In 2015, Johannesburg-based entrepreneur Seola Mashamaite needed to raise funds to fulfill an order for laboratory equipment her company was unable to fund.
Her company, Mon-Cal, supplies and repairs laboratory equipment for companies like B. Braun Medical, Gibela Rail Transport Consortium, TACS Laboratories and Exoweld, and also provides calibration services (checks the accuracy of measuring instruments) catering for sectors including pharmaceutical, food manufacturing and logistics.
Unexpectedly it was Mashamaite’s history of running a very tight ship that secured both the investment to fulfill the purchase order as well as get her suppliers in the US to accept a 20% deposit, much less than the industry standard of 50%.
“I am pretty organised, a sucker for things to be in order,” says Mashamaite who has a diploma in chemical engineering from the University of Johannesburg.
Mashamaite says she has built up solid business processes – optimising business structures and maintaining appropriate systems that have helped her keep track of the business’ key metrics and financials. This in turn has allowed for better decision making.
Mashamaite has grown Mon-Cal into a multi-million rand business, the company generated R1.9 million in the first year, and is projected to generate over R2 million this coming financial year and has clients across Africa.
“I remember paying R6 000 for audited year-end financials in the beginning and the only activity in the business was me putting in money in the company. [There were] no invoices/income, yet I knew I had to do that,” says Mashamaite.
These are habits that investors typically look for when looking to invest in a business.
“Success is about habits, most entrepreneurs fail because they have poor habits,” says entrepreneurship champion and venture capitalist, Vusi Thembekwayo, who nurtures high-growth black entrepreneurs as part of his mentorship programme, #Top40, under MyGrowthFund (MGF). His programme requires entrepreneurs know their numbers and present audited financial statements.
ISO – Do Or Die
While being organised is second nature to Mashamaite, because of the nature of her business, it is also an integral part of her business. Mon-Cal is ISO accredited which requires that she adheres to strict standards set by the international body. ISO, is the International Organization for Standardization which gives world-class specifications for products, services and systems, to ensure quality, safety and efficiency. An accreditation such as this offers numerous advantages; building brand recognition and customer confidence, meeting compliance requirements, reducing running costs, and offers access to new opportunities and markets.
“This has also assisted me in the financial side where everything should be kept in order (for example, monthly reports),” says Mashamaite.
“When you run an accredited laboratory, it’s ingrained in you to have a system that works for you and improve it daily. Documented procedures and proof of implementation are what [keep the business going]. I believe I am in business for two possibilities: to one day be bought out or long term for the next generation. In both instances, you will need to have organised books/documents,” she says.
Make It A Habit
Mashamaite now shares this message with other entrepreneurs. She was a panelist at this year’s Fundex, one of the leading funding expos in the country, alongside SweepSouth co-founder Aisha Pandor and Peter Frolich, director of Nesa Investment Holdings.
Speaking on the topic ‘Cracking the Funding Code’, the entrepreneurs, who have successfully raised funding for their business or big idea, spoke about the strategies they had implemented to secure funding.
Mashamaite’s advice to other entrepreneurs is not to shy away from the “boring” parts of running a business.
“Keep records, file every slip under each month. Make it a habit and it won’t be a chore anymore.”
And when it comes to building a business that is highly regarded and has a good reputation, she says, “Do what you say you do and do it right. Under promise and over deliver.”