Connect with us

Lessons Learnt

Don’t Give Up on Your Dream – Just Change How You’re Getting There

Thabang Molefi, author of Dollars to Soweto and local girl made good, has made many mistakes. But the lessons she’s learnt have made for a stronger, more sustainable business.

Juliet Pitman

Published

on

Thabang-Molefi_Lessons-Learnt_Success-Stories

Thabang Molefi’s introduction to the world of entrepreneurship wasn’t easy. Sinking her R700 000 savings into a business that didn’t make money for two years left her despondent and desperate – but not demotivated.

When Soweto-based Roots Healthcare Centre wasn’t able to attract enough clientele to turn a profit, Molefi started giving away free consultations to Soweto businesswomen in the hope that they would spread the word.

The plan worked when a neighbouring entrepreneur told Lesedi FM’s Chomane Chomane, who invited Molefi on-air for an interview.

“We went from having no clients and no money to having over 30 clients the next day,” says Molefi, an iridologist who studied at the Indigenous Medicinal Plants Training College in Khayelitsha.

Driving word-of-mouth referrals is just one of many strategies she’s come up with over the years to secure Roots’ growth and profitability.

She entered the SAB Kickstart competition in the hope that she’d win enough money to purchase an iridology scanner – and promptly won R40 000 in the regional leg of the competition.

She followed this up by winning the R150 000 first prize in the national competition, allowing her to open a second brand.

But as money started rolling in Molefi made a classic entrepreneurial blunder – opening more branches than she could manage. “I was working full-time in the Soweto centre and didn’t have the capacity to manage the other branches.

“I was working too much in the business instead of on the business.

“I hired an area manager but the business started losing money to stock loss and theft,” she says.

Recognising that the business couldn’t be sustained, she acted fast and scaled back, closing six of the nine branches and focusing on those outlets that were working well.

“I’ve definitely learnt some lessons about managing steady growth,” she says.

Still wanting to grow the business, she hit on the concept of a mobile healthcare service for remote communities.

“This involves visiting small communities in remote areas to deliver the range of services usually offered in one of her branches.

“I came back to South Africa from working cruise ships in the US because I was passionate about giving back to my community and starting a business in Soweto.

“I’m still passionate about delivering affordable wellness services to communities, and the mobile units allow me to do this without having to open and manage branches,” she explains.

The mobile visits also target a captive market and generate crowds of 30 to 40 people at a time. It’s good business.

Molefi recently penned a book about her journey. Dollars to Soweto is as much about giving back to other local entrepreneurs as it is about generating awareness of the business.

“I’ve walked a hard road in business and made many mistakes. I’d love other entrepreneurs to learn from them and I hope reading the book will inspire them to believe, in spite of all the challenges, it can be done,” she says.

Vital stats

  • Player: Thabang Molefi
  • Company: Roots Healthcare Centres
  • Est: 2000
  • X-Factor: Resilience, determination and the ability to change tack quickly has turned the business around from a loss-making concern to a multi-million turnover enterprise.
  • Connect: www.rootsclinic.org

Related: (Video) Try Something New for 30 Days

Advertisement
1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Lungile Sojini

    Sep 12, 2013 at 16:59

    Highly inspirational stuff.

    Liked how Thabang went from zero to 30 clients all because of the power of radio

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Lessons Learnt

(Podcast) ‘Bizarre Foods’ Andrew Zimmern: ‘I’m Addicted To The Hustle’

How this week’s ‘How Success Happens’ guest overcame personal struggles and built an empire.

Dan Bova

Published

on

andrew-zimmern

I didn’t know what to expect when we scheduled an interview over breakfast with today’s guest Andrew Zimmern. As you may know, the chef, writer, restaurateur and TV personality made a name for himself traveling the world and eating some, well, bizarre foods on his hit travel/food show, Bizarre Foods.

Turns out our breakfast was pretty normal – we didn’t dig into a fresh plate of scrambled brains or anything – but the conversation was anything but typical.

Over the past couple of years, Zimmern has built a true empire around his name with books, TV shows, restaurants (including his new Twin Cities joint Lucky Cricket), and a production company, but as he very candidly told me, the road to success has not been easy. He has gone through a lot of personal pain on his journey, and he says it is a daily endeavour to keep himself moving on the right track.

As Zimmern explained, over the course of his life, he’s had problems with substance abuse, depression – even homelessness – and he was very open about sharing the lessons he’s learned along the way about coping and finding redemption. We also spoke about his dear friend, Anthony Bourdain, and about the struggles of feeling overwhelmed that most of us face.

Related: Gareth Cliff Shares His Tips For Starting Your Very Own Podcast

But don’t get me wrong, he’s really funny, too! There’s nothing “normal” about Andrew Zimmern. Hope you’ll enjoy our conversation, thanks for listening.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Continue Reading

Lessons Learnt

How BrightRock Is Disrupting The Insurance Industry With These 2 Pivotal Strategies

Developments in technology, and clear communication are positioning BrightRock to disrupt their industry and transform the consumer experience.

