This week our featured entrepreneur is Carolyn Singer from StockLab.
Tell us a bit about your business, how and why it started.
Years of corporate retail buying led me to believe that the stock in retail stores is often inaccurate and as a buyer it was near impossible to forecast sales on a product that does not exist. The only way to accurately know if this actual product does exist is by physically identifying the stock in store. Having spent years knowing how many products are either unsaleable, “out of the box” returns, lost or stolen, StockLab (Pty) Ltd was born. I resigned from my corporate job one day and approached my first client the next day and got my first account. Five years later, StockLab is still physically checking retail stock, scrapping product that is unsaleable or doesn’t exist and getting new orders for our customers. Years of retail experience on systems has taught me how to get the retailer to take the loss and get an automated re-order of stock for my client. We also work in conjunction with merchandising companies and retail representatives.
What are a few unique things about yourself?
I started my business as a 46-year-old single female with some but not many savings and sincerely believed that my business idea would not fail. So far it hasn’t. As a 14-year-old, I packed bags at Checkers after school and on weekends to earn money. In my last year at school, my dad lost his own, small business and his dream but the idea of starting my own business never went away. I just needed the right idea and it came. Banks wouldn’t grant me a student loan and I worked 7 nights a week (with little sleep) to get my diploma. I am an avid book reader (4 to 5 books a week), audio book listener, don’t own a TV and enjoy riding my mountain bike on weekends. I have summited Kilimanjaro twice, Pt Lenana, Mt Kenya and hiked to Base Camp Everest having an eternal fascination for high mountains.
What book has most influenced you and why?
Being such an avid reader, it is difficult to choose just one. My current favourite influence is Eric Greitens “Resilience – Hard-Won Wisdom for living a better life”. A book written by an ex-Navy Seal explaining how you cannot bounce back from hardship, but you can move through it. There is a path through pain to wisdom, through fear to courage with resilience. This book explains how we can build purpose, confront pain, practice compassion, develop a career, find a mentor, create happiness and much more.
Which person influences you the most and why?
Professor Thuli Madonsela, former public protector. Here is a woman who is smart, wise and tenacious. She talks quietly but her words carry so much power. She draws inspiration from previous generations of women leaders and believes in re-asserting the gender agenda. Thuli sees herself as a humanist rather than a feminist.
Who is your favourite sports star and why?
Swimmer, Natalie du Toit. A 2004 Paralympics gold medallist who went on to become the third amputee ever to qualify for the Olympics. Natalie was hit by a car after coming home from swimming practice. Three months after her amputation, she was back in the pool doing what she loves.
If you were stuck on an island, what 3 apps would you want to have on your phone?
Waze – to get me off the island and essential to move around our congested roads. Expensify – to keep my staff and my expenses in check. Audible – to listen to the latest fiction and non-fiction while doing other things.
What challenges have you faced as an entrepreneur? What has helped you overcome these challenges?
Financial skills – books, do it yourself courses, a bookkeeper and finally, an accountant. The loneliness of the being an entrepreneur – getting a mentor/mentors, going to conferences, workshops and women’s meetings. Good staff, finding, costing and retaining them – negotiate pricing with recruitment agents, advertising on FB or other places where staff would be members. Employ personality and train on skills. Cash Flow – budgeting to the last cent for the business and your personal life.
If you would like to find out more about Carolyn and her business, you can find her here: http://stocklab.co.za