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It did not happen easily for me

I think when people see a successful business they automatically assume that the people involved in that business had a wonderful run, things went well, and success flowed easily.  That certainly was not the case for me. I opened my law business in 1995, having just finished my articles with David Levithan who largely did commercial work, insolvency law and who previously had a name for high profile divorces including that of Anneline Kriel-Kerzner.  I thought that I was hard working and always had been and it would not really take too much for me to be successful.   

The harsh reality hit home quite soon after that.  Within a few months I was not able to pay my rent at Constantia Centre in Rosebank just off Jan Smuts Avenue, and shortly thereafter I received a summons for my rent.  Eventually things turned around, but very slowly.  I made the mistakes that young attorneys sometimes do – for example I did work for a client who later pointed out to me that while I had done the work for him I never had a fee agreement signed by the entity on whose behalf he was instructing me and in whose name the litigation was done, namely a family Trust of his, and he promptly failed to pay my bills.  Other work that had been given to me by another attorney turned out to be given to me on a “1,000 year tradition of attorneys not charging attorneys for their personal work” an apparent legal principle, confirmed by the Law Society, that most people don’t see to honour now.  He too did not pay me for the work I had done for his family members, saying he gave it to me so I had something to do!  It really was touch and go sometimes as to whether I would survive or not and if it was not for a loan from Nedbank and an overdraft for a princely sum at that time of R25,000, I might not have made it.   

I guess what I am saying is it did not come easy and the thing I learnt is that it does not matter how many University degrees you have (3 in my case) or how hard working you were, because if you could not attract the work and bringing it in through the door then your hard work and intelligence would count for absolutely nothing because you would not have any work to do.  The most important thing in law or any other business, if it is your business, is the ability to bring in the work or in legal terms “to be a rainmaker”.  Any business can find people to do the work, although that doesn’t mean they will be as good as the attorneys at my firm.  Its harder to find someone who can not only do the work but bring in the work or attract work to the firm.   

That person is often also the most stressed individual in the firm and it is certainly not a role that most people would choose for themselves – and I don’t blame them.  I guess with hindsight it all seems so obvious, but it is bizarre, between all of those degrees at University that nobody at any stage ever tells you that it does not matter how good your marks are or how hard you work, if you open your own business and you cannot bring in clients, you will never be able to use your ability.   

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Tuesday 12-Mar-19 Share on Facebook   Tweet It

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Liz  said:
on Monday 01-Apr-19 04:53 PM
One can easily forget the stresses and sacrifices concerned with running a successful business. An inspirational story for people who may think that success can be achieved without hard work and perseverance.

Zindy  said:
on Friday 29-Mar-19 09:02 AM
I enjoyed reading this, It gives me hope, We are all human and have to start somewhere to get where we need to be. No one ever said this life would be easy or a breeze. Everyday is a new battle to face.

Ashleigh  said:
on Friday 29-Mar-19 08:26 AM
Hard work leads to success. You have a lot to go through before you start seeing good results. I would never think that it was easy for someone to get where they are. Sometimes some people were blessed to inherit but doesn't mean that they do not need to keep up with the business.

Sarah  said:
on Friday 29-Mar-19 08:22 AM
It just shows you hard work does pay off. To become successful takes a lot of hard work and scarifies . This is very inspirational story

Bianca Taljaard  said:
on Thursday 28-Mar-19 01:23 PM
This was very nice to read, I take my at off to you for never quitting, just goes to show again, hard work and determination does pay off.

Alexis  said:
on Wednesday 27-Mar-19 02:08 PM
Nothing of worth comes takes hard work and discipline to reach a certain level. I mean, it took Richard Branson a few tries before he became as successful as he is today, as he said "I suppose the secret to bouncing back is not only to be unafraid of failures but to use them as motivational and learning tools. ... There's nothing wrong with making mistakes as long as you don't make the same ones over and over again."

Melissa van Tellingen   said:
on Wednesday 27-Mar-19 08:23 AM
Reading stories like this give me hope. It's so inspiring. I think you can be proud of how far you have come. Seems like all the struggles were worth it at the end.

Michelle Smal  said:
on Tuesday 26-Mar-19 10:18 AM
The other day I came across such a funny yet true quote that summarize life over the age of 18. "Remember when you were little & you`d fall on the trampoline and everyone would keep jumping so you couldn’t get back up? that’s how adult life feels" With this I realised nothing comes easy in life but we still survive ( we still eventually get up ). At the end we will still be successful in our own way, some people just take a little longer than others.

Thabitha  said:
on Tuesday 26-Mar-19 09:20 AM
The truth and the reality is starting and running a successful business its a difficult thing ever and that is the reason some of the business they don't' see a light at all.

Michelle D  said:
on Tuesday 26-Mar-19 08:45 AM
It is very interesting to think about the differences in working at a company and running one. Sometimes it's easy to forget the stresses and risks of running a business and it's good to be reminded of it. It really helps to gain some understanding and appreciation for the person putting their neck on the line for the company.

Shristi  said:
on Saturday 23-Mar-19 08:08 PM
It is never easy trying to start up your own business. However hard work, sacrifice, self-belief and determination are definitely keys to becoming successful. This is one inspirational blog!

