When people tell me about businesses, I always ask about the books, because after all, a business and having a lot of money in your account are two different things. Not to say the latter is bad - because it can make a difference in a business’s books if used correctly. Therefore, when I talk about the SlikourOnLife business, I mean the books that report our activity.
When Covid-19 hit, we were impacted like everyone else. Campaigns stopped, there were salary cuts, staff cuts, the landlord still wanted their rent, and legacy publishing businesses closed - causing more anxiety.
I took a gamble that would clear my conscience if SlikourOnLife shuts down, and one that would also liberate me if we make it through.
I used the pandemic to push my partners to sell me their SlikourOnLife shares because at the time, it seemed they’d either walk away with nothing or take what I could offer. They finally obliged and on the third of June, I owned 100% of SlikourOnLife. This was a bittersweet win as the cash flow problems weren’t solved. We’d just lost a retainer job because of the pandemic, the money was coming in small increments from once-off projects, our staff feared for their livelihoods with salary cuts, some decided to jump ship - obviously weakening the confidence. It was bleak.
I made a decision to go back to the basics and remember “WHY” I started SlikourOnLife. The answer was simple; I love music, listening to artists’ stories, and creating the content. Therefore, if we can’t do Balcony Interviews anymore, we’ll do Quarantine Interviews - we were probably the first to kick those off - then we decided to start OnLife Radio on IG. I heard Torey Lanez was doing something similar but I saw his shows and realised there wasn’t an effort to make the music audible, it was about everything else around the music. To avoid this, I asked my team to make sure we find a way to make the music clear and after a couple of attempts, we got it right. I then created SPACES, which took a life of its own and gave audiences something different from the one-on-one sit downs that were starting to pop up everywhere. We saw our guests in the comfort of their hoods, homes and in the environments they hang. They gave our audience more than what they had expected. We started OnLife Radio interviews and we were specific with who we sat down with.
Meanwhile in the background, I was writing proposals every morning to clients. I believe I could have easily prepared and sent 50 proposals to clients in 6 months which were declined. My team and I never focused on the challenges though, we just went harder on our “WHY.” To the outside world this made us look like we were thriving but here’s the lesson: the books are a report on money, not a report on your passion and will to survive.
Some clients saw or generally knew this about us, and went out their way to find things to do with us to keep our doors open, some even had work they’d signed off before the pandemic and let us keep the money to carry it over when they are active again. They’ve been incredible people that never wanted to see us fail and that's real.
The WHY has been a saviour, not only from a monetary standpoint, but from a mental health perspective. We’ve closed off our financial year last week and ironically broke our own profitability records since the inception of SlikourOnLife as a business. The SlikourOnLife team survived Covid-19 in 2020 with their own intuition, by bonding and having one vision which was to survive by understanding WHY we do what we do, the WHY brought us closer, the WHY showed us who’s here for the right reasons, the WHY taught us how to be better. A 100% black-owned and team of youth that find their purpose in the environment I created.
I personally asked myself HOW I got here, and I remembered that my biggest “WHY” is the music. The music saved Siya Metane from Katlehong, Leondale. So that one day he could be here to start and grow a company called SlikourOnLife - that's employed people, sold its equity, brought it back, and still pulls the interest of funders. I’ve learnt the ‘WHY’ is bigger than me because other people live their WHY through it. I’ve therefore decided to respectfully drop Slikour as a rap name and be known as Siya Metane. This Friday, I drop a song as @SiyaMetane to share what's healed me, hoping it will heal many more because I am Fulfilled.