Monique Verduyn

Published

on

brightrock

Vital Stats

  • Players: Sean Hanlon, Leopold Malan, Schalk Malan, Suzanne Stevens
  • Company: BrightRock
  • Est: 2011
  • Visit: www.brightrock.co.za

BrightRock was started around a dining room table in 2011 by four people with years of industry experience and — importantly — a diverse set of complementary skills.  They wanted to make changes to an industry with an age-old methodology by allowing customers to co-create a solution that precisely meets their individual needs, and adjusts as those needs change. Today, BrightRock is the fastest-growing insurer in the intermediated individual life risk market. It also provides underwriting management services to funeral parlour businesses and, more recently, has entered the group risk insurance market, offering its needs-matched approach to employees.

The founders of BrightRock, established in 2011, knew the life insurance industry all too well, and they found its methodology wanting. “Traditional life insurance lumps all the individual’s needs into one policy,” says CEO Schalk Malan.

“It’s a methodology that has been around for centuries. We started afresh and looked at how we could design life insurance based on individual requirements. Our cover is designed to exactly match each specific financial need. Because there is no waste, it’s more cost efficient and sustainable. And if circumstances change and our customer needs more cover, it’s easy to get it because needs-matched design enables the policy to change in line with changing needs.”

1. Embracing digital technology to provide needs-matched insurance

Suzanne Stevens, marketing executive director at BrightRock, points out that this type of innovation achieves efficiency (cost savings) and effectiveness (higher returns). “By harnessing digital technology, we have made our operations more efficient, and aggressively lowered costs by up to 30% for our customers. Every rand they spend with us works harder for them. That’s the benefit of a solution designed around the customer.”

BrightRock’s founders took a similar approach. ‘We ditched legacy thinking in favour of creating a product that is intuitive and easy to navigate. An enormous amount of time and effort went into writing and designing that system, and creating the optimal customer journey.”

Related: How BrightRock Is Rocking The (Industry) Boat In Only 5 Years Since Launch

Unlike clunky legacy systems, BrightRock’s platform is modularised, and was built according to the agile principle of rapid delivery cycles. The result is a technology stack with longevity, that is also flexible enough to be tweaked when needed.

“The advantage of the technology available today is that you can plug things in and pull them out as required,” says Suzanne. “That’s one of the enablers of a truly disruptive mindset. To step away from accepted norms and find new solutions requires curiosity and creativity, as well as a lot of courage to go up against large incumbents in the market. There is always resistance to new technology, although we are fortunate in this country to have one of the most innovative insurance sectors in the world.”

2. Effective communication is critical

These disruptors have set themselves above the rest through one surprisingly simple tactic —  effective communication. They agree that it simply doesn’t matter how world-changing your product or service is if you don’t communicate it to the right audience at the right time. New companies that fail to communicate their remarkable new development will quickly be pushed aside by other disruptors. Without a clear communication strategy that reaches the audience in the industry you’re trying to disrupt, you’ll set yourself up for failure. A key question to ask when you are developing your communication strategy is simply whether people understand what you do.

“Because the premise for our product was fundamentally different from anything on the market, communication and clear messaging were critical to convincing our clients to put their trust in us,” says Schalk.

“It was especially important to educate insurance advisors so they would understand what we were doing, why we were doing it, and how it was better than the other options available. That was key to disrupting the individual life market.”

Currently, BrightRock employs 380 staff, has experienced 40% year-on-year growth, and has an annualised premium income of more than R1,3 billion. The company has recently entered the group risk environment with a similar offering that addresses many of the same shortcomings of traditional group risk products. “The inefficiencies of the structuring of group products has meant that, to remain competitive, insurers have cut the benefits offered to employees, undermining their sense of financial security. Change is needed, and we believe our needs-matched philosophy positions us to change the group risk market too.”

‘We ditched legacy thinking in favour of creating a product that is intuitive and easy to navigate. An enormous amount of time and effort went into writing and designing that system, and creating the optimal customer journey.”

Unlike clunky legacy systems, the BrightRock’s platform is modularised, and was built according to the agile principle of rapid delivery cycles. The result is a technology stack with longevity, that is also flexible enough to be tweaked when needed.

Related: BrightRock’s 5 Entrepreneurial Tips For Start-ups

This iterative, modular approach typically begins with defining the strategy and programme plan upfront, delivering a core capability fast so it can provide benefits immediately, and then continuously improving with regular, incremental capability improvements to achieve the objectives of the strategy. It’s an approach that fosters closer collaboration between stakeholders, improved transparency, earlier delivery, greater allowance for change and more focus on the business outcomes.

“The advantage of the technology available today is that you can plug things in and pull them out as required,” says Suzanne. “That’s one of the enablers of a truly disruptive mindset. To step away from accepted norms and find new solutions requires curiosity and creativity, as well as a lot of courage to go up against large incumbents in the market. There is always resistance to new technology, although we are fortunate in this country to have one of the most innovative insurance sectors in the world.”

Continue Reading

Lessons Learnt

The 9 Obsessions You Need To Have To Become A Self-Made Millionaire

Here’s how to stay focused on your millionaire goals.

Published

on

Prev1 of 10

elon-musk

The ones who succeed weren’t handed a golden ticket; it wasn’t chance that helped them cultivate their fortune. To reach millionaire status, you must be driven to reach your dreams. You must be obsessed in order to be successful.

These are the nine obsessions that give every self-made millionaire an edge in creating success and wealth.

Prev1 of 10

Continue Reading
Advertisement

SPOTLIGHT

Advertisement

Recent Posts

Follow Us

Entrepreneur-Newsletters
*
We respect your privacy. 
* indicates required.
Advertisement

Trending