In this edition of Success Stories, J.Allan Longshadow talks to Tawanda Shawn Melusi, the founder of Oswestry based Melusi Network, a growing platform that is designed to provide a network for ambitious, entrepreneurial individuals to connect and develop.
Shawn, just to set the scene, tell me a little about your personal background
I was born in Zimbabwe but moved to the UK aged 5 and am now a British citizen. When I was 13, I started a gardening business called Shawn the Gardener. I had four clients all paying £10 every two weeks and got a taste for entrepreneurship. A few years after that, I started hosting a few under eighteen music events in Ellesmere where I grew up. I knew then that I wanted the freedom that being your own boss offers.
I was also passionate about sport, and completed my level 3 BTEC in Sport with a triple distinction, before going on to study sports business management at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston. I graduated from there with first-class honours. For it was the natural degree to do, combining my main interests of both sport and business.
After graduating, I took some time out to go travelling with my girlfriend, visiting Sydney, Melbourne, the Gold coast, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York and Cape Town.
What drives you more than anything else?
I think it is fantastic to be able to help other people when you are in a more fortunate situation. This might be having special knowledge, a certain skill or an experience that you can share in order to help improve lives. This is why the ethos behind my business is quite simply ‘Give more value’.
Tell me more about your business
The Melusi Network is primarily focused on events supporting both established and aspiring entrepreneurs, but as part of my mission, I have started a business network that will focus on growing the right mindset. This is currently growing and will have an e-magazine and podcast as well as regular conference-style events. These events vary depending on the size and type of event but the goal is always the same – to give good value and an enjoyable experience.
What made you decide to set up the Melusi Network?
Obviously I love business, but for me, it was the ability to connect with many likeminded people at the same time. I really enjoy being around people, especially in an enriching environment.
What special experience or skills do you bring to the business?
I would say the biggest skill I bring to the party is the ideas of the project – I am lucky to have the gift of vision and this has allowed me to create the Melusi Network. I’m also pretty good whrn it comes to marketing and this is a really important element of success for any brand.
How have you helped your business to grow?
Firstly, I’m always learning. I’ve reflected on each event and looked at what can be even better in the future. Apart from this, the key to success is the people you work with. It is the people that I have in my teams that make the events a success.
What is your ultimate goal in business?
Alongside making money, which has to be a goal of any viable business, my big goal would be to give £1 million back to charities. I think that would be a great achievement.
What has been your greatest business success until now?
Opening and running a successful cocktail bar in Oswestry for fifteen months. For me, success can be defined as making friends for life from the staff, achieving my business goals with my business partner, making memories and growing from the experiences.
What has been the most rewarding thing you’ve achieved to date?
Definitely my supportive network and people who support my events. In terms of personal recognition, I once ran 3 Marathons in 3 days in 3 countries raised money for muscular dystrophy. I’m pretty happy with that!
What is the motivation that drives you to do what you do?
I keep saying it but control of time and not being answerable to anybody else is my motivation. This also allows me to help other people.
What’s next for your business?
We’ve got two big events at Christmas and a Luigi event which is going to be crazy. I’m also about to open a chicken wing restaurant when we are finally able to get out and get back to business as usual.
Where do you see yourself in 5 year’s time?
Healthy and still having my freedom to make a difference.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a business?
Failing to pull off my first ever big event. I was so unprepared and didn’t give myself enough time to make it happen – but without taking the risks you don’t learn and grow
How did you overcome this?
I took complete responsibility for my mistakes and took the positives to come back stronger
How has the Coronavirus Outbreak affected your business and what have you done to help the business survive?
I had a few events due to take place but now they have been postponed, so I’ve been planning for events when we are able to continue
What advice would you give to anybody wanting to start their own business?
Get a team around you. Even if you are the leader you need a team to make things happen. Take the risk and lead the life you want to live, and not achieving someone else’s goals.
What has been the hardest thing about becoming an entrepreneur?
Sometimes not knowing where your next paycheck is coming from.
What has been the best thing about becoming an entrepreneur?
Over the last 5 years, I think I have worked in full-time employment for 13 months in total. For me, the freedom is crazy and time is beautiful.
Who has been the biggest influence on you as an entrepreneur?
Myself at the minute, as I am writing my own story. I do like Reece Wabara, Ryan Holiday and of course Mr Vee.
Which books would you recommend every aspiring entrepreneur reads?
The Success Principles by Jack Canfield and Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday – in that order.
Shawn, thank you for your time. it’s been great talking to you – I look forward to seeing the Melusi Network grow in the future. To find out more or give Melusi Network a follow, please pop over to: