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Business Partners: Freddie Bruintjies

A seasoned financier defines success and points out the pitfalls that start-ups should avoid

Juliet Pitman

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Freddie Bruintjies

Freddie Bruintjies, COO of BusinessPartners, has watched over, nurtured and celebrated the growth of manybusinesses. He has also seen his fair share of failures. In his various rolesin the investment company where he’s worked for 12 years, one of the mostvaluable lessons Bruintjies has learned is that the business world is driven bypeople.“From a finance point of view, everythingstarts with the right operator,” he says. “If the person is right, even if theeconomic environment is unfavourable, the business will at least survive, ifnot thrive.”

He recalls with satisfaction the manybusinesses he has watched evolve into successful enterprises, but speaks mostfondly of his time with Business Partners Umsobomvu Franchise Fund. The fundhelped young black entrepreneurs enter the business world by way offranchising. Bruintjies discusses the challenges he faced on the project:  “It is at times difficult to match theexpectations of entrepreneurs with the opportunities available. I had to learnto instil a sense of realism without dampening people’s dreams. But it wasenormously rewarding to deal with people who want to grab opportunities andmake a success of themselves. Today I still get e-mails from some of thosepeople letting me know how well their businesses are doing.”When asked what attributes he looks for inentrepreneurs, Bruintjies is quick to answer. ”There’s no checklist, but you dolook for common generic traits.”

Among these he lists someone who is able toidentify an opportunity and has the tenacity to pursue it. “The person needs tohave clear goals, but also a very clear sense of realism. There must be apassion for what they are doing.”He places the greatest store of value inintegrity, something that’s difficult to assess without spending time with aperson, which is what Bruintjies makes it his business to do. “Another very importanttrait is the ability to know what your weaknesses are and either do somethingto fix them, or surround yourself with people who can do the things you aren’tgood at,” he adds.Not all start-up businesses succeed, butBruintjies believes failure is often avoidable. ”Sometimes it is due tocircumstances out of your control,” he says, giving the example of a weakeningexchange rate for exporters. “But even there, you need to know when to cut yourlosses and not run up more debt. The most common mistake is thinking that it’san easy ride to riches.”Too often, entrepreneurs leave theresponsibility of running the business in the hands of managers. “There arevery few businesses you can run without physically being there,” he points out.“You need to put in the blood, sweat and tears to make it work.“At the end of the day, entrepreneurs, likefinanciers, need to realise that business is all about people. It all comesback to people. Have a people-centred culture in your business, and you’re offto a good start,” he concludes. It’s good advice from someone who knows hisoats.

Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.

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How Nic Haralambous Launched His 6 Year In The Making, Overnight Success

Nic Haralambous launched 8 failing businesses. He used the lessons learnt from that failure to ensure the success of his new business Nic Harry.

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Nic Haralambous, the founder and CEO of Nic Harry who started off selling bamboo socks online and now has brick and mortar stores with a larger product range around the country. Nic has also written a book titled Do. Fail. Learn. Repeat. which is a brutally honest look at entrepreneurship and follows Nic’s entrepreneurial journey. Learn from his failures and how he used them as the foundation of his success.

Related: (Podcast) Speak More Honestly

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Vuyo Tofile Of EntBanc Group Talks About Finding Solutions And Partnering To Offer The Most Value

Vuyo Tofile offers his advice on how to know if you’re ready to scale and how to get it right the first time.

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Vuyo Tofile, CEO of EntBanc Group (Pty) Ltd, which is a privately held enterprise and financial technology group. They empower small businesses with the right tools including products such as mySMEtools, which is used by over 46 000 small businesses. Learn about partnering for success, develop tools and resources that your customer base needs, and how can you scale?

Related: Do You Have That 1 In 100 Business That Can Scale And Land An Investor?

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Eben Uys Shares His Concept Behind Mad Giant Brewery And How You Can Make Your Business Stand Out In A Crowd

“You just need to start” says Eben Uys, don’t make up excuses why you aren’t ready. Just start.

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Eben Uys, Co-founder and CEO of Mad Giant, a Brewery in the heart of Johannesburg, South Africa. Eben brings new life to craft beer and has made his brewery and restaurant Urbanologi, a destination hub. His advice: “You can do things that give you short-term gains, but it might not benefit you in the long term. Try a lot of things over a long period of time and build a reputation and a network.”

Related: 10 SA Entrepreneurs Who Built Their Businesses From Nothing

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