Today we have the honour and privilege of meeting Karen van Staden from Achieve Skills. So without any further delay, let’s allow Karen to tell her story.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
My name is Karen van Staden. I was born in Lime Acres. I am married with 3 kids, and my career started at Finsch Mine in 2003. I started in the storeroom, underground, and moved to the surface after 3 months to a Data Clerk position. I then moved to the Sandvik HQ in 2007 as a training coordinator. That is where my love for training and development started. The last position I held was the Skills Development Facilitator position. I resigned at Sandvik in 2014. We moved back to the Northern Cape end of 2015.
At what stage in your life did you decide to get into the business?
I decided on it when I was still working at Sandvik in 2014. I have a passion for quality training and development, and I realized that my dream was much bigger than the company could accommodate. That’s when I decided that I wanted to do this on my own. I first started just as a freelance Skills Development Facilitator, working for a few companies, and registered my company in March 2016.
What sets your business apart from other businesses in your industry?
My company is set on strong quality delivery standards. We deliver open, honest communication, integrity, and long-term learner support. We don’t leave our learner’s hand at any stage. We keep on providing support and advice even if the learner did not attend any of our training. We offer speedy, friendly customer service which is always based on individual needs. Every customer needs to feel like our only customer.
What has been your driving force as an entrepreneur?
There are a number of things that drives me as an entrepreneur. Some of them are, my love and passion for transferring skills and knowledge, the lack of skills and knowledge of our people, the lack of information that our people have, the access to quality, accredited training and career path guidance, the love for people i.e the potential that every person has and can achieve given the right opportunity, and then finally the growth of an individual to step into the position that the creator has for everyone to be able to step into his/her purpose as well.
How did you come up with the name for your company? How easy or difficult was it?
It was a family effort. My family has been with me all the way and we brainstormed about the name. I told them what I want people to understand just by saying the name. It was quite easy for us to come up with the name.
What kind of culture exists in your organization, and how did you establish it?
My company’s foundation and culture are based on the Bible. We strive to do and deliver our offering as per the Bible prescripts. This was the driving force in me resigning at my previous company because I felt at that stage that I was not doing my purpose and calling anymore. So, I made a promise to God that I would help and empower people with the knowledge that He gave me and that I will do it with all I have. We are not a profit-driven company, but a service-driven company.
What does your business do? What products or services do you offer?
We offer skills development consulting to companies, in order for them to be compliant in skills development to their workforce. Submission of legislated training reporting to various institutions. Training of Soft skills courses – Leadership Skills, Communication skills, Emotional Intelligence, Diversity, etc. (All the unit standards under National Certificate in Generic Management, NQF Level 5) Training of accredited ETDP Seta courses – Assessor, Facilitator, Moderator, etc. (Courses under the National Certificate in occupationally Directed Education Training and Development Practices NQF Level 5).
How has being an entrepreneur affected your life?
Wow, it’s been a rollercoaster. I work longer hours, I am accountable for everything in the company, like doing all the training myself, Finances, HR, Purchasing, but it has been very satisfying and fulfilling to me. I feel so proud when I look back at our journey to be where we are today. I enjoy the joys, challenges, trials, rush, and even the exhaustion that the company brings.
Would you change anything in terms of your journey in business?
No, not at all. I am glad and blessed for the journey as it is. I am sure that I would not have been here if the journey was to be different. I learned and grew a lot because of my journey.
How do you manage the balance of being an entrepreneur?
When we do not have training scheduled, I make it a rule to relax and focus on my family and ways to relax. I also made it a rule that we do emotional checks every day before we start with our daily tasks as a team. It is important that we all communicate openly as we see each other as a family rather than colleagues.
What motivates you every day?
My love for helping and empowering people. The personal satisfaction when I see someone progress in life or steps into his/her purpose.
What is your vision in business?
To empower people and grow skills.
What is your mission?
To provide good customer service with speed, solutions and quality.
What are your values in your business?
We are guided by integrity, ethics and honesty. Excellence in service. Trust and openness.
How do you define success in business?
To see people’s expectations met when they interacted with us. To see people getting more than what they expected because we don’t just focus on the academic side of the training, but also on personal growth or lack thereof. We want people to realise and believe that they can achieve all their dreams and inspirations.
Do you believe that entrepreneurs are born or made and why?
Yes, they are born. We all have a calling and purpose to fulfill in our lives and everyone will flourish in their field once they find their calling. Not all of us can be entrepreneurs, but all of us are leaders in our own purpose.
What has been your greatest achievement in business?
Getting accreditation from our Seta and the fact that I started in a garage to get it with a broken table from an optometrist’s practice. This was really hard work, through very difficult times.
Could you please give us links to your business?