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Competitive Market

In competitive markets, every detail matters. The key to success? You need to stand out from the competition. Like Gugu Nonjinge and Hlubi Hewu. They’re the co-founders of newly launched biz ASANA Beauty, a high-end dreadlocks and natural hair salon based in Cape Town.

This isn’t their first rodeo in business either. Serial entrepreneur Gugu is the co-founder of LeBrunchSA, a start-up that hosts facilitated social brunch/high tea/luncheons for young women from diverse backgrounds to connect and network. And Hlubi is the owner of Planned Gifts, an online gifting service that specialises in roses, balloons and gift boxes. How do they manage it all – and still thrive?

READ MORE: How To Set Up A Worst-Case Scenario Plan For Your Biz

Go Hustle connected with these two businesswomen to find out their secret to standing out in such a competitive market. Notebooks out!

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1. Make sure it’s more than just haircare

Yes, Gugu and Hlubi assist their clients with starting and maintaining their dreadlocks and natural hair. But that’s just the beginning… “ASANA’s main goal is to offer more than just haircare and styling,” they say. “One of our core objectives is to create a community and sisterhood that is a safe space and also a conducive platform for knowledge sharing.”

2. Be open to learning – and stay passionate

“You need to be open to learning and passionate about the natural hair industry because it’s a large industry,” say the ASANA founders. “Currently the number of known salons catering for black people is estimated at 40 000. This means that the competition can be a bit tight, so one needs to be motivated and passionate.”

3. Use “incubators” to help you get started

When getting into business for the first time, learn new skills on educational platforms and incubators such as The Start Up School funded by Investec, Future Females and Google online courses and webinars. This will be a huge help – particularly when it comes to marketing your brand.

READ MORE: WTF Is “Content Shock” – And How Can It Affect Your Marketing Strategy?

4. Embrace challenges – and learn from them

One of this fierce duo’s biggest challenges? Funding. “There is a lack of financial assistance for hair salons,” they say. “We did not find a financial sponsor/investor to assist with some of the unexpected costs we encountered, [but] we had to save up a bit longer in order to get the type of salon we wanted.” While it might have delayed them in opening the business, it certainly didn’t deter them.

5. Know that the entrepreneurial journey is ongoing

Be willing to choose the entrepreneurial journey every day – because it is not an easy journey, says this power team. As a leader, you also need to be willing to go the extra mile.

“We are working to find ways we can reach more young women to connect with,” they say. Best way to widen the net? Contacts, contacts, contacts. “We’ve teamed up with friends in business and are running a giveaway opportunity for women to join us for lunch. They’ll also get a chance to ask us questions around career and entrepreneurship,” they says. Um, we’ll join you for lunch!

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