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‘Understand your market, your industry’

Orisons Productions founder on the importance of business mentoring.

MORGAN BARNARD: Welcome to the Moneyweb Grindstone podcast, as you know Moneyweb has joined forces with the Grindstone team to highlight entrepreneurs who are coming through their programme and doing innovative things in South Africa. Today we are chatting to Natasha van Diemen from Orisons Productions.

NATASHA VAN DIEMEN: Thank you for having me, Morgan.

MORGAN BARNARD: The first thing I noticed when I looked at your background is that you have a string of major clients for a relatively young business, how do you build up such an impressive client base?

NATASHA VAN DIEMEN: Well, if you take me back 15 years ago my very first client was South African Breweries and what I did was I just pitched to them, I walked in, I wanted to speak to the right person, I pitched my business, I pitched the vision of our company at a very young age of 19, 20 years old, being a woman of colour, ja. I pitched the business and I got the work. I think I got just up to 200 activations that I’ve done today.

MORGAN BARNARD: The promotion and events business tends to look and sound quite glamorous but is this the reality on the ground and what attributes are required to be successful in your line of work?

NATASHA VAN DIEMEN: With that amount of activations and to listen to your client and roll out X amount of activations and actually have a memorable event at the end of the day absolutely not. I think what we do as a company we sit down with a client, we listen in depth to the client’s needs and their outcomes, we look at what they want to achieve and as a team we sit together and we start putting a plan together and we roll out. The amount of effort and work that we put into that is an understatement, you actually look at the end result and you look at what we’ve done, you would not believe the amount of work and the amount of tears put into setting up that event.

MORGAN BARNARD: What are your plans for growing Orisons?

NATASHA VAN DIEMEN: My plan is to definitely be…I’m not short-sighted so what I look at is, part of our strategy is looking at going international. We have gone abroad, my sister and I, we started this company together, we have met with our leaders internationally. So for example we have mobile units that we have built, it’s a truck that can take your brand with your people to your market. What we’ve done is last year in April we visited a company called Novico [2:34] which is the ultimate leaders in building and manufacturing mobile units and they showed us the ropes, they showed us exactly how to build these units, they taught us how to take it to the market, they taught us how to come up with concepts and how to execute.

MORGAN BARNARD: So with these mobile units and everything that’s going on where do you see yourself in a year from now?

NATASHA VAN DIEMEN: I see us having a fleet of mobile units, I see us sitting with an extra two really big clients. Personally I see me being this year business woman of the year because that’s what I strive for, I enjoy business competition and it helps to keep me and my business motivated.

MORGAN BARNARD: We have recently seen iKubu, another one of the Grindstone businesses, that has been sold to Garmin, what role do you see Grindstone playing in your business

NATASHA VAN DIEMEN: I wish I was that company. Getting the knowledge, sitting with that group pf guys, getting the knowledge, gaining business, gaining a network with dynamic companies and just looking deep into my business. There are things that I can’t see that Grindstone can see, that the other Grindstone companies can see and they can add value in turn to my company.

MORGAN BARNARD: What do you think are the biggest challenges facing entrepreneurs in South Africa?

NATASHA VAN DIEMEN: The biggest challenges for me I would say as an entrepreneur is that you need to keep your eye on the prize, that’s the first thing. You need to understand your market, your industry, if you don’t understand your industry you will not be the leader, you will never be the leader. So you need to look at your finances most importantly, a day from tomorrow you look back, if you did not look at it in depth, you don’t sit with your accountant, you don’t sit with your team, you’re going to look back and you will have no business. So you need to have good mentors and that is the thing, we don’t have good mentors out there. So if I sat with somebody who is an expert in my field and they advised me on the pitfalls and they showed me, Natasha, this is the way to go and advised me, I think we’d have much better businesses out there.

MORGAN BARNARD: So what are your number one tips for entrepreneurs in South Africa?

NATASHA VAN DIEMEN: The number one would be always look for opportunities, become diverse, don’t just stagnate, grow your business, understand your industry and the most important tip for me I would say is to listen, listen to your clients, listen to your customers, listen to your mentors.

MORGAN BARNARD: That was Natasha van Diemen from Orisons Productions. 

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