Erika Atienza: From solo backpacking through Africa to becoming a Digital Entrepreneur

This is not a success story of a freelance solo backpacker who became a digital entrepreneur. Not a story of someone who went from nobody to become somebody.

This is a story of someone who used to live life passively, without a purpose other than to make it through the day okay, until finally realizing a dream, then realizing she can fulfill that dream, and eventually going after it.

This is a story of how I finally came to understand a lesson I’ve heard many times over – That there is nothing in this world we cannot accomplish if we really put our heart’s desire into it.

And it all started in Africa.

Erika shares how she became a digital entrepreneur and founded @whileinafrica by moving from the Philippines to backpack and volunteer through Africa. Read more... Click To Tweet

First, the Travel Bug…

I had a typical life with an 8-5 job and everything about my life was “okay”. It’s not bad at all. I was fortunate but I was definitely not living life on the edge.

But after being able to travel to a foreign country alone for the first time,  I had an epiphany that I wanted to see the world. Since that trip, it was just never the same for me. That night, I finally understood what passion meant. And mine was to see the world.

And so after 2 yrs of over-planning and some modest savings that were definitely not enough, off I went. I left despite the doubts because if I waited for the “right time”, I was afraid it wouldn’t come.

Buying my 1st and only backpack

Why Africa?…

I was choosing between South America and Africa and somewhere along my research, I found cheaper flights to Tanzania. And that was really the main reason why Africa ended up becoming my first solo backpacking destination.

Also, I thought it was exotic and I wanted to prove to myself that I can pull it off. Indeed, I was able to visit other African countries as well for the next few months.

Budget Problem. No Problem…

A few months before my flight, I looked for volunteering opportunities and ways to travel cheaply. I searched workaway for hosts but there’s really nothing in there that I found interesting.

Couch surfing community in the cities I wanted to visit seemed dodgy and everywhere else, there was only voluntourism.  A little deeper into my research and I had an “AHA” moment. I learned that safari tourism is big in Tanzania. In fact, all over East and Southern Africa.

I did marketing in my previous job so I’m familiar with the whole concept of “Ex-Deal”. Hence, I emailed every one of them in a personalized manner, introduced myself like a pro, and offered to help in their marketing in exchange for food and accommodation.

A few days later, I received another milestone in my backpacking career, someone actually replied and took me in.

And so, with my heart full, I went to Tanzania and for the next few weeks, I was staying at their office helping them out with marketing while combining it with tours here and there.

It was the perfect way to get to know the culture and experience the local life, just my kind of travel! I worked with Gosheni Safaris in Tanzania and experienced the local life

From Freelancer to a business owner…

After I left, my “boss” kept emailing and texting me about the things I have started while working for him. I carried on to politely help them and after some time of consistent demands, I had another “AHA” moment.

I presented the best opportunity they can ever imagine… that I work for them remotely.

They were thrilled with the idea and we came up with a fair price that later on increased to a modest amount that funded most of my travels. This idea fired me up and I basically traveled for the next 2 months in Africa, either looking for volunteering opportunities or trading off my skills.  

I continued to travel for a couple of years more doing the same thing until I finally decided to slow down a bit. As I had a lot of free time now that I wasn’t all over everywhere, I decided to take it up a notch and find a few more clients by emailing them and advertising myself.

Eventually, in 2018, I took another major step and built my own website, made everything official, and registered my humble digital marketing service.  

It’s worth mentioning that until this time, the same company in Africa where I first volunteered is still a client and they have passed on a lot of referrals to me ever since.

Looking back, I think the thing that made all the difference is that I always did my best while serving my volunteering time.

Even though I was not getting paid, even though I know I wasn’t going to work-volunteer for that company for long, I gave it my best shot and I always try to have fun. And it paid off in better ways I can imagine.

So always, always do your best. This is how you make impressions and build connections. A lot of opportunities can open by simply putting your best foot forward at all times.

Good times and shots with friends in Nairobi, Kenya.

