1 – Q) Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities.

A) Timbur Furniture is an owner run business that specialises in the design and manufacture of our own unique range of furniture, with a particular focus on floating furniture. Our office and workshop are located in Johannesburg but we service the entire South African market.

2 – Q) Kindly give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements).

A) After completing my education at a technical college in Johannesburg, I immediately entered the workforce and began my apprenticeship as an HVAC technician at a local company. This was a real opportunity for me to put my learned skills into practice and my time there was invaluable for developing a strong understanding of everything from client relations to installation planning and execution. I still have a huge amount of respect for the owner of that business and utilize some of the leadership skills I picked up from him in my own business. He also happens to be a customer of ours now. However, after a few years as a technician i felt I wanted some experience in the corporate world and started making moves into a different industry where I could “climb the ladder”. I found an opportunity in the plumbing industry as a counter sales clerk dealing with contract plumbers and gradually worked my way up to managing the sales counter. Once I began handling the buying I developed some great relationships with people in the industry and soon began a career at South Africas largest brassware manufacturer as a key accounts manager before moving up to a specifications consultant where i would write up technical specifications for Hospitals, prisons and residential developments. It would be here that my dream to design and build my own furniture began.

3 – Q) What inspired you to (start a new business venture) or (to make significant changes in an existing business)? How did the idea for your business come about?

A) The conception of Timbur Furniture really began on the long drives I used to do between cities as a specifications consultant. I had recently discovered I had a passion for woodwork and I had already built some rudimentary furniture with borrowed tools, the first of which was an “A” frame table for the garden which served as the meeting point for all our friends and where weekend plans were hatched. As mentioned I’d often be in the car for up to 5 hours at a time as I made my way to Polokwane, Nelspruit or Swaziland for work. This offered me time to reflect, and time to dream. In my head I’d make lists of all the tools I’d need, what type of furniture I’d make and even what my company logo would look like. The visualisations morphed into an inevitable reality and as far as my career was concerned, I had never felt such clarity, inspiration or excitement. I knew Timbur was no longer optional, the only question that remained was when. On the 1st of April 2016, I found myself standing alone in the family garage, filled with my used tools and 1 confirmed order in hand. I was an entrepreneur, and Timbur furniture was born.

4 – Q) What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

A) Firstly, for us this has been a major factor for growth. Find your niche within your industry, focus on it internally, hone and perfect it. Once it’s clear, highlight that to your audience.

Secondly, and this may seem cliché, but it rings so true to me as I look back on my path as an entrepreneur, particularly in the first 2-3 years. Don’t quit. Just don’t. So many of our brightest moments as a business were just on the other side of what felt like complete darkness, when quitting felt inevitable and the walls closed in. The moments of despair and overcoming are also where the best lessons live.

And then one that I still battle with. Take on the things that scare you. Take the order that seems a little too big for your operation. Take on the client whose high profile intimidates you. As long as the thing that scares you has growth potential for you or your business then take it on. If you’re unsure, bounce it off someone you trust. A partner or close friend will often highlight the many reasons why you’re capable when you’re transfixed on the few reasons you think you’re not.

5 – Q) What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

A) Obviously the basic skills associated with your particular industry are a non-negotiable. But more intensive dedication to those skills has the ability to make you a go-to in your industry. If you start out as carpenter making furniture, your skills that pertain to the hands on craft should be constantly nurtured, but the entire ecosystem that supports the craft from the origins of the raw materials to the end user experience also needs to be understood and the skills built for each element . For me personally I would consider the skills to be interchangeable in importance based on what your personal journey as an entrepreneur is and at what stage you’re at. For me the basic technical skills were of primary importance in getting the business started. I needed to sell and that then made people skills paramount. Now my focus is on leadership.

6 – Q) How many hours do you work a day on average?

A) I try to keep my working hours between 8am and 5pm where possible and the same for our team. It obviously wasn’t that way when starting out and that’s the norm for start-ups, but I feel that balance needs to be as much a priority as any other metric when envisioning the future of your business.

7 – Q) To what do you most attribute your success?

A) I try to keep my working hours between 8am and 5pm where possible and the same for our team. It obviously wasn’t that way when starting out and that’s the norm for start-ups, but I feel that balance needs to be as much a priority as any other metric when envisioning the future of your business.

8 – Q) To what do you most attribute your success?

A) We still have a very long way to go before I’d proclaim success. As it still says in our Facebook bio, “ We’re a small team of passionate carpenters dedicated to designing and creating our own unique range of furniture.” We still have huge ambitions, but we want to grow at a rate that has no impact on the quality of the products we deliver. That’s where our success so far has come from. We focus on a unique offering and we make sure we execute that to the best of our ability.

9 – Q) How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?

A) We market exclusively on social media. Facebook has been our most productive platform.

10 – Q) Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?

A) We’re entirely self funded.

11 – Q) What is the best way to achieve long-term success?

A) We’re still working on that And I think this question has too many answers to fathom. But what I can tell you is that a happy customer will help keep the orders coming in. Whether its word of mouth, a Google review or an unsolicited testimonial comment on one of our Facebook ads. We all still wear a lot of hats at Timbur but the main shared responsibility is making a phenomenal product and maintaining a positive customer experience. It’s just one piece of the puzzle that keeps the lights on, but I know for a fact that if we didn’t have it as a guiding principle we wouldn’t still be around.

