- Player: BB Moloi
- Company: Moloi & Co Accountants
- Launched: 2013
“Do you want to work or study?” That was the only question BB Moloi’s supervisor had for him. He worked the 12-hour night shift as a security guard, squeezed in two hours of college before his shift started, and managed a few hours of sleep, before waking up, doing his assignments, going to class and taking his shift. Day in and day out.
Instead of support and encouragement, he faced challenges. “I didn’t want to be a security guard my whole life, but I also couldn’t afford to study without that job, so I ignored everyone’s opinions, put my head down and worked.”
Moloi’s hard-won degree was not the end of his challenges however. “For the first time I realised that simply having a qualification does not solve all your problems,” he says.
“I struggled to find work. I’d studied accounting, but all I could find was work as a prison visitor for the Judicial Inspectorate of Prisons, taking prisoner complaints. It was not what I wanted out of life. I resigned and was fortunate to find a work programme for unemployed accounting graduates in Kyalami, run by Guarantee Trust. Guarantee Trust managed to place me at Delicado & Kie/Co Accountants in Carltonville. It was a three year experiential training programme that amounted to articles.”
The three years came to an end and Moloi found himself back where he began: Jobless. A brief stint with Southern Sun Hotel Group as a finance intern was frustrating because Moloi was overqualified for the job.
And then he stumbled across a position that would start to define his career: He landed a job as a teacher at an ABET centre. Just like that, he had a plan. “I could teach in the evenings, and start building my business during the day. I had realised that the only way I was going to find the job that I wanted was if I created it for myself.” BB Moloi the entrepreneur was born.
Formulating A Plan
“I worked for almost three years while I got the business off the ground. The teaching business gave me the time to save some capital and become creditworthy, so that I could take out a bank loan for a computer, accounting software and a car.” That side of things was easy. The real challenge was finding clients.
“I thought about what I knew, and realised that was Diepsloot. I understood how the businesses operated, what their challenges were, and most of all, I was from Diepsloot, so I knew I’d be trusted.”
Even so, Moloi printed and handed out hundreds of fliers, and received exactly zero phone calls. “Being local isn’t enough,” he says. “People trust referrals. I needed to be even more targeted in my approach.”
Moloi turned his attention to schools, creches, preschools and home-based caregivers: Anyone who received funds from the Department of Social Development or the Department of Health.
“These were businesses who had to be audited statutorily, but thought they couldn’t afford accounting firms and so they did their books themselves, even though they didn’t know what they were doing. I needed just one client and I knew I’d have my foot in the door.”
This is precisely what happened. Moloi convinced the owner of a crèche to give him a chance. He was affordable, and able to show her where she could unlock cash in her business. Word of mouth did its work, and soon Moloi had a strong client book.
Building The Business
Of course, he still needed to be smart about how he grew the business. “I started out in a 4m x 3m space that was my office, bedroom and kitchen. Hiring an employee was impossible. As soon as I moved into a garage I split the space in two, and hired an employee.
“I was a teacher, so I knew that anyone was teachable. I focused on attitude instead. I knew I couldn’t afford someone with a lot of experience, so I looked for a positive individual who was willing to learn and work hard. My second hire was a great student from the school, and I’ve grown from there.
“That’s my niche, with clients and employees. I teach clients who are new to accounting and tax practices the ins and outs of their books, and where they’re wasting money. I do the same with my employees. The result is that we all grow together.”
Like all start-ups, Moloi has also had to learn some hard lessons. “I interview all of my clients before I agree to do business with them. Obviously I need clients and I want to grow the business, but you get good and bad clients.
“If someone is disgruntled with their previous firm, I’m wary. It might be because of a problem with the firm, but in my experience it’s more likely a difficult, demanding client who is also a bad payer, or who wants big discounts. That’s not a client worth having — they cost you more in time and energy than they bring in.
“Spending 60% of your time on 10% of your turnover happens faster than you think. I need to be careful, manage my time, and also manage the expectations of my clients. I’ve found that being upfront from the beginning is the best strategy. That way everyone knows exactly what is expected of them, and what will be offered in return.”
Unsurprisingly, Moloi’s real growth strategy is centred on training. He’s in the process of becoming an approved training centre with SAIPA, and is working on a funding proposal. He wants to build Moloi & Co Accountants, but also add value to his community, and give youngsters the opportunities that he had to fight so hard to achieve.
