Not only has the businessman, who is now 31 years old, accomplished what he had set out to do, but he also became a millionaire by himself at the age of 24, became the youngest venture capitalist on South Africa’s Shark Tank, and is now an entrepreneur who is revolutionizing the entire accounting industry.
By the time he was 24 years old, Marnus Broodryk had made a million dollars for himself through his efforts. It had been two years since he had moved to Johannesburg in a leased bakkie filled with all of his belongings, which included a bed and R37,000 in the bank. Sandton was one of his favorite places to visit when he was doing his publications at a firm in Harrismith that specialized in accounting. But he was also aware that he couldn’t pay the rent in Joburg’s central business district.
Carte Blanche was the only other source of information he had concerning Johannesburg and its surrounding areas. He watched it every week. Marnus decided to find a place to live close to Randburg after hearing that the team would be broadcasting live from there. It was there that he established The Beancounter, an innovative approach to the provision of accounting services that was quite literally going to transform the course of his financial future.
Taking Things From the Bottom Up
Marnus says, “There were no funds for me to study,” and he is correct. If I wanted to get a degree, I was going to have to get a job to pay for it. After reading an article in Rapport stating that chartered accountants (CAs) were the highest-paid professionals, I applied for scholarships and internship opportunities at local auditing firms in Harrismith, which is located in the Free State, and I applied to study accounting through Unisa.
“A local accountancy firm provided me a role to do my articles with them, and that’s how I received my degree — I studied through Unisa while working at the auditing firm, earning a small salary, and just doing my articles.”
“I was working for this truly horrible salary from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m. every day, and most of the time I was stationed in the filing room. At night, I would study.” That’s what I did for a total of four years.
“I always have flashbacks of climbing up the ladder to the top files in this unventilated room and having a little cry to myself by myself,” he said. “It was a very difficult time for me.” I was overstretched, fatigued, and getting paid almost nothing, while my friends were all enjoying their college lives to the fullest by going out drinking every night, sleeping in until 10 in the morning, and attending only a few of their classes. It was a challenge.
In Addition to That, the Training Was Outstanding
Not only did Marnus gain self-discipline and the ability to endure temporary discomfort for the sake of achieving a long-term objective, but by the time he was 22 years old, he had also finished his education, including his articles, and was prepared to launch his professional life.
“I was aware of two things. If I had passed away on that day, I would have spent the entirety of my life in a storage room. On the other hand, if I didn’t and I was able to put those skills to use, then I’d have a decent life.”
However, he was also experiencing a faith crisis in the path that he had decided to take. “During the final year of my articles, I was a member of an auditing team that was in charge of a comprehensive audit of Afrimat as part of the company’s application to list on the JSE. I realized that I despise auditing procedures. I wanted to be of service to businesses, but I couldn’t fathom how audits could accomplish that goal.
Marnus was prompted to take action as a direct result of this realization on his part. Even though he was coming up with the concept for The Beancounter, an accounting practice that would assist small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in growing into larger, more sustainable, and more profitable businesses, he was also aware that Harrismith was not the ideal location for his company. As a result, the boy from the country packed up his belongings and moved to Johannesburg.
Beginnings, Blunders, and the Path to Achievement
“With only R 37 000, which was a modest amount of money, I needed to begin earning money before I ran out of money, so the most pressing requirement was a client — even just one client.
The vision that Marnus had was straightforward. He wanted to make accounting more interesting and less tedious. He desired to provide the owners of businesses with accurate information derived from their financial data to assist them in determining which of their business units were successful, which products or services had higher earnings potential and higher margins, and where the possibilities for higher growth or cost savings lay.
The issue was that he was only 22 years old and had a very youthful appearance. To the point that when he showed up at his initial client — a recommendation from a client he’d supplied in Harrismith — the team of husband and wife looked past him and inquired if his father was joining them.
They addressed me with the question, “Are you Marnus? Is your grandfather’s name Marnus as well? “Laughing, he asks, “Is he coming?” I needed to persuade them to allow me in and offer me a chance, but they were resistant.
