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The Accidental Entrepreneur – Khutsiso Kgole, KLM HIGH-giene Solutions

We would like to introduce four performance-orientated businesses that leverage both Riversands I-Hub’s physical infrastructure and business development offerings to grow their businesses: KLM HIGH-giene Solutions, Rocky Brands, Dotty Moments and Zanecebo Consulting.

“I often tell people that I’m an accidental entrepreneur. I never wanted to go into business [for myself], it was never a dream of mine,” says Khutsiso Kgole, Founder and Director, KLM HIGH-giene Solutions. “But I had a very good professional relationships with my clients and that’s where my business started.”

As a microbiologist Khutsiso honed his skill in various commercial laboratories where he established good contacts, but increasingly became frustrated with the service gap between the laboratories and the solutions that clients so desperately needed. Instinctively, Khutsiso knew that solutions- based service excellence was the differentiator that would set a business apart from its competitors, but when he was unable to achieve this in full-time employ, he decided to branch out on his own.

“As someone who devoted myself to customer service, the quality of service I was able to provide under employment was frustrating me. With corporate there is only so much you can do, I felt stifled and out of frustration I realised I had to think differently. KLM was the solution,” says Khutsiso. “It wasn’t easy, but I drew confidence from my clients because they were the ones who suggested that I should look into going it alone. Like every breakaway entrepreneur I saw a gap and I took it.”

KLM was established in 2013 and formally started trading as a business in January 2014. The business offers reliable and consistent microbiological testing in food and beverage safety, quality and hygiene, and in 2022 branched into pest control. In addition to Khutsiso, the business currently employs three fulltime microbiologists and a sales and social media manager.

“I always say to my employees we do not just sell a service, we should always remember that we sell convenience,” says Khutsiso.

It’s this ethos that drives referrals and has proved to be the main bread and butter of business so far. Until recently, KLM relied on word of mouth, or networking at industry events, for additional marketing, but the recent employment of a social media specialist is seeing the business gain traction in the digital space too.

In 2020, KLM joined the Riversands I-Hub where it is enjoying the support offered by the incubator.

“Riversands took me in in 2020 and it’s been a positive and very healthy relationship,” says Khutsiso. The relationship started when Riversands ran a COVID-19 Programme over a 12-month period that further reduced an already low-cost rental to improve cash flow and sustainability prospects within businesses during a difficult period.

“As a small business that really helped and was very much appreciated,” he says. “I find Riversands’ team is always prepared to go the extra mile. They set me up with a business consultant, which has resulted in positive returns and, when a massive purchase order came through, they offered me an interest free loan. It’s great working with them, their professionalism and care is heartwarming and humbling.”

While 2022 was a challenging year for KLM in the wake of economic downturn, it came with many positives, including the hire of two new people.

“I’ve realised that [when the business is ready for it] hiring someone is a great return on investment as they pay for themselves. I am also pleased to have invested in someone who is good at, and understands, social media,” says Khutsiso.

“Another realisation was that in an environment of interest rate hikes, and suppliers increasing their prices, it’s dangerous to delay price adjustments because it affects cash flow and, in turn, the service you can offer. It’s important to adjust as and when it is necessary.”

For 2023, KLM aims to increase its pest control offering and grow its client base.

“I still don’t like to think of myself as a businessman, I think people can get lost in that title. All I’ve ever wanted is to provide excellent service and offer solutions to my clients. I draw lots of happiness and pleasure in making my clients happy and want to make more people happy,” says Khutsiso.

Related Tag:- Riversands Incubation Hub

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