Here are some lessons you can learn from my experience…

1. There’s no one right way to do things

You don’t need to have a big capital to start your own business. Especially in this day and age, even a kid can become an entrepreneur, all you need is creativity and courage.

In my case, the right dose of luck and creativity allowed me to build a modest lifestyle of being able to work from anywhere in the world and where I was able to combine my skills and passion.

But there is no one way right way to do things.

The first things to ask yourself are:

  • What am I passionate about?
  • What am I good at?
  • What are my potentials?

Then try to think if there is a way where you can combine the two. The possibilities are endless!

If like me, you’re a born traveler but stuck at a job you semi-hate, set aside some time to find clients through Upwork or another online network, and save up until such time that you can quit your job and plan a life of travel around it.

If you travel first and then just find anything to earn money from, not capitalizing on your skills… It will be really difficult for you to sustain it.

Doing what you love will allow you to meet new friends and make your life even more colorful.

There’s no such thing as bad luck, only excuses - @whileinafrica Click To Tweet

2. Don’t be greedy, but know your Value

If you follow your passion and build skill around it, income will follow naturally. When I volunteered, it didn’t matter that I was not getting paid at all.

Had I been greedy and negotiated for compensation on top of the free meal and accommodation, the turn out of things may have been different.

After seeing how I worked, they understood my worth and that gave me more than enough leverage to negotiate for what I thought I deserved.

At the same time, they trusted me even more, which added to their confidence in trusting my business not only in terms of skills but attitude as well.

If you follow your passion and build skill around it, income will follow naturally - Erika @whileinafrica Click To Tweet

3. Just go for it and the universe will conspire to help you

I first came across this statement in Paulo Coelho’s book, “The Alchemist”, years ago, and it stuck with me since. It sounds so cheesy but even after evolving as a person and having a change of perspective many times. I have always believed this because IT IS SO TRUE.

If you put your energy and focus into something you are passionate about, you can indeed move mountains.

4. There will always be doubts. Welcome them with open arms

No one is born a master of anything. Sometimes we doubt ourselves and fail so we can stand up and learn new things every day. That is simply the nature of life.

Without those, there is no life to live.  I still get insecure if I’m fit to deliver the service I’m selling and then I talk to potential clients who have no clue what to do with their marketing and I realize that I actually have a lot of things to share and they find it very helpful.

We were born in a society where success is defined in comparison to others, an unfortunate recipe of society. But it shouldn’t be that way.

Don’t let it be that way. We are successful if we achieve peace, content, and happiness in the things we love to do. Even more successful if we can feel the same joy for others too, regardless of gender, race, or religion.

Me and my husband, Martin, on a weekend trip while living in our previous home in Cyprus, with our friends from Russia, and our favorite all-purpose cloth (shuka) from Kenya

 I’m Asian and I’m married to a European, yet we put up a business for African tourism and blog about our travels because we fell in love with this continent and now consider it as our 3rd home.

Who knows how long I can carry on being a digital entrepreneur, maybe in a few years time I’ll decide to become a musician, perhaps a painter, or maybe I’d prefer to settle down as a housewife, and that is okay.

But for now, I’m still a backpacker, I still travel cheap, and definitely not rich (financially). But I found my purpose and I’m living my dream. And that’s more than I can ever ask for.

So ladies, do yourself a favor and get out of the box and let the world see what you’re capable of.

Find and live your passion and tell us your story.


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Meet The Motherland Moguls Shattering Glass Ceilings at Filmhouse cinemas

“A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform”.

Although each woman has the power inside her to be able to achieve all these things, they can also be dependent on her environment.

Filmhouse cinemas creates the environment to allow women to easily create, be able to nurture and to transform into the best we can be, and not see our gender as an impediment…but rather as an advantage.

At Filmhouse cinemas, women are equally positioned for opportunities, growth, all-round progress and each of them plays crucial parts in driving the success of the business. Therefore, celebrating women goes beyond just a day earmarked to celebrate women.

