LEARNING CURVE | In the business of people
With only her personal savings to rely on and more than 13 years of work experience in human resources, Port Elizabeth’s Nomazibulo Tshanga has managed to turn a burning desire to make a difference into the successful Ziyana Business Consulting and Training.
1. Please share some background on yourself and how the business was started?
I was born and bred in Port Elizabeth and I grew up in the dusty streets of Zwide.
I graduated from Nelson Mandela University with a B Tech in human resource management in 2005 and then I went on to further my studies and completed a postgraduate diploma in business administration from the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business, and in 2014 I completed an Executive Development Programme from Wits Business School.
My last job was that of HR and transformation director at Bidvest Steiner.
In 2016, before I quit my job, I started the company — Ziyana Business Consulting and Training.
2. What is your core service?
We are in the business of people.
We assist organisations with employment value proposition and we have a strong focus on organisational culture, talent sourcing, learning and development, payroll management and general HR consulting.
We are passionate about organisational growth through effective people management strategies.
3. Where was the idea born?
Starting my own business was a natural progression for me.
In corporate, I was already occupying the highest role I could get [directorship] and I wanted to be more and do more in terms of contributing by means of employment and skills development.
4. What makes your business unique?
Our unique business proposition is “Customer Centricity” as we tailor-make our solutions to fit our clients’ needs at an affordable price/value relationship.
We pride ourselves in quality and technology.
Our solutions are disruptive and out-of-the-box thinking.
5. If someone wanted to copy your business model, how would they start?
It will be difficult — we are a one-stop-shop for all HR solutions and our customer relationship model is that which cannot be copied.
It’s authentic and based on our exceptional delivery.
6. What are some of the biggest inhibitors your business faced before getting off the ground?
The biggest challenges I faced were start-up capital, human resources and SA Revenue Services (Sars) compliance.
It was difficult to start the business without funding, but because I was driven by my passion, I had to tap into my personal savings, which helped a lot with registering the business, setting it up in terms of getting websites, e-mail addresses, laptops and a business telephone.
I worked from home for about six months and I then moved into a shared office space before having a proper office.
Having a skilled workforce to deliver to my clients was also a challenge, so it meant I needed to wear different hats in my business.
I needed to go out there and acquire business and still implement that business.
I had to put in extra hours as I was working alone at the time. I made a lot of sacrifices.
There are a lot of legislative requirements to comply with, such as UIF, PAYE and income tax, so I needed to ensure I hired a freelance bookkeeper who keeps me in check and submits to Sars as required, and that money had to come from somewhere.
In some instances, when I would tender for business, documents like COIDA were required and I had to ensure I complied.
7. Do you have any tips for budding entrepreneurs or new business owners?
I would advise budding entrepreneurs to save up enough money for start-up capital and if employed, save up enough money to cover for their salary for at least one year.
Familiarise themselves with Sars compliance, as well as professional bodies in their industry.
Never neglect to budget and manage their business cash flow as this can have a positive or negative effect the business.
Always be professional, have a company website and professional e-mail address.
8. What are some of your biggest challenges in day-to-day business operations in your particular industry?
My biggest challenges are accreditation processes, which are cumbersome and take time because of red tape.
Managing cash flow in your business also becomes critical.
Cash flow is the lifeblood of the business and how it’s managed can mean the difference between your company’s success or failure.
I found it challenging to manage cash flow when I needed to reinvest the money back into the business.
Also, I had other clients that took longer to pay me, which made things more difficult.
Access to markets is still a challenge.
You find a lot of big corporate/brands doing business with other big consulting firms that have been in the industry for quite some time.
As an SMME, I had to continuously prove I could deliver as promised.
9. What is the best advice anyone gave you on success?
“Remember to decide the story you tell yourself.”
10. How do you measure or define success in your business?
I measure the business by profit margins, customer feedback, fulfilled vision and employee growth.
11. What are some of the best practices that have made your business successful?
The best practices that have made my business successful are exceeding customer expectation, building trust and having integrity.
12. What kind of advertising do you do?
I use our website, social media, client referrals, exhibiting and workshops.
13. What is your company’s vision?
To provide innovative and impactful people management solutions in Africa.
14. What is your target market?
Our target market is the private sector (medium and big-sized businesses), as well as the public sector (parastatal and government).
15. What have some of your highlights been in running your business?
Executing successful learnerships — skills development and job placement of executive/director level positions.
16. How important are social media and an online presence for your business?
An online presence is important to drive business marketing and to connect with potential clients and candidates.
We are also big on professionalism and industry trends.
17. How many people do you employ?
18. Do you have any plans for expanding the business, and how would you go about this?
I do have expansion plans into Africa to fulfil our vision.
We are slowly building relationships outside SA and also starting to engage with companies that have an African footprint.
Also, by attending networking sessions outside SA.
19. How did you acquire funding for the business?
I started the company from a zero base with no funding.
I used some of my personal savings, so the company is self-funded.
20. What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt from your business journey so far?
I’ve learnt to always be in Sars’ good books (PAYE — VAT — tax and so on), lower your operational expenses and deliver what you’ve promised to clients.
21. What have been the greatest challenges and advantages of running your business in a city like PE?
The company head office is based in Centurion, Pretoria, but I do have clients in Port Elizabeth.
A limited pool of industry suitable facilitators has been our challenge.
Also, our clients based in PE take longer to make decisions because head office is either in Johannesburg, Durban or Cape Town.
22. How important has mentorship been to you in your entrepreneurial journey?
It has been very impactful and positive.
It guides me to navigate the industry and in being an entrepreneur.
It provided guidance to some business principles when I needed them the most.
It has been my calm during the storm, it keeps me in check and sane.
23. What do you think are the three key traits of a successful entrepreneur?
Have a vision — a big picture, a strong work ethic/discipline and a selling skill.
24. How do you motivate staff?
By encouraging creativity and taking initiative.
Also keeping them engaged, and continuous learning.
25. What do you wish people knew about your industry?
There is a lot of red tape and legislative requirements.