‘One thing I learned is the fact that tomorrow is not guaranteed, and therefore I decided to take a leap of faith and pursue this dream,’ says Tumelo Makgakga CA(SA) RA.
Starting his own practice had been a dormant dream in Tumelo Makgakga CA(SA)’s heart for a long time. But lockdown gave him a good opportunity to reflect, put his thoughts into action and take the risk. Today he is proudly the director of FirstPlace Assurance & Advisory. He also runs a fast-food franchise that he co-owns with his wife.
Describe yourself as a person?
I am a down-to-earth guy who is fun to be around. I work very hard; I am driven and ambitious. I enjoy cycling with my wife on Saturday mornings and playing my bass guitar at church on Sundays. My personal values are characterised by my Christian faith.
Are you running your practice from home?
When I started, I was running the business from home, but a few months ago we moved into a co-working space in Randburg CBD from where we are serving clients locally and nationally.
What type of clients do you wish to focus on?
I wish to continue working with small-medium enterprises. I firmly believe that by working closely with these clients and assisting them with audit, accounting, tax, and business advisory services they stand a higher chance to not only survive but to grow and scale. When they grow and scale more people are employed ultimately reducing the unemployment rate in the country.
I would also like to partner and collaborate with larger accounting firms as well as entities in the public sector to deliver our services.
On the brighter side, what are some of the benefits of lockdown?
Lockdown has presented me with an opportunity to go back to the drawing board and re-look at some of the goals that I had set for myself both personally and professionally.
The lockdown has impacted many small to medium-sized businesses financially and as a result smaller and newly established firms like mine have received more business. This has provided me with an opportunity in the market.
Tell us about your team and what you look for in employees you hire?
Our team has grown since the initial days, we now have two chartered accountants and two other professional staff working in the business on a full-time basis. In addition to that, we have multiple other professionals who assist us on an as-needed basis.
I would like to continue building a strong team of professionals that subscribes to our core values (integrity, passion, and quality, to name a few) and our way of working which is centred on adding value and going above and beyond for our clients.
Are you a born entrepreneur? What do you believe makes a great entrepreneur?
I believe I possess certain traits that I was born with that make me an entrepreneur, such as the ability to recognise opportunities when they present themselves and the courage to pursue them. On the other hand, there are many other qualities that I have learned and continue to learn through reading books and following other entrepreneurs who have gone before me.
In my view, what makes a great entrepreneur is someone who solves problems through the products/services that they offer. Someone who continuously evolve with time to improve on the solutions they are offering in a way that is still relevant even in the ever-changing environment that we find ourselves in.
Would you like to share anything else?
As professionals in business, we should never stop looking for opportunities for personal development and business growth.
What advice can you give other business owners?
I think as business owners there is a lot that we must deal with daily, my advice would be: ‘Do not forget the reason why you started and do not lose sight of your vision.’
Tell us more about your fast-food franchise? How did you overcome the challenges in lockdown?
My wife and I own a fast-food restaurant business where she runs the day-to-day operations. I play more of an oversight role.
The restaurant industry went through a lot of pressure during lockdown and is still recovering to this day. This has forced us to think hard about how we respond to ensure that our business survives. Some of the key things we did were to firstly review and restructure our costs in the business and secondly re-look at our menu with the franchisor to introduce special low budget promotions that draw customers back in. Working with food delivery partners such as Uber and Mr Delivery is also a plus. These adjustments continue to help us see improvement from month to month.
Tell us how you stay motivated and positive?
Overall, I would say it is the vision that I have – it generates a passion to keep going even when times get tough. I also have a daily routine of starting my day with some prayer and meditation.
What are your thoughts and view on ethics? How can we stop corruption?
For me, ethics form an integral part of who we are as people and as such if we subscribe to good ethics as people this will extend to every environment that we find ourselves in whether it is in the workplace or elsewhere. In my view stopping corruption starts with each one of us, by ensuring that we subscribe to good ethics and then always standing up for what is right.
Compliled by Lynn Grala