Liziwe Ndalana: What I learned about business & life from making my own bed

Housework is hard work, and drudge work on top of that, but the more you get up early to get the house looking spick and span, the more you’re setting yourself up for a clean sweep in life.

Liziwe Ndalana, Business, Life, Housework

By Liziwe Ndalana

Earlier this year, I attended an event for aspiring entrepreneurs. Although I wasn’t thinking about starting a business at the time, I went anyway, for networking purposes. One on the speakers was a young entrepreneur, who said: “The best thing you can ever do for yourself as an entrepreneur is make your bed each morning”.

I remember narrating that story to an acquaintance recently and thinking, well, that was definitely not for me. I grew up making my flatbed, a mattress in the muddy floor of a rondavel, in the rural Eastern Cape. Not only that, but I had to do it for everyone. This is in spite of having a girl cousin who was only two years younger than me, and who lived in the same household.

Growing up at my aunt’s house, my Saturdays were characterised by heaps of laundry for everyone in the household, particularly school uniform. I had to make sure it was ironed and ready for Monday morning.

This included uniform for my older boy cousins who didn’t have to lift a finger in doing house chores. As an older girl in the house, it was my duty to make sure the house was clean, everyone had eaten and that laundry was clean and ready to be worn.

Read also: Liziwe Ndalana: How my life changed for the better when I said goodbye to my to-do list

My aunt not only taught me house chores, but hospitality too. Before I left for school each morning, I had to make sure my aunt has had her coffee, which was three cups per serving. This was standard. It didn’t matter if I was late or not for school, it was my routine.

I quickly learnt to wake up earlier, so I could finish my housework and still be on time for school. This was difficult, as I was not an early riser. In hindsight, I realise that I hated waking up, let alone waking up while everyone else was snoring nicely.

My traditional Eastern Cape upbringing, while my very much now awoken feminist has quite a lot to say about it, taught me some valuable lessons and lifelong views on self-sufficiency. I do not ask for permission or seek approval before I do something I think is important for my life and my future.

This has been instrumental in starting my laundry business. I didn’t first see if my friends and family would approve before I went ahead. It also means I’m ready to jump in and get my hands dirty when it’s necessary.

The disadvantage is that I’m reluctant to ask for help even when I need it. I’m always thinking, if I don’t do it myself, it won’t be done properly. This has been particularly difficult since hiring someone to help me in the business. While I’m not a boss from hell, I often check if things are done accordingly.

Now I’m learning to let go of control at day at time. The lady is good at her job, even better than me. I’ve heard good feedback from customers. I’m in the process of training her to be in charge instead of just doing laundry. I leave her alone in the business for longer hours and I let her handle the money too.

I’m giving her more authority daily by playing a minimal supervisory role and, I let her deal with customer complaints as well. I’ve also come up with a plan to let her run the business while I’m working on the expansion plans.

A part of me is grateful for that training as it helps me be diligent in my work. I’m able to do laundry properly, because I was properly trained.

  • This article first appeared on the Change Exchange, an online platform by BrightRock, provider of the first-ever life insurance that changes as your life changes. The opinions expressed in this piece are the writer’s own and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BrightRock.