However, Sharma, owner and manager of glass and aluminium company, Aluminium Doctor, said “resourcefulness and ingenuity” has allowed his business to stay ahead of the curve.
Sharma said he faced a host of challenges when he started his business seven years ago with one of the biggest obstacles being the monopoly that certain industry players had and still have in the construction sector.
“Finding clients willing to ‘take a chance’ on a new contractor is a challenge and even today, after a long list of successful projects and satisfied clients, it still proves to be a challenge.”
He added that financially SMEs (small, medium enterprises) are not given much assistance or preference by financial institutions so his business had to grow organically.
Sharma said “his hunger for success and strong work ethic” has helped him to grow his business in a tough market.
“In addition, my strong academic background in business allowed me to understand my organisation and the efficiencies required to operate at optimal levels.”
How he ensured a competitive edge in his business, Sharma, who was retrenched from his senior management position at a large aluminium company, said when he started his company he decided to make it formal, compliant and professional. “I wanted to incorporate my corporate and managerial experience to differentiate my business, and to elevate this, I enrolled on a business management degree.”
“This really prepared me for business and I believe it was a key ingredient to my business’s success,” he said.
Aluminium Doctor’s breakthrough came a year and a half after it opened, when it won a contract with the building of the Durban ice rink.
“This is when I knew that it was time to formalise my business premises and I found a 1000 square metre factory in Brairdene, Durban.”
He needed funding to purchase the building and received assistance from Business Partners Limited.
Aluminium Doctor now has a presence in KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape and Gauteng.
Asked what advice he had for potential entrepreneurs, Sharma said: “Don’t hesitate. Work hard, be the best at what you do, failure is not an option. Take risks but manage your cost base closely. In entrepreneurship, it takes years to become an overnight success but be bold and seize your opportunity when it comes.”