Build a strong business you can love

In honour of Women’s Month in August, I am sharing this interview with an early start up entrepreneur.

Terine Lott-Cupido is the owner and founder of EmpowerLink Services. She has shown great persistence, a high degree of responsibility and a seemingly insatiable appetite for learning and growth.

On a mission

Terine is a wife, a mom of two toddlers and a budding entrepreneur.

She is passionate about helping people, continuous learning and skills development.

In her spare hours, Terine loves spending time with her family outdoors, travelling and assisting other aspiring entrepreneurs.

Growing up, her parents always stressed the importance of education and that hard work would pay off. Her motto was and is “If I set my mind on something, I will overcome and will achieve it”. Faith was at the centre of it all.

She grew up in Coniston Park, Steenberg, finishing her matric at Heathfield High School. She then completed her National Diploma in Human Resources Management in 2000. She proved her excellence orientation by being selected out of over 100 HR third year students as the Cape Technikon HR In-service Student of the Year.

Terine continued her learning journey by completing her BTech Human Resources qualification in 2003, part time while working. Her most recent accomplishment was completing her Master’s degree with distinction in 2016. Her Master’s degree was completed while working as an HR manager (in a multinational manufacturing company operating in the automotive sector), being pregnant and raising her son who was just over a year at the time.

She said completing her Master’s degree in HR was the most difficult venture she had ever embarked on. It took years of hard work, long hours, sacrifice, commitment and dedication. There were many times she felt like giving up but told herself, “I am not a quitter”. If you start something you have to finish it and she eventually did.

She had a dream many years ago of achieving her qualification with distinction at tertiary level.

Hard work led to her achieving this goal and she shares this as an encouragement to others, especially people within her community or those from similar backgrounds.

People can “make or break” a business, even more so a small business.

With this in mind, having the right people, HR management tools and systems is crucial in delivering a quality service or product on time to customers.

Taking the gap

Terine made the leap into entrepreneurship after 15 years in the corporate world where invaluable experience was gained.

This transition offered her flexibility in building a legacy for her family, while offering real value to Small, Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises (SMME) from a human capital perspective.

She is committed to people development and derives joy and purpose in walking with SMMEs on their entrepreneurial journey, helping to build strong human capital and HR systems.

Seeking support

Terine expressed that it is essential to identify the support you and your business requires to grow consistently. This search could include business incubators; business support systems; mentors/coaches and other key ingredients.

In seeking the essential support for her business, she found False Bay College’s Centre for Entrepreneurship and Rapid Incubators a great fit and has benefitted substantially through the growth wheel learning; coaching and mentoring support, market linkages and exposure to other entrepreneurs within the programme.

To date, she has received training, mentoring and a number of market and other business linkages. Interestingly, she has grown her client base from zero to quite a number in seven months, and has seen an increase in 20 percent in her business model process.


Some of the lessons she learnt date back to before starting seven months ago.

Here are five lessons she offered:

Be passionate about what you do; know your “why” and persevere. This means knowing what you want to do. In her instance, she received super advice early from a business coach.

Do market research. Understand who your ideal customer is and also know your competition. She did a lot of reading; listening to business interviews and equipping herself with knowledge such as from free business-related workshops, talks, books, etc.

Take action and get started. Start up, register, open a business bank account.

Expose your ideas to others. This will help stretch, test and confirm a lot of your thinking.

Build your network. Terine spoke of networking to mean net being a collection of potential clients or customers and work meaning to actively engage with people.

Common challenges

Terine shared five challenges that are common to start ups:

Having limited resources. This is not necessarily a disadvantage, as it is important to keep costs low.

You should have and manage your budget.

Take responsibility for your finances. This means knowing your expenses, income and building a sales pipeline.

Establishing key processes. This could be internet at home, and organising office space or infrastructure.

A greater demand on time. To manage this, she suggests starting early; combining with good time and self -management.

Prioritising the big stuff (The most important things). This helps to balance family and work demands.

Parting words

“The challenges may be many, but perseverance, faith and prayer have helped me navigate a variety of storms,” said Terine.

Like other entrepreneurs starting out, may Terine’s story encourage you to pursue your dream, building a strong business you can love. If you are an existing entrepreneur or aspiring entrepreneur in the manufacturing arena (wood products or engineering), perhaps you could follow Terine’s journey and be a beneficiary of False Bay College’s Centre for Entrepreneurship incubation programme. For more information, call Yondi Titi on 021 201 1215.

Steve Reid is the manager of the Centre for Entrepreneurship at False Bay College. His column appears once a month.

Email comments or questions to or call 021 201 1215 or visit