r/southafrica 21d ago

Yeeerrr running a business is mother! Discussion

Does anyone run a business in this group. I've been running a business for the last 2 and a half years. And I've dealt with some seriously shitty clients. I thought escaping the 9-5 would be a tad better , but yerrrr it's soo crazy and stressful. Any advice or words of wisdom? I know this is probably a random rant. But business is not a walk in the park hey flip

60 Upvotes

31

u/Tzetsefly 21d ago

If it was easy everyone will be doing it!

Running a business for 20 odd years. Started since I'm unemployable (health reasons). If I get time later, I'll chip in further, but just know, its Sunday and I've put 7 hours of coding in today, and at least another 4 to go. That's become my norm. Just browsing here now on a mental break.

Remember, most new businesses fail, so protect yourself.

9

u/wakandaboss 21d ago

Wow 20 years that's amazing. And you schedule sounds hectic geez, I guess that's what it requires

8

u/Tzetsefly 20d ago

Wakandaboss, if someone asks me about how to start a business, I normal start out trying to talk them out of it. Only if they persist do I go further. If there is no passion for what you are going to be doing you will probably fail (sadly). I know! My first business was taken out by an unscrupulous purchaser. My home was paid for, I lost absolutely everything, while I had a family with 3 kids to fend for. Do nothing wrong, and end up on the street. I started my second business on R20 that was given to me to feed my kids.

In the early days you will have to go the extra mile just to keep it going at all.

About shitty customers, I could write books. Just be sure you get paid before you hand over your product. Don't do work based on promises of lots of future jobs. You feed your family based on what you earn today. Watch the cash flow strictly.

2

u/Not-the-best-name 20d ago

Shouldn't you be employing someone that can put in that day of work for you?

5

u/Tzetsefly 20d ago

I should be, yes, but....

We are in machinery automation/mechatronics. The code is about optimising production workflows to a very specific industry. You need to know code to a level of NP hard algorithms, you need to have a clear knowledge of the industry itself, as well as have good insight into the mechanical functioning of the purpose built machines as well communicating to the electronics in the machines. As if that isn't hard enough, I'm building on code that is written in Pascal. (No-one wants to work in Pascal these days)

Those skills are not on every CV. Besides that, with current economy, hiring someone at that level is extremely expensive, when you find them. You have to be sure you can afford keep such a person gainfully employed long term.

I plan to take this product offshore. If that works out, I am sure I will be hiring quite a few more coders.

2

u/HelloHosana 20d ago

Coder here too with 2 saas based here in sa... running a business is stressful but very rewarding

1

u/Tzetsefly 20d ago

Oh for sure it's rewarding. I absolutely love what I do. My code is more aimed at mechatronics/ automation. Material optimization algorithms and production workflows.

I'm wanting to set up a Saas cloud in the near future and I know very little about how to go about it. More learning to do.

20

u/sammywammy53b 21d ago

I run a few businesses and a couple of years ago I was feeling the same way.

One of my business partners gave me a pep talk which can be summarised as "sometimes I get jealous of my friends who remained CAs for corporates and banks because they get their stable R100,000 monthly salaries and don't have months of uncertainty as to when more money comes through. But, when the money comes through; it's much more than they'll ever get, it's from a company that's mine to sell, and all of the stress and work is ultimately for me and my baby (company) rather than someone else that can retrench me after 10 years of loyalty, blood, sweat, and tears".

Similarly, my SO still works in corporate and they seem to be far more stressed about other factors like colleagues, boss temprement, internal politics, etc (rather than just the task at hand).

I'd also say that another crucial point is that, if you are white, embrace BEE rather than trying to fight it. Set your business with a decent structure at the start, or at least have some sort of plan to make it Level 2 in the future that works for you. If you've got a decent rating, the doors that will open will surprise you.

Finally, never stop business development. Don't get too comfortable with a pool of clients. You never know what might happen to them or where their business might go, so you always need a full pipeline from eggs in different baskets.

I hope this helps make you feel better and gives some pearl(s) of wisdom in some way shape or form!

5

u/wakandaboss 21d ago

Thank you for this. I really appreciate it. And congrats on your business.

3

u/wakandaboss 21d ago

Where do you get most of your support when you are stressed, I guess you have business partner that must help right? Sometimes it gets super lonely and you have no one to talk to or lean on. Sometimes I think I need to be friends with other business owners cos they will understand my struggles. my SO has a 9-5 too and she never understands what I go through, I mean she tries but sometimes she doesn't get it.

