitable Small Businesses In South Africa
Zero to 100 million in only a few years, we take a look at South Africa’s start-ups that have grown from fledglings to million rand businesses.
The Business of Iced Tea
- Player: Grant Rushmere
- Brand: Bos Brands
- Established: 2009
- Visit: www.bosicetea.com
When Grant Rushmere first envisioned Bos Ice Tea, he did it through the lens of creating a global brand. This wasn’t going to be a small local brand that would grow organically, and maybe enter international markets in the distant future. No. This was a brand engineered for stratospheric growth, which required a ballsy optimism and willingness to go big or go home.
“From the beginning we jumped in with both feet. We approached retailers and secured contracts that we knew we wouldn’t be able to sustain down the line if we didn’t get funders on board, but it was a calculated risk that we were willing to take.”
“I had developed the idea, brand and product, but I didn’t want to be a lone ranger,” says Rushmere. “I was looking for a partner who would co-invest in the business and bring skills to the company. Richard was ideal. He loved rooibos and actually produced it, and he is excellent with contracts and HR matters. Where I think a handshake will suffice, he puts a contract in place that protects everyone’s interests. Together we had the skills this business needed.”
The Top Lesson
Gutsy moves and calculated risks aside, the success of Bos Brands is a lesson in the power of marketing. In their first year, Rushmere and Bowsher spent as much on marketing as their turnover. As their revenue has increased, they haven’t pulled back on marketing spend — they’ve grown it. Rushmere is a firm believer that you get what you pay for, and what he’s been aiming for since the inception of the brand is no-holds-barred growth.
Today Iced Tea has grown from zero to R100 million in under ten years
To read the full Bos Tea story click here.
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