My name is Refilwe Mochoari. I am a journalist and an entrepreneur from Bloemfontein, South Africa. I am the owner of Bo-Esi Media which publishes Contagious magazine, a corporate lifestyle magazine in Bloemfontein focusing on business, entrepreneurship, finance and real life stories with the aim to educate, inform and inspire. The road to Bo-Esi wasn’t easy as its success if built on the back of a failed business venture.
I started out as a children’s party planner
In June 2011, I was 24 years old and had just started business as a children’s party planner. I thought this was the best decision ever. At the back of my mind, I always knew that I was destined for greatness and the party planning business was only a starting point for me.
When I started with this business, I was also employed so I did not feel the pressure of the start-up. I had a guaranteed monthly salary to rely on and I could still live the life that I wanted to live. Being a qualified journalist, I had experience working for different media companies. For a long time, I continued to be a full-time journalist and a party planner but everything changed in 2014 when I experienced bullying in the workplace. When I was diagnosed with depression because of the workplace bully, I had no choice but to resign.Refilwe Mochoari - I had to start working extremely hard to make money, but it was not enough Click To Tweet
This resignation was never planned
I did not know that I would resign May 2014, it just happened on the spot with no proper thinking. When I left my job, I continued to run the party planning business but it was difficult because there was no longer a monthly salary to rely on. As a result, I was unable to maintain my lifestyle.
During this time, I was running by business at a loss because competition was increasing. I was struggling to buy more equipment for the business but my resources were limited in an industry that was forever getting new trends. On top of that, I had just given birth to my second child who was in ICU for 5 weeks. I had some outstanding private hospital bills to take care of, so the struggle was real.
I had to start working extremely hard to make money, but it was not enough. Eventually, I had to move out of my own home and back into my mother’s house. I also had to sell all my furniture, which was worth over R100,000 when I bought, it for less than R20,000.
Regardless of all the struggles I faced, I never lost focus. I knew what I wanted so I continued to equip my knowledge on business through various entrepreneurship trainings. I continued to plan on how I would expand my business. Also, I wanted to make my student dream of starting a media company a reality.Refilwe Mochoari's failed venture made her more clever and knowledgeable on how to run a business Click To Tweet
Launching Bo-Esi and losing my party planning business
I had always wanted to contribute positively to the media industry, especially in my province where I saw a niche for a powerful black-owned media company that will contribute positively to the community. However, I could not start my own media company when I was employed by one because that would be a conflict of interest.
When I resigned and things were going wrong with my party planning business, I put to action my dream of starting a media company, Bo-Esi Media. At the beginning of 2015, I I started with Contagious Magazine as Bo-Esi’s first publication. Starting Contagious was very exciting and strenuous at the same time because I had no start-up funding whatsoever.
I was rejected at all the doors that I knocked on for a business loan. But now more than ever, I was determined to start so I funded Bo-Esi with the money from my party planning business. After launch, the media business took up all my focus, money and time. This certainly led to the failure/closure of my party business. Eventually, I sold all the equipment I’d bought to improve that business.
In the first year of running Bo-Esi Media, I managed to secure two large clients on the spot. Now, I was more clever and knowledgeable on how to run a business. So with only two clients, I was able to publish Contagious, pay salaries and promote my brand to potential new clients. It was thrilling to see how far I had come from with entrepreneurship and I continued to work hard regardless of all the challenges that come with running a magazine.Refilwe Mochoari - 2016 is the year of breakthrough for Contagious magazine, it is now starting to grow Click To Tweet
I was more skilful than before
I prayed, I believed and I worked. In addition to that, I ensured that I used each and every skill that I obtained from all my previous employers to make Bo-Esi Media a success. I worked on Contagious magazine for one full year before I could secure more clients. The first year of a magazine is the time where the brand had to prove itself, as many advertisers would simply say the magazine is still new for them to advertise in.
2016 is certainly the year of breakthrough for Contagious magazine. I finally started seeing the results of my perseverance. I went from having two clients to a database of over 20 regular clients. For the first time, the business is able to maintain itself and I know that 2017 is coming with even more prosperity.
Contagious magazine is now starting to grow and I believe that this is the right time to allow the rest of the province to benefit from a magazine that aims to uplift the community.
If you have a vision and are willing to work extra hard, anything is possible
What I learned from my experience with starting, closing and starting businesses is that it does not matter how you start and how many times you fail in business. Although it is challenging, business can be a lot of fun if you do what you love and know what you want. I have not stopped planning and dreaming. I am building an empire.@RefilweMochoari It does not matter how many times you fail in business if you have a vision Click To Tweet
To ensure that I do not see myself failing again, I took it upon myself to run my business as a business that invests and grows, instead of running a hand to mouth business like before. I have also not stopped learning and equipping myself with business and entrepreneurial skills. I read books, I attend courses and I motivate myself by following powerful entrepreneurs —such my favourite Richard Branson— in order to learn from them and how they master this game.
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