If there is no door for you to knock on, you make your own door

Henrietta Dibakwane | HMD Staffing Solutions

I used to be a recruiter at a large international recruitment firm, and I loved the way people reacted when I got them a job. There was always such excitement and I thought, wow! This is how I make people feel. It makes you feel really good when you place someone in a job. I eventually decided to hit out on my own and start my own recruitment company.

One of the biggest challenges in the beginning was access to market. Because I was a small business, I didn’t have the same goodwill that larger companies have and I also discovered that people are afraid of trying new things. When I approached people for business, I was always told that they had preferred suppliers. Fortunately, I started out working at home so I didn’t have massive overheads and didn’t need a huge amount of capital to start.

I’d already being doing work for Lafarge when, one day, Raizcorp phoned me and told me that Lafarge wanted me to join their supplier development programme. I had already heard about Raizcorp as I have a couple of friends who’ve been on the programme, two of whom are very successful.

One of the most valuable things about the programme has been having a personal development guide. The entrepreneurial journey is very lonely and you can’t tell your kids that you don’t have enough money for school fees or food. (There have been sleepless nights in the past knowing that there is no money coming in.) Now I have a guide I can share with, and who can explain how they have overcome similar problems.

The programme has also shaped my business ethics and my communications skills, and I have learned that the way you speak personally and the way you speak in business work together. How you present yourself anywhere is how you should present yourself in business. While I have learned to separate myself from the business, I am always aware that as an individual I still represent this business.

I started out working from home by myself. Since joining the Lafarge–Raizcorp programme, I have hired two staff members and now work from an office. I have also branded the business differently, changing my logo and my vision. This process showed me how to create a meaningful business and I can now confidently talk about why I’m in business for myself. I can talk about my business with my eyes closed. My confidence has grown so much that, if I’m unexpectedly called on to give an elevator pitch, I can do it – no problem. I’ve learned that my business needs to be out there and visible and that I need to talk about it all the time.

If an aspiring entrepreneur asked for my advice, I’d say that they should never give up and never send another person to speak about their business. No one knows as much about your business as you do, and the chances are that they won’t close the deal. You have to close the deal yourself. If you believe in what you’re doing and if you show others that you believe in what you’re doing, they will believe as well.

I’d like to thank my corporate sponsor, Lafarge, for this opportunity and I hope they can see I have used it wisely. Lafarge has kept giving me business because they believe I can deliver despite being a small operation.

Raizcorp is my everything. They have guided me and helped to pull me back when I was going in the wrong direction. They have taught me that if there is no door for you to knock on, you make your own door. They have helped to make my journey as an entrepreneur easier and now I know that I haven’t made a mistake by choosing this path. My guides have done a great job. One day they’ll see my business on billboards and be proud!