Today I would like to teach you some Biblical principles on how to become successful entrepreneurs and businesswomen and be an example to the world on how it must be done.  This comes out of my own experience in the business world.

For those who do not know my humble beginnings, herewith a short introduction on how my journey in business started:

In 1992 there was an economic downfall in the construction industry in SA.  My husband, who was a building contractor, could not provide the necessary finances for the family household. My request to God was that He must help me to find something to do to help to provide for our family’s expenses in general. Today, 26 years later we have an award-winning apartment hotel with 30 guest apartments and won several Awards of excellence in the hospitality industry. I was nominated as Business Woman of the Year, after only three years in the business.  Last year I was a finalist in a prestigious Entrepreneurial competition.

So let us start with some principles in becoming successful – this complies to all kind of jobs, even if you are employed by someone, not having your own business – the rules stay the same:

When I was interviewed for the Business Women of the Year Award, one of the questions the judges asked me was: “What is the most important factor that helped you to make a success of your business.” My immediate answer was the following:

Firstly, I appointed God as the CEO of my business. I, therefore, ask His advice before I make any decisions regarding my business; remember that I told you that I asked God to help me find a way to provide for our family finances?  He gave me the insight, therefore I must still trust  Him to make the right decisions regarding the business.  If you want to be successful, you will have to be obedient to His voice, instructing you on how to run this business or how to act in the workplace.

Secondly, I believe in giving tithes. Here I refer back to a book that I’m reading at the moment, Giving it all away and away and Getting it all back again, written by David Green.  David Green is the CEO of Hobby Lobby the USA’s biggest Chain Shop, specializing in Hobbies.  He truly believes in the principle of tithe giving.

Exactly a year ago, while I’ve been in NYC, my husband went to show me where the Hobby Lobby shop in the Hudson Valley is situated – wow – what a big shop – it looks like a Hypermarket.   I’m honest to say that I would love to have a cup of coffee together with this man. He inspires me so much.

Thirdly, I believe in Service, Service, Service and what else is service than Excellence? Excellence is a subject very near to my heart. Today after 25 years in the hospitality industry I am still thankful for this principle that I invested in my staff.

A lack of excellence can cost you your business. After I started Smithland, many others (people whom I know personally) also decided to get onto the wagon, also having self-catering apartments. Many of them left the industry and I am sure in most cases it was because of a lack of excellence they showed towards their clients.


Mat. 5:13-16 – VERSE 16: You are the salt of the earth – you are the light of the world – in the same way, let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Anyone have the ability (potential) to be excellent., but there is a price to be excellent in Christ – you will have to choose yourself if you want to strive for it.


Strive to excellence and it shall flow through to others who follow you!!!!

Many times my staff will come to me, telling me that people recognize them because they are employers of Smithland, because of the way they act.

If you are not excellent, the Bible describes you as:

Tit 1:6:They profess to know God [to recognize, perceive, and be acquainted with Him], but deny and disown and renounce Him by what they do; they are detestable and loathsome, unbelieving and disobedient and disloyal and rebellious, and [they are] unfit and worthless for good work (deed or enterprise) of any kind.

Many people claim to know God.  How can we know if they really do?  We will not know for certain in this life, but a glance at their lifestyles will quickly tell us what they value and whether they have ordered their lives around Kingdom priorities.  Our conduct speaks volumes about what we believe (see 1Jn 2:4 – 6). (AMC+):  4  Whoever says, I know Him [I perceive, recognize, understand, and am acquainted with Him] but fails to keep and obey His commandments (teachings) is a liar, and the Truth [ N1 of the Gospel] is not in him. 5  But he who keeps (treasures) His Word [who bears in mind His precepts, who observes His message in its entirety], truly in him has the love of and for God been perfected (completed, reached maturity). By this we may perceive (know, recognize, and be sure) that we are in Him: 6  Whoever says he abides in Him ought [as N1 a personal debt] to walk and conduct himself in the same way in which He walked and conducted Himself.

What do people know about God and about your faith in watching your life? Can I walk into any meeting, anywhere in the world, knowing that I do not have to fear that I will meet someone over there who will say: “she is not what she pretends to be?”