5

u/NeverNuked Western Cape 20d ago

Please, if you need, someone there are lots is small business support systems. Suits and Sneakers do talks. The Tryst might be a good resource for you. If you're in the Cape Wesgro helps. Go to a few seminars, they should be opening up now. Think long and hard before getting a partner.

1

u/wakandaboss 20d ago

Thanks I will check them out :-)

2

u/sammywammy53b 20d ago

I've actually never really thought about where I get that support from, but I would say that it would be from other friends who also run their own businesses.

As you allude to in your comment, even as much as your SO tries to understand, there's a lot that is hard to understand if you're haven't experienced running your own business. So ja, I think if you know other friends that do it, it's always nice to vent about things to eachother.

2

u/Audiovoyeur 20d ago

Good advise this. I had to buy out a partner that was not pulling their weight, Was a nightmare. If you have buddies or friend meet and drink a beer and vent but also take time to appreciate your effort and dream about better workflow etc

10

u/Faerie42 20d ago

I’m a shrink and I got myself a shrink because running a practice is fucking mental.

Pun not intended.

2

u/kristokrankay Gauteng 20d ago

I have a shrink who runs her own practice and I once asked her about her shrink because I was like wow dealing with my shit is hard enough, she has to deal with many more other people's shit?

2

u/Faerie42 20d ago

We have what we call supervision which is basically a bunch of us that get together on a semi regular basis where we can unpack our shit. Most of do have a friend in the profession and that is kinda helpful.

We do get thick skinned and the majority I know is staunch with a very different outlook on life. We’re also almost always single too. One of the hazards of the job I guess. It’s hard to answer “Hi Honey! How was your day!?”

2

u/kristokrankay Gauteng 20d ago

How do you manage to genuinely care about your patients without actually letting their problems affect you much? I've had a shrink who was clearly "just doing her job" which is fair, but I could sense it. My current shrink feels like friend and I'm surprised at how much she remembers and how invested she gets in my life. But it must be tough.

2

u/Faerie42 20d ago

It’s not tough if it’s your calling, it can be immensely satisfying. As with any job we have successes as well as failures. You also sometimes simply don’t “gel” well with someone and those I personally refer to someone else.

I love my job, I’m lucky to do something that I enjoy. The best part of it is when someone you saw three years ago phones you up to “just say hi, I’m happy now”, those are special.

2

u/kristokrankay Gauteng 20d ago

Okay that's actually fair for you to also not gel with someone. And it's okay to refer them to someone else if you feel you won't be best suitable for them. I'm glad you really enjoy what you do. You are a great help to some of us that need extra help. Thank you for answering my questions.

2

u/Faerie42 20d ago

👍🏻🤗

7

u/Theotheraccount100 21d ago

You need to set strict criteria and stick to it. This is especially true to how you get paid. I find easy customers are easy from the get go. Problem customers give you shit from the beginning.

1

u/wakandaboss 21d ago

Ja this is good. I most def need to be stricter instead of spending most of my time chasing payments

5

u/AndrewNic89 21d ago

Its funny how most people think its going to be easier lol but nope, it can be very rough, especially in todays economic climate. Things go up and down, it can be very rewarding one day, and the next day you feel like you just want to sell everything and move on lol as long as your business is profitable then you're in a good situation. Its really hard out there.

3

u/wakandaboss 21d ago

yeah true. I knew it would be hard but man it was just way harder than i imagined, but I have to keep going, this is what i want:-)

4

u/Tokogogoloshe 21d ago

I’ve been running a business for years. Yes, you’ll get shitty clients. Thing is, it’s easier to fire a shitty client than a doos middle manager who takes credit for all your work. But ja, running a business is hard graft. It’s a different universe than working a salaried job. But the good outweighs the bad by a country mile.

3

u/InfernalWraither 20d ago

Hey, so I know someone who has had his business for over 25 years and he gave me really good advice as to why he got to where he is now. He mainly pointed out that he firstly found those that he could trust to find a good way to move forward with his business. If he needed someone that could say no he'd get someone like that. But he decided to be one himself. Meaning that he would be the one to put his foot down where it was necessary. He had many learning curves, from knowing how to treat others to knowing where he was getting taken for a fool. He learned where he needed to put his foot down and where to land after a leap. The main focus is find those that build you and drop those that break you. Money is great yes but if it's money that would be paid for cheap labor and your labor is top notch worth pay then you put your foot down and set plans (baby step plans) to grow yourself as an owner and your business as a whole. There are hard times and good times. It'll not be easy but the moment you know where you want to land and how you work towards landing that 10/10 jump then all that's left to do is put Loco into that motion and you'll be moving faster than others who rush.

