‘Master the industry that you want to operate in’ – James Matshubeng
Name of company: Matoto Technologies
Years in existence: 5 Years
Position: Managing Director
Can you tell us a little bit about your background – personal, educational and professional?
My career started in 2003 as a network administrator. Since then, I’ve occupied positions from network engineer, first-line support engineer, systems engineer, IT architect, etc until now where I head Matoto Technologies as its managing director.
Can you tell us a little bit about your company and what you do?
We deliver IT services to small and medium-sized business, essentially becoming an IT department for these businesses. Furthermore, we provide business solutions and proactive technology management to help businesses that we partner with, and enabling them to focus on their core business.
What were some of the obstacles you faced starting out, and how did you overcome them?
Having to act as finance, sales and HR director etc, has been the biggest headache. But with experience and staff now assisting me, I now see the light and I am focused on growing the company. Cash flow management and getting the right people was another pain.
“Our vision is to employ as many youngsters as possible”
How many people does your company employ?
Two full-time staff at the office and two other employees who help with marketing on a part-time basis. I frequently outsource big networking and computer cabling jobs to other small IT companies that we work with.
What is your overall vision for your business?
Our vision is to have remote offices in all the provinces and serve the entire country, and employ as many youngsters as possible. Youth unemployment is my biggest worry and concern.
What do you think it takes to establish and run a successful business in South Africa?
Believing in oneself, commitment and hard work. Industry experience also play an important role as I know the language already.
Our country is faced with its challenges like skills shortage, crime, and drug abuse. But if you believe in your dream then everything is possible.
How did you finance your business, how difficult or easy was the process?
I funded the company from personal savings and I managed to sign our very first SLA while I was still in corporate. The business then started to make money by itself. I also spent lots of weekends and nights developing websites for small companies and that helped soothe our cash flow, and kept me floating.
When did you know that you were an entrepreneur?
While in corporate I was given an opportunity to meet clients and recommend solutions. It was at that point that I felt I needed to do that for myself, instead of representing someone else. Even during my tertiary years I always saw myself becoming an IT business mogul.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I am a good boss, I strongly believe in team-work. Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work. Furthermore, courage, sacrifice, determination, commitment and toughness. That’s me.
“A true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer”
What three pieces of advice would you offer young entrepreneurs starting out today?
1. Don’t take the business advisers too seriously. One of them told me that what I have is a hobby not a business idea, I decided not to listen to her.
2. Master the industry that you want to operate in. These industries have their own languages and one needs to be equipped.
3. Once you are in, you are in. There is no turning back!
What do you wish you had known starting out?
The taxman and how he operates.
And finally, do you believe in luck, hard work or both?
A true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer. I’m a greater believer in hard work, not luck. It is a universal truth that luck without hard work has a limited life. Hard work is the tool which converts the failure into success.