However, International Women’s Day is the day to crown all our women who are visionaries, dogged, ambitious and would not settle for less.

With phenomenal women maintaining the helms of leadership at various levels of the business, to working countless times with female movie executives, it is impossible to overlook how impactful the women are in spearheading groundbreaking movie marketing campaigns, to co-producing box office hits, human resource management and guest services to match international standards, the Filmhouse woman is able to manage personal life and work is able to “Balance for Better”.

In celebration of International Women’s day, the ladies of Filmhouse share their experiences and advice for women looking to dive into the movie marketing industry.


 Lolu Desalu – Head of Marketing

“I serve a team of 17 people within 6 spheres of the marketing department of Filmhouse Cinemas. The design, sales, digital marketing, brand marketing, media marketing, and events management teams.

The most interesting part of my work is…

Working closely in partnership with some of the biggest and best companies in the world and brainstorming with my amazing team members.

If you’ve seen marketing teams in films/sitcoms during their brainstorm sessions, that is just a tip of an iceberg in comparison to ours. It’s seriously one of the best parts of my week.

Ladun Awobokun – Co-Head, Theatrical Distribution

“We’re shifting a mindset, and that, no matter how you think about it, is revolutionary. However, that is our superpower – the fact that we as women, can actually work ten times harder, twenty times smarter, and multi-task through it all, in sky-high heels.

It doesn’t matter what industry you want to work in or how many caps you want to wear. You can do it all”.

How I promote the brand with my role…

One of the key focus areas in my role is empowerment and mentorship. The Filmhouse Group is known for its people.

Without people, there is no brand. In addition, critical to my role is managing and growing our existing relationship with industry stakeholders; in particular, our licensors Warner Bros & Fox.

The opportunity of partnering with these parties on such a broad scale provides much value exposure to the brand, and in turn, strengthens our offering and ensures a service that is based on trust, reliability, and excellence.

Mimi Bartels – Head of Accounts, Nollywood & Independent Films

“My job is really not about the glam. Do I meet amazing celebrities? Yes. Do I go to premieres? Double Yes! But the amount of work that goes behind the business of film is NOT glamorous at all”.

One interesting fact about me, and my job role…

Most people see me and don’t know I handle a One Billion Naira generating account or handled 70-90% of Nollywood’s most successful films of 2016-2018 and such films like – Wedding Party 1/2, Chief Daddy, Merry Men, King of Boys. 

All these films were under my account and my job was to make sure we hit those targets”.

This job has taught me to be humble, to be diplomatic, to be fierce, to be honest, and most importantly to be me. I have the best and most supportive line managers and the best team.

Ozioma Sammie-Okposo – HR Manager

“We cannot talk about strategy at Filmhouse without delving into our values which are – Trust, Passion, Ownership, and Innovation.

These are the guiding principle that has helped my department in shaping the Filmhouse limited and pushing the brand”.

How my work impacts society at large…

My work does have a rippling effect because we help create jobs and reduce unemployment in the society as we have sites in Lagos, Akure, Dugbe, Samonda, Benin, Port-Harcourt and Kano.

Also, our team across the site helps with guests and giving guests good services. We are also driven by the need to continue discovering new and innovative ways of creating inspiring experiences, delivering world-class service and bringing the magic of cinema to life.

Tolu Senbore  – Branch Manager at Filmhouse Cinemas, Lekki

“I don’t think the reason I need to work harder in the industry is based on my gender. It’s not even a criteria for me. I only want to work harder because there is relevance that my person and role as a business manager requires and must communicate and it is one of the ways I appraise myself”.

My one advice to females who hope to start a career in the cinema industry

Behind the lights, cameras, glitz, and glam lies HARD WORK! Be open to all the opportunities and do not be afraid to ask for help.

Tomilola Bukola Ayeni – Legal Officer

“There is pressure coming from all sides to be the best you can be, both at home and in the corporate world, this is why women should celebrate themselves and society should also celebrate them as well.

