After Retrenchment: Inspirational South African shares her story and some advice when diving into a new business.

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When one door closes, another opens: following this philosophy helped Monica Haralambous achieve her goal of running her own business.


Being her own boss is only part of the story: she’s also a firm believer in lending a helping hand to those with potential, using her new business to help inspire and grow employees to live their best lives.

In exploring the realities of women in business, Monica’s story shows that it isn’t what happens to you that’s important. It’s how you handle it.

Retrenched from her job in the financial services industry, Haralambous saw retrenchment not as the end of her career, but rather the beginning of a new one.

“I believe that as one door closes another door opens – and retrenchment was my greatest blessing. I was plodding along in a corporate environment, which was dull and didn’t provide the fulfilment I was looking for. Being retrenched was the perfect opportunity to take a leap and fulfill my dream.”

Fate may have had a hand in the development; as someone who had always had a passion for beauty and making others feel good, Haralambous already had Sorbet in her sights. She had already applied to be a franchisee, having become aware of the brand as a regular customer at the beauty salon.

Dreams, however, don’t just come true. Hard work, dedication and persistence are required.

Entrepreneurs know that staying positive and being in it for the long run are crucial factors to success. A positive attitude, which Haralambous clearly has in spades, helps.

“I set out to find the ideal location for my store; but this was trickier than I had imagined. I know the importance of finding the right spot and I wasn’t willing to rush. Patience and persistence paid off and in March 2016 I became the proud owner of Sorbet Lonehill. It was a dream come true,” she enthuses.

Today, the business employs 26 women and looks after thousands of customers in the northern Johannesburg suburbs.

Purchasing a franchise, says Haralambous, provides some worthwhile advantages. “You’re buying into an existing, well-known brand with a support structure, established methods and business practices,” she explains.

“Being part of a franchise of predominantly female owners has allowed us to create our own ‘sisterhood’. We’re a group of strong, dynamic women passionate about our brand. We have created a close-knit family that I know I can call on for anything; we are able to share our experiences with and encourage each other to grow.”

Being her own boss isn’t just about personal growth, but also the satisfaction of helping valued employees develop.

“As a female beauty salon owner and entrepreneur, I love spotting potential talent and nurturing women to grow and follow their dreams,” she confirms. “Over the past two and a half years I’ve sent three of my cleaning staff to beauty school to become nail technicians.”

This entrepreneur is, in effect, using her position to bring out the best in others.

“The unemployment rate is alarming, especially amongst the youth. I actively seek women with potential and drive that I can educate and grow. It is the responsibility of business to assist in creating jobs for those that show potential,” she comments.

Haralambous stresses the value of investing in education. “For my first two staff members who attended beauty school, I contributed half the tuition; the balance loaned by the business and repaid over six months. Personal contribution is important as it gives a sense of ownership, pride and achievement.”

She adds that Sorbet Lonehill’s current trainee is funded by The Sorbet Empowering Women Foundation.

Haralambous has some advice for those considering the leap into business ownership: “Do your homework and follow your passion. Study the economy, read the newspapers and financial magazines, ask questions and scout to find the ideal location for your business – but above all, surround yourself with people who share your vision and are willing to work together to help everyone achieve and have fun!”

Sources: Morné Stoltz
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Brent Lindeque is the founder and man in charge at Good Things Guy. Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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