Female Entrepreneurs: 100 Female Entrepreneurs in Africa, from South Africa meet Terine-Lott Cupido

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Story Time

NB: Every Wednesday and Friday please be on the lookout for female Entrepreneurs!

The coming months, content that will be explored are stories of female entrepreneurs in Africa. 100 Female entrepreneur’s stories will be published from Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Botswana,  Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Angola.

Meet Terine-Lott Cupido from South Africa.

Who is Terine-Lott Cupido and where are you from?

Terine Lott-Cupido, is the Founder and Managing Director of EmpowerLink Services, a Human Resources (HR) consulting company, based in Cape Town. Her company, EmpowerLink Services provides HR solutions and training, for small to medium-sized businesses (SME’s) in South Africa.

Terine is passionate about skills development and empowering people. Her family is her drive to succeed. Seeing others succeed and being part of that journey, gives her great joy, hence her love for people development. Outside of work, Terine loves spending time with her family outdoors and travelling.

Terine holds a Masters’ degree in HR, is a Chartered HR Practitioner with the local HR professional body called, the South African Board for People Practice, with over 17 years of HR experience. She has a number of HR featured articles published, in Your Business Magazine online. As an entrepreneur she has been recognised, by a number of institutions, which is a testimony of her work ethic.

Please share with us the inspiration behind Empowerlink Services?

In 2016, while being on maternity leave, Terine took a decisive leap of faith to start her business. She saw entrepreneurship as an opportunity to build a legacy for her family and give her the flexibility, as a mother.

With her years of experience, her goal is to empower as many entrepreneurs as possible with access to HR expertise. In addition, to help them effectively manage the heart of any business, namely their people.

How has the journey been like establishing the company, Empowerlink Services (highs and lows)?

The journey of an entrepreneur can be a lonely one.  I have been fortunate to have been selected as a beneficiary within a business incubator, when I started my entrepreneurship journey, in 2016. The knowledge gained and my applied learning has been instrumental to my success. Being part of a business incubator provided me with much needed entrepreneurial training, mentoring and a coaching support structure. This helped me to develop critical entrepreneurial skills, including pitching, sales and business management skills.

As an entrepreneur, I realised that mistakes would happen and it is part of the learning process to take the lesson and move forward. Markets may be tough, but I learnt to press on, do market research, ask our customers questions and evolve our offering. Remaining relevant is key in any business and asking the right questions can guide you in terms of what products and services to offer to your clients.

Please share with us that one turning point in your business?

There was a time, when I had many leads, had met with many prospective clients but week after week, I was simply struggling to convert these leads into sales.

Not coming from a sales background, this form of rejection was very tough. However, as an entrepreneur, sales is a critical skill, as sales is the life blood of your business. I reminded myself if you have no customer, you have no business and made an active decision to overcome this challenge. 

I invested in myself, in undergoing sales training, meeting with experienced sales professionals to understand what worked for them and it paid off. This was one of the turning points in my business. 

Sales is about solving your customers’ problem with the products or services you offer. When we stopped wasting time on clients that were not serious about buying or our ideal clients and refined our offering to the core HR services offered to our ideal target customer, we saw a change. We have collaborated with several key implementing partners who are specialists, to support our business, in the areas that we were not. Thus, being able to retain and grow our client base.

According to Business Today (2019) “80% of women who own small/micro scale business ventures have a hard time getting credit”. 

How did you manage to overcome the lack of self-confidence in business?

Please speak to the above in relation with Empowerlink Services?

The entrepreneurship training and guidance, that I received from my mentors has helped me maintain focus on the right areas in my business. Everyone has to start somewhere. I believe that with time, you gain experience and with experience and training, you gain confidence. Being part of the entrepreneurship eco-system and a supportive business network really helps.

Why is it important for young female entrepreneurs to be empowered?

As females, we can contribute to being positive change makers, in this world. We need more role models, to showcase that this is possible.

Growing up, my parents always encouraged me to work hard. My mom often told me this: “My girl, what you put in, is what you get out”.

We sometimes limit our own potential and capabilities by our beliefs of what is possible. Coming from humble beginnings, I told myself that “I will not be a victim of my circumstances and truly believed that where there is a will there is a way. Doing so ethically. To date, I can say that I have achieved my goals set out, thus far. 

Family, friends, work and health how do you meet a balance and still remain sane?

Living a balanced life has been a battle for me, until I read and applied the principles of the book by Robin Sharma, called the 5 am club. I start each day at 5am with “Me time”, doing 20 minutes exercise, the next 20 minutes to cover my morning prayers, journaling, planning and envisioning a successful day. The final 20 minutes is for reading to contribute to my personal growth. I am intentional about how I spend my time. Setting and planning time for family and friends during the week and weekends.

Words of wisdom to young female entrepreneurs in Africa considering entrepreneurship fulltime.

  • As an entrepreneur, you need to be clear on what problem your products or services is solving.
  • Do market research to find out what your customers are struggling with and build your offering with this in mind.
  • You need to be willing to bootstrap and work with what you have in order to keep your expense low as you build your credibility and sales with your client base.
  • Be resilient and adaptable.
  • Adopt a growth mindset and go into business knowing that you will fail at times, but you are strong enough to get up and overcome.
  • You do not have to reinvent the wheel. There are experienced entrepreneurs, successful businesspeople and business coaches that can guide you in the critical early phases of your business.
  • Don’t do it alone. It takes a village and an entrepreneurship eco-system to build and grow successful entrepreneurs… the change makers of the economies that we serve.

Connect with Terine on:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/terine-lott-cupido/  

Email: tlott@empowerlinkservices.co.za

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