“Pop that champagne girl, you deserve it”.

The most interesting part of my work…

Every day I am faced with a new set of challenges I think I cannot overcome. But when members of my team push me to act on those things, and I eventually overcome them it gives me an abundant sense of accomplishment which is so fantastic.

The free tickets to shows and movies do not hurt either LOL.

Osho Vivian Olajumoke – Branch Manager

“Build up yourself in every way to prepare for achieving great things and while at this try not to think about being a woman too much but rather try to be the best person you can be and being the best at your job”.

Key strategies my role plays in pushing the Filmhouse brand…

I’m into core operations in one of our biggest sites, and basically the first line of contact with the customers.

The key strategies include upholding our company’s values, delivery high standard of customer service, creating “Filmhouse memorable experiences” In the minds of our customers thereby garnering customer loyalty and influencing repeated visits.

Itohan Izugbokwe – Sales Lead and Accounts Manager 

“Some journeys are incredible. You start out in one place, believing you have a complete sense of where you’re headed, then you end up in another place”.

How my background prepared me for my current role…

It’s been 9 years of acceleration and sharp bends. From starting out in customer service in a mid-size establishment in New York to coming back to Nigeria and starting off in Oil & Gas, to ICT, to Digital Media.

And now, to Filmhouse Cinemas. While paths change, the vehicle that has stayed with me in all this time is client relationship skills. Nothing as propelled me throughout my career than the obsessive need to fulfill one purpose. Always providing value.

Odezi Onyeke – Business Manager Filmhouse, Surulere

“One of the most interesting parts of this job is meeting new people daily, it is both exciting and challenging and the movies too. I have now become the encyclopedia of movies to families and friends. Need an update about movies? I’m your girl”.

On how to become successful in this line of work…

The only way you can be successful in this line of work is through dedication and passion. I’m very passionate about what I do and this drives me to want to succeed more.

Also having a very supportive and understanding partner who is tuned with your goals plays a huge role in your success.

Stephanie Dan-Okafor – Guest Services & Branch Manager 

“If I could say anything to my younger self, I would tell her to stop tracking the A’s. She should focus on finding ways to improve herself so as to gain a competitive advantage”.

On how my career at Filmhouse began…

I began my career at Filmhouse cinemas as a Guest Services Executive. Over time, I was promoted to the Guest Services Manager position for Filmhouse cinemas Lekki.

Starting off at Filmhouse cinemas, I had the best support system; in all my years of experience, I’d never seen people genuinely go out of their way to make sure you succeed.

Senior management regularly called to ensure I was transitioning into my new role properly, I was asked whether I was satisfied with my job so many times that I almost panicked thinking I was giving the wrong answers.

I am now the Branch Manager at the newly opened Filmhouse cinemas Oniru-Twin Waters, in addition to my role as the Guest Services Manager for Filmhouse Cinemas Lekki.


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FCMB Launches Hub One – A tech-themed co-working space in Nigeria

The Nigerian Tech industry has grown in leaps and bounds over the years. Many innovative ideas, platforms and more have been developed, which have provided more job opportunities.

However, certain infrastructural gaps created a need for affordable tech spaces and enabling environment where tech start-ups can thrive, collaborate and share ideas without having to deal with exorbitant overhead costs.

To address those gaps, FCMB has created Hub One, a tech-themed co-working space. Hub One is a space that allows for partnerships, collaborations, and possible investments.

It is a professional office space with unlimited internet, constant power supply, free coffee and a community of like minds. Speaking at the official launch of Hub One, Adam Nuru, Managing Director of FCMB, said the Bank recognizes and believes in the power of technology and youth-driven enterprises. He assured the public that FCMB will continue to invest in initiatives that support and develop Tech start-ups in Nigeria.

@MyFCMB has created Hub One - a tech-themed co-working space that allows for partnerships, collaborations, and possible investments. Read more... Click To Tweet

According to Bukola Smith, Executive Director, Business Development, FCMB “Hub One is designed to engage the Tech ecosystem as a means of providing solutions for today and the future’’.

