PROFILE ON SIBONGILE BOOI: A TRUE ENTREPRENEURSHIP STORY
Sibongile Booi, entrepreneur and visionary, is the founder and managing director of Second Office, the first serviced office space company in East London, specialising in equipped, serviced office space and meeting rooms, and creating real value in the development region of East London in the Eastern Cape.
STUDIES AND CAREER: Armed with four years of Biochemistry studies, a bachelors degree in civil engineering and computer science from Ryerson University in 1997, and 12 years of senior level managerial experience as a management consultant for leading global company Accenture in Toronto, Canada, Sibongile’s skills and proven track record in business analysis and solutions perfectly positioned her to identify business opportunities upon her return to East London.
GAP IN THE MARKET IDENTIFIED: Sibongile immediately identified the need for efficient and cost-effective corporate and business services for new start-ups and established business looking to expand or grow their footprint in the East London area. “When I returned to East London after many successful years abroad, I noticed that business meetings were being conducted in restaurants and hotels and realised the need for a neutral business environment from which companies could operate and conduct meetings professionally.”
SECOND OFFICE: To meet this need, Sibongile founded Second Office, the first black female-owned virtual office solution in East London offering cost-effective, flexible and on-demand corporate and business services, which includes a reputable business address; phone, mail and administration services; as well as a unique concierge service. Phenomenal growth has lead to new premises in the prime business area of Vincent, and exciting future plans to expand Second Office’s footprint into the rest of South Africa as well as Africa over the next five years, including collaboration with key partners to franchise Second Office solutions regionally.
RESPONSIBILITIES: Heading up a team of five full-time and one part-time staff members, Sibongile is responsible for managing the business with particular emphasis on sales and business development. She develops and refines the company strategy and direction, cultivates the company’s reputation and builds client relationships that result in revenue and profitability growth.
Harnessing Sibongile’s global business experience, Second Office also provides advice and assistance to entrepreneurs and businesses, ranging from strategy to branding. Her professionalism and ‘go the extra mile’ attitude, along with her management consulting and business planning experience, bring a unique and valuable service to both local and national businesses.
BUSINESS NETWORKS: A strong advocate of building networks based on solid relationships, Sibongile is an active participant in various business associations. She serves on the executive committee of the Border Kei Chamber of Business and the Business Women Association (BWA), has been selected as the Provincial Gender Desk Chair for the Black Management Forum (BMF) and is a member of the Alliance France. She also sits on the committee for the New Generation Exchange Programme for Rotary and is a seasoned Toastmaster.
ACCOLADES: Second Office has received a number of accolades, including being named a finalist in the 2013 and 2014 Business Investment Competition sponsored by the Eskom Foundation, while Sibongile has been recognised as one of the Top 100 Women in the Border Kei region. Second Office has also been recognised by SEDA as having shown the Best Overall Improvement in terms of the Women Enterprise Coaching Programme. A long distance runner with a number of ultra marathons under her belt, Sibongile is currently obtaining her private pilot license (PPL) through AV8 in East London.
Entrepreneurial Success Tips from Sibongile Booi, founder of Second Office
- It is vital for start-up businesses to minimise expenses and gather sufficient resources to get started. I started my business by investing my savings and pension fund.
- Relationships with clients and the business community are an important aspect of business success. The challenges entrepreneurs face are very similar and a strong network will allow you to share these challenges and learn from others’ experience.
- Take time to understand your clients’ needs and ensure you offer a real solution. Well-documented business processes help in the smooth running of a business, while having your clients’ best interests at heart and providing quality work are important keys to success.
- 4. Learn to delegate or get the help required, so you can focus on the strategic direction of the business. This success secret was the catalyst for Second Office’s slogan: ‘We run your office. You run your business’.