There really is not better way to learn

Zipho Dlamini | Thoko’s Diamonds

My mother started Thoko’s Diamonds in 2004, and I joined her in 2013. She’s been working in the industry for almost 20 years and has built up a significant amount of respect. She started out working for one of the biggest diamond companies in South Africa, and built herself up to become the founder and CEO of a truly successful company.

During her earlier days, I used to visit her and started learning about the industry. It was important to her that I learned the basics first. Once I had learned how to work with the stones, I started approaching wholesalers and went door to door to sell polished diamonds. At the time, I was in my second year of university and, everything I made in sales, I put back into the business to ensure it would grow. I saw my mom’s passion for the business and I wanted her to succeed.

Today, I am the face of our company but it’s because of De Beers and Raizcorp that I have been able to overcome challenges I wouldn’t have been able to overcome before joining the programme. I have learned that, if I apply what I have learned in my sessions, the business is better off. Not only have I been able to grow the business, I have also been given the tools I need to be a better businessperson.

I have learned that attention to detail is imperative and this has helped me to think beyond business operations. When I started, I was passive about business practices, sales and the stones. I now know the importance of paying attention to these elements to ensure success. I have learned that your business can be powerful when you have the knowledge and apply it to everyday practices. Something as simple as promptly responding to an email can change your business for the better!

Raizcorp has also taught me that it’s not just about the business; it’s also about personal growth. I have learned that the sky is the limit and have fallen in love with being an entrepreneur. The Raizcorp programme is also preparing us for what the future holds, and how we are going to successfully manage the potential contracts in our pipeline. We’ve improved our communications skills, we’ve become better at managing our clients’ expectations, and we’ve built up confidence, trust and a good reputation.

If an aspiring entrepreneur asked for my advice, it would be: never give up. It’s a cliché but it’s true. You also need to be open to learning, and surround yourself with people who have been on the entrepreneurial journey themselves. Learn to take criticism positively and constructively and don’t let it get you down. Take the negatives and the positives in your stride because they help you become a better person. Failure does not mean you aren’t good enough; failure is a tool for success because it helps your prepare better plans.

I would like to thank De Beers and Raizcorp. The programme has helped me to overcome major hurdles. I have learned the importance of creating a unique culture and an environment that allows everyone to excel. There really is no better way to learn.