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iLearn CEO dreamt of entrepreneurship since childhood

Sep 29 2017 17:10
Carin Smith

Cape Town - Richard Rayne, CEO of iLearn, generally cautions entrepreneurs to be very clear on the size of the opportunity they see and what is required to capture it.

"I highly recommend getting a business mentor, adviser or coach as well as formal training to acquire the fundamental skills on how to run and grow a business – this is imperative for all entrepreneurs," he tells Fin24.

"My advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs would be to not start a business blind."

Fin24 found out more about his journey as an entrepreneur.

Tell us more about yourself:

I have a B.Com in Informatics from the University of South Africa.

I always dreamt of starting my own business. Even as a child, I envisioned myself in a suit - briefcase in hand.

Being surrounded by a family of entrepreneurs and teachers, it was a natural step for me to enter into a career that encompasses both. I have always had a deep-rooted drive to help others succeed and improve their circumstances.

Tell us more about your business

I launched iLearn in 2001, at the age of 21.

There were fundamental ingredients in my recipe to becoming a successful entrepreneur, I had a high-performance drive and unrelenting passion for what I wanted to achieve to positively impact society.

Although starting my own business was no mean feat, the lessons from all my trials and errors equipped me with the skills and best practise framework on how to build and grow my business in the early years.

iLearn is a corporate learning solutions company that provides both onsite instructor-led and online learning in an IT and business skills curriculum. I currently employ 70 people and have offices in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.

What gap did you see in the market?

I attended various learning programmes, most of which were on multiple, consecutive days and as a result I experienced information overload.

I believed there existed an opportunity to provide a more personalised approach, by providing learning in shorter chunks delivered at a client’s premises and spread over a few days.

What were the challenges?
 
Industry challenge

In terms of corporate learning solutions, I think companies that are purely driven to spend money on learning to only meet the compliance requirements without a greater strategic objective of building, skilling up and rewarding talent, will not future proof their business with a team of highly motivated and happy employees.

We find it challenging to work with clients that don’t think in this way.

Business challenge

Building a business has many challenges such as managing and motivating a team; technology; operational delivery; and cash flow; to ensuring sustainability.

A business is only as great as the quality and calibre of its people. Having the right team on board and a clear strategic direction can turbo charge business growth.

What have been your successes?

Our overall success has been the ability to start, grow and sustain a business over 16 years. The resilience, intellectual capability and strategic foresight are the key ingredients to our success.

We are continuously innovating and constantly challenge the status quo. I never think that I have made it. I am always exploring better ways of providing our service to our clients in a more efficient way with greater impact and value.

Any other comments?

Although I am always trying to maintain a balance between family, personal life and business, running your own business has some sacrifices.

With both luck and hard work, you will reach your business goals. However, I live by the saying: If you are not absolutely passionate about what you do every day, do something else urgently.

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