Renchia Droganis: When you love what you do, and have a passion to wake up to, money will flow

by - September 30, 2016

Experienced metaphysical and reiki counsellor, Renchia Droganis is the founder  and CEO of Africology, SA’s leading natural, luxury eco friendly and holistic spa and skincare company. Since early 2000, Africology began operating from a small kitchen in Johannesburg, with the Droganis family working together to create products. The company's success has grown well beyond South Africa’s borders and the brand is now available across the globe. Africology is the official sponsor of Miss South Africa. Renchia shares lessons she's learned along the way in her entrepreneurial journey.

Tell us a bit about your business and what motivated you to start?

Africology was born from a desire to heal. I used to do massage therapy, counselling and self-development workshops from home in a little studio. I was also very active during our reconciliation process in the 1990s, and helped to empower people to testify in court.

One particular incident that became a pivotal moment in my life came when I was asked to do a healing session with a man who had attempted to murder his “boss”. At first I was scared to do the session, as it was in an isolated place in City Deep, but I knew that when our Creator sends us work, we need to trust the process. It turned out to be two powerful hours of healing for both of us.
The key word in that session was forgiveness. Even now, I am not sure what the forgiveness was for.  Perhaps for not understanding the past of the perpetrator? For when we understand the reasons behind why a decision was made, that is where forgiveness takes place.

But what motivated me afterwards was the knowledge that Africa is teaching humans so much, and no matter where in the world you may be, there is a little of Africa within you. Personal healing, and the healing of Africa, are indeed interrelated.

 I wanted every product I blended to contain the essence of healing, so that when it touched the skin, it would heal the spirit. But mostly, I want the world to learn from South Africa, and its difficult, brave and important reconciliation process.

 From the truth and reconciliation process to the truth in cosmetics: our bodies deserve only honesty and kindness, not artificial and dangerous substitutes.

How did you raise your start-up money?

 The business was started without a business plan: just a vision to do good in the world with the skills and passion I had developed through metaphysical healing. It grew organically from producing healing products in my kitchen for my clients. Whatever profits I made, I reinvested back into research and development.

When one of my clients visited my studio and saw the balms, oils and creams I made, he fell in love with my products and gave me a loan to expand the business. That helped to improve the packaging and labelling, have the products tested and improve them.

Did you write a business plan? Was it an effective tool for you?

There was never a business plan, but rather a Vision. I have learned to operate within the moment and allow the business to expand where it needed to organically. It is important to not only follow trends, but also the energetic flow where demand expresses itself.

Who did you hire to help you with your business - bookkeeper, an accountant, a lawyer? Would you suggest others do the same?

 I am very blessed to have had my children work with me from the start; together we had to figure out the way forward. Later we got a bookkeeper, which was most beneficial in controlling the flow of capital in and out of the business. We struggled with attorneys due to the sheer cost, so we had to do much research ourselves to understand the challenges we were faced with. Much later, we found an effective accountant who would guide us month to month with financial planning.

Have you outsourced any portion of your business? And has that worked for your business?

In the beginning, we outsourced product manufacturing to a third party. Initially we did not have the volume to justify buying manufacturing equipment. But as the business grew, we realised that in order for our products to be sustainable in the manner and with the intention to be artisanal, we had to plan to manufacture ourselves. We now do all of our own manufacturing.

What have you done that has been very effective in helping to grow the business?

By having family working together, we avoided a high payroll from the very start. Together we could draw the minimum cash from the business, allowing it to expand by reinvesting any spare money back into the company. By not using capital for personal expenses and eliminating the instant gratification syndrome in the business, we were able to nurture our money better.

How do you effectively manage the finances of your company? 

Budgets are so important – it allows for important spending, but it also indicates where projected income is not met. I do think that a budget is a motivational factor to perform within limits and creates clear warning signs when targets are not met.
Weekly financial meetings are also important. With this we are able to measure costs against profits and income.

Do you have rainy-day savings for your business? 

During the start-up phase, there was no cash that could be saved. Now we look at business ventures that can speed up income flow, such as careful placement of new stores. Capital investment into various outlets also helps to balance income and expenditure.
It is said that in order to operate safely, every business must have cash available for 3 months’ worth of expenses with no income. I have done my best to abide by this principle.

What's a financial mistake you made as a business owner in the beginning? And how did you bounce back from it?

My biggest mistake was accepting a loan from a good friend without a sound agreement. In the end the charges were way more than what it was worth. I also learned to never accept large orders by word of mouth: it becomes costly when orders are made and decisions are revoked.

With the current economy slump, what cost saving tips would you share with new entrepreneurs?

Time is money, and effective time management and recording of resource costs is imperative. There are often bottomless pit moments, where expenditure with no solid return can become costly.
Watch hours spent with attorneys: it is the fastest way to lose cash flow. Advance planning is a good way to prevent such wastage.

What advice can you offer female business owners on making sure they're being compensated fairly for their work? 

The difference between a business owner and being employed is that you cannot ask to be compensated for input. The harder you work, and the more effort you put into making your business succeed, the bigger the return. There is no time for idling, and often, just like a new-born baby consumes a mother’s sleep, so does an entrepreneur suffer often from stress and exhaustion.
 Where there are exceptional offerings backed with quality service, the return will be of equal value.
Employees often lack the understanding that the harder they work, the brighter the future can be. In my case I didn’t have a payroll that could swallow up cash flow for limited input. We all worked hard to earn the right to a blessed flow of abundance.

Do you have business mentors, and if so, how have they helped you develop as an entrepreneur?

My business style has been based on my spiritual principles. People like Deepak Chopra and Wayne Dyer have played a positive role in motivating me to do the impossible and have faith that a miracle will unfold.

What have you learned from starting your company that might be useful to would-be entrepreneurs? 

When you love what you do, and have a passion to wake up to, money will flow. But if you work, or do a business based solely on its ability to make money, its sustainability will be questionable.
Where there is faith, vision and love, skills will flow, and the right people will enter your space to support your business. Miracles can only unfold into greatness with a heart that is aligned to your passion, coupled with responsibility and accountability in your daily happenings.

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