Name of company: ImageCorp
Years in existence: 18 years
Can you tell us a little bit about your background – personal, educational and professional?
I grew up in Cape Town into a very political but dynamic family. I was the only sister with five brothers. My experiences in the struggle taught me to be a fighter and an analytical thinker. I completed my matric at an adult educational centre as there were no schools that would accept student activists. I come from a family that were all self-employed. I have four kids and have been married to my best friend for 25 years.
Can you tell us a little bit about your company and what you do?
ImageCorp is a promotional and events company BUT so much more. We are 100% black empowered. 95% of all our services offered are done in-house. Our services are creative design hub, silk screening, pad printing, laser cutting and engraving, dye sublimation, manufacture of clothes and bags, wood and metal work, lithography, digital bulk copy, large format printing, bulk duplication of CD and DVD, sandblasting and high volume finishing. Events: conceptualising, décor, catering, sound and lighting, etc. We pride ourselves in our quick turnaround service.
How did your journey begin and how have you achieved success so far?
I started ImageCorp in a little room in my home. Being a mother with four little kids, I wanted to give them the best education and additionally, I always had the heart to help people around me. This could not be achieved working for a BOSS. I wanted to be financially self-empowered. As ImageCorp is a service-driven company, it allowed us to work with clients with like minds. We have grown the company merely from word of mouth and it has allowed us to work with some of the biggest corporates in Africa.
Has it been difficult? What were some of the obstacles you face and how did you overcome them?
I started with a personal overdraft of R1500 and I had to work very hard to ensure that it worked for me. Finance and funding projects was always a battle. I knew that I would have to prove that my business would work to get finance from any banks notwithstanding that I was a woman in business. It was at times difficult to be taken seriously.
“Never think that what you make belongs to you”
How many people does your company employ?
45 people and lots of casuals.
What is your overall vision for your business?
To be the best in our industry, to grow the business into an Image Park.
What do you think it takes to establish and run a successful business in South Africa?
Hard work and perseverance. Never give up even when the odds are stacked against you. Believe in yourself.
How did you finance your business, how difficult or easy was the process?
I had to build the business at first. Never think that what you make belongs to you. After about five years, I requested a loan from an institution called Khethani that gave out loans to SMME companies.
What are the three things you attribute your business success to?
Hard work, never wanting to fail and listening to my gut.
When did you know that you were an entrepreneur?
I didn’t. I suppose it is in our blood. I knew that there was a gap for good service in the market and took it.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I have an open door policy and believe that communication is very important with my team. I make the final decisions based on listening to my team.
What are some of your favourite motivational books and motivational gurus that have inspired you to grow your business?
It might sound cliché. My favourite book is the Bible. It has taught me a lot in terms of who I am and what I can do if I believe. The Unstoppable – a book about how some of the greats made it in business. Who moved my cheese? Attitude determines your altitude (John Maxwell)
What three pieces of advice would you offer young entrepreneurs starting today?
Do not expect things to come to you, go out there and make it happen. Do not complain about what you do not have, make what you have work for you. Build a business that has integrity and be true to your word.
What’s the worst and best business advice you’ve ever received?
The worst advice was to get a partner. Try and enjoy what you are doing or it is not worth it.
And finally, do you believe in luck, hard work or both?
I believe in both.
See Also: Russell Simmons’ Unique Take On Success