How did you identify an opportunity in the market for your services?
That came about as the result of a combination of things – my qualifications, my need to work with people, the fact that I struggled to find a job I really wanted, and my desire to be an entrepreneur.
Where did you find start-up capital?
We had no start-up capital. I had a fax machine, and my partner had a computer and a printer. We worked from my house in Kempton Park.
All we had to invest at the time were our brains and a lot of hard work and commitment. People think you have to come from a rich family to be rich, but if you have a good idea and are prepared to work hard, you can achieve incredible wealth.
What was your differentiator?
Many recruitment agencies will focus only on placing people to secure their commission, ignoring the needs of the candidate and the company. My approach is based entirely on matching competencies with needs, and my business is based on ethics and professionalism.
You cannot build long-term relationships with clients by focusing only on quick wins. I insist on a thorough, in-depth analysis of our clients’ needs and organisational culture and of the candidates’ skills and work experience. Our after sales service is consistent and we always follow up on the progress of the candidates we place. The aim is to form business partnerships.
What was your big break?
We landed a huge labour broking contract from one of the parastatals that required us to find 500 employees.
What was your key sales strategy?
I have invested a lot in branding the company. Also, I insist that everyone – from the candidate to the managing director of our client organisation – obtains excellent service from us. Referrals are an invaluable sales tool. Often candidates I placed many years ago, and who have since moved into positions of seniority, call me for assistance because of the service they received from us.
What was your marketing strategy?
It’s always about the quality of the service you provide. You and your employees are not the only people who market your organisation – every happy customer does so too.
The company initially focused purely on recruitment. We have steadily expanded our service offering over the years and now we offer a whole range of services over and above that. These include business consulting, business process reengineering, training, human capital management, coaching and mentoring services, and conflict and stress management.
We are becoming an organisation that focuses on the well being of the whole person. Also, I know that what we are doing is helping to grow our economy because we are developing people who can make a positive contribution to the country.
What was the biggest obstacle you faced?
There are many recruitment agencies out there. The challenge was to come up with something unique – where most companies will do either recruitment or consulting, we offer a full range of business consulting services. We’ve also had to compete with the many agencies who work out of a garage and charge only minimal fees.
We have had to convince our clients that we charge a fee that is commensurate with the services and skills we provide; I demand a fair and reasonable reward for the work I am doing, so I will not undercharge just to get the business.
Perhaps the biggest challenge for me personally has been getting people to treat me like an adult. When they meet me, they think I’m a baby. Thankfully that perception soon changes once I’ve had a chance to talk to them.
The books that have most inspired me are the ones that remind me what I already know, but tend to forget:
- Capitalist Nigger: The Road to Success by Chika Onyeani
- Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson
- Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
Anything that does not grow is dead.