Prishani  said:
on Wednesday 20-Mar-19 11:39 AM
This is a very inspirational blog, I love reading about the struggles before the success story! I fully agree that a university degree means nothing if you aren't willing to put in the work, but also more importantly as mentioned you need to have the ability or skill set to bring in clients- I think that this is a skill that constantly has to be improved and modified as the market and client needs change ever so often! If a business can stay on top of that I think its a step in the right direction.

Claudia B  said:
on Wednesday 20-Mar-19 08:51 AM
Success will never be easy to get, it takes hard work and commitment but in the end you can look back and see what you have made for yourself. nothing is ever impossible.

Zandelee  said:
on Wednesday 20-Mar-19 08:07 AM
This is very inspirational. Nothing beats hard work.

Natasha  said:
on Tuesday 19-Mar-19 08:23 AM
Very true, no one knows the struggles of starting a new business there is so many things you have to take in consideration.The capital going in to the business and all the time you put in all the stress,but if you push through all the struggles you will definitely be a success in your business.

Jadine Richards  said:
on Monday 18-Mar-19 11:03 AM
Your story is really something. It brings home the reality of our aspirations. An aspirant business owner may have all the "tools" to build a successful business at his disposal but what it really comes down to is attracting those clients and getting your product sold. Without that, nothing you establish will be able to take off.

Jessica M  said:
on Friday 15-Mar-19 02:10 PM
Success is never easy. Any person that thinks it falls into ones lap is fooling themselves. In order to be successful you have to put the time, effort and sacrifice a lot of what you want to do with what you have to do. No chilled weekends relaxing, get up and work.

Mathilda Du Preez  said:
on Wednesday 13-Mar-19 03:40 PM
Starting a business is not for everyone and it takes a special kind of person who is driven and works hard even though they will probably fail a few times they will still not give up.
I have so much respect for people who managed to start a business from nothing just good old determination, blood sweat and tears.
I’m inspired by this blog and thank you for your honesty.

Fikile  said:
on Wednesday 13-Mar-19 03:22 PM
I believe that if you put on head in something and you always tell yourself that you will make it in life then you will,but if you keep listening to too much negativity then you won't have anything good in life. Yes negativity sometimes gives us the drive to want to make it in life but if you don't have the drive and you always stay negative then you won't make it anywhere.

Victoria  said:
on Wednesday 13-Mar-19 03:16 PM
That's is true people assume it was easy to get to where you are now, many people don't think about how much money, time and effort goes into creating your own business. Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations. Everyone should always work hard because it all will pay off.

Daniella  said:
on Wednesday 13-Mar-19 12:48 PM
It is hard to start your own business and the thing is people never see the beginning stages where they struggle, and work extremely hard- we tend to only notice the business once its successful and assume that it just popped up out of nowhere.

brumilde  said:
on Wednesday 13-Mar-19 07:45 AM
I Have the highest respect for any business person who has made a success in their lives, one always forget that it never comes easy, trial and error. Thats why people also forget how important it is to advertise and make a name for yourself. Once you have that 'we are the best as what we do' then people will respect you more and costumers will trust you

Megan  said:
on Tuesday 12-Mar-19 04:29 PM
I agree that if you work hard it is easier to maintain success unlike those who get things given to them. Inspired by these true words.

Angelique Jurgens  said:
on Tuesday 12-Mar-19 01:27 PM
Absolutely true. Also another important attribute I think one needs to have is persistence and to not give up. One needs to always come up with some sort of solution for our problems before giving up. I.e. getting that loan aided in you staying afloat. It truly is aspiring. I think back when I was broke from paying my school fees and text books and wanted to give up. All my friends had the latest everything and now coming towards the end I can only thank myself for not giving up and using my hard earned money on my studies!

Michelle Smillie  said:
on Tuesday 12-Mar-19 11:06 AM
Education and what we learn in schools and universities never fully prepare you for the real world. It would actually be nice if Life Orientation can be changed to incorporate more life lessons, real life lessons.

courtney  said:
on Tuesday 12-Mar-19 10:13 AM
Love this blog!
It's very true, hard work pay's off. I'm very proud to work at De Broglio.
De Broglio has done 2 of my friend's RAF Claims as well and they always say, this is a place to go to when you have a claim.
Every one can learn from Michael.
Your words are inspiring!

Clare  said:
on Tuesday 12-Mar-19 10:07 AM
This is Very True, Life is not easy people have to start at the bottom and work hard to reach the Top. And i also feel that if someone that comes from money don't always feel successful as they actually did not work for it.

Bianca N  said:
on Tuesday 12-Mar-19 09:11 AM
A lot of people see successful people and assume that their whole lives they had it easy, as if they were born with silver spoons in their mouths. Very little people realize the long hours of hard work and sacrifices had to be made for this to be accomplished. And another thing is also that even with a successful business, the stress to keep it going and keep it successful is also another thing people don't think about.

Angelica Canosa  said:
on Tuesday 12-Mar-19 08:36 AM
Very humble and inspiring post. "De Broglio" has a very good name as a company and most of South Africans know of the name. It took courage to open a law firm straight after articles and you should be very proud of what you have created.Through years of hard work, struggles and business sense it has become a thriving practice.


Johannesburg based attorney specializing in personal injury matters including Road Accident Fund claims and medical negligence matters. My interests include golf, reading and the internet and the way it is constantly developing. I have a passion for life and a desire for less stress!
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