“If I started the company today, I would have digital advertising on my side; customers would locate me and come to me. If I were that kid, I wouldn’t go around knocking on people’s doors. But that was all that Marnus had to work with, so he went out and connected with such a single-minded focus that he eventually wore out his shoes.
“It never felt natural to me because you’re supposed to network with individuals you don’t know, but I did it anyway. I was aware of how crucial it was to attend networking events, and even though it made me uncomfortable, I forced myself to step outside of my comfort bubble and do it.
Marnus built up his company gradually, and The Beancounter started to gain traction. This is, of course, when the budding entrepreneur began taking his eye off the ball, which is something that so many company owners do when they receive their first glimpse of success.
You Can’t Possibly Handle Everything on Your Own, So Learn to Delegate
“At first, I foolishly believed that I was capable of doing everything by myself,” says Marnus. “I believe that it is a problem that is fairly common among entrepreneurs. You recruit juniors because you require employees, but you have the nagging feeling that everything could be run more efficiently by you.
“You eventually conclude that you can trust your staff members to get things done; however, this leads to a new problem, which is that you start taking your eye off the ball.”
“By 2010, I had the hiring process down pat. Because I am also a millennial, I did not feel at ease employing people older than myself because I did not see how I could handle them and because I understood millennials. Therefore, every single one of my employees was a millennial.
“Nothing to complain about there. The issue was that I’m in my early 20s at the time, and I’d had some accomplishments with The Beancounter. As a result, I began to believe that I could fix the problems that plagued the entire world. I suddenly had the sensation of being unstoppable. As a result, I spent the next four years concentrating on other projects while leaving my employees in charge of running The Beancounter. I would check in with them once a week to get an update on how things were going.
These projects included developing an app and then introducing an app company, beginning an information technology consulting business and becoming a Sage Pastel reseller, and launching a technology start-up called Virtual ID. Virtual ID was intended to digitally encapsulate all personal information in one place so that individual people could Rica and Fica themselves only once, instead of using each firm or bank.
When There Are Too Many Hands in the Pie
In addition to that, he says, “I decided to buy a vegan restaurant and became involved in a frameless glass company and a construction firm.”
“It was a beneficial experience, and I was especially proud of some of the people who I had assisted over those years,” she said. For instance, I gave a construction worker who wanted to start his own business 20,000 South African Rand (R). Today, he is responsible for the employment of two hundred people and holds the largest contract for road maintenance on the N3. Even though Marnus was now involved in a variety of businesses that were doing fairly well, were cash generative, and where turning a profit, he realized in 2014 that not a single one of these businesses was exploding with success.
“The entire experience showed me that you can build anywhere from 5 to 10 ordinary businesses, but you can’t create a company with a revenue of one billion rands (R1 billion) simultaneously with others because doing so requires focus and dedication,” he said.
It was a fascinating circumstance for him to discover himself. Even though Marnus had worked his way up to a position of personal prosperity and wealth as a result of his patience and willingness to take a long-term view of his investment opportunities, he had been all over the place and had lost his concentration in his dealings with various businesses.
Discovering Your Greatest Opportunity
“I was aware of my desire to build something big, and I swore to myself that I would never do it in such a disorganized manner, with my attention divided among such a wide variety of businesses. I took a seat and asked, “Where are the most significant opportunities for me?” The response was very obvious. The count of the beans
“We’d made significant progress, had the right foundations, could drive it, and the market was ready,” said the CEO of the company. When I first started the company in 2008, cloud computing was not yet a reality; however, we had a vision for the future. By the year 2014, real-time information had become not only feasible as a result of the cloud, but it was also reasonably priced and easily accessible to SMEs.
If I keep my attention on this task, I’ve been more successful in the past two years than I was in the previous six years combined. The Beancounter’s success has only recently begun, having begun just two years ago. It is interesting to note that, despite not being the largest accounting firm in South Africa, The Beancounter is the most profitable. Marnus and his crew have devised a way to provide small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with a solution that is not only inexpensive but also lucrative and highly scalable.