Do not accept to be average – STRIVE TO BE EXCELLENT: God is excellent – I am His child and I seek God’s character in me too.

Daniel 5 – 14 : ((MSG)  I’ve heard about you–that you’re full of the Holy Spirit, that you’ve got a brilliant mind, that you are incredibly wise/(ANV) 

I HAVE HEARD ABOUT YOU!!!! WHAT A TESTIMONIAL!!!!  –  A person’s name goes far ahead of him or her.  I experienced it in my own life – I am not much known for the fact that I am a pastor – I am not such known for my ministry, but…. I am known for my integrity and my excellence. This is one of the reasons why I am here today.  My friends are known as people of integrity and excellence, therefore they associate themselves with people similar to them. If I was known as dishonest, I would never ever been privileged to get an invitation to accompany missionaries into Africa.

Further on in Daniel. we learned that Daniel prospered during the reign of King Darius Daniel 5:29: Then Belshazzar commanded, and Daniel was clothed with purple and a chain of gold put about his neck, and a proclamation was made concerning him that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.  Why – because of his excellent spirit!!!

Excellence is always visible – in your church, in your marriage, in your ethical standards, in your relationship with the Father.

Here are some points on how to be excellent:

  • LOOK AT DETAIL – Do things the right way – teach yourself
  • COMMIT YOURSELF TO EXCELLENCE You as Christian and you as a church will not make any impact on your society if you are not excellent.
  • WALK THE EXTRA MILE: Luke 16:10 – Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be

trusted with much – –

  • KEEP ON GIVING – give and unto you will be given said the Lord.                                     If you have an attitude of: “I’m not going to do it”, your future is unsecure.                    If you have an attitude of doing more than what they ask, your future is secured!!!
  • BE TRUE TO YOUR PRINCIPLES.   People easily forget how quickly you have done a job – but they remember how good you’ve have done it

2 Tim. 3: 10 – 12 ‘You will, however, know all about my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings – yet the Lord rescued me from all of them.

Excellency can be :

  • To be clean on yourself – you do not have to wear the most expensive clothes, but if you are clean on yourself you deserved a lot.
  • to have a clean house/office – it says a lot to a client or a visitor if they walk into a clean environment.  My grandmother always said that a person can be poor, but it doesn’t mean you have to be dirty.
  • be observant of things around you – My staff is very careful to leave sweet papers and cigarette sticks on the lawn – when I book clients into my apartments, I am all the way picking up stuff and I confront my staff, by asking them: “Why didn’t you clean up here?
  • BE TEACHABLE Learn from God – through your relationship with Him and His word
  • To have high standards is not to become rich, but to build your character.

The 10 commandments are the best measure in the Bible you can use in your road to excellence.

Another very important thing in your strive to excellence is how to work with your

Finances:                                                                                                                                             One thing I have noticed over the years is that there are a lot of reborn Christians who do not act in excellence, managing their finances:

If you want to live a life of worth, you will have to be wise in the way you are managing your finances.

  • Debt is one of the factors in life that cause the most stress and unhappiness.
  • People make more debt than in earlier years.
  • The average family spends more money in a year than their yearly income.
  • Up to 50 % of the man in the street’s wages are eaten away by debt which has to be paid every month.
  • Debt is the cause of up to 60% of divorces.

I read a book from  Bruce Wilkinson: ‘A Life that counts’ which meant a lot to me personally.  Out of this, I would like to carry a lifetime principal over to you today:

Give ownership of everything you have over to God today. Everything you have, belong to God. By carrying it over to Him literally and figuratively, you’re making one of the most liberating decisions in your life.

1 Chron. 29:11 (MSG)  Riches and glory come from you, you’re ruler over all; You hold strength and power in the palm of your hand to build up and strengthen all.

Hag 2:8  The silver is Mine and the gold is Mine, says the Lord of hosts.

Deu 8:18  But you shall [earnestly] remember the Lord your God, for it is He Who gives you the power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.

