One single mom entrepreneur shares her best business advice

Wellness coach, Luyanda Sibisi (30), turned her passion for health and fitness into a business where she helps women achieve balance in their lives. We are thrilled that she has joined our team of contributors, and asked her a few questions to get to know her a little better…

Getting to know Luyanda Sibisi

Q. Where were you born and what was family life like for you as a child?

I was born in Rockville, Soweto. I grew up in suburban Johannesburg and most of the memories I have of my childhood were fond memories of riding our bikes in the neighbourhood with my brother and his friend. Back then, our neighbourhood was so safe that we could even walk to the shops and we even walked to school. I lived very close to Delta Park and I would pretend to be a scientist discovering things in the dam and the forests.

Q. Who were your biggest influencers or role models and how did they shape your vision for your life?

My parents were my first role models. I saw how hard they worked and this taught me the importance of hard work and never giving up on your dreams. When I hear stories of how my father grew up and how he was able to still be a successful black man, I knew I had big shoes to fill. However, my role model is certainly Oprah Winfrey. She is everything I wish to be one day.

Q. Did you study? If so, what and how did it prepare you for your life today?

I studied publishing at the University of Pretoria. I believe my studies have equipped me in a tremendous way as a lot of what I do today I directly linked to what I studied at university.

Q. What is one thing people don’t know about you?

A lot of people don’t know that I’m actually quite a reserved and private person. My work and social media presence make it seem as though I am a lot more social than I actually am. I spend a lot of time at home with my family and kids.

Q. What is always in your handbag and freezer?

I always have sunscreen in my handbag and my freezer almost ALWAYS has frozen fruit.

Q. What’s on your playlist?

I listen to almost everything that feels good but I have all of Beyonce’s albums in my favourites list.

Q. What is your favourite self-help book?

I am reading The 5am Club by Robin Sharma at the moment. It has really changed how I approach the running of my day, starting from when I wake up to before I go to bed.

Luyanda Sibisi demonstrates a yoga pose

Luyanda Sibisi’s Business Journey 

Q. Why did you become an entrepreneur?

I call myself a professional problem solver. I believe that is what being an entrepreneur is all about – looking at the world you live in and finding solutions to the problems that exist. I have always wanted to give life to my ideas and dreams, so being an entrepreneur seemed like the only practical way to do that.

Q. What was your first entrepreneurial venture?

My first serious venture was selling children’s clothing.

Q. Why did you decide to step into that particular industry?

As a young mom, I always felt like regular stores carried regular clothing for children. So, I got into the venture of importing baby clothing to resell.

Q. What has your journey been like as a business owner?

It has been a lot of trial and error. Sometimes you have to put your emotional and financial investment aside and be able to make tough decisions for your business – that can be difficult. It is also quite rewarding to know that I can do anything I put my mind to. Being an employee is extremely different to running your own business, but I’m glad I’ve been exposed to both worlds so I never take anything for granted.

Q. Are you financially savvy? Did you know how to manage the books or did you have to learn this?

I had to learn a lot about money as I grew, both in the working world and my different business ventures. Because I’m a single mom, I have no choice but to manage my finances with two other people in mind. This helped me learn the importance of saving and investing.

Q. Do you have a business mentor? If you were to mentor a new business owner, what advice would you give them based on your experiences?

I have several mentors, each offering different things. One common piece of advice all my mentors have given me which I would give to a new business owner is to have a clear idea written down for their life and for their business, in the form of a vision board or recorded on video. Manifesting your dreams has to start with you and goals and visions should always offer the direction for your business. I would also strongly advise them to always stay on top of their taxes.

Q. How would describe your approach to leadership in the workplace?

I believe in focusing on people’s strengths and affirming them as opposed to focusing on wrongdoings and mistakes.

Q. What are your thoughts about women empowerment and the opportunities out there?

I think women have always had so much to offer the world and now more than ever. As a result of the digital world, we have the opportunity to break down the door and not knock on it without knowing if there will be an answer.

Q. What is the most important business lesson you’ve learned?

I’ve learned that if helping others or coming up with a sustainable solution to an immediate problem is not at the centre of your business, you’re probably not really in business.

Luyand Sibisi demonstrating core ab workout

Q. Name a few women entrepreneurs you admire.

I really admire Papama Ramogase (mother of two, fashion designer and founder of Butter Pudding clothing for children), Mihlali Ndamase (make-up artist and beauty influencer) and Kim Kardashian.

Being a mom

Q. Tell us a little bit about your family.

I am a mom of two. My daughter Hafsa is 11 and my son Muhammad-Ali is five. Hafsa is a very kind and gentle soul. She is the reserved one in the family and enjoys spending time reading, making clothes for her dolls and knitting. Muhammad-Ali is the talkative one in the family. He speaks his mind and always makes us laugh.

Q. Can you share a few of your craziest moments as a mom and businesswoman and how you came out the other end?

I was studying full time and breastfeeding Hafsa at the same time. I remember studying throughout the night and having to pause to feed her. It was not always easy because I was bonding with my baby and trying to focus on studying at the same time. I believe I survived it because my daughter was my reason for making sure I succeeded.

Another tough moment was when I had to take early maternity leave while pregnant with my son because I had uncontrollable fatigue and pregnancy brain that affected the quality of my work. At the time I felt sad that I struggled to do both, but I realised that not all women are the same and all I needed was to take a break and focus on my pregnancy.

Q. How do you resolve conflict at home?

We believe in communication. We don’t always get it right and it isn’t always easy, but when we do manage to sit down and offer one another perspective and empathy though communication, we do pretty well.

Q. What do you like most about being a mom?

I love being a motivation for my kids. Because I know how impressionable children are, I love being an affirming figure in their lives and proof that if you live authentically, strive to always help others and work hard, you can achieve your goals and dreams.

Luyanda’s tips on achieving balance in your daily life as a busy mom

Research professor and author, Brené Brown once said that “vulnerability is the birthplace of creativity, innovation and change.” It is only in the moments I allow myself to feel vulnerable with all the roles I have to juggle that I come up with the most creative ideas on balancing my work life with motherhood and business.

  • I ask for help from my support system of other mothers, family and friends and I even partner with the school to regularly update me on a challenge I have with either of my kids.
  • I keep a diary. This was probably the smallest but biggest change I made to my life. Writing down what needs to be done, bought and ideas I want to think about has helped me prioritise my life and create balance.
  • Saying no. This was the most difficult thing to do because, as a mom and businesswoman, saying yes to everything would solidify my credibility as a superwoman. However, saying yes to things that you cannot do and sometimes don’t want to do can diminish your impact on the things that are most important.
  • Keep a vision board. I have a picture of exactly the kind of house I would like to buy. Some of the other important items are symbols of financial freedom, more quality time with my family and travel.