How to make it in business in Bloemfontein if you’re a woman

From the left are Masha Gubkina, Leah Molatseli, Lesley Irene Jennings and Thandi Vellem, who were the leading ladies at last night's Start Up Grind Session in Westdene. Credit: Pulane Choane

Female founders, Leah Molatseli and Thandi Vellem were the hosts at last night’s leg of Start-Up Grind, which was held at Cubana Lounge and Restaurant in Westdene.

Molatseli is the owner of LenomaLegal, which is South Africa’s first legal e-commerce website, while Vellem is an author,  Life Coach and NLP practitioner, whose specialty is in Blended Families and has written for various renowned publications in the country and internationally.

The two women shared their lessons their respective entrepreneurship journeys have taught them and here are a few pointers for anyone out there looking to break into business or entrepreneurship but don’t know where to start.

  1. “Start local, Think Global”– said Molatseli. Explaining her quote, Molatseli says “Do what you can where you are but in order to truly stay ahead of your competition, always think of the long-term. Plan for the long-term, that’s the only way to stay ahead of your competitors regardless of the industry you operate in.
  2. Compliance, compliance, compliance!”– says Vellem who says often businessmen and entrepreneurs tend to get carried away with content creation and forget that every business and trade has a set of rules it must stick to. “Rather make sure that you’re fully complaint in terms of getting the paperwork for your business. This will include everything from business to tax registrations. It tends to be a hassle, yes, but it is easier to get it sorted and out of the way earlier than later.”
  3. “Put on your blinkers as soon as you get into the business.”- Molatseli says this is key because often businessmen tend to listen and follow the opinions of others too much. “Just focus on doing your own thing, follow your intuition and trust it. Never mind the naysayers, people will always have something negative to say. Just always trust that you know what you’re doing and learn from your mistakes every time.”
  4. “Go forth in pursuit of your dreams” is the advice Vellem gives to others as she learned the hard way after 16 years of being in the corporate world that her calling was her dream, which is to help others figure out their life’s purpose. “For me, when I finally realized my calling after struggling for years with what to do or become, money became immaterial. What mattered most to me was that I was happy with what I was doing. Luckily, the money just happened to come with being happy with my career. “
  5. “Get a strong support system to get you through the bad days, because there definitely will be bad days”, says Molatseli, who says she has come to learn that business is very hard and tends to get demotivating, especially in the start-up stages. “You will get 10 no’s only one yes. Before you get to that yes, you will doubt your decision to go into business and feel depressed and that’s why you need to surround yourself with people who will tell you to keep working at overcoming the obstacles you will face.“
  6. “Treat your clients and services like they are human and you’ll never worry about them leaving,” says Vellem, who says she learned early in her working life as a cashier that customers who receive good quality service will always be willing to stand in a long queue for good service. “When you recognize the humanity in your clients and treat them with love and respect, they value your business for it and will remain your customers for life, simply because of how you treat them,” she says.
  7. “If you are not on Google and social media, who are you?” says Molatseli, who adds that more businessmen and professionals need to start realizing how powerful social media and the internet are as marketing agents. “Over 14 million South Africans are on Facebook. As a businessperson, you need to tap into those platforms because that’s where your markets are. I don’t travel often and yet I have clients from all over the country simply because my business is visible online,” she adds.

Start-Up Grind is held at different venues every month and serves as a platform for dialogue to engage with the city’s business people. The show was presented by Lesley Irene Jennings, who presents the show. For more information, visit to find out where the next event will be held.

Pulane Choane- Courant News