Nelspruit power couple on what it takes to run a successful business together

 Zodwa Tshabalala and her husband Sibusiso
Zodwa Tshabalala and her husband Sibusiso

Mpumalanga is known for its scenic holiday destinations that feature picturesque views of waterfalls, rivers, wildlife, and lush greenery. The province is also home to eBundu Lodge, which is the perfect marriage of safari and modern holiday living.

Speaking of marriage, the couple who owns the lodge at the heart of the province, Nelspruit, is married, and they've found the perfect balance of being both life and business partners.

Born and bred in Johannesburg, Zodwa started her career in sports and fitness administration before pivoting into business administration.

Sibusiso has a background in business banking.  

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eBundu Lodge

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The couple has always known they would take on entrepreneurship together but didn't always know that they would end up in the hospitality industry.  "Initially, we were looking into property development," Zodwa says.

Starting the business proved to be more challenging than expected and there have been plenty of challenges but their strong partnership created a strong foundation to counter the trials.

Speaking about taking a leap of faith in business Zodwa says, "Often, we want things to be so perfect before we start. Yes, you have to do a lot of planning, you must do your research, you must have your pro-forma statements and balance sheets, but nothing is perfect. Never wait for the time to be so perfect before leaping into what you want to do."

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We're not the only example; there's the Fergusons, the Khumalos, we see the Obama family. There are other examples, why do we choose to see the stuff that is broken?

Between 2017 and 2018, the couple was involved in an unprecedented legal battle with the previous owners at the onset of their entrepreneurial journey together.

Zodwa also speaks about some unique challenges that she's had to go through. "The fact that I am young, a female and my structure (being petite) means that people just look at you as this cute little [person]. And sometimes my husband has to leave the room because people want to relate to him, they cannot see us as equal directors," says Zodwa.

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"I think I'm very blessed because he is very conscious of this, and we are intentionally trying to ensure that it is not always the case that people just continually fall into that stereotype of 'let's deal with the male.' There are specific spaces where he will just not be there, or he will just keep quiet and allow the interaction to happen with me," she adds.

Despite these challenges, Zodwa doesn't get intimidated in a room that's full of males. "It's not the first thing I see," she says, adding that it's not uncommon for couples to start business ventures together.

She adds that people should not fear failure to a point where they don't ever start anything, adding that having people to look up to and reference for what you are trying to achieve is essential.

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"Not everybody is going to have it perfect, and we should never put that pressure on ourselves. I also feel like it's a known fact that as long you have someone to support you in your journey, life is so much better," says Zodwa.

If you want to be an entrepreneur, you really need a tad bit of extreme optimism. You've got to believe that this thing is going to work. And you need to be authentic as people appreciate authenticity.

Mentors are also crucial to Zodwa, and she says it's helpful to have different types of mentors. 

Above all else, Zodwa says, having an understanding and supportive partner who matches you by also bringing their full potential seems to be the key ingredient in a business venture with your significant other. 

Are you in business with your other half? Share your story with us here.

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