For every challenge there is a solution. Focus on what and who you know. Where are their pain points? And what can you do to alleviate those challenges for them?
Watch List: 11 Teen Entrepreneurs Who Have Launched Successful Businesses
These teens are proving that you don’t need a driver’s licence – or the ability to vote – to create and execute a successful start-up.
In South Africa youth entrepreneurship is encouraged as the best way to build the economy. Teens are no longer relying on tertiary education to jumpstart their careers, as many high school students become budding entrepreneurs. From make-up to confectionary and tech-centred ventures, youth entrepreneurship is taking the business world by storm.
“It’s easier than ever to become an entrepreneur, and technology has a lot to do with it. You’re a tech-savvy millennial, and Internet and mobile technologies make it easier to connect and identify with people, based on shared values and ideals,” says Michael Freestone, founder of the MJF Group. “All entrepreneurs wonder if their companies will succeed, but you don’t really know until you try. So, do it while you’re young and have little or nothing to lose.”
And that’s exactly what teenagers across the country are doing. While being a teenager is stressful enough, without worrying about marketing and your bottom line – these young entrepreneurs thrive on success, which must be their secret sauce to their winning business ideas.
10 Young Entrepreneurs Under 30 Share Their Start-Up Secrets
The future of entrepreneurship has never looked so bright…these young entrepreneurs share their wisdom around building a successful business.
Natural Talent Can Become Your Success
Thabo Khumalo – ToVch
“I learnt to design and sew while assisting my mother who was a seamstress, and that is when I realised that I had a talent to create,” Thabo Khumalo explains. “But I never knew I was an entrepreneur.” Thabo Khumalo started his company ToVch in 2010 and has since appeared in South African Fashion Week, Soweto Fashion Week and Mpumalanga Fashion Week.
Khumalo has a small but engaged audience, who he communicates directly with. “The brand has a dedicated audience, and the social media presence also allows me to continuously scan the fashion environment to keep up with external forces.”
One of the most challenging aspects of launching his businesses was marketing the brand with limited funds. He used social media and word-of-mouth to market. “On social media, people share your brand with others simply because they want to,” says Khumalo. “It’s a powerful platform, and it does not cost anything.” Khumalo built up his company using support from a strong online network, which became his marketing strategy.
For Founder Of National Tekkie Tax Day Having A Higher (Business) Purpose Keeps Her Driving Forward
The NGO space isn’t easy. It’s a constant uphill battle to connect scarce resources with the vulnerable. Annelise de Jager has persevered in this space because she’s tapped into her personal purpose and values.
- Player: Annelise de Jager
- Initiative: National Tekkie Tax Day
- Launched: 2013
- Visit: www.tekkietax.co.za
Use your purpose to drive you forward
Connect your purpose with what you do, and you’ll find untapped reserves of perseverance and the discipline needed to achieve your goals.
Purpose before profit is not a new concept in business. In fact, it underlines the motivations behind some of the most successful entrepreneurs. It’s also not reserved for social enterprises alone.
However, it is in the social entrepreneurship and charitable spaces that living one’s purpose first found a foothold, mostly because without a strong purpose, the work would just be too hard, and many would give up.
Annelise de Jager, founder of National Tekkie Tax Day, unpacks how she’s used living her purpose to drive her forward, even when she’s faced almost insurmountable challenges and disappointments.
Make ‘living a life that matters’ intrinsic to everything you do.
“I was lucky in that I didn’t ever need to sit down and say, ‘I want my life to matter, so I need to do x, y, z’,” says Annelise. “It was intrinsic for me. However, in the past five years I’ve become acutely aware of it, and I’ve seen how important the ability to look beyond oneself is when you’re facing disappointment and challenges.
“It helps you look beyond the now, find a solution and keep pushing on, because there is a bigger goal at stake. The biggest revelation for me has been that anyone can figure this out and use it as a tool to achieve their dreams and purpose — you just need to trigger your intrinsic motivators.
“Figure out what’s really important to you, and then align this with what you’re doing, in both your business and personal journeys. Robin Bank’s Mind Power and Shaping your Destiny courses are a great place to start.”
