I am Sizile Makola, a recently married mom with a 22 month old son. I live and operate my business from Flamingo Vlei in Cape Town.
What is the name of your company and when did you start your business?
I am the founding member of My Claim Mate, a UIF claiming service that I started in October 2010 as a result of winning the SAFM Pitch and Polish competition sponsored by Brand House.
What inspired you to start your own business?
I come from a family of entrepreneurs. My father was one and so were all his brothers. It is something that I grew up with. So, I knew that I would also get involved in it one day and follow in their footsteps.
When I returned from the Rotary International’s Group Study Exchange Programme to Bulgaria as one of 4 young South Africans participating in the programme to learn about business and the people/culture of Bulgarians, I was inspired to start my own business because of what I saw and learned from the youth there.
What are the challenges you face or have faced being a working Mom and how have you overcome them?
I found it difficult to balance work and family, the combination to manage a new household, nurturing the business and caring for my son was a huge challenge. I have great expectations of myself and was often unreasonably hard on myself.
Fortunately, I am lucky to have supportive in-laws who offer assistance in taking care of my son while I grow the business to the point where it is more sustainable. I have also learned to celebrate every little step forward in the business, such as receiving contact details from a particular company and the person who I need to send my proposal to, because then I am one step closer to reaching my goal than if I had not taken the initiative.
What is the hardest part or have been some of your struggles starting your own business?
Getting a negative response (no) from people at the companies I have contacted. However, I have learned that not everybody will need my service at the time when I approach them. I see these people as people that I can still go back to and re-pitch.
It is actually harder when the company takes a very long time to respond or when they do not respond at all after I sent them my proposal. It is harder, because they don’t give you anything to work with which makes it difficult to move forward.
How do you balance your business and your family?
My husband is very supportive and helps me whenever he is available. We’ve agreed on simple things to make life fair and easy for us. For example, dinner time is quality time and we don’t take calls, work on laptops etc. Weekends, especially Sundays are also a time we spend exclusively together as a family.
What or whom has been the greatest support for you and your business?
I have received overwhelming support from my husband as well as our friends, Jo and Anne Serekonyane who are also entrepreneurs. My husband helps around the house and with our son and also provides advice.
Jo and Anne also help with guidance through pitfalls they have experienced. They are involved in the media and marketing space through their company POV entertainment. So, I get free advice in this area which has been vital to the growth of my business.
There are definitely a lot more people who support me, but if I were to name all of them, we would be here all day!
If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
I would not change a thing. I’ve learned so much so far and look forward to growing in all aspects as my business grows too.
What advice can you give other Moms out there who are starting a new business?
First and foremost, you must believe in yourself and your idea. Start a business in the area/field that interests you wholeheartedly, because you need to believe in what you are offering.
Think about your business with your head and not your heart, be objective all the time and be your own worst critic.
Ask for help when you need it, it takes nothing from you and you have a lot to gain from it.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us that I may have missed?
Start small and grow from there so that things can be manageable, but always think big!
If other Moms would like to keep in touch, how can they contact you?
We love hearing and learning from others. We are always open to mutually beneficial partnerships with other businesses where we can enhance the value propositions of our individual companies.
These are the many ways in which to get hold of us:
E-mail: sizile (at) myclaimmate.co.za
Tel: +27 (0)83 786 2489
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