When Rinas Nel first walked in our door and began sharing his vision for his new business – I must admit I had my doubts. I’d never heard of this type of business in Saskatchewan and I immediately started seeing all the barriers to entry. But the more he shared, the more evidence he gave and then seeing and touching the product myself, I began to become a believer. If you are not an early adopter like me, but have a business idea floating around in the back of your head – then this case study is especially for you.
You see I firmly believe that there are oodles and oodles of fantastic business ideas inside ordinary people like you and I. But instead of being discussed or explored or even tried – they are being kept tucked away for all the wrong reasons. Sure there is work involved in doing the research and developing a strategy, costing goods and dealing with licensing and certifications. If you are lazy then that work is a legitimate reason to never ever do anything with those business ideas. But all those things are just brick walls for which “very big hammers can be found” as Rinas puts it. The biggest reason I think more people don’t begin the business adventure of a lifetime is simply: The fear of the unknown.
Hopefully our case study of Rinas and his business Authentic Leather International helps you with that fear, if you are being paralyzed by it currently.
Rinas is of South African descent. He grew up in Molopo Province in the Northwest of South Africa. His father farmed and so he grew up familiar with the cattle industry. Over his childhood then into his young adult years he worked in various aspects of the cattle industry in South Africa and became very familiar and comfortable with it. This was his area of expertise. He added to this real life experience with good solid education; a Bachelor of Commerce with a concentration in economics and accounting. But after graduation his family decided to branch out and invest in some land in Canada. They all came over and helped Rinas get settled on some land off Highway 10, between Balcarres and Melville to run a small grain farm. With the help of tremendous Canadian neighbors along with some South African immigrants they knew, the family experienced an amazing first year that Rinas likes to characterize as “A beautiful success and a learning experience at the same time”.
You’ve probably already got a good picture of some key things that have helped Rinas overcome the fear of trying something new. I see a confident man who is sure of himself, backed and supported by friends and family and has had the experiences (before ever trying to launch a successful business) of trying new things, undertaking great adventures and despite the results – learning from them. These are key traits of perseverance that play a major role in crashing through the barriers that arise when you begin thinking about launching a new business. The best news though, is that if you haven’t developed them yet – you can! Perseverance can be learned.
When I asked Rinas what gave him the idea for his business of importing authentic Nguni Cowskin Rugs into Canada and the USA from South Africa, he said it was being in a new environment like Canada where people didn’t have these beautiful leather rugs in their homes that he had grown up with and just assumed were a part of normal life. It wasn’t till he got here to Canada that he realized the product he had been dreaming of selling, of using to become a successful businessman had been right in front of him all the time. He says he’d never heard of “faux fur” till he got here and saw what a difference there was between it and the genuine authentic leather that he grown accustomed to. It was then that he went to his partner with his idea and she encouraged him and pushed him to keep going down this track.
Now Rinas has faced some serious hurdles. Trust me. Importing leather cow-skins into Canada to try and resell them is not the easiest business one can think up! But when I asked him how he kept going in the face of objections and hurdles and doubt and issues. He said it starts with your belief in your product. When you know you have something tremendous to offer the world, you always see its potential and that helps to outweigh the obstacles. That’s not to say he didn’t feel the pain and the stretching of the hours of research, the working double-shifts and not being able to sleep because his mind was racing with ideas and strategies – but his unwavering belief in his product was a constant throughout.
Rinas credits two other things with getting him through those times though: Consistency and Preparation.
When you hit obstacles that knock you over – get back up again. When you face mountains that cannot be climbed, work your way around them. I love the way Rinas also says, hang in there because you will eventually find “hammers out there that knock those walls to pieces!”
Rinas credits his competitors with giving him a lot of inspiration. He studied what they did, and thought relentlessly about what he could do better. He researched for many hours honing his idea and his delivery, after seeing what else was out there on the market.
In the end he wanted “a product and company that was different, real and authentic. I wanted shopping at Authentic Leather International to be a personal experience.” He believes that his website is just that – “an online tool for people to give a room that final authentic touch that makes it truly beautiful” and worthy of the compliments your friends and family are sure to pay you – with one of his Nguni Cowhide rugs in it.
Authentic Leather International has been a fun journey for us. It was not without complications of many sorts but we watched Rinus persevere and find solutions and we did the same on the web-side of things and the result is something we are both proud of. Check it out for yourself: Authentic Leather International Online Store