Financial advice from entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs

The 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year® winners share the best financial advice they have ever received.

Given the current challenging economic climate with South Africa’s GDP growth expected to remain flat at 0.1% for the year according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), it is becoming increasingly difficult for entrepreneurs to ensure the financial sustainability of their businesses.

As there are many factors which contribute to the effective management of cash flow within a business, we asked some of the winners of the 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS to provide us with the best financial advice that they have been given while growing their businesses.

“Remember that your business is a long-term investment.” Says Johan Eksteen of Agricon, 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year® winner. “Always look at the bigger picture and be aware of how any decision can impact the future. When it comes to short-term solutions, you can’t ‘buy yourself rich’, so rather focus on selling your product or service as this is a sure-fire way to generate a healthy cash flow.”

In the same breath, Meisie Nkosi of Bella Bonni Guest House and 2016 Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year® winner goes on to say that finance is the heartbeat of a business. “Keeping an eye on daily expenditure and auditing these periodically will help you manage day-to-day finances. In order to maintain a healthy profit margin, make sure you price your product or service correctly,” she adds.

“Also make sure you find the right investor,” points out Carl Pretorius of Just Trees and 2016 Medium Business Entrepreneur of the Year® winner, who says that it is important to ensure that whoever invests in your business shares your vision and expectations. “I would also advise finding an investor that is patient as things don’t always go exactly according to plan and they may need to wait for the return,” he explains.

Michael Roberts of Khonology, 2016 Job Creator of the Year winner says that when building a business, you should manage your cash flow as if your life depends on it, because your business does. “My mantra is ‘Revenue is vanity, profit sanity, and cash is reality’,’” he continues.

Vanessa Jacobs of Sow Delicious and 2016 Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year® winner shares the same sentiment as Michael and recommends running a business on a “cash” basis. “I try to use cash when it comes to making and receiving payments as I find this helps to monitor cash flow and make better decisions for my business while ensuring steady growth,” she concludes.

SA’s top entrepreneurs recognised at 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition

South Africa’s premier annual entrepreneurial competition, Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and Business/Partners, has named Johan Eksteen, second-time finalist and owner of Agricon, as the overall winner of the 2016 competition in Johannesburg this morning.

Speaking at the event, spokesperson for the 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and Business/Partners, Gugu Mjadu says that Eksteen was selected as the overall 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year® winner due to his strong entrepreneurial attitude and the remarkable growth and expansion that his business has exhibited since first entering the competition two years ago.

“Since being named a finalist in the 2014 competition, Agricon has not only expanded and experienced rapid growth in turnover, but has also made improvements in its business processes which have contributed to its growth,” says Mjadu.

She adds that the high calibre of business acumen and entrepreneurial talent of the finalists this year made it no easy task for the judging panel to decide on six category winners from the 15 deserving entrepreneurs who were selected to advance to the final round of judging.

Other 2016 category winners include:

  • 2016 Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year®:Vanessa Jacobs, founder and owner of Sow Delicious. Sow Delicious® is an edible gardening store, whose easy-to-grow vegetable and herb Slab of Seed® invention is making edible gardening more accessible for the ordinary, non-gardener consumer.
  • 2016 Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year®: Meisie Nkosi, owner of Bella Bonni Guest House. Four star graded Bella Bonni Guest House, based in eMalahleni (Witbank) and encompassing 18 rooms, has managed to stand the test of time during challenging economic conditions since opening its doors in 2006. 
  • 2016 Medium Business Entrepreneur of the Year®: Carl Pretorius, founder and owner of Just Trees. Recognised for its economically strong, yet environmentally friendly business practices, Just Trees is a wholesale tree nursery that supplies specimen container grown trees to the trade throughout South Africa, as well as to certain export markets.
  • 2016 Job Creator of the Year®: Michael Roberts, owner and founder of Khonology. Founded in 2013 in a response to skills shortages in the South African technology sector, Khonology has played a significant role in bridging the gap between academia and corporate expectations for graduates entering the workforce by equipping them with vital technological and financial skills.
  • 2016 Innovator of the Year®: Stacey Brewer and Ryan Harrison, co-founders of SPARK Schools. SPARK Schools is a network of primary schools dedicated to delivering sustainable, affordable and high quality education by using a blended learning programme, which combines traditional classroom teaching and online learning, to individualise education for all students.

Now in its 28th year, the 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and Business/Partners aims to honour, recognise and uplift South African small and medium enterprises (SMEs) by providing a platform for entrepreneurs to showcase their achievements and elevate their business profiles – as well as their profits.

Mjadu says that given the current job market and economic landscape, now more than ever, South Africa needs to rally behind and support local entrepreneurs. “Given South Africa’s high unemployment rate of 26.6%, the country needs to promote entrepreneurship and support its main job creators – local entrepreneurs. Agile by nature, entrepreneurs are eternal optimists and will continue to see opportunity rather than challenges when faced with adversity.

“The 2016 group of 15 finalists have created 1071 job opportunities. This is just a small handful of South Africa’s many entrepreneurs. The more we recognise our local economic heroes, the more we can inspire other individuals to embark on their own entrepreneurial journey,” says Mjadu.

The competition provides prizes worth R2 million, with the overall winner receiving a cash prize of R150 000 and the other category winners receiving R50 000 each. Each winner also receives diagnostic analysis of their businesses coupled with valuable mentorship support, networking opportunities and associated marketing and national media exposure to further drive their business’ success. Mjadu says that while the cash prize is always valuable to a business, the true value in the entrepreneurial platform lies in the networking opportunities secured through the competition’s network.

Mjadu concludes that the success of this year’s winners is testament to the thriving level of entrepreneurial talent and success present in the country. “In addition to celebrating excellence in entrepreneurship, we hope that this impressive group of winners will inspire others to succeed in the competitive and innovative world of business.”

Emalahleni woman awarded Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year® award

Meisie Nkosi, owner of the 100% black woman-owned Bella Bonni Guest House, has been awarded the Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year® title at the annual 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS awards ceremony, held in Johannesburg this morning.

Established in 2006 in eMalahleni (Witbank) and catering for discerning private and corporate guests, Bella Bonni Guest House, has managed to stand the test of time, despite challenging economic conditions since opening its doors.

The judges were extremely impressed by Meisie’s ability to establish and grow a thriving business in the hospitality industry in an area that is not typically a tourist hotspot. “Meisie’s challenge is that, being based in Witbank, she is not able to rely on seasonal tourists like a business in Cape Town may do. However, she continues to grow her brand and satisfy a demand for accommodation in the area and has successfully adapted to her surroundings in order to do this,” commented the judges.

Originally focusing on only serving clients from the mines and power stations, South Africa’s economic downturn had an effect on Bella Bonni Guest House’s business as this clientele declined. This immediately prompted Meisie to research other areas of the market that the guest house could focus on in order to expand. By actively targeting the widespread tourism offices, Meisie has successfully opened the guest house’s reach to more commercial clients, while still maintaining original corporate relationships.

A former teacher, Meisie has been involved in informal businesses from a very young age and never imagined one day owning a thriving formal business. It was only when she was discovered and acknowledged for her passion for service through various business awards, that she realised she was, in fact, an entrepreneur.

Meisie says being selected as a winner in the national competition affirms that the business is on the right path. “This award will provide us with exposure, boosting our brand, and prove that we stand out from the crowd amongst our peers, clients and investors. Additionally, winning this award will be a big motivator internally, making staff proud to be part of the business, which is worth more than any cash reward and makes the whole experience incredibly rewarding.”

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