She further stated that the Bank intends to create physical and virtual hubs across the nation over the next few years.

 Situated in the heart of Yaba, Lagos, Hub One which is created in partnership with Passion Incubator, is a conducive environment designed to foster collaboration and drive creativity within Nigeria’s tech start-up ecosystem.

Olufunbi Falayi, CEO of Leadspace by Passion Incubator commended FCMB for the initiative. He disclosed that “Hub One provides the necessary infrastructure for tech start-ups, as well as capacity building events, to enable them to focus their limited resources on their business development.

Routinely, Hub One will host several incubation programmes, hackathons and pitches to support and provide a platform for tech start-ups

For FCMB, Hub One is more than just a physical location, it’s a vision. A vision that supports the aspirations of Nigeria’s tech start-ups to attain their full potential.

First City Monument Bank (FCMB) Limited is a member of FCMB Group Plc, which is one of the leading financial services institutions in Nigeria with subsidiaries that are market leaders in their respective segments.

Having successfully transformed to a retail banking and wealth management-led group, FCMB expects to continue to distinguish itself through innovation and the delivery of exceptional services.

Visit https://www.fcmb.com/hub-one/ for more information.


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ZANDILE MBOSHANE: ON RESTARTING & REBRANDING

Was 2018 not such a great business year for you? 2019 can be different! How about rebranding?

Zandile Mboshane shares her story about rebranding her business after its failure some years back.

This Motherland Mogul started a hair-care business, BlkSapphire, in 2014 which failed due to lack of funding amidst other challenges. She closed down the business and went back into corporate but felt unfulfilled.

Earlier this year, she decided to retry and rebrand the business under the name Hairmatology.

She tells us how she dealt with the discouragement of the failure with the first brand, how she overcame the fear of trying again and how she went about with the rebranding.

Zandile holds a B.Sc in Chemical Engineering from Wits University and describes herself as a truth seeker, “If God saw it fit to number our hairs, then there must be significance in it”, she explains her love for hair-care.

She is currently refining her product offerings and soon we will be seeing her hair-care products under the new branding.


“It really is better to try and fail than to live in fear of “what if” I fail again” – Zandile Mboshane

After being disappointed in business with BlkSapphire, what made you re-open and rebrand?

After my business failure, I decided to go back to work. I got a job as a candidate patent attorney but the reality was I was bored and my heart wasn’t in the work I was doing.

At the end of last year, I left that job without having much of a plan in place. I decided to try again at the business.

Tell us about Hairmatology, and how it is different from BlkSapphire.

The name Hairmatology is derived from the word ‘haematology’, meaning the study of disorders of the blood.

I decided to be specific in terms of what my business is about. Hairmatology is a scalp and hair-care specialist business.

My business mantra is, “Beauty from the inside out”, helping one attain healthy hair from the inside out. The difference between BlkSapphire and Hairmatology is actually more of a mindset shift than anything else.

What I’ve realized is that emotional detachment from the business goes a long way when it comes to making rational wise business decisions that move the business forward.

Having a brand name that speaks to what the business is about, helps to establish one’s brand identity in the marketplace - @ZandileMboshane Click To Tweet

Take us through the process of rebranding. What steps did you take?

Part of me didn’t want to let go of the name BlkSapphire, so initially, I decided to change only the BlkSapphire logo.

I had the logo redesigned but I was unhappy with it. I then thought about changing the name. A friend of mine told me that my intention to change the name to Hairmatology was the right move because the hair-care market is highly competitive to the point of saturation, so having a brand name that speaks to what the business is about without having to explain it helps to establish one’s brand identity in the marketplace.

I went ahead with the name change with the CIPC and applied for a trademark (that’s still pending). I then used my creative talents to design the new logo.

When you fail at something, your confidence takes a knock. Rebranding for me was a process of rebuilding my self-esteem and confidence -@ZandileMboshane Click To Tweet

What challenges can one expect when rebranding and what has been your biggest challenge?

