What’s Your Y? | 5 things we learned at Yoco Meets

30th June 2021

Yoco Meets is a community built to help you create connections, share experiences and trade insights.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we dedicated the platform to helping small business owners thrive and adapt to the new way of doing business – except we did it entirely online. In June 2021, we hosted the first-ever hybrid Yoco Meets. 

What is a hybrid Yoco Meets?

A hybrid Yoco Meets sees our host, Mashudu Modau, come together with two Yoco customers to speak about their journey, their purpose, and motivation. 

The event was streamed live from Joburg across Crowdcast, Facebook, and YouTube.

What was the theme of this Yoco Meets?

At this Yoco Meets, we gathered to talk about what drives entrepreneurs to start their businesses: their Y. 

Our Y is to enable people to thrive. It’s what motivates us to build products, and solutions to help entrepreneurs do business better. Over 300 virtual attendees gathered to share theirs, and learn more about how a clear vision can drive success. 

Who were the speakers?

Liz Letsoalo (owner of Masodi Organics) and Lethabo Mokoena (owner of Walk Fresh) joined us to chat about their Y, the reality of running a business, and how to transform your Y into a what, how, and when. 

Watch here

5 things we learned at Yoco Meets: What's Your Y?

1. Define your Y

Your Y needs to be clear. It usually arises from looking at the world, and deciding what you want to change about it.

For Liz, the politics of the beauty and cosmetic industry heavily informed her Y. The current industry felt very euro-centric and she wanted to change that. 

“There’s something about my strong sense of belief of what I am doing, that even in the thickest of it [the struggles, mental health problems], it didn’t occur to me: oh, I can quit!” 

For Lethabo, it was important to change the narrative on how people from the township are perceived; to rewrite the township narrative. 

“I started this for my people. During Covid-19 lockdowns, we had to close a store and I wasn’t afraid of the failure, it was about the team. How to keep them working? I kept going for them.”

2. Your Y has to be bigger than you

What does this mean? It means having a purpose that extends beyond the work you do personally. Your business exists outside of your ego, your skills, and your personal likes and dislikes – and so should your Y.

Your Y needs to be bigger than you because it allows you to be more objective and decisive, says Lethabo. Remove your emotions from your business, and make decisions in spite of your ego. 

At moments of peak vulnerability, it’s your Y that keeps you moving, believes Liz. But in order for that to work, you have to allow your business to maintain its autonomy from you, as the founder.

It’s important because then you know when to step aside and allow someone else to grow a piece of your business. Something that a lot of founders struggle with. 

3. Do not be afraid to start small

Masodi Organics began in a garage. Sometimes your ambitions will outweigh your resources, and ability for the moment. Don’t be afraid to splice your Y into smaller parts, and start where you are, with what you have.

Both Liz and Lethabo quit stable corporate jobs to pursue their passions. 

Start small and stick to your Y.

4. You have to be your first customer

When you’re starting a business, you need to be able to ask yourself if you would be your first customer. If you wouldn’t pay for your product or service, why would someone else? 

Lethabo also recommends moving quickly out of selling to your friends and family, who might give you a false sense of security. Once you start selling to new customers, you will get honest feedback and be more compelled to offer nothing less than the best. 

5. You can’t copy your Y

The easiest way to find your Y is to find what pisses you off in the world and change that. You don’t like the way people treat dogs? Change that.”

Your Y can’t be copied or borrowed. It has to be about more than making money. Your own personal reason for getting out of bed in the morning.

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