ENTREPRENEURSHIP AS A WAY OF LIFE IN SOUTH AFRICA
“Know what you want and be prepared to have your own beliefs challenged. Understand that failure is not finality, but dwelling on it is the quickest way to derail your future success.”
So says Michael Pretorius, intrepid entrepreneur and businessman who built the highly successful CT Industries from the ground up – literally. “I started CT Floors in 2002 with no capital and little experience. Survival was dependent on my creativity and taking opportunities when they arose.”
Now a specialist provider of flooring solutions to the industrial and commercial market, Pretorius gained and expanded his knowledge to include everything from decorative cementitious floors to the anti-microbial polyurethane surfaces required by food processing plants and high-traffic factory surfaces; and specially engineered textured epoxy for hospitals and health care facilities.
Today, CT Floors is an approved flooring contractor for most of the major local and international manufacturers of high-performance flooring products and iconic brand clients have included Mercedes Benz, BMW, Exclusive Books, Beyers Chocolates and Nike.
“Being an entrepreneur requires a specific mindset,” Pretorius says. “It’s about the thrill of the hunt, gaining the competitive edge, a passion for finding real workable solutions and the incredible victory dance when the client says ‘yes’. ”This tenacity gave rise to CT Industries, with divisions that serve the industrial, construction and mining sectors in South Africa. Pretorius asserts that to be an effective service provider, expert knowledge of each industry, the products and services you supply, and the ability to create workable and sustainable solutions is vital.
Additionally, effective team leadership and project management are essential elements of their implementation. Still, Pretorius sees himself firstly as an entrepreneur and then as a businessman.
Entrepreneurs: The backbone of economies
“Entrepreneurship is the future,” he says, “and the very backbone of any country’s economy. It takes a special type of person to envisage something, step out of their comfort zone, inspire people and investors to join them, and create a business that will benefit so many more people than the entrepreneur alone.”
Pretorius sees entrepreneurship as the lifeblood of innovation: “It is nimble, creative, risky, scary, raw, beautiful – and so rewarding when things come together,” he says, his enthusiasm is evident for every part of CT Industries.
Working with so many large names and well-known brands brings a certain level of respect for CT Industries, which Pretorius urges other entrepreneurs to work towards. “Of course industry certifications are important, as is the focus we place on constantly updating and improving our equipment in our quest to stay ahead of the curve with the newest technologies.“ However, the most respect is gained by always seeking solutions based the needs of your customers, from providing the right specifications for their specific environment, to crafting the most cost effective solution that still ensures longevity and quality,” he says.
Entrepreneurship, leadership as business imperatives
With new projects on the horizon, Pretorius is excited about what 2021 and beyond will bring. “While the pandemic has had a massive impact on businesses across the globe, true entrepreneurs will double down their efforts to seek opportunities to heal the economy and forge new paths to success. ”Importantly, CT Industries has a culture of leading by working with teams to solve problems. “This gives everyone a chance to help work out solutions, which makes them that much better in future. Gaining on-the-job experience is the key to building confidence, which is a key ingredient in leadership,” Pretorius says. “It’s about empowering people and guiding them towards a better job, career and – ultimately – life.”
As proud as he is about the specialist work CT Industries does for its customers, Pretorius knows sales and marketing are equally important to business success, as is networking, effective communication and respect. “I believe self-respect brings with it respect for others; respect for the quality of work we put out; and respect for our industry and economy. Mentoring lower-skilled workers to where they have a real opportunity at a career is important to CT Industries.
“In any developing country, job opportunities are not always available for everyone. If you can’t find a job, you really have two choices: Beg, or create something that can earn you an income. If you do the latter, you can classify yourself as a beginner entrepreneur,” he says.
“Work at it diligently and start to build a business, you can begin to classify yourself as an entrepreneur. Now start building your identity with pride instead of waiting for an opportunity that might never arrive,” he says, adding that in South Africa, entrepreneurship should be encouraged as a way to build a future.
About CT Industries: CT Industries is the holding company for three businesses: CT Floors, CT Mining and CT Environmental.