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How Radelle Viljoen used her clients to grow Radiance Beauty

Radelle Viljoen founder of Radiance Beauty has learnt that you need to tap into the best free resource you have: When clients love you, they’ll do your marketing for you, for free

Monique Verduyn

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“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” That’s what 24-year-old Radelle Viljoen did when she launched her salon Radiance Beauty in 2013. Her main business rule has been to never spend more than she has. Rule number two – keep your service standards so high that clients want all their friends to experience the pleasure.

We-recommend-tickWe recommend: Customer Service Success Secrets

At 17, she was the youngest student to graduate at the International Academy of Health and Skincare in Cape Town. She was realistic enough to appreciate that she would have to get some work experience before starting her own salon, even though that was her dream from a young age.

She worked at several 5-star Cape Town spas, growing her skills and building a following of loyal clients. And then, as luck would have it, the luxury Constantia spa where she worked as a manager closed down in 2013.

“I had saved some money, and I thought ‘it’s now or never’,” she recalls. “I knew that if I set up my business in September, it would be ready to profit from the December-January holiday season, which is when Cape Town is at its busiest. It was the perfect opportunity, and starting it from a cottage at home meant that I would not have expensive overheads to pay.”

The value of word of mouth

Viljoen believes in word of mouth. Her clients, she says, have helped her grow the business which was profitable from the start. They are passionate, loyal fans who do Viljoen’s marketing for her, for free.

It’s a practice that has been identified as the most valuable form of marketing – the one that consumers trust above all others and the one that is most likely to drive sales for a business. According to research firm Nielsen, 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising.

“I tried advertising in local newspapers and magazines, but as a start-up it was expensive,” says Viljoen.

“Instead, I created a Facebook page, and I use Twitter and Instagram to keep my clients informed about special offers and new treatments.”

Quality service standards are a must

Of course, if you’re going to rely on what your clients say about you to market your business, you’ve got to maintain exceptionally high service standards, especially in a very competitive beauty industry.

“I was wary of the stigma attached to home-based salons, which is why I paid a lot of attention to the entrance, the reception area, and the décor. I know what professional spas look like, so that was a big benefit. From the beginning, I put pressure on myself to ensure that I would provide 5-star quality for customers at a more affordable cost than they were used to.”

We-recommend-tickWe recommend: 8 Keys to Award-Winning Startup Customer Service

She’s also used her knowledge of the industry and the contacts she developed over time to source top-end products at a reasonable rate, which adds substantially to the business’s revenue.

“I have never over-extended myself, and the result is that I now have enough cash saved to grow my premises and build a bath and shower area for full-body treatments. Keeping my goals in mind, and never deviating is what has helped me make a success of the business I love. There’s not a day that I wake up thinking ‘I have to go to work’. I am inspired by what I do every day of my life.”

Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.

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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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27 Of The Richest People In South Africa

Here are 27 of South Africa’s richest people, but how did they achieve this level of wealth? Find out here.

Nicole Crampton

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Learn the secrets of SA’s most successful business people, here is the list of the 27 richest people in South Africa:

In a world with growing entrepreneurship success stories, victory is often measured in terms of money. The feat of achieving a place on this list is, however, years of hard work, determination and persistence. “One has to set high standards… I can never be happy with mediocre performance,” advises Patrice Motsepe.

From the individuals that made the 27 of the richest people in South Africa list, actual entrepreneurs and self-made business people dominate the list; while those who inherited their fortunes have gone on to do even bigger and better things with their wealth. Over the years, some have slipped off the list, while others continue to climb higher and higher each year.

  1. Elisabeth Bradley
  2. Sharon Wapnick
  3. Bridgette Radebe
  4. Irene Charnley
  5. Wendy Ackerman
  6. Paul Harris
  7. Wendy Appelbaum
  8. Mark Shuttleworth
  9. Desmond Sacco
  10. Giovanni Ravazzotti
  11. Markus Jooste
  12. Gus Attridge
  13. Gerrit Thomas Ferreira
  14. Cyril Ramaphosa
  15. Adrian Gore
  16. Raymond Ackerman
  17. Michiel Le Roux
  18. Lauritz Dippenaar
  19. Jannie Mouton
  20. Stephen Saad
  21. Patrice Motsepe
  22. Allan Gray
  23. Koos Bekker
  24. Ivan Glasenberg
  25. Christoffel Wiese
  26. Johann Rupert
  27. Nicky Oppenheimer
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Watch List: 50 Top SA Black Entrepreneurs To Watch

South Africa needs more entrepreneurs to build businesses that can make a positive impact on the economy. These up-and-coming black entrepreneurs are showing how it can be done.

Nicole Crampton

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Early-stage South African entrepreneurial activity is at an all-time high of 11%, according to Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, and entrepreneurial intentions have also increased to 11.7%. With both activity and intentions growing significantly year-on-year, there are more businesses opening up around South Africa than ever before.

The increase in entrepreneurship has seen the rise of more black entrepreneurs across numerous sectors. From beauty brands to legal services and even tech start-ups, these are 50 top black entrepreneurs to watch:

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