Learning Curve | Dream of own business adds up
Throughout Ncumisa Nodaka’s schooling career, she dreamt of owning her own business.
The 30-year-old now owns her own accounting firm, Ncumisa Chartered Accountants, assisting much bigger clients than her family’s small businesses with which she started off.
The business, based in Walmer, Port Elizabeth, offers accounting, auditing, consulting and tax advisory services.
Can you give me some background on yourself, and how and when you started the business?
I was born in Humansdorp, where I completed my primary and high school education.
I studied BAcc at Stellenbosch University and graduated in December 2010.
I started the business in 2015 in a part-time capacity, helping friends and family with their books, and company and personal income tax returns.
Where was the idea for the business born?
After graduating, I worked at the Belville branch of Sars for a year.
Here I found that a number of people weren’t always aware what they needed to submit to Sars or knew why Sars even existed.
I saw the great need for education and awareness – particularly for those who were selfemployed or had more than one source of income.
During my article years, I was inspired by the many family-run businesses the company I worked for would audit.
What do you think makes your business unique?
I think our unique selling point is that we continuously try to educate our clients and their staff members.
We believe in giving back control to our clients when its comes to their business operations.Our methods equip them with enough knowledge so they are able to read and understand their management accounts and financial statements.
We offer training workshops to business owners and each workshop is focused on controls that should be in place – even if you are running a small business – to ensure you are running a sustainable and growing business.
If someone wanted to take one key lesson from your business model, what would it be?
Always take the time to fully understand your client or target audience.
Everything else surfaces from there.
What are some of the biggest inhibitors your business faced before even getting off the ground?
We did not have an appropriately located office where we could meet clients in a professional environment.
In this industry, perception adds to someone’s confidence in your ability to perform the work and deliver the finished product.
We needed to first look the part before even starting to perform the work. What are some of your biggest challenges in day-to-day business operations and your particular industry?
There is a great demand for our service offering and what we have found is that there are individuals or business owners who do not like to pay for our type of service.
What is the best advice anyone ever gave you about success?
It’s a long and lonely road to success – do not neglect your support structure (family and friends).
How do you measure or define success in your business?
When a client sends us an e-mail or calls us following up on things that should be done without us having to remind them, that is when we know the work that we put in is not in vain.
So, definitely the positive impact we have made on our clients and their businesses – that to us is success.
What are some of the best practices that have made your business successful?
Adjusting your service offering to your clients’ needs. Continuous communication and transparency with all our clients.
What kind of advertising do you do?
Facebook boosting and attending networking sessions hosted by Ibhayi Small Business Chamber.
What are some of your highlights in running your business?
The different people we meet and the exposure to so many different industries.
How many people do you employ?
We are seven employees.
How do you motivate staff?
I think the culture within an organisation plays a big factor in keeping staff motivated and operating as a team. This starts even before appointing staff members.
I am more interested in the person as they already have the qualifications, otherwise they would not have been selected for the interview. I believe staff members are assets in any business.
How did you acquire funding for the business?
I had to sell some personal assets to get the business started.
Once you had funding, what was the first step in actually launching the business?
I had to sort out the administration as I had to have a practising licence, appropriate software tools and reliable computer equipment.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt from your business journey so far? Many entrepreneurs make it look easy, but I can definitely say it is not easy and not everyone is destined to be an entrepreneur.
Focus on the success of your business and keep pushing on.
What has been the greatest challenges and advantages of running your business in a city like PE?
I must be honest – moving from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth in 2013, I felt I had made the worst mistake of my life, but PE grows on you and I love this city.
I believe running a business in PE means we still have the advantage of growth within each respective industry compared to cities like Jo’burg and Cape Town. The challenge I have experienced in PE is that many of the business circles are still very cliquish.
It is only when one from the group gives you a stamp of approval that you as a company are deemed satisfactory. People buy into people and go in business with people they like.
What do you think are the three key traits of a successful entrepreneur?
Always have room to learn something new, you do not know it all.
Read, it broadens the way you think, you may even be inspired (take care of the mind).
Take care of your body – relax, exercise. Health is wealth.