Bakani Ngulani, the 25-year-old founder and CEO of BN Business Solutions, was recognised as South Africa’s top entrepreneur under the age of 25 at last year’s National Small Business Chamber (NSBC) awards.
How did it feel to win this prestigious NSBC award?
It felt amazing because getting recognition like that in front of business owners from all over South Africa who are older than me and more experienced is not an everyday thing. It’s an honour and a motivation for me to work even harder. The MC at the awards ceremony introduced me by saying: “He is 24 years old… I have shoes older than him! That’s amazing. You are a Rockstar, my buddy. You are a Rockstar!” This was an amazing introduction and, in fact, in a room full of business people – many of whom had over 24 years of business experience themselves – I indeed felt like “an amazing Rockstar”.
“You need to hire the right people when you are starting a business, and you need to create a work environment that is efficient by involving and trusting your staff with work projects.” – Bakani Ngulani, BN Business Solutions.
Tell us about the journey BN Solutions has been on?
BN Business Solutions began as a one-man workforce and, along the way, I have managed to add other people with different skill sets to mine. From one office in Midrand, we have managed to go national into Cape Town and Durban. From one client, we now boast over 30 clients. From a one-unit office, we now have bigger and better office space which allows the company to be more efficient. The company was a finalist at the 702 National Small Business Awards in 2016, which in itself was a great achievement, and last year we managed to win our category in the NSBC National Business Awards, which shows that we are growing and enjoying increasingly better success as we grow.
What are some of the key lessons you have learned as an SMME owner… and what advice do you have for aspiring SMME owners?
One of the greatest lessons I have learnt is that you need to hire the right people when you are starting a business, and you need to create a work environment that is efficient by involving and trusting your staff with work projects. I have also learnt that it’s important to lead the people you are working with, instead of simply imposing your will on them and overloading them. You need to empower them and help them to grow so that the business can grow as well.
Always seek to learn something new. Many people think they know everything… however, that’s just not true. SMMEs need to look at how others are doing it and develop themselves based on that understanding.
For anyone wanting to start their own business, you first really need to understand why you want to start, analyse your market and look at those that have been in that business and learn from their experiences, their successes and failures… and then research and look for a way to be different from everyone else. Plan your business carefully and, when you finally make a decision, make sure it’s your decision and no-one else’s decision.
“Plan your business carefully and, when you finally make a decision, make sure it’s your decision and no-one else’s decision.” – Bakani Ngulani, BN Business Solutions.
How do you do things differently in your business?
When I started my goal was to make a lot of money and create wealth, however that has changed now my goal is to create a brand of efficiency and effectiveness, I want to provide the best service to everyone I do business with.
My staff understands what I want from them and we always have team building sessions to create a bond and a synergy which can be translated into a great work ethic and strong unbreakable bond. I encourage responsibility and I give them room to develop themselves so that they can grow. Because of the constant emphasis of teamwork and creating a bond 3 of my staff members have decided to stay together and that has even created a better work environment because there is a deeper understanding between them now.