21 August 2012

Frances Wright: Be an empowered entrepreneur

Frances Wright, Trinitas Consulting
Frances Wright, MD of Trinitas Consulting, knew her future was not as an oral hygienist, nor in PR. She launched the company in September 2006 with the dream of establishing a marketing/communications/operations company with a holistic view on clients’ businesses to positively affect business success.

Have you always been entrepreneurial?
It’s something that’s grown over time – I originally studied to be and practiced as an oral hygienist.

What were you doing before starting your business?
I was managing director for a PR company, but a disconnect existed between myself and the CEO’s vision resulting in an untenable work environment.

What kind of planning went into starting the venture? Huge, complicated documents or not?
Planning is important, but business plans should be succinct and to the point. I encourage clients to keep their business plans to no longer than four pages, and to remember that, although it is a good starting point, you need to be flexible within that plan to “roll with the punches” that entrepreneurship will throw at you. 

What was your start up capital?
Trinitas started in Raizcorp, and the capital came from share buy-back from the previous company that I worked for.

How does a new entrepreneur find business leads and profit from them?
Through excellence of delivery, resulting in word-of-mouth marketing and relationship-building.

How does a new entrepreneur figure out what makes them unique and leverage that difference?
Entrepreneurs should identify a problem in a specific market and then develop a solution that is specific to that need.

How does a new entrepreneur figure out what to charge for their service/product?
Work out cost of sale, forecast sales and spread overhead costs across clients, then add the required profit margin. Once the ideal sales price is determined, market research should be done to see if the price is in line with the market; if your price is too low clients may not take you seriously but if it is too high you will price yourself out of the market.

What was your most epic fail in the early days?
I sold shares to somebody that was not aligned with the business culture or ethos. After a few months I had to buy him out by paying back the money paid for the shares, plus interest.

What are the two biggest/most common mistakes that new entrepreneurs make?
Going after every opportunity that presents itself, without first evaluating the chances of success whether it be a business venture, or taking on a job within your business which is too much work for your company to be able to deliver on. More entrepreneurs fail from too much business than too little.

How do you keep yourself motivated?
By understanding your calling in life and keeping your eye on the next step only – take things day by day.

How long does it take for a venture to get off the ground, in your experience?
There should be money flow within three months. Profitability could take longer, but after a year or so, if there are no profits, the business model has to be looked at. Profitability does not mean that the entrepreneur can relax though, as more tough times will come. Keep an eye on the macro environment constantly to look for threats.

Which three character traits do all entrepreneurs possess?
Ability to take risks, the ability to handle stress and sound relationship-building skills.

If you could give yourself any advice back then, what are your top 5 wisdoms?
* Contain growth.
* Focus on one business.
* Keep learning.
* Surround yourself with support.
* Follow your gut, especially with regards to recruitment.

Get in touch with Frances Wright from Trinitas Consulting via email: frances@trinitas.co.za, visit: www.trinitas.co.za, on Facebook, Twitter: @FrancesRay and on LinkedIn.

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