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How Majozi Bros Construction Built Their Business, One Brick At A Time

The only thing that falls from the sky is rain, say the founders of construction and property development company, Majozi Bros. For everything else, you’ve got to work hard, never take no for an answer, and create your own opportunities.

Nadine Todd

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Vital Stats

  • Players: Simphiwe Majozi and Sihle Ndlela
  • Company: Majozi Bros Construction
  • Est: 2012
  • Visit: majozibros.co.za

Simphiwe Majozi and Sihle Ndlela have one aim: To be the biggest property group in Africa. They’re dead serious about this big, hairy, audacious goal, but they’re willing to do it slowly and sustainably. “We understand the importance of the right foundations,” they say. “We have eight failed businesses between us, so we’ve learnt a lot of lessons, particularly around the dangers of trying to grow too quickly.”

They’ve put those lessons to good use while building Majozi Bros, and their patience is already paying off. Here are their top seven lessons for start-ups with big dreams and the perseverance to make them happen.

1. Turn challenges into opportunities

One of Sihle Ndlela’s favourite sayings is ‘the only thing that falls from the sky is rain’, which neatly encapsulates the entrepreneurial pair’s response to challenges. Nothing is going to fall in your lap. Success is what you make it.

“Sihle and I started working together because we realised we had a lot in common, particularly the fact that we were the same age, felt the same way about business and shared the same values,” says Majozi. Their youth drew them together, but it also worked against them.

“It was tough to convince potential clients — especially established, older generation clients — that we can deliver. We realised that we could allow this problem to hinder our growth, or we could find a way to use it as
an advantage.”

And so the pair made it rain. They created a brand around their youth. “We highlighted the fact that we’re two young guys in construction. In every interaction we had, particularly with media, we painted a positive picture of our youth and aspirations. We didn’t hide from it, we shouted it. We’re proud of it,” says Sihle.

“We just needed to get a foot in the door so that our record could start speaking for itself, and the hype we created did that for us.”

Related: Funding And Resources For Young SA Entrepreneurs

2. A brand is much more than a logo

Long lasting brands stand for something. They consistently provide the same experience. It’s not about a logo; it’s about the ability to deliver on promises. A recognisable and sustainable brand can’t be built overnight because you need a track record to back up your claims.

This means two things. One, aim high, but be realistic about what you can do. Rather under-promise and over-deliver than over-promise and under-deliver. As you grow your ability to deliver more, it will scale accordingly, but get your foundations right first.

3. You’re your own best client

Majozi-Bros-Construction

“We launched in the middle of a boom market,” says Majozi. “And then suddenly the housing and construction market started taking strain. The jobs dried up. We realised we could wait around and hope things would get better, or we could go out there and create our own opportunities.”

This is exactly what they did. They did some research, and selected an up-and-coming semi-township area where property prices were cheaper than in the suburbs, but there was real buyers’ interest.

“Buy a plot, develop it, sell it. That was our plan. We wouldn’t just be the builders. We’d be the developers. We’d give ourselves work,” says Sihle. It was a small scale experiment that paid off, and they were able to use the profits to buy their next property.

4. Keep things lean

“Our approach to business was the reason we had the cash to buy our first plot,” says Sihle. “From day one we’d paid ourselves a minimum salary. All the money we made went back into the business. Our investment mentality is that if you take care of the business, your business will take care of you.”

“Successful businesses are all about positive cash flow,” agrees Majozi. “Once we chose this path of expansion, we were careful to only ever buy one property at a time and to never exhaust our cash flow. Each time we used the profits from one sale to build the next property. Slowly we built up our base, our profits and our reputation.

“Over-extending yourself leads to really bad business practices. Before you know it, you’re using one client’s cash to fund another client’s project. Soon you’re in debt and cutting corners. This is how businesses in our industry go under and ruin their reputations, not to mention the irreparable harm to their clients’ finances,” he adds.

Related: Making a Profit in Construction

5. Get creative to finance your growth

Once Majozi and Sihle had proven they had a successful prototype, they started looking for outside funders to scale their projects. Traditional finance options weren’t available, and so once again they looked to themselves to find a solution.

“We decided to tap into our community for investors,” says Majozi. “We kept things small. We’re working with five civil servants, amongst them a teacher, a policeman and a nurse, and together we’re growing their savings. Because we didn’t need huge amounts of capital, and we’ve spread the risk, we were able to find interested parties. We’re sticking to our project-by-project model, with profits reinvested into the next property.”

“We’ve learnt that a little can go a long way,” adds Sihle. “A group of people can split the costs as well as share the rewards, which has been much more attainable for us than one big loan from a bank.”

Of course, they’ve had to put trust and integrity at the forefront of every decision they’ve made, given that they’re working with their investors’ life savings.

