Are entrepreneurs born or made? A web design agency founder proves that the answer lies somewhere in the middle.
- Player: Bongani Gosa
- Company: Breeze Website Designers
- Established: 2010
- Contact: +27 (0)11 321 0193,
- Visit: bwd.co.za
As a teenager growing up in rural Mahikeng, Bongani Gosa sold cow dung from his father’s kraal to earn some money for the school holidays. He went from house to house handing out samples of his manure, which he packed in bank coin bags (bankies).
“People who were at home during the day were not the decision-makers, which is why I left samples.”
During his second year of IT studies, his love for web design led him to volunteer for the university’s internal newspaper, where he learned everything he could from the webmaster and read as much as possible.
After graduating in 2004, Gosa tried to start a business, but quickly discovered he needed experience in how to run one. He found a job as a junior designer and spent six months learning the ropes.
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He took another shot at entrepreneurship and launched Breeze Website Designers (BWD). That lasted for a year, until cash flow troubles led to financial problems and he had to close shop again.
Next, he entered the project management environment which, he says, takes problem-solving to a whole new level. A skilled project manager can make the difference between a project coming in on time and on budget, and it being a failure. “Project management teaches you to do things in a systematic way to achieve predictable outcomes,” Gosa says. “I discovered where I had gone wrong, and how to make sure that did not happen again.”
Learning from mistakes
In 2010, he resurrected BWD, running it from his flat. Gosa’s work experience gave him some things to think about. When he started his business the first time, he did the work but had no idea how to generate sales leads. The second time, lack of capacity and processes were his downfall.
“Professional services entrepreneurs often think that if they earn R100, they must hold onto it. I realised that if I kept R60 for myself, and hired a designer with the rest, I would be able to grow the business. Letting go is what opens the door to success.”
An avid reader, Gosa encourages his team of nine to read at least ten articles a day related to their industry and the workplace. If you want to influence people positively, he says, you have to invest in yourself.
“When we moved to our current premises, we bought R100 000 worth of equipment and created an attractive work space. When clients visit, they see we believe in what we do enough to have invested in ourselves, which makes them feel we will invest in them too. That’s important, because we don’t sell to companies — we sell to people. Their actions are influenced by emotions; by making them feel positive, we encourage them to take positive action.”
He’s taken the same approach to BWD’s marketing collateral. Something as basic as his business cards combine die-cutting, matt and gloss finishes, and embossing. “High-quality marketing material encourages people to take you seriously. In our line of business, it also gives us the opportunity to give them an inkling of all the cool things we can do for them.”
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Gosa sets himself small achievable goals. It’s not always about money, he says. It’s important to learn how to be a better negotiator, for example, or how to be a better communicator.
But numbers are key too. “If you are making R1 000 and you want to grow that to R10 000, you have to know where you stand, and what you need to do to achieve more. Consistent measurement enables consistent improvement.”
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