Secondly, whether it is of personal related or church-related, if you are not sure what to do,  don’t hesitate to seek reliable advice when you must make financial decisions –

If you and your spouse both are responsible for the financial expenditure in the household, you must communicate about your finances.  Don’t make any debt without your spouse’s consent.
My husband has his own business and sees too the financial well-being of it, my daughter and I are responsible for our business’ financial well-being, but when it comes to combined assets, like the household or property that’s in both our names, we sit together to discuss it.

Pro 13: 10: By pride and insolence comes only contention, but with the well-advised is skillful and godly Wisdom. 13: Whoever despises the word and counsel [of God] brings destruction upon himself, but he who [reverently] fears and respects the commandment [of God] is rewarded.  14:  The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, that one may avoid the snares of death. 15: Good understanding wins favor, but the way of the transgressor is hard [like the barren, dry soil or the impassable swamp]. 16: Every prudent man deals with knowledge, but a [self-confident] fool exposes and flaunts his folly.

To be a wise manager of your finances you must have a financial plan:

BUT the most important one is that an excellent child of God also knows how to sow into the Kingdom:

The Bible teaches us that we must sow generously into the Kingdom of God – here I am coming back to the point on which I ministered before.

2 Corinthians 9:6-10   (AMPC)  [Remember] this: he who sows sparingly and grudgingly will also reap sparingly and grudgingly, and he who sows generously [that blessings may come to someone] will also reap generously and with blessings.7  Let each one [give] as he has made up his own mind and purpose in his heart, not reluctantly or sorrowfully or under compulsion, for God loves (He takes pleasure in, prizes above other things, and is unwilling to abandon or to do without) a cheerful (joyous, “prompt to do it”) giver [whose heart is in his giving]. [Pro 22:9] 8  And God is able to make all grace (every favor and earthly blessing) come to you in abundance, so that you may always and under all circumstances and whatever the need be self-sufficient [possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation]. 9  As it is written, He [the benevolent person] scatters abroad; He gives to the poor; His deeds of justice, goodness and kindness and benevolence will go on and endure forever! [Psa 112:9]10  And [God] Who provides seed for the sower and bread for eating will also provide and multiply your [resources for] sowing and increase the fruits of your righteousness [which manifests itself in active goodness, kindness, and charity]. [Isa 55:10Hos 10:12]

  • It is wise to save money for unforeseen crisis

The Bible also teaches us that we must spend our money wisely. Pro 17:16  Of what use is money in the hand of a [self-confident] fool to buy skillful and godly Wisdom–when he has no understanding or heart for it?

  • To draft a budget is the most effective way to sow, save and spend.

If you are in debt, aim to solve your debt as soon as possible, rather spend less money and you will enjoy the benefits of it.  Financial freedom ask more than just changing your habits, it requires a change of heart.

What are Tithes and offerings

It’s the principle of sowing – a lifestyle of giving.  In the Old Testament, we read as follows: “Early in the morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it.  He called that place Bethel.

Then Jacob made A VOW – SAYING – If God will be with me and will watch over me on the journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I can return safely to my father’s house, then the Lord will be my God …… and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.”

When we fail to give unto God what he asks from us, we rob from Him: Mal 3:8  Will a man rob or defraud God? Yet you rob and defraud Me. But you say, In what way do we rob or defraud You? [You have withheld you] tithes and offerings.

The Israelites who did not give their tithes and offerings unto God robbed Him in the same way as someone who steals money out of the offering basket. Tithe giving was part of their lifestyle. Lev 27:30  And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord. [1Co 9:11Gal 6:6]

The children of God must give part of their income to God.

1Co 16:2  On the first [day] of each week, let each one of you [personally] put aside something and save it up as he has prospered [in proportion to what he is given],

Give with sacrifice – you will be blessed far above you can imagine.

I know an elderly woman in SA who is a government pensioner.  She and her husband stayed in a poor part of the city for as long as I remember and never had any riches in their lives.  One day I offered to give her a lift to her daughter, who is a pastor’s wife in a rural area, about 200km from Cape Town.  While there at her daughter’s house, I noticed that she gave her daughter an envelope, marked tithes.  I realized that she is sowing her tithes into their church and stood amazed at her obedience to God.