6. Don’t take no for an answer

Once they’d proven their model, the partners set their sights on gated communities. “Gated estates use accredited builders. We were young and new, and they just said no to us,” says Sihle.

“We would physically stand outside the estates trying to get someone’s attention. When a site manager approached us, we would ask the same question: How can we build here? The response was that we needed to be accredited, and that clearly wasn’t happening. We needed a plan.”

They returned to what had worked for them, buying a plot and appointing themselves the construction company. “There were still a few hurdles getting the developer to say yes, but eventually they did. I think we wore them down. Plus now we were also technically a client.”

“Once we had our foot in the door, we could start building a track record,” says Majozi, and this is exactly what they’ve done. Today Majozi Bros has properties in Hillcrest, Cotswold Downs and Izinga Ridge in Kwa-Zulu Natal, and they’ve set their sights on the prestigious Waterfall Estates in Gauteng.

7. Never stop learning

“We believe that information and industry experience is power,” says Sihle. “We make a point of learning as much as we can from other industry players, clients, suppliers — anyone who is willing to share advice or who we can observe. You can never know too much.”

Related: Construction a Good Investment?

The business has also been accepted into WBHO’s enterprise development programme, which ensures the entrepreneurs will be fine-tuning their business and industry skills. “We’re excited to be exposed to the systems that an industry giant uses, and apply them in our own business,” says Majozi.

“We want to compete with the best, and that means continuous learning.”

Remember this

Successful start-ups create their own opportunities. Don’t wait for something great to happen to you. Go out and make it happen.

Lessons Learnt

SA Entrepreneur Takes First-Of-Its Kind Business To An International Level

Jo Farah shares some insights on his entrepreneurial journey as Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) gets underway.

Entrepreneur

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South African-born entrepreneur and creator of the world’s first environmentally friendly sneaker care product – Jo Farah says entrepreneurship has always been part of his DNA, and making a valuable contribution to society his ultimate goal.

The founder of Sneaker LAB – an innovative business that’s managed to create a first-of-its-kind, biodegradable sneaker care product, delivered his sentiments on entrepreneurship and his entrepreneurial journey as Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) kicked-off in 170 countries around the world this week.

Farah, who’s been mentored and groomed by his entrepreneur father, says developing a successful business has always been part of his life’s plan. And while he managed to establish a few start-ups during his entrepreneurial journey, which includes founding a guerrilla marketing agency in South Africa, and producing ads for the likes of Adidas, New Balance and Puma it still wasn’t enough.

After returning from the United States in 2008 with just one thing on his mind – to help cure South Africa’s conundrum by creating jobs for the unemployed, and in-turn fostering economic growth, Jo invented a one-of-a-kind sneaker care product, and put shoulder to the wheel to establish his business in 2013.

Related: How Lorenzo Escobal Bootstrapped His Way To Competing With Titans And Attracting Top-Tier Clients

sneaker-lab-founder-jo-farahStarting a sneaker care product range was a natural choice, especially considering Jo’s passion for sneakers, street wear and urban culture. He also wanted to create a complimentary product to accompany the list of sneaker brands that has inspired him over time. Jo’s work behind the scenes commenced in earnest and in no time he conducted enough research to support his theory – there was a gap in the market for branded sneaker care products. He knew that he was on a good wicket.

“There already was a range of non-branded products on the market, but my research revealed there was a healthy appetite for branded, environmentally friendly sneaker care products. That spoke directly to my business model,” he says.

Today, Sneaker LAB has placed Cape Town on the map with its premium global status – it’s the only sneaker care product range in the world to be Green TAG certified, environmentally friendly and biotech driven. Its products are water-based, readily biodegradable, and the packaging is suitable for recycling. The business also operates internationally, in 50 countries across Africa, with an experiential brand store in Braamfontein Johannesburg; as well as downtown Los Angeles in the USA; Asia and Europe.  The business is growing by the day, with a store in Tokyo set to open soon.

As an entrepreneur he’s grown in leaps and bounds, and despite many changes along the way, his sentiments on entrepreneurship remain.

“Inspiring potential entrepreneurs to develop an entrepreneurial mindset and embark on an entrepreneurial journey is one way of solving some of the world’s most critical problems, and freeing the economically marginalised,” Jo says.

Related: Two 20 Year Olds Reshape Entrepreneur Landscape With New Social Investment Platform

He urges young aspiring entrepreneurs with an entrepreneurial mindset to take the plunge and to channel time and energy into developing their business ideas into something tangible and workable that could generate good long-term financial returns.

“People will tell you that it can’t be done, but believe me, it can. All you have to do is to believe in your idea and to work hard and smart and you’ll reap the benefits,” Jo says.

 

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Lessons Learnt

9 Ways Successful Entrepreneurs Spend Their Weekends

All work and no play makes for a very dull entrepreneur.

