The Story Exchange, Bolthale Johnson, Johnson EnterprisesYour Name: Bolthale Johnson

Business Name: Johnson Enterprises, an Arise Virtual Solutions Partner and customer support service

Type of Business: Customer support

Business Location: South Carolina, United States

Reason for starting
I made the hard decision to leave South Africa and venture out all the way across the world in 2008. When I came to America I knew that I had a choice to make: either live an ordinary life or make a difference and become my own boss. I knew that one day I would want to look back at my life and be proud of the person I had become. Johnson Enterprises is a business that I started last year in 2012. I have always had the desire to start my own business and when the opportunity came I jumped on it. Currently I am a nursing student as well, and running my own business meant that I could do both because I work from home. Working from home has given me the opportunity to focus more on my personal goals. Having a flexible schedule has allowed me to juggle being a wife, mom to an amazing three year old, a student and an entrepreneur. If I had not come to America five years ago I would definitely have still tried to be a business woman because owning your own business changes your life for the better.

How do you define success?
For me, success isn’t just about making money. Offering employment to people who strive to achieve their goals is also a significant success factor for me. In addition, I think success means finding a lifestyle that works for me, my family and my goals. I can further my education, be a mom, a Navy wife and a business owner. I don’t think it would be possible to do all these things if I didn’t run my own business and work flexible hours from home.

Biggest Success
I have learned that regardless of one’s current circumstances there is always a way to make a better life. I’m a very hard working, confident young lady and I welcome every challenge that being a business owner brings. I didn’t give up my aspirations just because I was unable to work at a traditional job due to my circumstances. I always focused on my goals, believed that the sky is the limit, and that I could make my own destiny. I give 150% because I know the hard work will definitely pay off in the end. Also, there is nothing greater than being your own boss and working for yourself. There is no much pride in owning your own business because you’re not working hard to make anybody else richer.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
The only downfall of working from home and owning the company is that you have no boss to pat you on the shoulder and say “well done” or “good job,” and you also don’t have any annual leave. Entrepreneurs have to make their own way. The secret is that you HAVE to surround yourself with other like-minded women and stay encouraged. There are a lot of African female business owners in the community. I find them and use this network to stay encouraged and keep focus on my goals.

Who is your most important role model?
The release of Nelson Mandela from prison and the end of apartheid helped my country to become a united nation. In the past Black women in South Africa have been excluded from business opportunities, and most women were not able to start up their own businesses because they didn’t have enough capital. But today, Black women are encouraged to become entrepreneurs and share their business ideas with one another. South Africa has a very high unemployment rate and more and more people are getting retrenched daily. More women are looking for different business opportunities for themselves and that’s possible thanks to the changes in the country.