On our way back to Cape Town, God spoke to me, telling me that I must give her a certain amount of money – I must be honest, when I opened my purse I realized that this was the only money I had in my purse.  When I dropped her at her house, I gave her the money and she started crying. She told me that she desperately needs some underwear and that this amount was exactly enough to buy it.  She also told me that is was three times more than what she tithed earlier that day.  When you are obedience to God’s commandments, you will reap the fruit of it.

Often people can’t break through in the giving of their finances because they have never reached the level of sacrificial giving.

At times you may sow and sow and sow, expecting a harvest that never seems to come. Finally, you get to the place where you don’t seem to care anymore if there is a harvest, you’re just giving because you love God and want to obey Him.

It is at this point that some of your greatest financial breakdowns can take place – the moment your focus is back on God and not on the harvest, the moment His principles of sowing and reaping begin to work for you.

I want to finish off with Php 1:10  So that you may surely learn to sense what is vital, and approve and prize what is excellent and of real value [recognizing the highest and the best, and distinguishing the moral differences], and that you may be untainted and pure and unerring and blameless [so that with hearts sincere and certain and unsullied, you may approach] the day of Christ [not stumbling nor causing others to stumble].

Whatever you do, do it in EXCELLENCE, as if for the Lord.


Im ready to start – what now

Your business is on the brink of opening. Everything is in place, or nearly in place.

You’re asking me: “Where do I get my clients from?”

These days it is much easier than 25 years ago. When I started up the only way of advertising was through newspapers – we had to advertise in the local papers, as well as national. Today you don’t have to go that route to advertise.

  1. Start marketing your business by telling everybody you know about your new journey. Literally, from the neighbour to the people at the church.
  2. Use social media – at a small cost you can place an ad on Facebook. You can choose
  • your audience ;
  • your location;
  • age ;
  • gender;
  • languages;
  • detailed targetting
  • through demographics;
  • interests;
  • behaviors;
  • and other categories
  • Connections eg.
    • Facebook
    • Apps
    • People who respond to events that you’ve created on social media.

I mentioned before about my Women’s Ministry, where I offer Christian Lifeskill Courses and host women’s conferences. Facebook is my main source of getting women to attend these courses and workshops. There is no better way to advertise.

  1. When your business is on the go, the best referrals will be ‘by word of mouth’. It happens frequently that the phone ring and on the other side there is someone who says: “I’ve been referred by Mr. X – they are good friends of mine.

Here I want to add something extra. Wherever you go, take business cards with. You never know what opportunities you’re going to have to market your business. This was one of the first principles I have learned in business.

Smithland started its journey in 1992. In 1995 I was nominated as “Business Woman of the Year”, by the SA Council for Business Women. Not long after this, I and my husband decided to do a marketing trip to Namibia, in order to find new clients for the business. Remember, that was at a time when social marketing was something we never thought would happen.

About two hours after we left Cape Town, there was a talk on RSG, the South African Afrikaans radio station. The radio presenter welcomed the previous president of the SA Council for Business Women, Retha Nel- Rossouw, on the program and specifically asked Retha about how to market a business. This very useful advice came from Retha. My husband looked at me and said: do you want to turn back home. I think this advice is worth much more than all the potential clients you are going to see on your road to NA. Up to today, I believed I should have done it!

Two months later, I had to take my father to a family member’s funeral in the countryside. At this funeral, I spoke to my father’s niece and she mentioned that they visit Cape Town frequently and asked me if I can recommend any affordable and excellent accommodation. My hand immediately went to my handbag. They made use of our accommodation until their son educated and bought his own apartment.

  1. People, do not under-estimate the ‘BY word of mouth’ referrals. We travel a lot and due to our business interests in Gauteng, this is one of our main points to visit in SA. My husband grew up in Pretoria. At once, we were invited to an old school friend of Pieter (my husband). At the braai (barbeque) there were other friends of them, also attending the occasion. Someone asked me what my profession is and I obviously made use of the opportunity to advertise my business. The man looked at me and said: “Are you the owner of Smithland. We booked there for the coming school holidays. We were recommended by Mr. and Mrs. A.”

