Lulu Khumalo is MD of Carron’s Corporate Maintenance Services, a construction company specialising in building maintenance, refurbishments and tenant installations.
The Germiston-based company has been operating for 17 years and employs six permanent staff.
Where did you get the idea for the business?
We bought the business as a going concern in 2008. My husband and I were both unemployed at the time and the plan was for him to manage the company and for me to assist him. He started a new job soon after and I became the manager. I’ve been running the business for almost three years now and I enjoy it. It has challenged me to grow both personally and professionally, and has been a very rewarding journey.
How did you finance the business?
We bought the company using our savings.
What are some of the challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
I found myself with a list of unfamiliar responsibilities, from marketing to financial planning, that I had to master very quickly. Initially I struggled to balance my time and prioritise tasks, as well as come to grips with everything I had to do. Being part of the Property Point programme has helped me with all of this. Not only am I learning how to action everything required of me as a manager, but I’m also learning why each of these responsibilities is important and what value they add to my business. Property Point is also giving me the tools my business needs (training, mentorship and networking skills) in order to compete effectively in the market.
What are your short-term goals?
Definitely putting proper business structures in place. I’ve recently developed new administration systems and processes that are helping me to run the company more efficiently.
What are your long-term goals?
I want my company to grow. I hope to increase my annual turnover threefold. This will allow me to employ about 30 more people. While this will be great for business, it will also help me to make a real contribution to the economy and in the communities where we offer our services
Do you have any advice for women who would like to start a business in construction?
Stay focused. Take everything one day at a time and keep a “to do” list. If you aren’t sure about how to carry out technical tasks, ask for help. Manage your cash flow properly.