4 August 2021

A microlearning session with entrepreneur Lynette Badenhorst

Spending her days either on the road or in planes, or in airports, hotels and guest houses, to pursue her entrepreneurial career, Lynette learned that there are never fireworks when you run a business − it takes time: ‘I am not a dreamer and don’t live in a fairy tale world. I am very realistic about things. There is a lot of sacrifices you will make along the way with family and friends … you must be willing and able to make those sacrifices, otherwise entrepreneurship is not for you,’ she says.

Lynette Zoomed from her well-constructed SOHO (small office home office) in her and Riaan, her husband’s, caravan they have been travelling with and worked from remotely in South Africa since 2015: ‘I have had a very fulfilling personal life and career over the last 54 years. Five and a half years ago, we decided to pack up our life to travel and work from our caravan. Best life ever. I have seen so many wonderful places. Every day is a new adventure. If anybody is thinking about packing up their lives and take on the long road, my advice is to do it now. Do not wait until you are too old to do it. With technology, you can live your dream and work at the same time.’

Lynette grew up in Vereeniging with her parents and brother, who have always stood behind her 100%. She did well in school but was an average student and had to work and study extremely hard. However, ‘giving up’ was not part of her vocabulary and although nothing came easy for her, she never took ‘no’ for an answer. Her father, also an entrepreneur and owner of a retail business in the Vaal Triangle, was a sensible businessman. ‘My dad always reminded me that what you put in you will get out and I have believed that every day of my life − if I work hard, I will reap the rewards.’

After she finished school, she completed her CA(SA) undergraduate degree and training programme in Bloemfontein, moved back to Vereeniging, stopped her CTA studies for a year, and started her own accounting and audit practice as a sole practitioner. Lynette recounts: ‘I learned valuable lessons from my training programme, but I knew from the start that the corporate world was not an environment for me to express my passion for entrepreneurship and leading my own team.’ She then obtained the CA(SA) qualification because of a challenge: ‘Somebody told me that there is a small chance that I will pass my CTA part-time. I started to study three months before the CTA exam and stuck to a programme of 7 days a week from 8 am until 8 pm. I just never gave up and passed my CTA and SAICA qualifying exam the first time.’

Pastel started in 1987 to open training centres countrywide. Lynette took this opportunity, applied to own the centre in the Vaal Triangle, and it was awarded to her in 1993. She used her Pastel Training Centre as a platform to grow the brand equity and client base for her accounting and audit practice − after training sessions, business owners would approach Lynette to outsource their bookkeeping, accounting or taxation functions or appoint her practice to perform the annual audits. ‘When a potential client came to my office, I would put a few files on my desk so that it looks like my practice is busy,’ she laughs.

PROS Training in Johannesburg contracted Lynette in 1997 to present a Pastel course to their clients and then pulled her in to present their auditing courses. ‘Sometimes I did four jobs at the same time: presenter for PROS training, running my practice, financial manager of a family-owned business, and lecturing at universities and colleges. I worked extremely long hours.’ Koos le Roux, one of the shareholders of PROS Training and partner of Lloyd Viljoen, acknowledged Lynette’s work ethic and entrepreneurial skills and asked her in 2003 to manage PROS Training, which she did. ‘He was a mentor who took the time to show me step by step how to run a business.’

PROS Training merged with BETA consulting in 2006 and Lynette was offered to buy shares and become a director in Probeta Accountancy Development. ‘It was not an easy decision as I would have had to leave my practice, the family-owned business, and move to Johannesburg,’ she says. The company went through another restructuring process in 2013. Lynette was offered to buy 100% shares of the training division and she became the managing director of Probeta Training (Pty) Ltd.

Lynette and her administrative and professional staff built Probeta Training into a sustainable business that has loyal clients because of its service quality. Lynette speaks with high regard and gratitude about her solid administrative team and brilliant business-minded professional team. ‘They are all worth their weight in gold.’

Her motto in life is based on what she learned from her dad and mentors, and it has proved to be right: ‘Keep on doing the right thing. If you keep on doing the right thing, the money will sort itself out, and when it does, it should be re-invested back into the business, impacting your employees, clients, and society more positively.’

Lynette Badenhorst’s 30-year entrepreneurial journey shows us that entrepreneurship may be one of the toughest careers in our profession but also that the combination of ‘being good at’, ‘hard work’ and ‘making a contribution’ to our country, is amazingly satisfying. ‘Even if I could retire now, I do not want to, because I am passionate about what I am doing. I want to do it for as long as I can.’

Lynette’s 10 lessons for starting a business

1 Be self-aware and identify who you are

‘From a young age, I was a loner and felt more comfortable doing my own thing. It was only later in life when I did a personality assessment that I realised entrepreneurship is part of my DNA.’

2 Do not underestimate the value of your CA(SA) qualification for entrepreneurship

‘It equipped me with the necessary resources and tools and gave me credibility in the market to obtain the capital needed to start up a business.’

3 The entrepreneurial career has a cost to pay

‘I took risks, had fears to overcome, and it took time.’

4 Do not become an entrepreneur solely because you want to make lots of money

‘My focus was on growing our products for our customers and not only on our bank balance.’

5 Get and keep the best team of people on board

We run our business online as there is no need to work from an office. The money that was spent on office rent is now used to invest in technology to set up our employees to work productively from their homes. We therefore have regular online accountability meetings.’

6 There will be someone with a better product, service, or better plan, or offering it at a cheaper price

‘In the beginning, it scared me and made me afraid to do business. Later in life I started to view competition as good rather than negative as it kept me motivated and on my feet and forced me to think about new opportunities every day.’

7 An entrepreneur never stops learning

‘You can have nothing tangible but if you have education, knowledge, drive and courage you can stand up again, start something new.’

8 Do the right thing when faced with ethical dilemmas

‘Do you really want to risk everything that you worked so hard for by doing something wrong or being unethical if you do not abide by the SAICA Code of Professional Conduct?’

9 Have a teachable spirit

‘No matter what your title, never be too proud to get your hands dirty. Your team should work WITH you and not FOR you. You will never know everything and can never say “I have arrived”.’

10 Move from goals to growth

‘One of the greatest shifts any entrepreneur can make is moving from being focused on goals to growth − possessing an intention to learn daily and reflect on how to apply what you have learned in the business.’