I love stories that inspire. For all the entrepreneurs out there here is some sage advice from a very successful businessman.

“Matekane Shares His Recipe For Success.”

 “When you have a vision, nothing can stop you.”

“Matekane told a business seminar last week that his wealth had not dropped from the sky but was a result of many years of perseverance and hard work.

He narrated the story of his humble beginnings in 1986 when he launched himself in business as a sole proprietor operating a brick manufacturing business in Lesotho.

“The first lesson I learnt then was that it is essential to separate my business from me as a person . . .,” said Matekane.

“Even though I did not have money, I learnt to have my funds as a person which were separate from the  funds for  the business,” added the tycoon, whose sprawling empire now includes a road construction business, property developments, mines in various African  countries, an aviation arm, among other lucrative endeavours.

He said the uncontrollable lust for the finer things in life among young business people explained the high failure rate of new business.

“It’s still a challenge for businesses to separate funds of the owner and funds for the business. On being paid out after getting the first tender, the first thing some young entrepreneur thinks about is buying a luxurious car while forgetting about the future of the business . . .,” said Matekane.

“If you fail to separate the business funds from yours, the business will collapse. This is not to say you should not enjoy the fruits of your business . . . . The right thing to do is to pay yourself a salary. When the salary is exhausted, know that you haven’t got any money anymore and avoid dipping your fingers in the business finances. Wait until your next pay cheque.”

When his brick manufacturing business started growing, Matekane said he transformed it from a sole proprietorship into a company and expanded it into plant hire after buying his first truck.

“I was the driver of the truck, the loader, the mechanic, the manager, the secretary since I answered calls from prospective customers . . .,” he said.

As the business grew, he said he then learnt of the crucial need to have appropriate support structures to succeed.

One of the biggest pitfalls of local business owners, Matekane said, was the reluctance to let go of the reins of control and delegate tasks to employees.

“We always want to be in control and oversee everything and fail to seek help and expertise.

“You need to hire and deploy good experienced staff and managers and give them the resources to succeed and you will get good quality output . . . I do not believe in failure.”

“Set achievable goals but strive to challenge yourself as well,” he advised.

From plant hire, Matekane narrated how he had then ventured into road construction, mining, property development and now aviation. He said financial discipline had helped him achieve success as he never squandered money to grow his business by investing in unnecessary things.

“As the business grows, its demands grow . . . You cannot start today and be wealthy the next day. It takes patience and hard work . . . ,” he said.

After expanding into road construction, Matekane said he had to learn fast about that sector as he was not an engineer.

“Acquiring skills and knowledge is an important part of running a business, I knew that I should know what an engineer does, his budgets, among other things, so that I know what to expect from him and he knows what to expect from me as the employer . . . ,” said Matekane.

He said putting ideas into action was a problem for many businesses. “We need to set targets of when action would be taken and by whom. We also need to set achievable goals . . .,” he said.

“Start small but dream big”, Matekane advised.”

On a much smaller scale sometimes one’s aim is to have just enough to survive, with maybe a little extra. Like the man who sells felafels in Sea Point, Cape Town. First thing in the morning he makes the felafels, and towards lunchtime he visits the various businesses in the area to sell his ware, often finding repeat customers. When there is nothing more to sell, he has the rest of the day to himself. No overheads, no financial stress, self-contained, easily manageable, simple, freedom…

He is thinking of going to live overseas and the beauty of his business is that it can be easily replicated in another country.

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