CINDY NORCOTT is the owner of Pro Appointments and Pro Talent, which are recruitment agencies that she has had for the past 25 years. She is the founder and chairperson of the Robin Hood Foundation, a charity that was formed in 2005. Cindy is also a motivational speaker, business coach and the author of the best-selling book, "How to be Unstoppable".
She launched her first company in a spare room of her parents' home with an old desk, a couple of chairs, a telephone, fax machine and typewriter. "I started my business at 23 with R2 500 in my bank account, and I have never had to touch that money. I have never applied for a loan and I have been blessed to have been able to increase my profits year on year," said Cindy.
Surrounded by amazing people
Cindy attributes her success to hard work, being exceptionally disciplined and surrounding herself with "amazing" people. She thinks that having free office space at her parents' home and having their emotional support helped. Failure she says was never an option. Although her business was from home, she would wake up, get dressed and start work at the same time every day. I loved what I was doing, and I was having fun."
Cindy reflects that she was also inspired by many of her friends in business who are all very different but who share common values and character traits. These include courage under pressure, resilient spirits, positive outlooks, massive energy reserves, servant hearts and when things are down, they have a sense of humour to rely on.
Building a business was not easy and, Cindy points out, with success came growth and she had to learn new skills. "I lacked general business and accounting skills when I started, and I had a very steep learning curve to get my head around the figures. Two years into the business, I obtained the services of a business mentor, Andrew, who helped me for about three years with advice and business strategy."
Cindy has always been fortunate in having good staff in her company and says that they have been instrumental in the success of her business.
Making a difference
Apart from her energy-charged motivational and inspirational speaking engagements and appear-ances, she is most proud about the contribution she is making to the community through her non-profit organisation, the Robin Hood Foundation.
The Robin Hood Foundation which was launched 14 years ago runs projects such as Love the Babies, Bless a Granny and Grandpa, Hope Breakfasts and Gogo Bags. "We host entrepreneurial conferences and parties for schools with children with special needs. We run more than 100 projects per year and our focus is helping people in need. As the name suggests, we take from the rich and we give to the poor. Through our work, individuals and organisations are making a difference," said Cindy.
The Foundation is managed by a paid coordinator, Kim Griffith Jones, who is dedicated, highly organ-ised, passionate and multi-talented. Her skills are combined with an enthusiastic team of volunteers and a committee who work tirelessly for free. All of this makes the charity work smoothly and seamlessly.
Speaking on gender differences in business, Cindy says that she does not advocate separating the world into men and women. "I think that business people need to create an approach that works for them. They need to work it out according to their circumstances and be prepared to be flexible and adapt. Sometimes, women tend to have the lion's share of household responsibility, so they have to juggle responsibilities a lot more and often have less time to work on their businesses due to family commitments. I do not however, think that this necessarily applies to all women."
In her day to day business life Cindy prefers to think of achieving a work-life balance as work-life integration. "Sometimes, at work, I make personal calls and do some personal tasks and often at home, I am working. I plan my working day around my daughter's school schedule so that I can fetch her most days of the week. I don't think I have the balance right, but I am consciously working on my wheel of life, trying to achieve in all areas. It is a constant struggle for me," she commented.
Her struggle to achieve is reflected in her desire to believe in herself and think bigger as she knows she has what it takes to be a success. The advice that she would give her younger self is to have more fun along the way. "I would also tell myself to set better boundaries as I often say yes to too many requests for my time and energy. I would tell myself to be more assertive and not worry too much about other people's opinions."
While Cindy is very happy with her achievements to date, she continues to strive for more success. "I think it is engrained in my DNA to want to out strip last year's self, so I always set goals for each new year that take the previous year's achievements to the next level. I would like to publish my second business book next year and I would like to grow my international and national speaking business."