Liam Stander – Managing Director and co-founder of Company Partners
– Linkedin Profile: http://za.linkedin.com/in/liamstander
– Liam’s Testimony of God’s work in his business life:
Like many Afrikaans boys, I have been blessed to spend my childhood on a farm close to Mossel Bay. Here I had numerous opportunities to explore entrepreneurship and business. At 5 years old I started with putting ideas into practice, such as trading with vegetables; running lucky-draw schemes and later at age 17, I took over the management of distribution of the newspapers in the Hartenbos region.
My interests led to a BComm degree in business at Stellenbosch University. In my first year of studies I also committed my life to Jesus after reading Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. Reading this book, coupled with a great church, friends and bible study I discovered that I am not only in business to setup great systems, teams, services and produce profits – I have been called to serve the living God.
Excited and full of confidence about my calling I partnered with a friend to start a business. In our second year of studies we launched an ice company in Stellenbosch (still running today – called “Lêka Ice”). This business quickly reached its capacity to grow and we sold it. It did not make any profit, but allowed us to move onto bigger things. We moved to Cape Town where we started a distribution company called “Tip of Africa Distribution” in 2010. This company has been a ‘troubled setup’ from day one with suppliers, contracts and workforce which were all pretty dodgy. These circumstances, coupled with the lack of focus by myself and my partner (and a few bad decisions along the way) led to the company going under in 2012.
Depressed, ashamed and worried I wrestled with God. How could Jesus, the King of the universe, allow this? How could he bring these circumstances about?
I had to make the decision right there and then if I was to accept failure and settle for a normal 9-5 job; or will I take the risk again… I was in massive debt, just had a business go bankrupt and had no great business ideas. The answer is simple right? Conform – do something where there is little risk involved so that I can pay off my debt over the next 5 years, get stability and create a ‘safe life’. But that has never been God’s plan. As I prayed and meditated on His word I quickly realised that He is opening doors which would lead me back onto the path of business where I belong. I was then presented with a sales position in Johannesburg where I would earn R30 000+ per month. When your income is R0, that salary feels like winning the lottery. It was the obvious choice at first, but after thinking about it carefully I realised that my soul would die in that job. I turned down the position. I knew God had a plan. I knew I needed to take a risk, be bold and expect His plan to be great and crush my fears.
Early 2013 my friend Ian Gouws and I were brainstorming ideas and realised that a shelf business (one he started in 2006) had more to offer South Africa’s entrepreneurs. The business made it simple for entrepreneurs to register a cc (in those days) at CIPC through his online processes – then called SaCloseCorporations.com. He ran it as a one-man-show for a few years until he started producing enough profit from other ventures and stopped it. This seemed like an awesome platform from which we can register Pty’s.
We launched in April 2013 and started to build a company – we had 30 clients in our first month. We envisioned a company which empowers our team of business consultants AND the local entrepreneurs by offering them a full start-up package and consultation to start their businesses.
In January 2015 we recorded more than 600 clients and 12 specialists in our team. This is an ongoing vision. We believe that we would have more than 1000 clients using our system monthly by 2016.
Looking back at my walk with God I realise that He has always been in control. The thing is, he gave me free choice. And I made terrible choices. Luckily He knows how to bring good from my bad choices and I had to learn to seek His will diligently and follow His instructions.
I have big dreams and sometime I am SO impatient… But then I realise He has the authority to make my life comfortable right now. He can turn my dreams into reality within a wink of an eye – He is God after all. But He is rather interested in my character, my trust in Him, my relationship with Him and my love for people. And all of this can only develop through a journey… one close to Him.