Persistence and passion

2014-08-06 00:00

LINDO Makhaye (31), who has turned Lusizo IT Solutions around, says persistent and passionate entrepreneurs who put in the work will always succeed.

The Pietermaritzburg-born entrepreneur’s company, which he formed in 2004, today provides employment to 25 people, with branches in Pietermaritzburg and Durban. “We are not where we would like to be, but our business is the strongest it has ever been,” he said.

His vision is that by 2020, it will be able to boast a presence in each province.

It took Makhaye only a year of corporate life after his studies before deciding to chase after his dreams.

Two aspects bolstered his entrepreneurial spirit. The first was that as a boy, he saw a close family member start a business from nothing and end up with an extremely successful venture. The second was the encouragement and compliments he received on the job.

He and two partners obtained a Department of Education contract to install computers at certain schools. Because they had no cash reserves, and were working mainly on small jobs, they had to fulfil the contract by buying the stock on a promise to pay the supplier once they had been paid.

Makhaye said they did the work, but the company they had dealt with folded in the interim, and that resulted in Lusizo IT Solutions not getting paid.

It threw the young organisation in a big financial crisis. Makhaye’s partners left the business, the eight staff were laid off, and all he could do was ask Telkom to reroute their office telephone line to his mother’s house in Napierville, Pietermaritzburg, so that he could at least continue doing small jobs.

“It was my lowest point, it was also at this moment that my resilience came to the fore,” he said.

During these troubles, he was alerted of an advert by the then new lottery operator looking for service providers to install and maintain lottery equipment.

“Big trucks used to come and offload the lottery equipment at my mother’s house. I kept the machines … all over the house, until I could install them,” he said.

This contract enabled Makhaye to repay his debts. He later re-opened an office in Greyling Street.

Then, in 2008, the lottery operator decided to no longer outsource the maintenance of the lottery equipment. This, coupled with the global financial crisis, saw Makhaye’s small company struggle to survive again. At this stage, he was offered a lucrative executive position, but he turned it down.

In 2010, Lusizo IT Solutions was appointed by MultiChoice as a preferred agent to service the Durban south region.

Because he was essentially technically orientated, Makhaye realised he needed to invest more in business and self-development.

In 2012, Makhaye enrolled in a three-year business and self-development program with Raizcorp.

When asked what he could share with other young aspiring entrepreneurs, he said: “First, identify something you like doing. Take your time to sharpen your skill and do it so well that people will be willing to pay you to do it. Only then you can say you are ready to consider being in business.”

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