top of page
2021 BS Logo-Original.png

Magdelene van der Walt - You have to be flexible about your methods, but obstinate about your goals

Updated: Nov 28, 2023

Founder of The Busy Bookkeeper and Partners

Magdelene (Mags) van der Walt is the founder of The Busy Bookkeeper and Partners. Her company is a virtual firm that provides accounting, tax, payroll, and secretarial solutions, as well as advisory and finance assistance to small businesses across South Africa. She has established partnerships to meet certain of clients’ needs with brands such as Rison Financialist, Sage, Merchant Capital, and IronTree, to name a few.

The Busy Bookkeeper started out as a sole proprietor back in 2015 until Mags decided to formalise the business in 2017 as a registered company. Mags is very proud of her company’s achievements, which include being awarded third place in the Best of Durban, Readers’ Choice Awards 2023. She commented that this award, “Just lets me know that we’re doing something incredible; it was fantastic that people chose to honour us.”

In April this year, after a near nervous breakdown due to overwork, Mags reached out to her partners at Rison Financialist and asked them to take on a more active role in the company. At the same time, she hired her first assistant.

Sheer determination

Mags explained that she got the business to this point by sheer determination. She said, “It’s been a real challenge for me to get to where I am today; from being a teen mum to a high school dropout, to having to study something that I didn’t really want to.”

Mags went back to school in her early 20s, stuck with her subject choice through ups and downs, and has built a career around bookkeeping. At the point in life when she was unhappy at the company she was working for and recovering from a divorce, Mags decided that she needed to ‘break up’ with every toxic thing in her life.

She explained, “I used my final bonus from my final job to purchase some office equipment with no capital and sheer determination to buy back my life. I don’t drive, so I built a virtual firm. I have worked – often – more than 12 hours a day, seven days a week to build a business from scratch with every single free resource that I could find on the internet because I had debts to pay, erratic income, and children to feed so I couldn’t qualify for any credit. I have often questioned my own sanity, but sheer determination and creative thinking have gotten me through every single challenge that I have faced. Failure isn’t in my vocabulary. I either win or I learn. And despite the challenges, the depression and struggling with imposter syndrome, the hair loss, and sleepless nights, I wouldn’t change a single thing because it refined me.”

Mags decided that the business would have a few clients, and some affiliates and that she would have a blog. The company, however, laughed Mags, had its own mind. More and more people started coming to them, and while she said it’s just been hard work, the company has continued to grow.

Immediate family

Her motivation to achieve success has always been her immediate family. Mags said that her biggest dream was to own her life; to be able to fully support herself and her family and not have to rely on anyone. “It’s a simple dream, but simple doesn’t always mean easy,” she explained.

Mags added, “I only ever want them to be proud of me and to inspire them. I want them to know that they can achieve anything in life simply by working hard and being committed to their goals.”

A solid why

The advice that Mags would give is that you need to set yourself a real solid ‘Why’ to revisit when life gets tough. In her case, giving her family and herself a better life was the driving force behind every decision she ever made, which got her through some really dark periods.

“You know if you really want to get to where you want to be in life, you’ve got to be prepared to sacrifice. You have to do things that others won’t. You can achieve whatever you set your mind to if you are committed enough. You also have to be flexible about your methods, but obstinate about your goals.” And added Mags, “Try to be grateful, always. The universe will bless you with more reasons to be grateful if you foster this attitude.”

A safe culture

Providing a safe culture for female entrepreneurs is a key driver for The Busy Bookkeeper. “We hire young moms. I give them flexible hours so that they’re able to work whenever they need to around raising their children in a safe environment.”

Commenting on the future, Mags says her goals are to make more of an impact by expanding The Busy Bookkeeper’s reach. She says, “I want to serve more small businesses, both local and global, and offer them access to affordable, quality services. I have plans to start other ventures when things settle down at The Busy Bookkeeper based on some current needs that I have identified as well.”

Mags added that she always wanted to be an author as a child, which was realised during the Covid-19 pandemic. She participated in a book project with another 120 female entrepreneurs across the globe on navigating the pandemic. Mags has also written some e-books on starting a small business in South Africa.

Relaxation for Mags is meditation, spirituality, and spending time with her family. As a spiritual person, she would like to take time out to travel to sacred locations across the globe, starting with Adam’s Calendar in South Africa. Mags would also like a guilt-free holiday as she hasn’t had a holiday in over seven years.

Top Business Women

In reflecting on her participation in KZN Top Business Women, Mags says it’s been absolutely amazing. “It lets me know that despite the circumstances, if you really work hard enough and you focus on being a decent human being, people will recognise your achievements.”


Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
bottom of page