What if this man’s friend, Mr. A had a bad experience at my accommodation establishment and he would tell me: “Oh, a friend of mine, Mr. A stayed at your apartments and they were very disappointed with the service level of your business.” Therefore I want to emphasize it – and I will talk on that again – “ by word of mouth your business can be ruined or it can be built up”.

 You had done your marketing and you’ve taken your first orders or bookings. Make sure that you are ready when your first clients arrive. Don’t disappoint your clients by being not on time to perform. My first apartment was ready a week before the first clients arrived. The second one was finished just in time – about two hours – before the clients arrived.

The above principle is part of your success story – I will call it Excellence.

Excellence is a subject very near to my heart. Today after 25 years in the hospitality industry I am still thankful for this principle that I invested in my staff.

Lack of excellence can cost you your business. After I started Smithland, many others (people whom I know personally) also decided to get onto the wagon, also having self-catering apartments. Many of them left the industry and I am sure in most cases it was because of a lack of excellence they showed towards their clients.

When I was interviewed for the Business Women of the Year Award, one of the questions the judges asked me was: “What is the most important factor that helped you to make a success of your business.” My immediate answer was the following:

  • I appointed God as the CEO of my business. I, therefore, ask His advice before I make any decisions regarding my business;
  • Secondly, I believe in giving tithes. Here I refer back to the book that I’m reading at the moment. Hobby Lobby, the USA’s biggest Hobby Chain Shops, owner David Green totally believes in this principle.
    While I am writing this post, I am in NY. Last night my husband went to show me where the Hudson Valley’s Hobby Lobby is situated – wow – what a big shop – it looks like a Hypermarket.   I’m honest to say that I would love to have a cup of coffee together with this man. He inspires me so much.
  • Thirdly I believe in Service, Service, Service and what else is service than Excellence?

If you like more teaching about Excellence you are welcome to ask me for notes on this subject.

The last point for today is STAFF. In the beginning, you will probably employ a small amount of staff. After 28 years, I can tell you a lot of stories about staff issues.

  • When you advertise for staff and someone applies for the position get as many references as possible. For many years I didn’t worry to do this, but unfortunately, there are too many crooks outside, looking for job opportunities and they are clever! In one case, it takes me two years before we realised that the employee is an experienced thief.
  • If you feel comfortable employing the applicant, I will still advise you to get them on the premises for two days of training, before finally signing up a contract with them.
  • Make sure that your contract is clear and understandable. Go through it with the applicant. Make sure that the applicant understands it.
  • Make sure that all cons and pros are written into the contract, eg.  Annual leave, sick leave, rules regarding working hours, public holidays.

See that you add your rules, regarding the use of cellphones during working hours, visitors, etc. Rather have too much info in the contract than too little.

  • Register your staff with the Department of Labour. Don’t take chances.  Chances can cost you money at the end of the day.
  • In case of dismissal, make sure that you have followed the rules

regarding this matter. You can’t dismiss a staff member without them having three written warnings regarding the same violation. Thereafter you still have to arrange for a hearing, done by an impartial person from outside the company.

Any questions regarding the above can be addressed to me at nerinasmith@icloud.com

For today:

  1. Tell everybody you know about your new journey;
  2. Use social media to market your business;
  3. Wherever you go, take business cards with;
  4. do not under-estimate the ‘BY word of mouth’ referrals;
  5. Make sure that you are ready when your first clients arrive;
  6. Staff :
    1.  when hiring staff, get as many references as possible;
    2.   do a two-day trial with them, before appointment as a staff member;
    3.    Make sure the contract is clear and understandable;    
    4.    Make sure the contract is without faults;
    5.    Register staff at the applicable government bodies;
    6.     Make sure that you keep to all terms of the    Labour Laws Amendment Act, 2018.

Do you climb a ladder from the top or from the bottom

You have done your homework – you are ready to start your own business. Unfortunately, too many people want to start their business on a very high level, opening a state-of-the-art bakery or guesthouse, whatever. The best appliances are bought and the most luxurious finishes are used to decorate the premises.

Ok, if you want to start a game lodge, somewhere in the bush, there can be a need for a luxury resort. On the other hand, some guys staying in the city are so used to their luxury lifestyle that they will long for a bush experience with just enough amenities to survive, while others would like to have extreme luxuries, the same kind that they are used to at home.

