“It has felt like walking in the dark. I have stumbled multiple times, but I have learnt to fail forward. The best decisions I’ve made have stemmed from lessons I learnt from past mistakes.”
Thandolwethu Ndlovu isn’t scared of failure. She takes the wins and losses as they come and uses them to her advantage.
As an entrepreneur, Thando understands the challenges of managing business finances – especially for the younger generation. That is why her mission is to coach and inspire young adults to take control of their finances early on.
But Thando doesn’t just use entrepreneurial and financial experiences to better herself. She founded Small Steps to Freedom to teach others about financial independence and early retirement.
The Small Steps to Freedom online platform is filled with videos, tutorials, and advisory nuggets that educate and inspire those who want more control over their finances.
“I want to help young adults discover the freedom they can gain from controlling their finances and intentionally pursuing financial independence.”
Picking up the pieces – A post-pandemic reboot
Thando’s had her fair share of obstacles in her career and understands the impact of COVID-19 on businesses and professionals. She says job creation is vital to the survival of many who’ve had to close their doors or who were retrenched – especially in a country where 34.9% of the population is unemployed.
She says: “One of the biggest ways entrepreneurs can help is through job creation and with the support from the public and private sector in terms of funding. As a result, small businesses will be able to grow to an extent where they can continue employing more and more people.”
Technology meets finances
Although Thando is a mentor for managing finances, she hasn’t always been savvy with her own. Managing her finances used to be one of the biggest challenges of running her own business.
“I really struggled to learn how to manage my business finances effectively,” she says. “With a lot of learning and investing in Sage Business Cloud Accounting software, I can better manage my business finances.”
Thando also believes that cloud accounting is vital to any business’s growth – especially because companies can access their financials from any device.
“The way we make money has changed, and so has the way we manage it. Making money online used to be rare; now it’s normal. The same goes for how we manage our money. We used to have to do our accounting manually, but now we use cloud accounting.”
Take risks, step out of your comfort zone, create value
Thando believes that time is the one thing we can never get back, which is why retirement planning is a core focus for her. One of her most rewarding moments was when she pitched a campaign idea to a brand focused on planning for retirement.
“I was able to bring this brand on board as a sponsor, and I managed to reach thousands of people with the content – helping them understand retirement planning better,” she says.
Although the prospect of pitching an idea might seem overwhelming, it’s a risk you need to make to jumpstart your career. If you fail, you learn from it. If you succeed, you’ve accomplished something. Either way, you’re moving forward.
“Whether or not you need a business plan to start your business is debatable based on the type of business it is. But what you definitely need are goals and targets to aim for and measure the growth of your business against.”
But succeeding in your career isn’t just about the big stuff. Thando’s top productivity trick is waking up early. “As a morning person, I can get a lot more done before the world wakes up.”
When asked what book she’d recommend, Thando chose The Lean Startup by Eric Ries.
“It’s a great guide to lean thinking and building products and businesses with what you have now rather than waiting to have it all before starting.”
Thando’s top advice
- Set aside money for a business emergency fund. If there is anything the pandemic has taught us, it’s to expect the unexpected. An emergency fund allows you to cover expenses when the cash flow is low.
- Always be determined to be successful. Determination has been a key driver for me – especially when I’ve failed and things didn’t go my way.
- Failure is part of success.
- Your business needs a budget regardless of how big or small it is. A budget will show you a clear picture of your cash flow, so you always know how much money you have at hand, taking into account your expenses.
- Saving money can save your business.
- We live in a world of convenience. The easier you can make it for your customers to buy your product, the more likely they will. Offer delivery or easy pickup options as soon as you can. That extra bit of convenience makes all the difference.
For more advice, follow Small Steps To Freedom on Twitter.
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