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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+.


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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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




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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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