Point is, when you start a business, start on a small scale and expand as the business grows. Never ever start with something which you can’t really afford – I believe that you much actually grow into the business and the business must grow on you.

I started my business with one small self-catering apartment. It was not long before I had to show clients away. Within six months,  after we originally started up, we decided to change one wing of our house into another luxury apartment – one with a fantastic view over the Cape Peninsula. We even made our en-suite guest room, which had a separate entrance,  available. Today we own half of a complex with apartments, as well as a couple of townhouses, a total of 30 units.

When starting up, I did not have a lot of capital to start my business. I, therefore, had to be very careful to over spend. The first apartment was furnished with some extra furniture we had available, so I did not have major expenses. The second apartment was already furnished, we just had to furnish the kitchen, same with the guest room.

Do not make any unnecessary debt to start a business. You do not know if it is going to be a success. In the first couple of months, you will probably just cover your expenses, for example, stock to sell in your shop or linen and utensils for a guest house or parts for your workshop.

My suggestion is that you must first have some savings available to start up. Banks are also more willing to help with start-up capital if you have some savings available to add to the startup.

In the beginning, I even made my own bedding and curtains. For many years, after starting up, I kept on making my own curtains. Today, after 25 years in the industry, I’m honest to say that I hate it if one of the staff tells me that there are some alterations to be done to linen. I rather rent someone to do it for me, but in the beginning, I just had to do it myself to save on costs. Interior decorating can be very expensive, therefore I did not have an option. Fortunately, I am very talented in many different skills and could, therefore, save a lot of costs, regarding the above.

Do not overstock your business. In the beginning, rather buy in small quantities, until you have the necessary cash flow to afford bigger quantities. At that point, you will be able to buy bulk and save a lot of money. Even here, you will have to be careful.

I’m also involved in women’s ministry but have been involved with a children’s feeding scheme and creche in a small countryside village in the Eastern Cape. At one stage I went to visit the scheme and also bought some stock for the feeding scheme. The lady who was in charge of the project told me that we must go to an Asian shop in the nearest town, 50 km from where the project was located. She told me that she normally buy bulk at this shop and that it worked out cheaper. To her amazement, I pointed it out to her that if she buys a box full of tins at this shop and divides the cost through the number of tins, it cost her 20c per tin more than at the chain food store in town. Make sure that bulk buys are not expensive buys.

Something else to take note of is that you must be careful to be too cheap with your service. Experienced customers see the particular service as cheap quality if the price is too low. On the other hand, also be careful to be too expensive, missing potential clients. While doing your homework, get an idea of what your competition’s prices are and stay just below their markup. Alternatively, you can ask the same price than your opposition, but rather offer the client extra value for their money. Your opposition might sell their bread for the same price you’re selling yours for, but you can perhaps add two small rolls or something similar, just to get your foot into the market.

For today:

  1. start on a small scale and expand as the business grows;
  2. be very careful to overspend;
  3. Do not make any unnecessary debt to start a business.
  4. Do not overstock your business.
  5. Make sure that bulk buys are not expensive buys.
  6. be careful to be too cheap with your service.
  7. On the other hand, also be careful to be too expensive, missing potential clients.



So where do you start? Do your homework

I remembered the day so well when my domestic girl came into my sewing room, asking me what the possibility will be to stay in the apartment at our building yard, situated on a plot outside the city. She longed to have her children with her, who was at that stage still in their home town, 400km away from Cape Town. She asked permission to bring them down to Cape Town, staying on the plot and commuting, to work by train every day. I brought her case before my husband who agreed to this.

Earlier that morning, while sewing, I had a request to God. At that stage, the building industry was in a recess. The last year Pieter did not sign up building contracts for new properties, only here and there he got a small job. We had to cut on our daily expenses. Unfortunately, school fees went up, food costs exploded and I could feel the urgency of the fact that I was not bringing any income in.

My request to God was that He must help me to find something to do to help to provide for our family’s expenses in general. After Mitzi left the room, I suddenly experienced a mind-blowing incident. God gave me a word and it just came up my mind: “Why not changing the outside cottage into a self-catering apartment, renting it out to visitors attending the hospitals in our area.”

