It does not take you more than 5 minutes to know that you are having a special encounter with this delightful human being. It is rather subtle mastery, as he doesn’t win you with the obvious, but his bouquet of mannerisms, his intent listening, his sincerity, and finally what he says is laced with his unique humour, and that is the final knockout.
“When I was in high school I didn’t always get pocket money and I started queuing for the girls at the tuck shop and asking for 50c in return. In today’s terms that would be seeing a gap in the market, for me, it was about survival.”
Thulani Ntshuntshe crafted his vision from an early age, “I became addicted to the idea of making my own money from the age of 14. That became the plan for me and I have never lost sight of that vision.”
“Even when my father refused to support me and didn’t want to hear about my ideas, it was me, my mom and my crazy vision. I crawled out of my shell and approached strangers for business. I couldn’t fail, the hunger to succeed fuelled me.”
That doggedness is what kept Thulani going, even when he was the laughing stock of his family for not having a regular job. His entrepreneurial journey started with two ventures – a car wash and an informal nano-lending experience before finding his niche in fire protection services.
Thulani knew nothing about fire protection services when he started the business and quickly understood that an Everest-sized learning curve lay ahead of him. He realized he was going to a market that was saturated, but from his research, was renowned for shocking service and unsafe practices.
He developed an app for his technicians onsite so that errors were minimized. The app produces a portfolio of evidence in the unfortunate event that a fire does break out. The potential loss for the business owner could be catastrophic and putting the pieces of the business together again could be compounded if the equipment was not serviced properly.
In two years of running Five Star Fire, Thulani has experienced financial challenges, personal losses, uncertainty and the lonely road of entrepreneurship. Through this experience, he says, “Partner with the right people, develop strong leadership attributes and most importantly persevere. If your business doesn’t do more than make money, you are missing the point. You have to thoroughly believe in what you are doing or it won’t work at all.”
Every business with five or more extinguishers needs Five Star Fire’s services to keep them compliant and safe. When that annual service rolls around, remember this story and call him on 081 756 8969/011 403 0212 and you will see what I mean about his uniqueness from the very first moment you hear him saying, “Five Star Fire, this is Thulani speaking. How can I extinguish your problems today?”
Here’s how you can help Thulani:
• Introduce him to your safety officer if your safety officer needs a comparative quote for handheld equipment servicing.
• Refer him to developers who could do with a black owned business who does fire suppression installation and servicing.
• Sponsor training for an unskilled worker to become a certified fire technician.
• Introduce him to key players in companies that need fire protection services.
• Help him with furniture for his new offices at Constitution Hill.
For more information about how to support Thulani Ntshuntshe and other #AwethuPeople, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the headline: Help #AwethuPeople.
Hear what Thulani has to say about his entrepreneurial journey: Watch the snapshot.