Steve Mululu: ‘The key to wealth is your health’
Name of company: Dream Body Fitness
Years in existence: 2 years
Your position: Founder and Head of Research and Product development, Dream Body Fitness
Can you tell us about your educational and professional background?
My interest in how the lives and wellbeing of people could be positively affected began when I attended my first ‘get rich quick’ seminar, and I noticed the difference in the physical appearance and energy of the speaker compared to the participants. The speaker was lean, healthy and ‘ridiculously’ positive. The participants all crawled in unceremoniously, blood shot eyes, bloated mid riffs, and ‘low energy attitudes’ as if they had already given up on life. They just existed.
The reality is I learned nothing from the seminar. All I noticed is the difference in the attitude between the speaker and the attendees.
I moved jobs from the boxing club to a more affluent suburb (with the help of the speaker), and I even noticed bigger differences in the lifestyle between the have and have nots. The rich were constantly walking, riding their bicycles, jogging, walking dogs, eating salads and fruits and soaking in gallons of water, unlike my neighbourhood where all the men left their homes in the unholy hours of the morning (the unlucky ones that had no jobs, just miserably sat around), and came back late at night, tired, beaten up, carrying a loaf of bread and a big jug of a cheap sugary drink for the family. The cycle of unhappiness continued day in, day out. I put one and one together, and came to three, meaning the first road to wealth is your health. A man that can’t look after his health is already suffering from diminished productivity.
Can you tell us a little bit about your company and what you do?
Dream Body Fitness (DBF) is a lifestyle management centre for the common people and a high performance centre (HPC) for the corporate athlete. Dieting has become the Olympic sport of our modern times. There are more people dieting now than any other time in the history of man.
Our approach to wellness is completely unconventional. We focus on changing mind-sets through education. We challenge all known and given reasons for weight gain and come up with innovative solutions based on simple logic, basic thinking and science based research.
At DBF we don’t focus on weight loss as we’re not a weight loss centre, we focus on optimal health, coming from a place of knowing that weight gain is symptomatic, it is a sign that hormonally something is wrong. We’re not panel beating shops like the many of the gyms around, but we focus on fixing the engine, and as a consequence, your weight falls.
The major chains focus on fitness as their main tool in combating obesity. We focus on health and using exercise as a medium to help you reach your optimal health.
What is your overall vision for the business?
Wellness is the fastest growing industry on our shores. People are very aware and are very particular with the kind of shampoo or toothpaste that they use, they check all the active ingredients to find out if they are harmful to their health or not. Our first two years were used purely to establish the DBF brand, and the second phase of the business is to be known as the health and fitness go to guys.
There are no black entrepreneurs in this field, yet 90% of wellness customers are black. My vision is to open up doors for black entrepreneurs in the field of wellness as the opportunities are numerous and diverse.
What do you think it takes to establish and run a successful business in South Africa?
Guts, a burning dream, passion and die hard attitude. People have to know that the only place where success comes before hard work is in the dictionary. You got to work damn hard for long hours, no pay, but with a huge smile.
How did you finance your business, how difficult or easy was the process?
Finance for a start-ups is mission impossible with our financial institutions both private and public or the government. It’s the only time when the world says ‘give up’ on your dreams and hope whispers ‘try just one more time’, and I listened to hope.
What are the three things you attribute your business success to?
Service, passion and hard work. I buy into my local village mantra that says, “A man that wakes up at dawn for 365 days a year will never fail to feed his family”, I do that every day until I make it.
When did you know that you were an entrepreneur?
I have always been a reluctant entrepreneur. The cosiness and structured corporate environment has never been my thing. I have my own way of talking and dressing that I prefer and working for other people takes me away from who I am.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I lead from the front. My staff knows that there’s nothing that I can’t do. I am not afraid to roll up my sleeves and do what needs to be done.
What are some of your favourite motivational books and motivational gurus that have inspired you in growing your business?
The poor black man is the greatest economist of them all. Most security guards earn R2 500 a month. Yet they pay for their housing, support a family and take their kids to school. I am very curious to know how they do it. I prefer looking up to people that have been in similar backgrounds to mine.
I don’t buy into the American or European kind of motivational gurus purely because our outlook on life is totally different. Our poverty is totally crippling, and I just don’t see how those born and raised in extreme poverty can benefit from reading the books like ‘The Secret’. We need more black business mentors. The only mentors that our masses are exposed to are enriched either through politics (BEE), tsotsi’s, kwaito stars or soccer players, but not all of us can be those things. We need more Herman Mashaba’s, Vundla’s and the Kunene’s stories to be told frequently.
What three pieces of advice would you offer young entrepreneurs starting out today?
Believe in yourself. The world is already against you, so if you don’t believe in YOU, then you are screwed. Be ready to work damn hard and finally, re-invest most of whatever that you make into the business. Don’t be caught by the Porsche Boxster syndrome. The minute you buy that car, you start chasing the Porsche 911. Then the Ferarri and it goes on and on and…
What’s the worst and best business advice you’ve ever received?
It’s a bit risky, abandon it. Hope never leaves us, we leave hope.
And finally, do you believe in luck, hard work or both?
The harder I work, the luckier I get.
The Dream Body Fitness gym is located in Sunninghill, Sandton Johannesburg. Follow Steve on Twitter @DreamBodyFitnes