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Finlay: Lynette Finlay

Commercial real estate company, Finlay, attributes its success to service delivery

Juliet Pitman



Lynette Finlay of Finlay

Finlay, a company providing commercial real estate services, was established as a satellite of the Iscor Pension Fund. The brainchild of Marshall Finlay, the business was established in 1983 as a breakaway. It comprised a small group of property people who aimed to compete with the commercial private sector.

Its current CEO, Lynette Finlay, joined the company in 1985 after qualifying as a chartered accountant.The organisation currently has 61 staff members with offices in Gauteng, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal, along with an annual turnover of R10 million and a management portfolio valued at more than R2 billion.

Clients include the likes of Resilient Income Fund, Investec Property Group, Diversified Income Fund, Paladin, Capital Property Fund, Zenprop Property Holdings, City of Johannesburg Property Company and the Johannesburg Development Agency. The retail portfolio under management includes nine shopping centres in Gauteng and Limpopo.

Finlay admits that the most challenging part of running a business like Finlay is the fact that it is a male-dominated environment and opportunities are often limited to the inner circle. “Barriers to entry have had an impact on the company and influenced our decision to employ more women,” reveals Finlay.

“The result is an extraordinary workforce whose capabilities, commitment, determination and loyalty have exceeded expectations.” She believes the key to success lies in surrounding yourself with the right people. “Meaningful and insightful people spur you on to new levels,” she claims. “A friend maintains that you should take note of your past, plan for your future, but live for the present. ‘Living in the overlap’, he calls it. I subscribe to this philosophy.”

Her attitude to leadership is that it is about creating a team and an environment where people can fulfil their dreams. “It’s about guiding the ship rather than going it alone and standing out as an individual.” She strives to create a sense of belonging and achievement. Motivation and self-discipline, she maintains, should be inherent qualities.

“Motivation comes when people are able to see the purpose and reason for the direction in which the business is going and can recognise their role in the process.” Finlay is integrally involved in Noah, an organisation that mobilises communities to take on the challenge of caring for children orphaned by the Aids pandemic.

Finlay has established the Gauteng activities of Noah and spearheaded the fundraising initiative. “I could not ignore the need to get involved. Noah’s impact has been extraordinary and it has been a privilege to be involved in something like this.”

Part of Finlay’s fundraising initiatives for Noah have involved hosting authors as speakers at breakfasts. The breakfasts have been so successful that they have grown into a business all their own. The result has been the establishment of an eventing component being added to the company’s service offering. Although not strictly speaking an international company, Finlay is part of global property services network, NAI.

“The network gives us access to global information, which adds a competitive and valuable edge to the current information mix,” she says.

Going forward, Finlay recognises that the most critical factor to ensure ongoing growth is the ability to deliver services beyond clients’ expectations. “Finlay needs to grow at a pace which is sustainable from a resource platform. We are also exploring other opportunities in the property sector,” she concludes.

Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.

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25 Of The Most Successful Business Ideas In South Africa

Find out who’s making waves in numerous industries and how they managed to differentiate themselves in local and international industries.

Nicole Crampton



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“Disruption is all about risk-taking, trusting your intuition, and rejecting the way things are supposed to be. Disruption goes way beyond advertising, it forces you to think about where you want your brand to go and how to get there,” says Richard Branson.

South Africa has its fair share of innovative and disruptive businesses taking both local and international industries by storm. From cutting edge space technology to reimagined logistics, and innovative business models, here are 25 of the most successful business ideas in South Africa:

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Colin Timmis Says ‘Position Yourself For Success By Starting With The Numbers’

People pay first who they feel pressure from, so people will pay you when they feel pressure from you.






Entrepreneur Colin Timmis founded South Africa’s first cloud accounting practice in 2011, Real Time Accounting. Then, a few years after being appointed as South Africa’s first Xero partner Colin became Xero Country Manager South Africa. Xero is the emerging global leader of online accounting software that connects small businesses to their advisors and other services.

Related: Pat Pillai On How He’s Helped Over 5000 Entrepreneurs Using 3 Key Steps

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Company Posts

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

The Merge vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

Merge Connect




Vital Stats

It’s no secret that finding the right investor for your venture is a challenge that most entrepreneurs face. The current process of finding investment is one that is outdated, and limits entrepreneurs due to a lack of time, and network that is needed to find the right investor. But, this doesn’t have to be the case in today’s digital society, says Zander Matthee and Brandon Bate, co-founders of Merge.

“By making the Internet the middleman, we are able to connect with each other much simpler and faster than before” was Zander’s response. “We have taken advantage of this, and have created a digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors” added Brandon.

Merge is a social platform that connects entrepreneurs and investors. It aims to simplify, refine and accelerate the process of finding investment for entrepreneurs, and the process of finding investment opportunities for investors. From idea to developed, the platform allows entrepreneurs to present a brief outline of their venture to a network of all investor types. While doing this, entrepreneurs are able to browse through, and connect with investor profiles that suit their requirements.

Related: 8 Codes Of Success That Helped Priven Reddy of Kagiso Interactive Media Achieve A Networth Of Over R4 Billion

From Private Investors to Venture Capital, and everything in between, Merge allows all investor types to join. Investors have the opportunity to personalise their feed to suit their investment preferences, and will be able to connect with innovative businesses – that are looking for investment – at their fingertips. Only once there is a mutual interest in each other, are users able to enter a secure private chat where they can discuss further and share documents under the protection of a digital NDA.

The two boys became good friends during their time in high school at St Stithians Boys College. However, it was only in their last year, 2016, that they decided to pursue their dreams and create the platform. They didn’t know how to code, so rather ironically, they needed some form of investment to get the platform off the ground.


“We knew we had a mountain to climb, but we believed in our vision and that we were really trying to make a difference, and if we could get others to see that, they would be onboard.” said Zander.

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

Chris Peters is one of these individuals that bought into their vision, and became Merge’s first investor. As a successful entrepreneur and part time investor , Chris saw how much value the platform could bring to all entrepreneurs and investors alike. His marketing and strategic background gave him insight into how Merge could play a vital role in a lucrative space, Brand involvement.

“Entrepreneurship and SME development are two key factors that drive economic growth in developing countries like South Africa. That is why brands are currently getting involved, and looking to support entrepreneurs through various means. We have built a platform that allows these brands to successfully market, and execute on the programmes they have created to assist entrepreneurs.” said Chris

Merge was created to assist all entrepreneurs and investors in finding exactly what they are looking for, regardless of age, race, sex, financial position or social status. That is why anybody can sign-up as an entrepreneur. As long as you are determined and willing to work for your dreams. For too long has the investor space been seen as an “elite club for the select few”, and Merge is here to change that. Whether you’ve gotten your bonus at the end of the year and looking for new investment opportunities, or are an active investor, you can sign-up. Whether you’re currently working, or a retired industry leader, you can join as a mentor.

Their vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

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