Se­crets of wealth cre­ation

Build­ing a suc­cess­ful busi­ness is a re­mark­able achieve­ment, but it’s no guar­an­tee of sus­tain­able wealth. These three en­trepreneurs show that di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion, within and out­side your core busi­ness, is the key to long-term suc­cess



Manzini Zungu was raised by his grand­par­ents, who in­volved him in farm­ing ac­tiv­i­ties from an early age – planting veg­eta­bles and sell­ing the har­vest around the town­ship. “Those years cul­ti­vated the en­tre­pre­neur in me quite early, so I al­ways knew that my path would lead to own­ing busi­nesses,” he says.

Zungu’s ca­reer in mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions has spanned more than 25 years and has in­cluded lead­er­ship roles at com­pa­nies such as Blink mag­a­zine, Quil­ter In­ter­na­tional, Ha­mashe Me­dia, Ha­mashe En­ergy and Ha­mashe Projects. In 2011, he took the leap of estab­lish­ing his own con­sult­ing firm, Paci­namix, us­ing the

R50 000 pen­sion he re­ceived af­ter re­sign­ing.

“It wasn’t much, but it helped me in­vest in re­sources that were cru­cial to the dayto-day run­ning of the busi­ness,” he says. “The com­pany needed its first pro­ject to op­er­ate and once that was clinched, the wheels started turn­ing. We started as a com­mu­ni­ca­tions and mar­ket­ing busi­ness, but we ex­panded be­cause we re­alised we could of­fer more to our clients.”

Paci­namix went on to gain the trust of suc­cess­ful brands such as the As­so­ci­a­tion of Minework­ers & Con­struc­tion Union, McDon­ald’s SA, the City of Tsh­wane, Rand Wa­ter, Vo­da­com, the Man­dela In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val, BP, Me­dia24 and Absa. “Wealth can only be cre­ated if we have own­er­ship of the things we do,” says

Zungu. “For any busi­ness-owner to cre­ate sus­tain­able wealth, you need to make a point of re-in­vest­ing in the busi­ness and grow­ing it. That in­cludes grow­ing the skills base and be­com­ing part of the global com­mu­nity to re­main at the top of your game for your­self and your clients.”

He be­lieves that an in­sa­tiable de­sire to learn is an in­te­gral corner­stone of en­trepreneur­ship. “You can’t grow if you refuse to ex­pand your think­ing be­yond a lim­ited vi­sion. My de­ci­sion to keep learn­ing has au­to­mat­i­cally broad­ened my hori­zons in a way I could never have imag­ined. Knowl­edge al­ways leads to per­sonal and fi­nan­cial growth.”

He ad­vises peo­ple en­ter­ing busi­ness for the first time to treat en­trepreneur­ship as a long game. “Know that it’s not a short­term en­deav­our. A busi­ness needs to pass the three-year mark in or­der to have a chance of flour­ish­ing, but you’re likely to fail at your first at­tempt. Keep try­ing. And don’t be hard on your­self if things don’t work out – if you don’t suc­ceed in the en­tre­pre­neur­ial space, there are other op­por­tu­ni­ties to cre­ate wealth.

“From per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence, I’d also ad­vise aspir­ing en­trepreneurs to re­mem­ber that the money the ven­ture makes isn’t their own. It be­longs to the busi­ness.”

“You can’t grow if you refuse to ex­pand your think­ing be­yond a lim­ited vi­sion. Learn­ing broad­ened my hori­zons.”


The en­tre­pre­neur­ial bug bit Bonnke Shipalana at the ten­der age of nine, when he started sell­ing pop­corn to his class­mates in pri­mary school. His mother had en­cour­aged him to start a hobby that she hoped would fos­ter a pro­duc­tive spirit.

He con­tin­ued to nur­ture this spirit through­out his school­ing and stu­dent years. While en­rolled for a BCom from Nel­son Man­dela Met­ro­pol­i­tan Univer­sity,

“For any busi­ness-owner to cre­ate sus­tain­able wealth, you need to make a point of re-in­vest­ing in the busi­ness and grow­ing it.”

Shipalana worked at the cam­pus tuck­shop and later bought 10% of the busi­ness. Two-and-a-half years later, he owned four tuck­shops.

“When I grad­u­ated 20 years ago, I de­cided to go into the cor­po­rate sec­tor to gain work ex­pe­ri­ence,” he says. “But the plan was to work for just 10 years to learn what I needed and then branch out to pur­sue en­trepreneur­ship on a larger scale.”

Shipalana worked at SABMiller for six years, Pep­siCo for 18 months and Cell C for three years. Then in 2008, at the age of 30, he ac­quired a stake in the MSG Afrika Group and be­came the CEO of the group’s sub­sidiary, The Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Firm (TCF). A three-year busi­ness target was set for Shipalana to achieve in or­der to re­deem his busi­ness shares.