Our house was five minutes walk from a very known hospital in the Northern Suburbs of Cape Town, equipped with a heart unit, an ideal stay-over for patients and visitors visiting these facilities.   At that time, 25 years ago, self-catering apartment accommodation, as well as guest houses, was still something new in the hospitality industry. The only other available accommodation was hotels which were very expensive, especially for the middle-man. Therefore this would be the ideal type of business for me to start with.

Here I must stop for a while and help you with identifying your needs, regarding starting your own business.

Firstly, you have to make sure that the kind of business you plan to start is something sustainable. If there would have been a lot of self-catering accommodation establishments in my area at the time I started my business, it would probably never been a success. It’s no use starting up something, which is already over-established in the area and at the end of the day, you don’t get any clients.

If you want to start a bakery, first find out how many bakeries already exist in your area. The same applies to any other kind of business. It is no use starting a convenient shop in your area if there is a convenient shop on every corner of the township you are staying in. You will have to find a product that is unique in your community, something that’s in command.

 Secondly, you must ask yourself: “Must I start my business at my house, or must I immediately occupy premises in the business district of my town.” My honest advice is: Start your business from home. Built it out, till the point where you don’t have any more space to expand the business anymore, then move to premises which are suitable for this purpose. Even then, make sure that you occupy the appropriate premises for this purpose. It’s no use, occupying a place in the industrial area, from where you want to run a bakery if there are no feet in the area. Pick a spot that is accessible for everybody in town to be able to reach you.

In my case, I would never kick off with a guest apartment if I had to go and rent an apartment in a complex to rent out to guests. The rental amount would immediately break my ability to be successful.

If you decide that you definitely want to rent premises in town, do not sign up for a contract that will bind you for more than a year.  In a year’s time, you will know if the business is a success.  Signing up a contract for longer can put you under tremendous stress if you have to close down or even better, move on to bigger premises.  Property owners will not release you of a binding contract unless you can find them another qualifying tenant.

I personally signed up for a contract for office premises when we started the estate agency in 1984. I desperately wanted that particular premises but the owner was not prepared to sign up a contract for less than five years.  My balloon burst within 6 months because of a very serious operation I had to go for.  The buyers who bought the business from us decided to work from home and just cancelled the contract which was signed up in my husband’s name and we had tremendous problems reversing that contract. If we rather started up, running the estate agency from home, it would be so much easier just to close down the business, as a result of my sickness and no ill feelings would come in between.

The second time it happened, it was not a very pleasant one at all.  We rented premises opposite our apartment business’ offices for laundry purposes.  The owner was liquidated and when the new owner takes over, the rent went up with R5000 per month.  I couldn’t afford it at that time and we had to look for another tenant to take over.  When I wanted to rent a property from this guy three years later,  he refused to sign up a contract with me, as he was scared that I will do the same as three years before.   So, what actually happened is that my name was affected by the cancellation of the previous rental contract.

When you start your own business, there is a lot of initial capital involved. I can assure you, you will probably think that you have everything you need to start the business and then suddenly something pops up which you never thought of.

Starting at home, save you a lot on overhead costs. Only when you can see that your business is profitable enough to cover expenses for renting premises, you can consider it to move to a location in town.

If you decide to rent premises, take in mind that before you can count on an income for yourself, you first have to pay rent to your landlord. I’m not going to discuss Biblical principles right now, but I believe that before you can take anything for yourself, you first have to pay your tithes and secondly your rent. No, no monies for luxuries.  Debts first. Don’t forget about cashflow – it is no use making some money and then spent everything on yourself, without having money to buy stock.

Thirdly,  rather settle for smaller equipment in the beginning.  Do not sign up contracts to rent appliances.  Back in ’84, starting up with the estate agency, we made the fault to sign up a contract for a copier/fax machine.  The manager whom we appointed for the job – this is another subject that I will deal with in my next post – insisted that we get the latest technology for the office.  Another contract, that had to be cancelled in six months’ time.  We had to pay the rental company for a breach of contract.  Later on, we heard that someone very near to us in the business, take advantage of this and take the photocopier over almost for free.