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Successful entrepreneurs have a passion for what they do, so working hard is part of their DNA. But anyone who is successful also recognises that life and work are a marathon, not a sprint. Even they need downtime on the weekend to ensure they’re up to the task of being creative problem solvers and innovators Monday through Friday.

Sure, they may spend some time catching up on administrative work. They may spend time on a big project that needs special attention. And they should definitely spend time thinking about the future and considering the big picture.

But what successful entrepreneurs don’t do is spend the entire weekend buried under work. We all need a break, and entrepreneurs are no less immune to burnout than anyone else. Their weekends are spent restoring their bodies and minds, and getting prepared to function optimally come Monday.

Here are nine things successful entrepreneurs do over the weekend to unwind and re-energise for the week ahead.

wake-up-routine

1. Wake up at about the same time

Successful entrepreneurs understand that staying on track for the week ahead means keeping the same sleeping patterns, even on weekends. That means going to bed and getting up at about the same time all week. This is because your circadian rhythm will stay consistent, so your body will naturally know when it’s time to sleep and wake up.

As tempting as it might be to sleep in, doing so can throw off your sleep/wake cycle, disrupting sleep patterns and giving you a poor night’s rest. Make sure you aim to get seven to eight hours of sleep every night to avoid a sleep deficit. Also, getting up early means you’ll be ready for whatever the day brings and you’ll have time to accomplish all the things you hope to do.

Related: 20 South African Side-Hustles You Can Start This Weekend

2. Spend quality time with loved ones

It’s no surprise that weekdays can be hectic and filled with obligations. There’s a good chance you spent more time in front of your computer (and with co-workers and colleagues) than with the most important people in your life. Make sure you’re tending to the quality relationships in your life by making them a priority on the weekends.

Have a date night with a partner. Go for a long walk or enjoy a leisurely lunch with a friend. Make sure you’re building and maintaining those relationships by really listening to them. And then share what’s on your mind and how you’re feeling. The support and connection you feel with others will give you resiliency and can support you in stressful times.

3. Pursue a passion

Is there some hobby or activity you’ve been wanting to try but have never made time for? Dedicate some weekend time to pursuing a passion that’s outside of work and beyond your normal day-to-day obligations. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn to paint, take up photography or write a novel.

Whether it’s a long-lost hobby or a labor of love you’ve dreamed of embarking on, stop telling yourself that you’ll get around to it “someday.” Set aside a quiet weekend morning or afternoon to work on it. Pursuing your interests beyond work improves your mental health and reduce stress levels. Plus, focusing on activities outside of work will improve your creativity and give you a chance to look at life from a new perspective.

Related: How To Work Less And Still Get More Done

camping trip

4. Find time for a mini-adventure

Weekends give you a chance to unplug from life, put aside your daily responsibilities and go have some fun! Let loose and break out of your rut by taking yourself on a mini-adventure. Get out of the house and find a change of scenery.

A mini-adventure means sticking close to home, so hiking the Grand Canyon may be a bit much, but an overnight camping trip or a day hike is totally doable. Spend an afternoon at the beach or take your bike out for a long ride. The point is to get out and make a memory that will give you a smile for the rest of the week.

5. Fuel their creative mind

Successful entrepreneurs make sure they take time to feed their creative minds by finding ways to connect with the arts. You don’t need a degree in art appreciation or music theory to enjoy the benefits of engaging with the arts. Simply visiting a local museum or spending time listening to music will suffice.

Viewing art can be like a mini-vacation for your brain. It activates areas of the brain that are involved in processing emotion and engaging your pleasure and reward systems. Listening to music can have an even more dramatic effect. In fact, music has been found to stimulate more parts of the brain than any other human function.

6. Relax, reflect and renew

Savvy entrepreneurs have learned that they must give themselves the space and time to decompress and mull over the events, issues or dilemmas they face. Giving yourself time for self-reflection allows you to link and construct meaning from your experiences. Reflection is one of the main ways we gain insight and foster complex learning and personal growth.

In our busy world, we are often dealing with packed schedules and juggling multiple issues. Make sure you find time on the weekend to disengage from your hectic schedule and just chill. Try journaling, going for a walk, taking in the beauty of a sunset or even just focusing on the present moment and being aware of all the sensations you’re experiencing.

Related: Get Your Weekend Started

hiking

7. Get outside and exercise

Whether it’s getting out for a walk through the neighbourhood, shooting some hoops or taking a run through the park, high-achieving entrepreneurs get outside on the weekend to stretch their legs and soak up some vitamin D. There are some great benefits to an outdoor rather than indoor workout (although the most important thing is getting exercise, however it works best for you).

Getting some natural sunlight may be a welcome reprieve from artificial lighting if you spend most of the week in an office. Studies have found that adults tend to exercise for longer when they’re outside. You also tend to burn more calories and work slightly different muscles because of the wind resistance and changes in terrain. Perhaps most important, you’ll have a chance to admire nature and the outside world, which is good for your mental health and well-being.

