From fronting to celebrity small business owners, head of business incubator Property Point, Shawn Theunissen, has seen it all.
Shawn Theunissen has had entrepreneurs, who having won a construction tender, rush in for assistance because they have no clue how to complete the bill of quantities.
He is also familiar with the concept of the celebrity small business owner. The one interviewed across all media for having won some award – everyone wants a piece of them – so they go from one business incubator to another.
But the question remains, why aren’t they applying what they are learning on these programmes? “Why aren’t they getting on with the business of business?,” Theunissen asks.
Property Point, an initiative of Growthpoint Properties was founded four years ago. The programme is open to 51% black-owned SMEs who have been in operation for at least two years, have a demonstrable track record and show potential for growth.
Property Point is niche and geared at businesses in the property facilities management market, including cleaning companies, security providers, plumbers, gardening and landscape, etc. Companies that sign up are put on a two-year programme during which their business plan and processes are assessed.
Theunissen and his team also ensure that the businesses meet compliance regulations and are registered for VAT, UIF, Occupational Health and Safety with the Department of Labour. Whereas SMEs might cut corners when bidding for government contracts, it is critical that they comply if they are to complete effectively for private sector business.
Operationally, Property Point assesses businesses holistically and makes sure they are on point with regards to human resources, legal practices and sound financial management.
They also look at the enterprise’s growth strategy going forward. Entrepreneurs are taught to plan ahead to avoid a situation where they have to hastily raise huge capital amounts to carry out an awarded contract. “Raising finance quickly can be very expensive. We encourage our entrepreneurs to rather build a relationship with their bank, to forecast and anticipate when they might be taking on a big project, so that finance is not a problem to arrange,” Theunissen says.
Cash flow management is a crucial factor. “They have to understand that finance should be used to fund growth, not for the day-to-day running of the business,” he says.
Property Point does not offer finance but ensures access by helping entities become bankable.
Those businesses that do well during the incubation process are linked to the market via introductions to key industry players, listed on Growthpoint Properties’ supplier database and encouraged to bid for contracts.
“By then we are confident that they can meet Growthpoint’s high standards. They don’t get any preferential treatment. They meet their competitors on an equal footing and are sustainable as a result,” says Theunissen.
To date 46 businesses have been through the incubation process, among them former SABC3 continuity presenter Mpho Sono’s TmT Cleaning (featured in the DESTINY August issue). With the help of the team at Property Point, TmT’s turnover has grown from R300 000 12 years ago to R4,8 million currently. Another enterprise in the programme has to date created 500 jobs.
Property Point also hosts open information sessions, called "to the point", which equip SMEs with knowledge on different subjects such as the use of social media to market business.
SMEs in the incubation programme are given constant mentoring and coaching to develop the business owner.
“We are in the business of changing mindsets. Once an entrepreneur sees themselves as successful then they are able to meet their client and competitors on an equal footing knowing they have a contribution to make,” Theunissen says.
Urged on by Property Point’s success, Theunissen and his team (of three, and a network of specialists) are now ready to share and replicate their model to other sectors and in this way contribute to South Africa’s job creation project.
Click here to learn more about Property Point in Gauteng and Cape Town.