12 – Q) Where you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?

A) We’d like to explore the export market, that’s definitely on the cards. We’re also committed to becoming a local household name as an online furniture retailer. Our core focus will always be in-house manufacturing of our own range of furniture, but we’d like to add accessories and decorative items, perhaps sourced from local artisans to our lineup.

13 – Q) Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?

A) There’s a few brands here in SA that we work towards emulating. None perfect, but they have elements that they do very well. Nandos, for example, operate within the fast food space. They’re a little more expensive than other players, but not to a point where they jump into another segment. If you order the items they’re famous for then you get a whole, unprocessed quality product. You know exactly what you’re getting. You don’t need to worry that your 1/4 chicken has been crudely constructed from a mysterious pink slime. Essentially you trust that at a fundamental level you’ll be getting a quality product at an acceptable premium. The same can be said for Woolworths Food, there’s a trust that South Africans seem to afford to Woolworths that the other retailers in that space can only aspire to.

14 – Q) How important have good employees been to your success?

A) Absolutely crucial. Our team at the moment are hard won. Very few of our workshop team arrived as carpenters. Everyone starts on the business end of a sander and gradually learns the trade. As mentioned earlier, we all buy into that guiding principle. It keeps the workshop active, it keeps the orders coming in and in turn it keeps us all working in what isn’t an easy economy.

15 – Q) How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?

A) It depends on the idea and how urgently we need to implement the change we wanted to see when the idea was born. From a product perspective, when I designed and launched our ONE floating pedestals I was expecting our order book to explode! But nothing happened…people seemed to react well to the ads but there was no traction in sales. After about 3 months I considered canning the product. And then we started getting orders, a trickle at first but over the next 3-4 months the sales steadily climbed. The ONE range now accounts for around 75% of our total orders. You just never know

16 – Q) What motivates you?

A) Lets get the money out the way. There’s no denying that there’s great benefit in financial reward. But for the purpose of motivating myself it doesn’t generate the feelings needed to push me. I know the financial benefit will be part of the journey eventually. My daily drive comes from creation, the moment when an idea for a new design finally hits. Sketching it, seeing it being built and becoming a reality. Photographing it and then showing it to the world…. But it can also be hugely disappointing when the design was best left in my head…it happens, its still worth it. As far as long term goes, My long term drive revolves around a collective sentiment towards the brand, sentiment from our employees, our customers and myself. That encompasses everything I want Timbur to be when it’s a much bigger operation. Its people, its products, its ethics and its why will all be part of the equation that generates that sentiment.

17 – Q) How do you generate new ideas?

A) As far as product ideas go, it can sometimes be a long process. I identify where we have holes in our offering. I then spend hours and hours over a period of weeks or months scouring the likes of Pinterest for inspiration, I look at anything that has potential. Furniture, automotive design, appliances or even gardens. I’ll find elements of other designs that I like, some aesthetic and some functional. The final design concept itself seems to instantly “self assemble” in my head, usually at 3am. If I put time pressure on the process it usually ends up falling flat. I’ve learned to just let it stew.

18 – Q) How do you define success?

A) Balance. Or at least being as close to balanced as possible. If you can be as present and positively engaged at the office as you are on holiday or with your family etc and your time spent with each is reasonably allocated then I think you’re winning in life.

19 – Q) What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

A) The freedom to create, to take what’s in my head and implement that. That’s not something that’s often encouraged for the average employee.

20 – Q) What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

A) After selling all my possessions to start the business, including my car, my then new-to-me 11 year old delivery bakkie became my daily driver for the first 3 years. It rattled, it smoked, the radio never worked, it leaked whenever it rained and the window winder would fall off every time I turned left. She was all I could afford and she was good to us. But when I was finally able to hand her over to our delivery driver because I managed to buy my first new-to-me car as a business owner, another 11 year old that nobody looked at twice, Not only was I able to listen to radio, but it was a sign that we were starting to grow. That car has since found a new owner, but I still have photos of it on my phone. It may seem like nothing more than a mechanical possession, but it holds huge significance for me, it symbolized a very exciting time in my entrepreneurial path.

21 – Q) How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?

A) My now wife and I met a few months after I started my entrepreneurial journey. She was also in a space of new beginnings at the time. We both had very little financially, she rented a small cottage on a friends property and I too was on a friends property in a converted garage. We both have entrepreneurial spirits and I think it’s I big part of what makes us work. A partner who supports your vision and who actively encourages your path can be a massive advantage as an entrepreneur. We’ve both come a long way since our cottage and garage days and owe a lot of our individual success to each other.

22 – Q) What book has inspired you the most? (OR what is your favorite book?)

A) Definitely the 5am club by Robin Sharma. It was a game changer for me. Closely followed by The Richest Man in Babylon and The Wim Hof Method.

23 – Q) What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?

A) I love videography. Filming and editing our holiday or weekend videos is a real passion project for me. It’s a fantastic way to document experiences. And aviation, I’ll certainly be doing my PPL in future.