Don’t be afraid to ask what’s next
Critical to Annelise’s journey has been the realisation that when goals are met, we need to ask ourselves: What’s next? “Too many people achieve their goals and then feel adrift. You should meet your goals. Your ultimate vision should change. That’s growth, and it’s critical if you want to keep moving forward.
“Our experiences inform our knowledge base and world views, and so as you live and run your business, that view should be changing, bringing with it new challenges and perceptions. Don’t be scared of it; embrace it.”
Annelise went to Potchefstroom University to study social work where she joined the university’s musical revue group, the Alabama Student Company. “Alabama was given the opportunity to tour Taiwan, but I was about to graduate. Travel is high on my personal values list, so I started a second degree in communications to stay in university — and — in Alabama.”
New experiences can be the source of great ideas and strength
Studying communications opened Annelise to a new discipline that she loved. “Marketing and communications are so filled with energy — an energy social work didn’t possess. I loved both, and I wanted to find a way to meld them together. This would ultimately shape my business, The Marketing Team, after I’d been a social worker for a few years. Don’t be afraid to adjust your plans based on new experiences; they can be the source of our greatest ideas and strengths.”
No experience is ever wasted
“We spend too much time trying to plan exactly what we should be doing, where and when, instead of following our hearts and instincts,” says Annelise. “No experience is ever wasted. Once I discovered my love for communications, I questioned whether I’d wasted four years studying social work. I hadn’t.
“Both disciplines became the bedrock of how I would assist the charitable space in South Africa. Experiences open our eyes, our hearts, and our understanding. They give us empathy and patience. They allow us to view things from other perspectives. If you want to really make a difference in other peoples’ lives, these traits are invaluable.”
Be open to finding answers in unexpected places
“By 2004 I felt rudderless,” says Annelise. “I’d been running my own business, handling communications and marketing for NGOs, developing campaigns and even assisting NGOs to run more as businesses than under-funded organisations, but it didn’t feel like I was doing enough.
“Part of the problem was that you can only give people the tools to work with, you can’t make them use them. Another problem was under-funding. Corporates spend billions each year on CSI projects but they don’t like to fund salaries and basic operational expenses.
“It’s frustrating because volunteers can’t do what needs to be done — most households need two breadwinners, which limits the availability of volunteers to assist.
“I was looking for a way to add more value. Should I start my own NGO? Where could I make the biggest impact? I’d been offered an excellent coaching position, which would allow me to walk away from the problems this sector deals with daily. It was tempting, but it wasn’t what I wanted.
“At that time I attended the Global Day of Prayer in Argentina on behalf of a client. It was at that conference that I had an almost supernatural experience. I left knowing exactly what my purpose was.
“How these realisations come to you is less important than the fact that you’re open to them. Deep down I knew what I wanted and needed — I just needed the courage and fortitude to follow my path. My experience in Argentina gave that to me because I allowed it to.”
Always find the strength to persevere.
Nothing worth doing is ever easy. In the NGO space, this is particularly true. “I developed the idea for National Tekkie Tax Day because NGOs constantly asked me to help them develop funding campaigns. I developed this fundraising model when I launched Casual Day and ran the project successfully for 18 years.
“But I also believe the NGO space can benefit from a more unified mindset to overcome donor confusion and fatigue. This is my new focus, but it’s difficult to get organisations to shift their mindsets. National Tekkie Tax Day is a step in this direction.
“It encompasses 12 national NGOs and 1 000 regional organisations across five categories — but there’s one product and one national marketing drive. Donors can choose a category to support.
“I’ve needed to persevere to help NGOs see the benefits in working collaboratively, and corporates to see the benefits of supporting the operational costs of NGOs.
“I don’t have a high profile job at a top company. People don’t call you back in my world. And yet you need to keep pushing forward against incredible headwinds.
“I wake up each morning and repeat the mantra that my success helps everybody; my failure helps nobody. There won’t always be easy wins, but with the right purpose you can persevere. You can make a difference.”
Support National Tekkie Tax Day on 26 May 2017
12 national charities | 1 000 local charities | 5 sectors to support
Animals, Bring Hope, Children, Disability, Education
Available at Toys R Us, Clicks and Babies R Us or online at www.tekkietax.co.za