Monalisa Molefe: Buy into a business that you can connect your passion to

Monalisa Molefe

What is it about yourself that enabled you to succeed at reaching your goal of owning a business?

I really wanted it, and when you really want something you know how far you are willing to go. Not everybody is meant to be an entrepreneur, but really who wouldn’t want to own their own business?

I saw this as an opportunity not too far off from an industry that I love which is luxury branding. I love anything luxurious and beautifully presented. Having an eye and a taste for such made it easy for me to understand the industry. I appreciate beautiful spaces and places that wall décor goes on.

I had this idea that I could take over the factory and turn it into a luxury brand of my own making. The bottom line is; this was something I really wanted and had a vision for. It connects to something that I am passionate about.

When she bought Art Form Factory, @Lisa_Molefe also had to build the trust of her new employees Click To Tweet

When it came to the employees, did you take over the employees that were already there? Have they been receptive to you being their boss?

I have four permanent staff members who have been with the company for 12-15 years. I had a team meeting with them and then one-on-ones to get to know them on a personal level. This gave me insight into the organizational culture as well.

It turns out that the previous owner had really built a family with them and they are so proud of their work. In my first meeting alone with them I confessed that I was not a framer. They actually are the framers but I am the business brain, so I asked for their support. I couldn’t do this alone and needed them much more.

What has really surprised me is that all the workers know how to do their jobs. They are good at filling in for each other when the need arises. So there is a strong cross skills function in the work place. Presently, I am looking into finding their interests outside of framing. I want to open up the conversation for further skills development so that they don’t fall redundant in their work space. I will be incorporating all of this into my strategy for 2017 so that my employees truly feel like they are part of a business that looks out for them.

My goal is to build trust and a sense of ownership. I’ll take strategic steps to invest in them and what they are interested in beyond the factory job.

How are you able to maintain balance and remain present?

Obviously, I’m human and I have days when I’m feeling off. I’ve found that if there is something wrong, I have to stop what I’m doing and acknowledge it. I don’t let things linger because the sooner I deal with an issue, the sooner I can get back to business. When things linger, that’s when mistakes are most likely to happen.

When I’m not feeling like myself, I time out even if its for a couple of minutes. I try to solve the issue right then and there, whether it means picking up the phone to have a conversation with a client or approaching a worker who did something wrong.

Most of the time, it ends up being issues that can be easily and quickly resolved.

Monalisa Molefe: If I know in advance what events I would like to attend, I work longer days Click To Tweet

And what about your personal life? Has that suffered at all?

 I see myself as a socialite and so I do make time to be with family and friends and to attend social events. I love being out there and I love dealing with, and meeting new people.

Usually, if I know in advance what events I would like to attend, I take that into account and work longer days. This is so that I don’t feel guilty when I take time off work to attend those events. And sometimes even when I know I need to work, I tell myself to pause and take a break. I can always get back to it later.

Then, I try not be too hard on myself and try to be positive always. I tend to think back to the lines of media entrepreneur and philanthropist Michael Bloomberg when he says “I just don’t do doubt or bad days because, as we all know, it is already difficult enough to run a business without allowing those things to weigh you down further.’

I stay positive and give myself time to do things I love and be with people I love.

What advice would you like to leave for all the Motherland Moguls reading this article who are looking to buy a business?

First, there needs to be a passion for the business. I could’ve seen the framing industry as something really mundane, but I found my passion for luxury in that space. Buy into something that excites you and resonates with you.

Second, surround yourself with people who can help you because you’re definitely not going to be able to do it alone. You need both mentors and cheerleaders to help you through this process. You will find yourself doing things you don’t necessarily like or are not good out. Be willing to stick with it and see it through.

Third, make sure you understand what you are getting into.

Monalisa Molefe: Buy into something that excites you and resonates with you Click To Tweet

And lastly, have a plan to take things to the next level. Why spend all this time and effort to buy into a business if you intend to keep things the same? Spot a gap that the current owners are missing and find a way to fill that gap.


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About Uloma Ogba

Uloma Ogba is the Founder and CEO of Launch Africa, offering tailored career advice and mentoring to individuals seeking opportunities in the International Development sector. She is also the author of the highly rated “30-Day Guide to Landing your Dream Job in International Development”. She is currently working her dream job as Program Coordinator with the United Nations in Rwanda, focused on implementing the organization's digital strategy to improve financial inclusion. Previously she worked as an Analyst for PharmAccess, a global health nonprofit in the Netherlands, with brief stints in Kenya and Nigeria. Committed to the development of women and girls across the globe, Uloma cofounded the Nigerian nonprofit, Give Girls A Chance, which is dedicated to improving access to quality education for Nigerian girls. Her interests include blogging, reading and traveling.

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