Fourthly, If you decide to work from home, make sure that the local municipality will not have a problem if you run a business from home. Make sure that you know all the noes and pros. Don’t cry later on, rather prepare yourself beforehand to put all the paperwork in place.

I’m presently reading a book from David Green with Bill High “Giving it all away and getting it all back again.”   David starts telling the reader about his family’s personal experiences in establishing their own business from home. He said that he started an after hour project in his garage, trying to bring extra funds in to uphold his family’s needs. Later his wife and small boys had to keep this project ongoing, as a result of the many orders that came in, while he still had a full-time job during the day. At a later stage, he had to quit his job to run this suddenly, expanding business. Later on, they had to move into some premises in their home town. Today Hobby Lobby is the greatest hobby chain shop in the USA and they support Evangelical projects all over the world.

So for today:

  1. Make sure that the kind of business you plan to start is something sustainable.
  2. Ask yourself: “Must I start my business at my house, or must I immediately occupy premises in our town’s business district?”
  3. Settle for smaller equipment in the beginning.  Do not sign up contracts to rent appliances.
  4. Make sure that the local municipality will not have a problem if you run a business from home if you decide to do so.




Why StreetWise?


When I was 18 years old, my dream was to become a successful writer and journalist. I never had the opportunity to fulfil this dream and landed up in the corporate world as an office secretary. Time passes by, I got married and became the proud mother of two beautiful children, Pieter and Arlene.

At the young age of 22, I saw a gap in the real estate market  and registered as an estate agent with the EEAB. I launched my own Estate Agency in 1984 when I was 27. At that stage of my life, I had a lot of self-confidence, thinking that it will be effortless, there cannot be any obstacles in making a success of this business.

Six months later I was diagnosed with cervical cancer and landed up in hospital, having a massive operation.   The medical specialists advised me to settle for less, staying home for at least a year to recover as I was very fragile.   We had to sell the business. It was only then that I realised how many pitfalls there can be if you do not have the necessary expertise in a particular field. We never received the settlement amount for this transaction. There were too many red tapes we never attended also while selling the property and the buyer made use of every loophole to not pay us the monies they owned us.

It took me eight years before I got enough self-confidence to start something new again. I changed my profession and established an award-winning accommodation establishment in the northern suburbs of Cape Town. We started the business with one small self-catering unit at our house. Today we run 30 apartments, variating from a studio (one room) apartment, up to a six-bedroom multi-storage residence.

Being Businesswoman of the Year for 1995, a finalist for Sanlam and Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year 2016, an award for The AA’s Best Self-catering Accommodation in SA, Trip Advisor’s Best Self-catering Accommodation in our area, as well as several others positively speak of the long road to excellence we travelled.

Through above, I met many other potential entrepreneurs in South Africa who have a dream of starting their own business, but because of all the pitfalls in the different industries, are scared to take up the step to financial freedom.

Two years ago, I wrote my life story, which is not about the hospitality industry and business. My book is about the road which I had to travel because I am 50% hearing impaired, having lymphedema in my left leg, as a result of cancer I had and many more. Obstacles I faced on my road to independence. A mere two pages are dedicated to the way I had to walk in business.

Then came the moment that I realised that I could still start living my dream of being a writer and journalist. I love to write and communicate, and sometimes friends will comment that I am quite quirky!! As a result of this, it caused that my posts on social media draw attention and then the question came up: “Whereby do you measure the success of your business? Please tell us what to do and not to do. Please write another book regarding the journey you traveled, starting your own business up to the point where you are today.

So here I am. Streetwise vs. Business Clever will take you on a journey of starting your own business, the pitfalls, the up and downs and also some success stories of other entrepreneurs who dared to begin living their dream.


If you have a dream, start living it now – don’t wait until tomorrow.

 Whatever you can do or dream you can begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” – Johann von Goethe

Nerina Truter Smith

Author of “Reis na Oorwinning” Available from the writer nerinasmith@icloud.com; +27-21-939-0009

The above book is in the process of being translated, as well as updated with add-ons and more stories about other women Nerina met during her road to victory.