8. Socialise and network

Successful entrepreneurs realise that any event or gathering is a chance to get to know other people and learn something new from someone you haven’t met. Set aside time to socialise with friends and family or get to know colleagues and workmates. If everyone else is busy this weekend, look for other opportunities to socialise and do something fun and interesting.

Check out a local community event. It could be a great chance to learn more about where you live and network and make connections with others. You could also look for a volunteer opportunity with a charity or nonprofit you’d like to support, such as a local animal shelter, senior centre or food bank. If you enjoy active sports, join a local team or club. If you’re into less strenuous activities, consider a joining a bowling or bocce ball team.

9. Catch up on rest

It’s been a busy week, and you’re feeling sleep deprived and run down. While sleeping in isn’t a good idea, successful entrepreneurs know when they need to catch up on some much-needed rest. A 10- to 20-minute power nap may be just the thing to help you feel refreshed and alert – a short snooze is actually much more effective than a cup of coffee in providing an energy boost.

It’s best to keep naps short: 30 Minutes or less. Longer naps are more likely to leave you feeling groggy and can interfere with your nighttime sleep quality. So when that wave of post-lunch sleepiness hits, go ahead: Indulge in an mid-afternoon nap and enjoy the rest of your weekend!

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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How Lorenzo Escobal Bootstrapped His Way To Competing With Titans And Attracting Top-Tier Clients

Inception Automotive Detailing was founded in 2011 by Lorenzo Escobal. He was only 18 at the time, and the business started small, but Lorenzo has grown it significantly over the last few years and aligned it with top brands. His secret to success? Being proactive and not being afraid to ask for what he wants.

GG van Rooyen

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Vital Stats

  • Player: Lorenzo Escobal
  • Company: Inception Automotive Detailing
  • Location: Toronto, Canada
  • Established: 2011
  • Visit: inceptionautodetailing.com

As is often the case in the world of entrepreneurship, Lorenzo Escobal launched his own business purely out of necessity. Attending university in 2010, he realised that finding a job shortly after North America had experienced a financial meltdown wouldn’t be easy. If he wanted to be sure of an income, he would need to create it for himself. So, having detailed cars for friends and family since he was 15, he decided to launch his own operation called Inception Automotive Detailing.

He bootstrapped the business — launching with just $1 200 — and grew it slowly. Today, the company boasts clients like Google and Tesla. Here are Lorenzo’s tips for bootstrapping a small business capable of competing against much bigger players and attracting top-tier clients.

1. Build a great website and market online

The fact of the matter is, your company is judged largely by the quality of its website and online presence these days, especially if you’re taking your product/service to the client. Even if you don’t have fancy premises, you can create a professional appearance by investing in a great website.

Most people are going to find you through your website, so make sure it instantly impresses. Also, invest time and money in creating effective online marketing campaigns on Google and Facebook. Funnily enough, Google approached us about detailing work by finding us on Google.

A good website and good online reviews got us a foot in the door. From there, we could prove ourselves through our work.

Related: Lessons From The Rich And Famous: Manage Your Money Like Oprah To Avoid Going Into Debt Like Nicholas Cage

2. Learn to network

Attracting clients online is important, but real-world networking shouldn’t be neglected either. There is immense value in joining professional organisations and attending conferences. It’s a great (and affordable) way to market, and you never know how the connections you make may pay off down the line. Networking and being in the public eye also builds credibility for your business. I’ve put a lot of time into getting my name and brand out there, but it’s been worth it.

3. Remember that no one is truly ‘self-made’

Every entrepreneur benefits from the wisdom and hard work of others. I’ve had great mentors who have helped me immeasurably in growing my business. I’ve also had the privilege of working with a great team who has helped me make the business what it is today. I do my best never to forget this, and I view myself not as a boss, but as a part of a team. Sure, I attend a lot of conferences and events, but I also jump in and help when there’s a lot of work to do.

As an entrepreneur, you need to be willing to get your hands dirty and do whatever’s needed — even if that means grabbing a mop and cleaning a dirty floor.

4. Make things happen

As an entrepreneur, you need to create opportunities, not wait for them to fall into your lap. I managed to get work from Tesla, for example, simply by asking for it. I filled out the contact form on the Tesla website and got a reply three days later.

Many entrepreneurs think that it’s pointless to approach large organisations because they’ll never want to do business with a small operation. Never simply assume that. Just ask, and see what happens. Sure, you’ll have to deal with a lot of rejection along the way, but that comes with the territory. Great entrepreneurs are never afraid to put themselves out there.

Related: How Matthew Piper And Karidas Tshintsholo Launched Their First Business From Their UCT Dorm Rooms

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