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Themba Nkuna is a born entrepreneur. This isn’t always the case. Many highly successful business owners were not selling icing sugar to their classmates at 7, employing other kids at school to help them and helping their dads refurbish 100-litre oil drums for re-use in the community.


But Themba was. Tucked away in the village of Phalaborwa in Limpopo province he hustled and built small businesses until he attended the University of Pretoria to study his Bachelor of Information Sciences.


Which was when his entrepreneurial days took a very brief hiatus. He finished studying, started working for StatsSA, who had paid for his bursary and lasted six months before he launched motivational seminars on the weekends as a side hustle.


The rest is history. Themba is the first person to admit that he shouldn’t be employed. He’s driven by a deep passion that will always pull him towards entrepreneurship and living his purpose, which is what his seminars focused on.


Based on his self-published book, The Truth About You, Themba’s beeline back into entrepreneurship was all about having the confidence and self-belief to pursue his dreams. He didn’t leave his full-time job for another year and a half, but the whole time he was putting everything he had into balancing a career with learning the ins and outs of his business.


He finally chose entrepreneurship full time when he could no longer give his ‘day job’ adequate focus.


Of course, that didn’t mean there weren’t still a lot of lessons to learn. Life in Pretoria was expensive, and he returned to Phalaborwa and launched a tombstone business with a friend. Two years later, he was back in the big city, leveraging all the lessons he had learnt, blending them with his passion, his love of sales and what he had learnt as a motivational speaker and launching Sell Smarter, a business that delivers customised workshops and training sessions followed by high performance coaching to ensure teams realise their true potential and achieves results.


These are the lessons Themba has leveraged to build his own business and which he shares with large corporate teams and start-ups alike:


  1. Start with your purpose


Our purpose is bigger than anything. If our work is purpose driven the universe will find a way to align us and provide opportunities. If you don’t believe in what you do, your customers won’t believe in you.


  1. Businesses are built on referrals


This is true whether you are a corporate with thousands of customers or a small start-up with a handful of clients. When people are happy, they tell others about you. If your customer is not spreading the word about you, you’re doing something wrong. You should be so confident in the product or service that you are providing that you can ask your customers to make referrals on your behalf.


  1. Be willing to start small


Themba’s first large corporate client was a relatively small sales training deal, but it gave his business a foot in the door and the opportunity to prove what Sell Smarter could do. It’s a valuable lesson – no deal is too small. It’s a way to prove you are worth the investment of more time and capital. Always think about your long-term goals.


  1. Find new customers but nurture your existing accounts as well


In the endless pursuit for sales, many teams and businesses neglect their existing customers. These are your greatest opportunities for long-term loyal accounts, upselling and cross-selling. Finding a balance that nurtures existing customers is crucial.


  1. Businesses exist because of the individuals within them


From the business owner or entrepreneur right through to every employee who makes up a team, the expertise, experience and personal purposes of every individual makes up a business. Make sure you train your employees to keep them engaged and living their values.

About the Author

Themba Nkuna
Sales & Customer Success Coach, Sell Smarter

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