Name of company: Mema Referral Recruitment
Years in existence: 3 years
Can you tell us a little bit about your background – personal, educational and professional?
I was born in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, at a place called Edendale. After dropping out of several tertiary institutions, I studied and completed two certificate programmes, Business Management and Financial Management for non-Financial Managers at UNISA.
I started my professional career working for a small recruitment agency and later a home furniture manufacturing business while I was running my own business part-time. I was always looking for ways to earn extra income.
Can you tell us a little bit about your company and what you do?
Mema Referral Recruitment is an online recruitment marketplace that connects employers with recruitment agencies. We provide a convenient way for employers to work with recruitment agencies without having to search for them or negotiate different terms and rates or brief agencies separately.
How did your journey begin and how have you achieved success so far?
My first foray into the Internet recruitment space was my business that allowed job seekers to submit their CVs to any potential employer using just SMS. That business failed mainly due to poor marketing and advancement in technology. In hindsight, it was good that the business failed because I then identified the need for a convenient and cost-effective way for employers to engage the services of recruitment agencies while employment agencies needed a simpler way of prospecting for new clients without incurring upfront costs and making cold calls.
What were some of the obstacles you face and how did you overcome them?
The biggest challenge I have faced has been selling our innovation to big companies, trying to get them to engage in new ways of working recruitment agencies. I thought that by eliminating barriers to purchase, like making sure that our solution poses no risk of financial loss to a potential client, it would be easy get business. That was not the case. I learnt that the easiest and most comfortable decision a manager can make is to like the status quo and reject a new product or service, that way he/she won’t have the burden of presenting your ideas to their superiors. However, we have been overcoming this hurdle with well-thought-out marketing and commercialisation strategies.
How many people does your company employ?
Mema is still a small team of four full-time staff members and one part-time employee, but we created a sophisticated but easy to use website that is able to handle any workload. However given the level of interest we are getting from companies since we started advertising in June 2014, it’s a matter of time before we start recruiting more staff.
What is your overall vision for your business?
I want to build a resoundingly successful business that adds tangible value to our clients (employers) and helps our core suppliers (recruitment agencies) grow their businesses and create more jobs.
What do you think it takes to establish and run a successful business in South Africa?
A clear understanding of the needs and wants your target market, tenacity, hard work, passion and ability to sell.
How did you finance your business, how difficult or easy was the process?
I used the money I made while I was running my previous office furniture supply business. I also got help from family members and friends. Going forward we intend to continue growing our business organically.
What are the three things you attribute your business success to?
Belief in oneself, out-of-the-box thinking and determination.
When did you know that you were an entrepreneur?
For a long time I struggled to figure out the career path I wanted to pursue. As a tertiary student and during my early years of work I would find myself starting my own businesses projects on the side. Most of the businesses I started failed but one thing I learned was that I was capable of thinking laterally and love to be my own boss.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I like to believe that I am a good communicator; I engage my team and let them know I value their opinions. I am not afraid to take tough unpopular decision. My weakness is that I am a perfectionist and can pedantic about small issues
What are some of your favourite motivational books and motivational gurus that have inspired you in growing your business?
Think and grow rich, by Napoleon Hill. Edward De Bono, Les Brown. Robin Sharma.
What three pieces of advice would you offer young entrepreneurs starting out today?
Never listen to anyone who tells you something cannot be done but listen to anyone who tells you why they think something cannot be done. If you can address the “why” part, then you’ll have no reason to give up pursuing your goal.
What’s the worst and best business advice you’ve ever received?
Worst – Money is the root of all evil
Best – “Success is not to be pursued; it is to be attracted by the person you become.” By Jim Rohn
And finally, do you believe in luck, hard work or both?
When it comes to running a successful business, you need both. However, I believe luck that contributes to business success is the reward you get for taking action. Luck will not just land in your lap, you‘ll meet luck en route to achieving your goal. As for hard work, you need to work hard preparing to work smart. If you work hard for years on end then you’re definitely not reducing inefficiencies in your business.