Eastern Cape-born Simphiwe Malotana says he has always wanted to one day run his own business.
But it was only when he finished his degree in information systems that he could really see it being possible.
“While studying for my BCom Hons in Information Systems, my thesis was more about strategic alignment of business and IT. The research was also about IT management and how IT can be used to deliver business solutions,” he says.
After completing his degree in 2008, Malotana’s entrepreneurship journey began.
In 2012, he registered his company, Tando Business Solutions, while holding down a full-time job and running another business on the side with his partner Aubrey Dolweni.
“I had to take some time off from work and attend business network sessions or meet with clients and suppliers. I built relationships with many suppliers and architects,” he says.
Through these network sessions, Malotana saw a gap and an opportunity to use his experience in the IT industry and also provide solutions to the suppliers with whom he had connected.
“I looked at the gaps within my work environment and identified opportunities. In 2015, I compiled a value proposition and presented that to a senior manager,” he says. At the time, Malotana was working for Woolworths as a software developer.
In order for him to get a green light from the company and become a service provider, he had to go through a rigorous, yearlong process, drawing up a business plan with a three-year projection to evaluate whether the business would be profitable.
“The process was very intense. It took almost a year to be up and running. In October 2016, I operated Tando Business Solutions on a full-time basis. The business is still a startup, but the revenue is excellent. I hope to get more clients and grow the business,” he says.
Malotana had to juggle work and running a business and says this takes a lot of discipline.
“You have to be disciplined and sacrifice your evenings, meeting clients and doing lot of admin. The nice thing about founding a business is that you get to learn about all the departments and business functions. You become very hands-on and build processes and systems that can later be used by your employees,” he says.
His main objective is to be able to find his own premises to house his business and expanding team.
“I want to focus mainly on corporates until I can build a team of software developers. But my ultimate goal is to have my own space,” he says.
He adds that part of his business vision is to extend my services into offering my clients with interns.
“I stayed in a Cape Town township called Nyanga for many years and I understand what poverty and crime is. Tando Business Solutions wants to make a difference by giving previously disadvantaged IT university best-performing students job opportunities, skill and mentor them,” he says.
After nine months, the company, which is projected to make R1,6 million by the end of the year, is sitting at about R800 000. He is excited that the company is surpassing his expectations.
An IT business is not the easiest to run, especially when you don’t have a profile, he concludes.