Square pegs

Entrepreneurial traits breed success, but it’s not always easy

One of the reasons why the life of an entrepreneur is so hard is that the character traits that make them successful can also be difficult to live with. An important part of Xolisile Nkosi's success as an entrepreneur is that her driven and contrarian impulses make her very quick to act, but they have also given her a whole archive full of quirky stories from her business career. She remembers with a tinge of regret how, as a youngster, she blew...
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Earning a degree in property entrepreneurship

Many entrepreneurs are well known for dropping out of whatever university their hopeful parents had enrolled them, but what is often underplayed in the recounting of their stories is that they take learning very seriously, and undergo intense learning courses of their own making. Take Quintin Groenewald, who at the age of 21 decided to become a property entrepreneur. He took to the library of the North-West University where he was a student and ...
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Inspiring journey to business success

Even dreaming about becoming an entrepreneur was too much of a luxury for Christian Shabalala as he grew up in the grinding poverty of the rural outskirts of Ladysmith. Every day as he walked the many dusty kilometres back home from the farm school, gathering the family's few cows along the way, his most audacious dream was of having a job as an agricultural adviser one day. Dreaming of actually having a farm was just too far out of reach. ...
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Epic fight to save business from crisis succeeds

The markings of entrepreneurial ingenuity are often portrayed as the size of the empire built, the amount of profit generated or the number of businesses started. In contrast, an often unrecognised sign of business prowess is an entrepreneur's ability to overcome a calamity that would take down any lesser business owner. Michael Kinsey, who has built his company, Kinsey Engineering, from scratch over thirty years, has just such a war story...
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Start-up risks countered with research and planning

After a lifetime's worth of intense organisational and managerial experience, you would think that starting a straight-forward lifestyle-type enterprise would be breeze. It certainly is not, says Willie Naude, 59-year-old owner of Big Sky Cottages, a brand-new mountain resort with ten self-catering chalets near Wolseley in the Western Cape. Naude has no problem planning and executing a project. As a technical director of television product...
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The rewards of giving back through mentorship

Roy Lailvaux's career is a strong argument that every successful business owner should consider becoming a mentor to beginner business owners – not necessarily some time after their retirement, but even while they run their own businesses. Lailvaux, a Johannesburg-based restaurant entrepreneur, is 56 years old and at the top of his game. He currently owns two successful restaurants and is starting up a third – a tough workload even by ...
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Bringing the world to South Africa

In an unforgiving tourist mecca like Cape Town it takes some doing to establish a restaurant so popular that the queue for a table sometimes stretches out into the street. For restaurateur Johnny van der Westhuizen, co-owner of Manna Epicure in the city centre, it has been a long journey of international exploration and passion. Born and raised in the tiny rural village of Citrusdal, Van der Westhuizen formed part of a wave of young South ...
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Testament to entrepreneur’s ability to adapt, grow

In her first business plan for her tourist accommodation company, Nocwaka Mazaleni envisioned a small upmarket boutique hotel in Cape Town with 60 rooms in the African fusion style which she became known for as a fashion designer. She is not quite there yet, but her Kwantu guest houses in Milnerton is a testament to an entrepreneur's ability to grow incrementally, to adapt a business plan according to the realities of the market and the av...
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Building on a rich legacy of caring entrepreneurship

Given the fact that the legal and cultural suppression of women in business has only recently started lifting, South Africa has a surprisingly deep tradition of female entrepreneurship. And if the story of Kgomotso Shiluvane is anything to go by, it is a tradition that combines business success with social consciousness and care. Shiluvane, founder-owner of the Lunghile Nursing School, a fast-growing academy that trains and develops nurse...
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Trailblazing success built on ferocious determination, support networks

It is highly unusual to find someone who ventures into business for the first time in her late sixties, especially if it entails starting entirely from scratch and turning a derelict plot into an idyllic guest house. But a closer look at the extraordinary career of Annette Combrink, owner of the Mooirivier Oewer Guest House in Potchefstroom, removes at least some of the surprise: here is someone who was never going to retire quietly. In ...
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