Our Entrepreneur spotlight advice for today is: Don’t give up. I interviewed Labo Nkunku, a good friend of mine from many moons ago. I have been asking Labo for a chance to put her in the spotlight for quite sometime. This day we finally pinned a time down in our calendars to do a telephonic interview and I was excited.
Tell us more about yourself
I grew up in semi-rural township of Empangeni, next to Richards Bay. I started school young, finished high school at 16years and remember being a very independent person. When I was at university, I was already pushing a business in my second year.
In my early career, I joined a Project Management consulting company. I decided to go in to corporate to get formalised experience in business. This was supposed to be just for a year, but I ended up doing it for some years, until finally in 2016 – I decided to take the leap of faith and go in to business.
I am the founder of Labo World, a professional service provider company built on 20 years of experience working in different business environments. I learned in business there are a lot of ups and downs, sometimes more downs that ups. As a business person you need the tenacity and guts to keep going. You are the one that will keep yourself and your staff motivated.
In all the times I started a business, my main driving factors were financial. I needed to supplement my income, in my own terms.
What business are you currently running?
I am currently running a professional services company, based on the following 4 pillars of service delivey:
We offer project management consultation services. I sort of hold entrepreneurs by the hand, providing them advice on the steps to take to run a successful project. I work with projects in the following sectors: (1) Financial services, (2) FMCG, (3) Construction, (4) Interior design, (5) IT etc.
I help companied with business transformation and management consulting services. This helps businesses transform and change their processes for better results and output, I also provide training.
I do public speaking at various events, for motivational or educational purposes – or just sharing ideas and concepts.
Even though I do not make money out of it, I have made this a part of my business. Many companies have CSI as an afterthought, I believe that community engagement should be intentional and part of everyday business. The goal should be to help humanity.
My main passion in life is helping people, progressing humanity
How did you fund your business?
I am funding myself, I did try to apply for outside funding when I started my first decor business. There was a lot of paperwork required from entrepreneurs, that we just don’t have. You are just starting out, and being asked for history of financial statements you do not have. Small business funding in SA is just not geared towards entrepreneurship or startups.
Funding is currently geared towards people who have “old money”, the system is rigged so the already rich get richer.
The second business venture, the one I am busy with now – I just did not even bother going down that route.
Challenges in your business
Marketing and converting sales. Marketing is expensive, I struggle with getting marketing done. In addition, converting those leads to paying customers is an additional challenge.
What has Government done to help you?
This time round in business, I did not even try to get government assistance. I did not have the energy to deal with all the drama of government.
You would go in there and not understand the protocol, people talk in code and you are confused about what is really going on. Later on you realise the code talk was for “what am I going to get out of it”.
Entrepreneur Spotlight: Don’t give up – Advice you have for other entrepreneurs
Don’t give up, never ever give up. Keep learning and adjusting your sails. If you have an appetite for learning, you can grow. When things are not working, find new ways of achieving your goals.
What would you do differently now?
I would invest more in understanding my customer and learn about what makes them tick.
If you won R1 million, how would you spend it?
Simplify life for my clients, have a slick website with better engagement. I would spend more on marketing, branding and sales people. I would also invest in other people who are not yet employed, teach them to do what I do. In this way, I can get collaboration partners. I see this business expanding across the world, it will need more people to expand it.
As black women we need to stop working in isolation and start supporting each other. We need to look for black service providers, and support black businesses. This should be a conscious decision.
Connect with Labo
Entrepreneur Spotlight: Don’t give up – Published by Tati Digital Connect, featuring Labo Nkunku.