Who is the real CEO of your business?
A young believing entrepreneur was interviewed for an article concerning how believer’s dealt with business issues, when working in a worldly environment with those who have different belief systems.
Int: Would you tell me about yourself before you decided to start your own business?
“Before I started this business, I worked for a privately-owned Plastic Bottle Manufacturing company and then felt led to go into full time Missionary work. I went to Malawi for about 3 years with my wife and young family. When we felt that work was complete, we came back to South Africa and I was invited to work for my old company again. It was after that season of time that the opportunity came for me to start this business.”
Int: What kind of business do you have?
“Simply put, we buy and sell Plastic Bottles and accessories into various types of industries i.e. Cosmetic, Food, Chemical and Pharmaceutical. We don’t manufacture anything but have verbal sales agreements with about 40 manufacturers around Johannesburg. This helps us to focus on servicing our customers without the added challenges of manufacturing.”
Int: Were your parents or relatives entrepreneurial?
“Although my father was loyal to a large corporate company for the greater portion of his working career, he was an entrepreneur at heart. I believe, had circumstances been different, he would have started his own business. He used to repair motor cars on weekends to generate extra income to help support and educate our family.
Two of my brothers initially followed suit into large companies but Later on in life, started their own businesses.”
Int: Do you have any role models in your life?
“My role model is the Lord. He is the basis of everything. I’ve tried to put His character and principles into the business, my family life and my personal life. I’ve seen and worked with several people along my business journey and liked the way some of them worked. I’ve taken a bit of something from each one – following the good examples and leaving the not so good!”
Int: What was your education and training, and did you possess any special skills to start your business?
“I never applied myself very well at school and so never achieved great results. I don’t have a South African Matric but finished school with the British GCE ‘O’ Level grade. After school, I didn’t have a desire to further my education but really wanted to earn money.
I would say that I like being with people and learning about them, which automatically led me into work where I was meeting new people. Through that I went into the Sales field.”
Int: Did you have a job before, and what was the nature of the job?
“After school I spent a few years trying to complete a Radio Technician apprenticeship but really couldn’t settle and so my business journey started as the Team Leader of a group of ladies who went door to door in office blocks selling jewellery. I moved from there to a company that sold Plastic Piping and Valves where I worked in the Stores department doing stock control. I was promoted from there to Counter Sales and then given a brand-new company car (which I crashed on the first day!) I was told to go and find new customers, which I did and really enjoyed that.”
Int: Did your previous job experience help you in your venture?
“Yes, it definitely did. Over the years I learned a tremendous amount. I gained product knowledge, customer and supplier contacts as well as general administration and distribution experience. I learned that communication between people is of utmost importance.”
Int: How did you come about the business opportunity?
The company I was working for was beginning to lose market share and eventually their cash flow was at critical levels. They had a Cash Sales outlet in Johannesburg, which I was instrumental in starting up some years before. I asked if I could buy this branch from them and my offer was accepted.
Int: Did you have to change your goals and lifestyle to start the business?
Not really. In my life everything revolves around my relationship with the Lord, so whether I was working for a boss or managing my own business, I was focussed on Him and His principles. So, in essence, I did things the same way, it was just the job that was different.
Int: How did you evaluate the opportunity?
There wasn’t too much time for me to properly evaluate this opportunity because a decision needed to be made quickly. The evaluation I made came from my experience in the market up to that point. I did sales forecasts and estimated costings, so there was a bit of evaluation but nothing in depth.
Int: How did you evaluate the level of competition in the market?
“There were really only about four other companies doing the same type of business that we were doing. They were situated geographically quite far away from us. We didn’t interfere with them or their customers and they didn’t bother us. We had heard in the market place that they were not supplying their customers a satisfactory service, so I knew if we provided good service with quality products at the right price, we would grow the business.”
Int: Did you start on your own, or do you have partners?
I started on my own with my wife who I consider to be my partner. As the business grew, we gave shares to two of our sons who work in the business. A third son of ours has recently joined the business so it is a real family business!
Int: Did you compile a business plan to start up?
I didn’t do a business plan in the beginning. As mentioned, I did a basic sales forecast with costs projected for three years to see if it was a viable venture. By God’s grace I didn’t have to apply for a loan to start the business, so a full business plan wasn’t necessary.
Int: How long did it take to compile the forecasts?
“It took me about a week to do the forecast with costs. I still do the forecast and budget every year so that we have a set plan to follow. I have a system of monitoring the sales and expenses daily and this helps to keep one step ahead of whatever situations arise. I spend about 30-60mins a night updating the figures.”
“…time with the Master…’
Part Two will follow next week.
“…time with the Master…” is an on-going series of teachings, about lifestyle in the Church and is published bi-monthly.
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