The challenge for a lot of start-up entrepreneurs is the lack of awareness when it comes to protecting their intellectual property.

A lot of entrepreneurs disclose their innovations without having the right protection in place be it in the form of a trademark, design or patent.

Emotional attachment to the old name was a challenge for me, it took some work to let go. My biggest challenge though was overcoming doubt and fear.

When you fail at something, your confidence takes a knock, so the rebranding was also a process of rebuilding my self-esteem and confidence in my creative talents and abilities.

...rebranding is the starting point of rebuilding the business. Click To Tweet

What has rebranding taught you about creating a great brand?

It has taught me not to despise small steps of progress. Ultimately big successes are achieved through the cumulative effect of incremental steps of success.

There’s a part of me that wanted to say to myself that all you did this year externally in the business was rebrand but I had to remind myself that this is the starting point of rebuilding the business.

Any lessons you have learned from the failure of BlkSapphire?

BlkSapphire was a labour of love but I wasn’t strategic and aggressive enough when it came to pursuing opportunities to drive sales.

The biggest lesson was definitely learning to overcome fear so I could try again. I had to learn to trust in my abilities again and learn how to fail forward.

It really is better to try and fail rather than live in fear of “what if” I fail again.

How has rebranding positively impacted your business?

It’s brought about a clarity of purpose and a focused vision of what the business is all about. I’m still working on refining my product offerings so that they exceed the customer’s expectations.

At this point, I can’t measure the value of the rebranding on a monetarily but three years from now, measured from the point of rebranding, I’ll be able to measure the impact of rebranding by comparing it to the three years I ran the business as BlkSapphire.

 

If you had to dye your hair, which color would it be?

Platinum blonde! I think that the contrast between my dark skin and the hair color would look great, plus I’m looking forward to the day when I’m completely grey!


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Nomalanga Ndlovu: Your voice is your gold ticket

Nomalanga Ndlovu – well known as Miss Noma, was born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. She lived most of her childhood till her early adult years in Botswana where she obtained her Law degree from the University of Botswana.

She is a public speaking coach who is passionate about women empowerment and self-discovery.  As a Christian, her values are based on her beliefs.

Miss Noma loves to travel and meet different people. She is the founder of Outspoken Consulting, therefore, she enjoys learning about entrepreneurship.

Nomalanga has had notable experiences being part of the Mandela Washington Fellow 2017 and being a Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) fellow in Washington DC where she did her internship.

She is also a TEDx Speaker coach. 2018 was her second year taking up the role yet to occur in Pretoria December 2018.

If you’re interested in becoming a professional public speaker, you’ll learn one-too-many things from Miss Noma.


 Where did you get the passion for public speaking?

My journey to public speaking was inspired by her childhood which had memories of her being a backbencher. I was mostly a reserved child of low confidence and participation. Although, I would always envy the children who participated.

My literature teacher was the one who saw something in me and that was when I started making presentations. Since then, it has always been my mandate to help other people discover their voice and be able to sell their stories.

My passion to help comes from helping people creating first impressions that will create opportunities as she believes most people will miss out on the best opportunities based on how they present themselves. 

Tell us about your company – Outspoken Consulting

Outspoken Consulting was established in 2016, it is an organization that helps business executives and entrepreneurs to develop their ideas for presentation, customer care, and selling of brands as individuals as well as organizations.

We realized a lot of business entrepreneurs and executives have great ideas however when it is time to present the idea there won’t be much focus on the customer.

The sales or marketing teams at most times could not have received training on how to engage and speak with the client. We help individuals and companies:

  1. Package themselves and their product.
  2. Understand the clients they have and how to speak to them.
  3. Take their business to the next level in terms of communication.
Speaking isn’t only about opening your mouth, it is about selling an experience -@MsNomalanga Click To Tweet

Outspoken Consulting also has a program that is being launched in 2019 that is called the Outspoken Girls Initiative that will focus on high school girls to help them discover themselves and focus on their futures.