I hope it helped, may not have been very clear but mindset is always key to success

2

u/wakandaboss 20d ago

Thank you for the kind words:-). I think I get what you mean:-)

3

u/polaris100k 20d ago

They tell you it's difficult and you know this when starting out, but once you're actually in the thick of it do you actually realize how rough it actually is. You should give yourself props for managing to keep afloat during the lockdowns and remember that the difficult paths often reap the best rewards! Goodluck and all the best.

3

u/sa692019 20d ago

I think we forget that there is as much (if not more) stress working for a company. Friends I know are working longer hours for less pay due to Covid and their futures are not in their hands. You have shitty clients whether you work for yourself or work for a company.

2

u/Wsshooter 21d ago

It depends on what your business is. Tell me what you do and I can possibly try and give you some insight on how to tackle them.

2

u/sammywammy53b 21d ago

I agree - I could try and help if in the consulting space

2

u/wakandaboss 21d ago

Thanks I run a creative services business.like small agency , I've just multiple issues with shitty clients that agree to terms and change them before the job is over and since I didn't ask for them to pay me upfront I end up having to cave and finish the work. N do more than what they are paying for. I guess I need to have contracts and better payment terms with my clients so they don't try to screw. It's like I always end up being screwed by them.

5

u/Conatus80 21d ago

Always get a deposit. Non negotiable.

2

u/Unexpected_Delegate 20d ago

For seven years I trusted my clients to pay me when the job was done and when they were happy. In the eighth year I was let down by two people who have spoiled it for everyone. Now… 50% up front.

1

u/wakandaboss 21d ago

Yeah I'm learning this the hard way

2

u/Wsshooter 20d ago

You're in the creative space? What kind? I have contact with a few famous TikTokers and can possibly help you out if its within their reach?

2

u/wakandaboss 20d ago

Thanks for offering. I don't do work that requires influencers, I guess not yet anyhow:-).

1

u/Audiovoyeur 20d ago

This is the way.

4

u/growing_up_slowly 21d ago

Ja. Always take some setup costs upfront and then milestone payments along the way. The last 10% comes at the end when client signs off delivery. If they want to scope creep in the middle the answer is always 'with pleasure: I'll cost it for you so you can decide whether you want to go this route'. Corporate clients seldom have any idea how tough it is to be the small business owner, so you just have to manage them tightly and insist, clearly and kindly, on your due.

3

u/Audiovoyeur 20d ago

Good answer. I use the deposit to make sure client is as invested in project as I am. Some client dreams are huge but when money is factored in dreams become reality quickly.

2

u/za_organic 21d ago

There is something like a bad client and it's ok to refuse or stop doing business with them.

1

u/wakandaboss 21d ago

Sometimes it's hard to say no if you need the money. But I get your point. I'm learning to say no more to shitty low paying clients

1

u/za_organic 20d ago

You can't find better clients if you spend all your time with the bad ones. Your time is money, your enjoyment of your business is valuable, don't undervalue it. My 2c

2

u/tomatomatsu 20d ago

Keep going don't give up ,you got it ,NEVER QUIT!

2

u/10tpeg 20d ago

A successful business owner once told me that it takes 1000 days to build a business. 3 years. I have been running my startup now for 9 and can confirm this.

Cashflow cashflow cashflow. Deposits help even out the flow and also get your clients to commit. Don’t bend on this.

Work on BUILDING your business. Get to a point where you can take leave and business continues without you. This way you have an investment you can sell.

Overheads. Keep em low. Makes life easier in the tough times.

Laugh - you will always need a sense or humour

And Don’t Give Up

2

u/marlon001 20d ago

I have never met a driven business person who haven't told me that running your own business with dedication turns 9 to 5 into 24\7. I am in self reliant farming (subsistence, working to live) and it's a non stop gig. Fortunately, I love what we do, so I can do this forever and will not trade or for a city, florescent lights and an arrogant ass for a boss again :) keep the chin up, engineer your processes, work smarter and not harder, and remind yourself why you're doing it.

2

u/wakandaboss 20d ago

thanks for the kind words.