In business no two days are the same. This is a fact most entrepreneurs are already used to, so when we first heard about the concept of the My Worst Day show on Forbes Africa TV, we assumed we had it all figured out and we couldn’t have been further away from the truth.
In the fourth episode of My Worst Day with Peace Hyde, the team switched up countries by bringing us one of South Africa’s biggest hair-care product suppliers Herman Mashaba and these are 15 things we learnt from the mogul.
1. It is always important to have a strong woman as a role model:
Mashaba grew up in a single parent household after he lost his dad at a tender age and his mother had to raise him and his 3 sisters all by herself. She showed Herman the value of hard work from an early age which has served the entrepreneur well through out his 56 year journey in life.
2. You are not a victim of your circumstances:
Mashaba grew up during the apartheid regime in South Africa where blacks where stopped at check points and needed to carry an identity card allowing them access to white areas. He vowed he would become a business owner even though it was illegal for black people to own businesses.
3. If at first you don’t succeed, find a different route:
Mashaba always believed education was the way out of poverty until he could no longer pay for his tuition and had to drop out. His alternative was to use business as a means of economic liberalisation.
4. When you have nothing to lose, your options open up:
The legislative vehicle present in 1980’s apartheid South Africa meant that black people were not allowed to have their own businesses, according to Mashaba, because he had nothing to lose, he decided to venture into the business world anyway.
5. Never wait for the large capital injection to start a business:
Mashaba began his business career from the boot of his car as a sales rep until he got his big break when he secured a contract for a big hair care manufacturer in South Africa on a commission basis which led him to his million dollar break through starting his own hair business.
6. No Man is an Island:
You need people to help you on your journey. Mashaba recruited a group of like-minded South African’s including designating a white man to front his business to overcome the barrier of a black man owning a business.
7. Start small but dream Big:
From a 200 sq. feet factory Mashaba expanded to over 6000 sq. feet in just 5 years. Never be scared of dreaming big no matter how small you start.
8. It is only over if you say it is:
Mashaba had his factory, which was employing hundreds of workers in the community torched to the ground but he never gave up. He made a promise to the workers that no one would lose their job and they rebuilt the factory. He lost business during the period but his persistence meant he overcame the tragedy.
9. Always Save for the Future:
Mashaba learnt one very important lesson during his journey and that is to always save for a rainy day. Tragedy may be around the corner and you need to put some money away to absorb the shocks of life when they happen.
10. Never underestimate the power of Negotiation:
South Africa at the time required all black people to have a passbook, which was signed by a white employer to give them permission to move about. There were border checks to regulate the movement of black people and Mashaba always had to negotiate his way out of being jailed by the police. He mastered the power of negotiation and that helped him broker some of his biggest deals today.
11.Problems will always come:
According to Mashaba, your ability to survive is having the skill to navigate problems when they arise.
12. It takes time to Rebuild:
According to Mashaba, it took almost 2 years to rebuild his factory and during that time he lost valuable market share so for all our young entrepreneurs out there make sure you factor in the rebuilding period when tragedy strikes.
13. The Consumer never waits:
“When your products in not on the shelf, consumers will not wait for you,” says Mashaba. You must always make sure your target audience has an ample amount of supply in order to remain competitive.
14. Never Give Up:
According to Mashaba, the only time he stops trying new things is the time when he stops living. He is now the mayoral candidate for the DA party in Johannesburg and he has more ambitions he needs to tick off the bucket list, what is your excuse for quitting?
15. Always believe in yourself:
According to Mashaba, you are all you need to succeed in business. Self reliance is very critical and as he puts it, “be a team player but always take personal responsibility for your own actions”.
If you missed all the excitement, catch episode 4 right here: