No limits to PE woman’s vision
IN eight years she has moved from selling printers to building an empire of companies – a move that will now see Port Elizabeth businesswoman Erna Basson rub shoulders with Charlie Sheen, Al Pacino and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.
Basson, 29, has been invited to speak at the Mega Success conference in Los Angeles.
Courtney Elston, special events director for JT Foxx Organisation, the company behind the event, confirmed Basson was listed as a speaker, but said her time slot would be confirmed only later.
Basson said her secret to success was simple: hard work and discomfort.
“You have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable,” the mother of two and business coach said.
“As an entrepreneur, you will never grow if you stay comfortable; you have to live in your uncomfortable zone and act like you belong.”
Branding is a cornerstone of her success as an entrepreneur.
“I work hard, because what you put in is what you get out, and you have to work to improve your brand every day.
“However, business is not about you. If you listen to your clients and their needs, you will automatically increase your profits.
“You also have to know how you can solve problems, what value you can bring to people and how you will wow them with your service.”
She has used this approach since starting an events and promotions company at the age of 21.
“I had been selling office printers for a few months after moving to PE from Bloemfontein,” she said.
“In a meeting with Peter Thompson from Distell, [he said he had a problem] with a promotions agency, and I asked if he would support me if I could have a company up and running in three months.
“Distell was my first client, and I am so grateful to him, because he believed in me when I was young and said I could [start my own business].”
Basson said being young and inexperienced counted in her favour.
“It meant that I was hardworking, full of energy and able to adapt.”
She sold this company, Pink Brand Management, in November last year, and another company, Majestic Weddings, in April.
Basson still runs eight active companies, including the New African Entre- preneurs project with Ndaba Mandela, and Erabella, which sells hair extensions from branches in South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Hong Kong.
She will be in New Zealand next week to attend to her business interests.
“South African entrepreneurs often [make the mistake of having] tunnel vision, but the world is so connected. I have a business partner and we can work together when he is in Atlanta and I am here.
“It’s important to be able to make decisions quickly, though. I always think about what the best, worst and most likely outcome is, and then I decide. I am more of an ‘oh well’ girl than a ‘what if’ girl.”
Her next goal is to be included in the Forbes list of the 100 most influential women in the world before she turns 35.
“To me, success is when I can do what I want, when I want and with whom I want. By the age of 35 I want to be selective about what I do, so that I will be able to spend time with my sons and attend their rugby matches. I’m making short-term sacrifices now for long-term benefits.”
Sarah Gibson, a sales consultant from Distell who worked with her in 2013, described Basson as an “efficient and driven” person.
“She always gave 120% and was passionate about her job,” Gibson, who also nominated Basson for the Businesswoman’s Association’s regional awards the same year, said.
MISSION SUCCESS: Erna Basson