Presented by Vodacom VodaLend

How VodaLend helps South African entrepreneurs

VodaLend client Andre Schumann started his entrepreneurial journey relatively late in life: At the age of 33 he moved from a comfortable corporate career into the unknown territory of entrepreneurship.

In 2015, he bought Euro-Decking, a company specialising in the installation of wood-plastic composite decking, wooden cladding, balustrades and pergolas for private houses and commercial developments.

“My motivation was simple,” he explains.

“I had to convince myself that I was capable of doing something on my own instead of relying on other people. I needed to prove that I could run a successful business.”

Stepping out of your comfort zone

This says a lot about Andre’s state of mind and goals at that point in time – the move was not driven by desperation or financial need.

“I had been comfortable in sales-related positions in companies all my life. I was motivated by dealing with clients in customer-service situations, where I did my best for both the client and my company,” he said.

Clearly, underpinning his purchase of Euro-Decking was a strong belief that he could achieve more, build a new career, and become more self-reliant.

Asked why he chose a business that was heavily dependent on technology, his answer was surprising.

“To be honest, I had no formal construction or engineering training. It was all new to me. All I had done previously was help my late dad with some welding jobs around the house,” Andre explained.

“I just dove into the deep end with the guys and learned all about decking. It was a step I had to take to run the company.”

“To be honest, in previous jobs involving technology I asked my boss to give me time to learn the basics from the experts. It took weeks but at the end I knew enough to do my job.”

“So, learning the Euro-Decking technology was not a new process for me.”

Decking technology became the least of Andre’s adjustment challenges, however.

“It was a big jump from being a simple salesperson in an organisation to managing staff and running a business,” he said.

“I had to learn a massive amount in a very short time, right on the job. Running a business didn’t come naturally to me and most of the early challenges came as a result of mistakes I made.”

“Overcoming obstacles meant I needed the strength to accept failure, learn from it, and get back out there.”

Cashflow is king

One of these challenges was cashflow.

“In any construction-related project, most of the costs are up-front and payment from the client can be up to 120 days after completion,” Andre explained.

This would cause temporary dips in Euro-Decking’s financial resources, meaning it required a cash injection.

“When I needed a loan to cover a low-cash situation, VodaLend became a lifesaver,” he said.

“The process could not have been smoother. There was minimal paperwork, it was done online, and communications were fast and efficient.”

“I was amazed – the application was sent through late in the afternoon, the loan was approved the next morning and money was in the bank by lunchtime,” he said.

“It was incredibly quick.”

Attitude defines success

Andre’s approach to successful entrepreneurship is simple.

“The key factors are hard work, perseverance and the strength to overcome obstacles – both physical and emotional,” he explained.

“I used to beat myself up if things didn’t go according to plan, but I had to get over that.”

“It’s like I tell my staff: there will always be challenges, no matter how much you plan a project. It’s about how you deal with those challenges that separates you from the rest and defines you as a leader.”

What about Andre’s home life? Is his work all-consuming?

“I recently got married and we are looking to start a family, so free time is what motivates me,” Andre explained.

“I would like to get the business to a point where it is stable so that I can spend time with my kids while they grow up. I would like to be able to fetch them from school or go watch them play sport.”

VodaLend

At VodaLend we respect your resilience and want to help with your big (or small) business needs.

That’s why as a bonus to securing funding, successful applicants can also access Vodacom Legal Assist and receive access to eziADS, a digital and mobile advertising bundle on the Vodacom Digital Advertising portal, to the value of R2,000.

Read more about VodaLend and our successful SME partners here or simply apply for fast funding here.

This article was published in partnership with Vodacom VodaLend.

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How VodaLend helps South African entrepreneurs