TCF’s mis­sion un­der his lead­er­ship has been to work on cam­paigns that cre­ate a legacy or make a dif­fer­ence, such as the Nel­son Man­dela ban­knote cam­paign. The com­pany’s reg­u­larly been en­trusted with man­ag­ing the cam­paigns and rep­u­ta­tions of en­ti­ties across NPOs, NGOs, SOEs, paras­tatals, gov­ern­ment bod­ies and cor­po­rates in var­i­ous sec­tors.

How­ever, he hasn’t lost the en­tre­pre­neur­ial drive he de­vel­oped in child­hood and has man­aged to di­ver­sify his in­come streams be­yond his main oc­cu­pa­tion. “Di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion of in­ter­ests was nec­es­sary to bul­let-proof my net in­come and al­low me to re­main in an en­vi­ron­ment that chal­lenges me to keep learn­ing and take cal­cu­lated risks,” he says.

Out­side TCF, where Shipalana re­ceives a salary as an Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor and div­i­dends as an owner, he’s also the au­thor of four books, a pre­sen­ter on Capricorn

FM, a pub­lic speaker and a share­holder in two com­mer­cial ra­dio sta­tions – 1EC and Beat FM.

He be­lieves the process of build­ing a strong busi­ness can be bro­ken down into three dis­tinct phases. “In the early years of your busi­ness, you need to work harder than any of your part­ners or em­ploy­ees – it’s your role to lead from the front in or­der to es­tab­lish the cul­ture and DNA of the busi­ness. The sec­ond phase re­quires you to em­ploy or part­ner with in­di­vid­u­als who are more skilled than you are in cer­tain op­er­a­tional mat­ters, and you might need to pay them more than you’re earn­ing. The third and fi­nal phase is to work your­self out of the day-to-day run­ning of the busi­ness, free­ing your­self to ex­plore new op­por­tu­ni­ties and di­ver­sify.”


Matt Clark first en­tered the busi­ness world when he founded IP So­lu­tions, a telecoms com­pany, with two part­ners. Af­ter grow­ing the ven­ture to a sat­is­fac­tory level, he sold his shares and sought new op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“My goal was to cre­ate a busi­ness that would give me free­dom to travel the world and make money in any cur­rency I wanted. I started at­tend­ing wealth-build­ing sem­i­nars hosted by suc­cess­ful peo­ple from around the globe.”

The most use­ful in­sight Clark gained from these sem­i­nars was that these suc­cess­ful en­trepreneurs were all us­ing a piece of soft­ware called In­fu­sion­soft that au­to­mated their repet­i­tive tasks, so they could reach thou­sands of peo­ple and have more time to fo­cus on sell­ing. “This piece of soft­ware lit­er­ally did the job of the 60 peo­ple I had work­ing for me at the telecoms com­pany.”

Clark bought the soft­ware and dived in, study­ing it for months, be­fore be­com­ing a busi­ness strat­egy con­sul­tant and en­gag­ing his first client. Fu­elled by his suc­cess with that first client, he gained sev­eral oth­ers within months and re­alised this was some­thing worth pur­su­ing. He did it with al­most zero cap­i­tal.

“I be­lieve that if I can sell, I don’t need money to start a busi­ness. In fact, this is my mantra when start­ing any of my busi­nesses. It does mean that it can take a lit­tle longer, but I al­ways start with pos­i­tive cash flow, rather than ow­ing peo­ple money.”

Clark gave his first cus­tomer a dis­count, but as soon as he achieved re­sults with them, he got a tes­ti­mo­nial and in­creased his pric­ing. He re­peated the process with sub­se­quent clients and gained more cred­i­bil­ity. He then de­cided to ac­quire cus­tomers out­side SA, through joint ven­tures in the USA, Aus­tralia and the UK. His com­pany, The Virtual Edge, now does busi­ness in nine coun­tries and he speaks all over the world to gen­er­ate more work and ex­pand his net­work.

How­ever, the real break­through came when he re­alised that the main thing his clients needed was a way of at­tract­ing more leads with less cost, so he re­searched dif­fer­ent ad­ver­tis­ing and so­cial me­dia plat­forms. Even­tu­ally he de­vel­oped a method to get high-qual­ity clients from LinkedIn with­out spend­ing a cent on ad­ver­tis­ing. “I cre­ated an on­line course called LinkedIn Mas­tery, teach­ing peo­ple how to get high-qual­ity clients and gave 15 peo­ple ac­cess to the course to test out,” says Clark. “The con­di­tion was that they had to give me a tes­ti­mo­nial if they got re­sults. And they did. I then started mak­ing this a fo­cus, as peo­ple re­ally wanted it and my busi­ness ex­ploded. I can now take on hun­dreds of clients while my time is com­pletely lever­aged and cash flows in ev­ery day. It’s opened op­por­tu­ni­ties to part­ner with peo­ple I would never have had ac­cess to be­fore and got me speak­ing on stages in front of thou­sands of peo­ple all over the world.”

“I be­lieve that if I can sell, I don’t need money to start a busi­ness.”

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