From struggling to make ends meet to becoming a CA(SA) and now an entrepreneur helping businesses: Meet Tlou Ledwaba
- My name is Tlou Ledwaba, I am a registered chartered accountant with the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants.
- I come from a small village called Bochum in Limpopo where we had to do informal piece-jobs to put food on our table, so life wasn't easy!
- After qualifying as a CA, I took a role in the corporate world only to realise I wanted to start my own practice and help small businesses!
- I quit my corporate career after 3 years to start an accounting practice which is now turning a revenue of R 1.2 million with 10 employees.
- It hasn't been easy but I would not have any other way...here is my journey.
Growing up in a small village with limited amenities life wasn't easy. In fact, we had to do a lot of informal jobs to make ends meet.
Responsibilities at an early age taught me the values of hard work. Also as the only boy of 6 siblings, I felt that I had to take life seriously and do my best in school if I wanted to change the circumstances at home.
In grade 10 I attended a career exhibition; the CA qualification was one of the careers on a show that day. It looked like the most rewarding career in terms of career flexibility and management roles.
With the goal in mind to address my family’s financial needs and wanting to have a meaningful value-adding impact in my career, my mind was made up, I would become a CA(SA).
Against all odds and with limited resources, I passed matric with distinctions. I wanted to jump in and start studying but I, unfortunately, couldn’t afford full-time studies. I completed my undergraduate and postgraduate in accounting through distance learning at UNISA.
Fast forward, in 2011, I started with my articles at BDO Pretoria. By now, I only had my degree in accounting and had to pass the CTA exams!
Studying, articles, and beginning a corporate career
Life seemed great now only to find myself struggling to clear my CTA exams.
In 2014, my articles were signed off by BDO South Africa. However, I was still not able to register as a CA (SA) since I still had to pass my CTA and I was on attempt number three!
This was not an easy time for me. I was unemployed and I was at a point where I wanted any job opportunity to put food on the table. I even had to give up my apartment in Pretoria and moved back home to my mom because I could not afford the rent anymore. To add my family needed me to support them.
Fortunately, after a struggle for 3 months, I got an opportunity to join Abengoa as a financial accountant in Cape Town. I grabbed it with both hands because I needed to provide my family with an income, and with this, my corporate career started.
A corporate career after articles felt like the perfect opportunity to become a well-rounded professional, during articles I was always the one doing the audits but never the one being audited and being in the corporate environment would give me a seat on the other side of the table.
In 2015, on my 4th attempt, I finally passed my postgraduate diploma (CTA), and to my surprise, I passed both the SAICA board exams in the first sitting of 2016...I had done it, I was finally a CA (SA).
From a corporate career to building my own accounting firm
After qualifying as a CA (SA), I resigned from my position as a financial accountant to move into the role of assistant financial manager and by 2017 I was the assistant financial director.
I have to mention that even with a flourishing corporate career I would spend my nights trying to help other smaller business owners who needed guidance and support.
Over the years I realised that I was not fulfilled in the corporate world and the work was becoming boring. This led me to do some self-searching and introspection and I wanted to understand 'WHY' I was a part of the corporate world?
The answer was clear - I wanted to make a living was just following what everyone else was!
My mind was made up, I was going to start my own accounting practice. In 2019 I roped in a friend of mine, Sam Temba, a professional accountant registered with SAIPA (South African Institute of Professional Accountants), and together we started Bright Path Business Consultants.
Starting all over and building an accounting firm
A big sacrifice I had to make when we started the firm was resigning from my corporate job. It was not easy, but it was the right thing to do to have the needed time to build the firm. All the other steps we had to take was small in comparison to leaving a stable well-paying job.
When we started out - I did not have the right resources, I did not have the capital, I did not have support and I did not have any clients, all I knew is I would give it my best! In fact, some of our friends and family were afraid on our behalf but that did not stop me.
We started small by reaching out to people in our close circles and using word of mouth and social media to attract attention to the practice.
With no one to guide us, we made a few mistakes in the early days of building the practice but we do not regret anything, we learned valuable lessons from every mistake made.
Our plan was to grow our clientele and make an impression on all our clients. Our service delivery was significantly boosted when we started using 4IR System to solve business issues. The practice is unique in many ways; therefore, we attract more businesses.
Over the years, we pivoted several times and I am glad to say it all paid off. By the end of 2020, the practice was showing a turnover of R 1.2mil with a team of 10 people and both our offices have a combined client base of between 80 to 100 clients per annum.
A timeline of growth and prosperity
It took some time to grow Bright Path Business Consulting, here is a timeline of what we went through in the last few years to get where we are now.
2014: We registered the company as a private holdings company.
2015: The company merged with TS Consultants to form Bright Path Business Consultants. The name changed with the merger to form part of our practice.
2016: Collaborations with various industry stakeholders started.
2017: The practice closed out the first deal with a large client and we started doing business with Government departments.
2018: The company expanded and started to operate in two provinces, Gauteng, and Cape Town. Both segments started to report good performance and we were able to add new staff members to the team.
2019: Bright Path Business Consultants registered with the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) and opened Watergate Mall office in Cape Town. The Gauteng office continued to grow its consulting client base. The practice also became SAGE Accounting and Payroll advisor.
2020: The practice started to take on more interns to increase our capacity and we increased our geographical footprint with a move to Tyger Lake in Cape Town. The practice also hosted a mask community project to empower women in the community. Our staff network expanded even more, and our work take on increased exponentially. The practice also hosted a school shoe drive project to donate shoes to the kids in need.
By the end of 2020, the practice was showing a turnover of R 1.2mil with a team of 10 people and both our offices have a combined client base of between 80 to 100 clients per annum.
Being a CA on a journey to building a successful business has been extremely rewarding.
I have learned to work under pressure and on tight deadlines, this counts in my favour now as it has allowed me to not only dream about a successful company but also take the actions needed.
I have to that qualifying as a CA is not a final destination, you need to keep on working hard towards the successes on your journey.
Lastly, every dream is possible if you believe. So whatever is your dream aim for it and someday you definitely will.
Bright Path Business Consulting provides business strategy thus helping business owners reach their full potential, increase, and maximise their revenue that leads to substantiable wealth creation. They also provide outsourced CFO services and take away the administrative burden from our clients by assisting with the accounting, tax, and payroll.
The Finance Story is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel and get updates with latest stories of finance professionals.