When asked what their advice to aspiring business owners is, many entrepreneurs agree that if at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again.
This is exactly what the tenacious Evans Lepedi (39) from Namakgale township in Limpopo did. He founded EG Auto Spares in 2013. This is his story…
“I have always wanted to start my own business to be independent and make decisions that I can implement without having to consult with a boss before actioning. As a result, I studied Business Management through Unisa between 2008 and 2010 while I worked as a service agent. But because I’ve always wanted to be my own boss, I opened a fast food outlet in Namakgale in 2004. I sold it in 2006 when I moved to Pretoria for work.
Evans opened EG Auto Spares in 2013 after he was retrenched. “I chose motor spares and accessories because at the time, there was no active motor spares dealer in my township and customers had to travel 15km to the nearest shop. My shop is situated next to a fitment centre so there was a need to service this market of customers with replacement parts.”
Despite his anxiety around letting go of the job security that comes with having a nine-to-five job, he was determined to start his own business and succeed as an entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, you have to expect the unexpected. “A large competitor opened shop in the same location in 2016. It made competition for customers tough and it remains so. However, we try and provide the best service and source parts new or used for the customers at affordable pricing,” Evans explains.
Being successful is also about knowing when to look for support, so being accepted onto the SAB Foundation Tholoana Enterprise Programme came just in time. “I had no capacity to service a contract with one of my clients and my pricing was incorrect. I quoted the mine on a replacement part and they wanted genuine parts, but because of my pricing mistake I would have had to supply it at a loss, and they refused a pricing review. The mine kept shifting the goal posts when I requested a pricing review. Had I been on this programme at the time I would have been able to resolve the contract dispute with the mine.” The programme has since taught Evans everything he needed to know about costing and pricing and he now also has access to legal experts.
Ntando Maseko, Evans’ Tholoana mentor, is very impressed with his leadership and perseverance. “His business was on the brink of collapse and closure when all that could go wrong went wrong – all at the same time. Imagine a break-in wiping away 70% of your inventory just after you have invested all your reserves to restock, just after an established brand set up shop in your area and claimed almost half your clientele base. That’s his story, but he didn’t allow that to be the end. Through amazing leadership, he kept his team going and they went all out with marketing. They also used the grant funding from the Tholoana programme to restock, and turned things around to grow the business five times over from where it was in December 2017.”
Evans realises the positive impact his business has on his community. “Other than being independent, my business allows me to boost the economy in my township by providing job opportunities. I have invested a lot of my time in this business and my main vision and desire is to continue growing the business. My next step is to explore diversifying the business with an automotive segment like opening a fitment centre in the near future. Starting a business is hard but giving up is never an option. I fight until I succeed.”
For more information about EG Auto Spares, contact Evans Lepedi or call him on 015 769 2493.
For more information about the Tholoana Enterprise programme visit the website.