What did you do before you started working at Atlegang?
I was a part-time employee at Dial-A-Student in Braamfontein while completing my studies at the University of Johannesburg. As a hobby (or perhaps a calling), myself and two friends registered companies for other people and assisted in a lot of business setups, drawing up plans, visiting big corporates to try learn whatever we could as we weren’t sure which path of business we wanted to venture into. As a result I never registered any company of my own.
How did you start your business?
It is actually funny – one of my two friends I mentioned on WhatsApp a job offer in one of his companies that I helped to setup a year prior. I think he was just pulling my leg as he knew that the entrepreneur in me would refuse – but, to his surprise, I accepted, only to find out that he was assisting the Director of Atlegang Business Consulting, Dichabe Lebotse, to hire an intern. From that, Dichabe and I clicked at first sight. We have now grown side-by-side and are both determined to take our organisation to greater heights – of course, with the help of the rest of the team and the support of our non-executive chairman, Nselelo Nxasana.
What challenges does your business face?
Getting our name out there as much as we would like, getting the brand to our target market, and making ourselves more recognisable in the market. Marketing is very expensive, and if we want to execute our entire marketing plan for this year, we would need in excess of R150 000, which is a huge figure for any SMME, so this leaves us with a challenge. We have to sacrifice but, because our name is not out there as much as we would like (or as necessary), we aren’t bringing in the revenue that will enable us to grow and develop rapidly. We are also looking at establishing a branch in the North West, and we will need the revenue to invest in this expansion.
Do you have a business mentor?
As a company, no not officially – but we have since been in alliance with Shanduka Black Umbrellas as we are in the Johannesburg incubation of SBU and are working closely with them to get a mentor.
What is the best advice have you received?
I have received a lot of advice throughout my journey, and all of it has been valuable in its own way. I can summarise them all like this; leadership is not about qualification or position, it is about you, the person, your integrity, humility and vision. Learn to listen more and speak less.
What mistakes have you made that others can learn from?
As a bright student from high school to graduating twice at UJ, I somehow thought that I would go straight from UJ to own a multi-million rand company or to be a CEO of a big corporate. I thought I was going to have it easy. However, I have since realised that there’s no shortcuts in life, one has to work hard and you have to earn everything. Fortunately for me, my realisation comes when I still have time on my side –after all, I just turned 23 a few days ago!
Have you established good business relationships?
Yes, because our company culture is deeply rooted in the humility we have managed to build through our strong relationships with different stakeholders from different backgrounds, including our service providers and bigger institutions. Our clients still remain the best relationships we have built, as we boast a 90% hit rate and 99% retention rate. A forever-growing relationship is the one we enjoy with Shanduka Black Umbrellas. We have also just brought in Sage One, powered by Sage Pastel, as a strategic partner.
What social media do you use for your business?
As an SMME, we are very cost effective so we use whatsApp a lot to communicate within the organisation and with clients, also just because it is more effective than SMS. We also, as a marketing tool use LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram to communicate at large and our handle is Atlegang Business Consulting across the board.
What did you study that you have never used since university?
A lot, in fact – almost everything, with the exception of Accounting principles, Economics theories, Maths and English. For me, one learns a lot from the environment that exists at schools/universities rather than the classroom, I have met and learnt from enormous intelligent people at school/university premises outside the classroom. Learn from the guy next to you, the security at the gate, the girl at cafeteria or the nerd in the bus. With this, school is still very important, the experience is priceless, one which I would want for my kids.