Published on January 19, 2017
Sibongile Shikwambana: Choosing her life’s direction
Founded by Sibongile Shikwambana in March 2012, Sandwind Coatings (Pty) Ltd has grown from five employees to 35 – and is becoming a force to be reckoned with in the painting, building, construction and home improvement sectors.
“Prior to this, I was a credit controller at a large corporate and realised I was not where I had hoped I’d be career-wise. Starting my own business seemed like the only option that would give me total control of the direction which I wanted my life to take.”
Inspired by her Mother “and anyone around me who dares to go after their dreams and make a success of whatever venture they are involved with”, Sibongile based Sandwind Coatings in Midrand and started providing painting services three years ago, but not without challenges: “Securing our first client and subsequent funding once I had actually got my first client was not easy. I used the pension money I had received from my previous employer and my credit card. I needed money for PPE, equipment and wages. There were sleepless nights and sacrifices. I didn’t take a salary at all for the first 10 months.”
A good friend in the industry was Sibongile’s “go-to” man when she needed advice and direction, and learning the industry from an insider paid off. Sandwind Coatings has grown from a turnover of R500, 000.00 in the first year to R2.5-million three years later.
“Being a woman in a male-dominated sector means I’ve had to work twice as hard to prove myself. I’ve learned to always put the client first and that meeting deadlines with high-quality products and service is vital. My vision for the business isn’t cast in stone – while I would like to build a legacy that my children would one day inherit, I may consider selling if that’s what proves best for our future.”
Marketing is important and includes cold-calling, distribution of company profiles to potential clients, an active website and registering on other online business platforms.
Key lessons she’s learned since start-up? “Never proceed without written confirmation, especially when it has to do with rates. Get written confirmation first that your rates have been approved and always insist on written confirmation for instructions that require deviating from the drawings and schedule.”
Recently, Sibongile was invited to a Property Point presentation that involved SMEs and the Newtown Junction project. “It gave an opportunity to be affiliated with Property Point and I like the idea of having an external party give an honest opinion of my business and advise me on where I could put in more effort and where I am doing well.”
“The Property Point programme is tailored to what my business needs, and isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach. This means I get advice that I need and can actually implement in my business.”