I TOOK THE LEAP Four women share how they overcame their fears to try something new
These four women share how they overcame their fears to try something new, with life-changing consequences
You don’t need a lot of capital to launch a business, start small like us
‘We stepped out of our comfort zones to open our own business’
Yolanda Nomoyi, 33, lives in Broadacres with her son Mlibo, four. Together with Mathapelo ‘ Thapi’ Montsho, 30, she is the co- owner and founder of Why Cook, a private and corporate catering company which they started in 2014. Before Why Cook, Thapi had been working in corporate catering, while Yolanda was a stay-at-home mom who would occasionally cater for friends’ events from her own kitchen.
Most people know each other for a long time before deciding to go into business together, but that’s not how it worked for the two of us. When we met at a friend’s birthday bash and discovered our shared love of food and cooking, it felt like the stars had aligned. We both had a vision of running a catering company that would cater for corporate events, as well as small, private functions like dinner parties. The more that we talked about it, the more our business idea made sense – and we came up with the name Why Cook. Neither of us would have had the guts to venture out as entrepreneurs on our own, but together we gave each other the confidence and support to make it happen.
Taki ng the leap
We were lucky that we had a small client base to start with, thanks to a network from Thapi’s corporate catering experience, and we expanded our base by asking our family and friends to get the word out. Our overheads were low in the early days – it would just be the two of us cooking in our home kitchens and we’d load the food in our cars to take to our clients ourselves. But within a few months the demand for our catering had grown, and working from our homes was actually holding us back – our domestic kitchens just didn’t have the space that we needed to keep up with the quantities our clients wanted.
So in 2017 we moved the business to a bigger space at the Riversands Incubation Hub in Midrand. It was a big shift for us; overnight we went from just using our small appliances at home to cooking with professional, industrialgrade equipment in a business park – we were even able to hire staff to help out in the kitchen. Although we had expanded and were doing well, we did everything in baby steps – we reminded ourselves that business is about client satisfaction and sales, not about having a fancy work space or the latest equipment.
Just like any business, we’ve had to deal with setbacks. Finding and keeping good employees is an ongoing struggle, even if it’s just dependable temporary staff. We’re always looking for new ways to keep our staff motivated and energised to give their best in a fast-paced environment.
We’ve also had to learn about time management, from supervising staff to the planning and organisation of events and even meal prep – a large portion of our success comes down to making sure our time is managed effectively. And as our hours are not always regular – particularly when we have events at night and on weekends – it has been difficult to balance family time with our business commitments, especially for Yolanda as a working mom. Mlibo has had to get used to not always having his mom around when he wants her, which can be tough.
We don’t always get things right – we’ve had to experiment with some of our ideas that sound great in theory but don’t work in practice. It’s having the willingness to try again with a different strategy and learn from mistakes that help the business – and ourselves – grow.
What we’ve learnt
Running your own business is hard work; it requires long hours and making sacrifices, but we don’t regret a thing. These days, Why Cook is completely different to the small home- catering operation we set up five years ago, and watching the business grow has been rewarding – we took the leap from having a steady income to being responsible for paying our own salaries, and those of others, and we made it work.
Many people focus too much on the funding aspect of becoming an entrepreneur, saying they need a lot of capital before they can start their own business, which is not necessarily true. If you’ve got the drive and are willing to put in the time, the rest will fall into place. It won’t be easy, but you just need the courage to grab the bull by the horns and the perseverance to follow through with your idea; we really feel this is the time for entrepreneurs.
For more info, see whycook.co.za