Young Entrpreneur’s Business Took Off with Salesian Life Choices Course
A personal tragedy inspired a young Cape Town man to start his own business. When his path crossed with Salesian Life Choices, his dream of establishing a thriving gardening service, Lawn in Order, become a reality.
After his father’s sudden death in 2010, Nick Adriaans of Zeekoevlei had to literally fill his dad’s shoes.
“My mom and dad were robbed one morning and that afternoon he died of a heart attack. We were devastated,” he said.
Mr Adriaans took over his father’s responsibilities around the house — and that included keeping up the garden and mowing the lawn.
He confesses gardening was not exactly a childhood passion.
“As a child, I didn’t enjoy gardening. When my dad was mowing the lawn, my duty was to hold onto the electric cable to prevent the lawnmower from running over it. I always hoped the lawnmower would break so that I could use the wheels to make a go-cart,” he joked.
But having taken over his father’s gardening duties, Mr Adriaans discovered his passion for nature and the satisfaction of getting his hands dirty. “I realised it’s fun and relaxing, and it’s very satisfying. It made me smile each day.”
As the youngest of five, he took a casino job to support his family, but the idea of his own gardening service had already taken root.
He saw a gap in the market when people in his neighbourhood WhatsApp group complained about unreliable gardeners and gardening equipment disappearing.
“I started to advertise my services on the WhatsApp group and many people were interested. It’s a comfort to the community to know that a familiar face is doing the work and not some stranger on a bicycle,” Mr Adriaans said.
He worked hard to save enough money to start his own business and did a lot of research to learn about gardening.
In 2014 he invested his savings of R70000 in buying gardening tools and a second-hand truck.
Life Choices’ New Ventures entrepreneurial programme
He was constantly on the lookout for workshops to attend and advice from experts. In 2015 he saw an ad for Life Choices’ New Ventures entrepreneurial programme. “I took a leap of faith and applied to enter the programme. It was life-changing because it took my business to a whole new level. I realised how little I knew about customer care and market research.”
Salesian Life Choices is a lay organisation under the Don Bosco ethos. The team is multicultural and multi-religious, and serves people regardless of denomination.
Founded in 2005, Salesian Life Choices nearly shut down in 2013 in a funding crisis. A new business model had to be developed. One of the experts consulted was Caban Investments Ltd; together they forged the concept for New Ventures Studio.
The group (newventuresstudio.co.za) is now a partnership made up of young entrepreneurs, Salesian Life Choices and other service providers. The organisation provides free services to youth on family stability, health, education, and employment, all aiming to give young people a fair chance in life.
The New Ventures intensive eight–week entrepreneurship course has helped to register Mr Adriaans’ company, develop a corporate identity, design marketing tools and set up a website.
“I developed a business plan and I have reached new customers. The support I received, and still receive, has been great. I have grown both professionally and personally,” Mr Adriaans said.
He sees his Lawn in Order business not only as an opportunity for himself but also as a way to empower and educate other people.
“We are an eco-friendly garden service, so we share tips for responsible gardening with clients and we train our staff on environmental issues. I am very proud of the team of gardeners I employ and the job-creation opportunities my business offers,” he said.
After starting small, Lawn in Order’s services now include lawn-care, tree-felling, eco-friendly weed control, clean-ups, planting, irrigation, organic compost and fertilising, weed removal, pruning, high-pressure cleaning and gutter-cleaning.