There will be successful and experienced business women that will be mentoring them and also engaging with them one on one so that they can have an idea of what is happening out there in the real world.

Outspoken Consulting goes beyond consultation work, it also has Outspoken women, which is a platform for women to network, collaborate in events. It simply offers a platform for people to meet and network and sets a tone that there is no limit in who you are and what you can do.

As a result, I’ve collaborated with various companies in Harare, Zimbabwe.

 

What strategies have you developed to help entrepreneurs develop and deliver rich presentations?

The main strategies are first to discover who the clients are (business executives/ entrepreneurs /individuals), through the YOU experience.

Knowing who these parties are as individual’s makes it easier to now prepare and sell their brand. We help clients sell their experiences. Also, we look a lot at relevance, when it comes to the product and the audience.”

How can one develop and manage their personal brand through speaking?

The most important aspect in developing a personal brand as a speaker is that one has to be very clear. You’ve got to address the following questions:

  • What is your topic?
  • Who are you speaking to?
  • What is your experience?
  • Why should they listen to you?
  • What platforms have you spoken at?
  • What have you done, where have you gone to?

“As you develop your personal brand as a speaker, find a topic or subject, stick to it and do not speak on things that you do not know”.

As you are building a personal brand, you are building perception, and perception is reality. The more you speak on a certain topic or subject, the more it settles with the external people that you are an expert in that certain field, it results in more research and speaking on different platforms.

Put yourself out there, in this era of social media, make use of platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook etc., those are platforms where one can start to grow from.

It is not about waiting to be invited to speak on large platforms, it is about making yourself known and sticking to the topic or subject you want to be heard on.

“Attend networking a lot of events and continuously look for opportunities.”

As a public speaker, your main strategies are should be to discover who the clients are through the YOU experience -@MsNomalanga Click To Tweet

Can people have a career in speaking?

“Yes, people can. Speaking works differently in different countries, you can have speakers like Tonny Robins and Simon Sinek.

These speakers are encouraging and motivating people, it’s working for them because of how they have branded themselves and how much value they have put in people’s lives.”

“The most important aspect is HOW MUCH VALUE YOU ARE ADDING IN SOMEONE’S LIFE.

I believe anyone can have a career in speaking as long as it adds value, the value added is the one that will translate into the monetary aspect that one is living on.

Speaking is a career that can be penetrated but one needs to be strategic about it, which goes back to the issue of topic and value addition to your targeted audience.

Anyone can have a public speaking career, as long as it adds value - @MsNomalanga Click To Tweet

What are your recommended steps to creating a winning presentation?

While making a presentation, one always has to ask the organizers whether they want you to make a keynote speech or a presentation on a particular product or topic.

Some questions to ask the organizers are:

  1. What do you want me to speak about?
  2. Who am I speaking to?
  3. What value does the organizer want a speaker to add to the audience?

The kind of presentations made for business executives and high school children are totally different. even female entrepreneurs, it might be the same product but the audience is different hence should be fine-tuned accordingly.

Ask yourself: What kind of impact and what kind of story can I tell in my speech?

It is vital to understand who you are speaking to, why they are listening to you. What do you want your audience to learn and from there it is about what you want the audience to do with the knowledge shared, we call that a CALL TO ACTION!

Your speech or presentation has to have an objective the people have to do something after, the speech is not about the presenter, but about the audience listening.

Prominent people like Oprah Winfrey and Barrack Obama have given speeches on platforms such as goal cast.  What sets them apart from others is their ability to connect so well with the audience.

They listen to the audience instead of themselves.

Most speeches get very boring because speakers have not tailor-made their speeches to for the respective audience.

What blunders do people make when pitching an idea or giving a presentation?

  1. Failing to understand/have the objective of the pitch. You have to come down to the level of your audience (client/business investor).

What is the objective of the pitch? If you fail to understand this, you will get it all wrong. For example, you are a scientist and are pitching to potential investors, if you pitch as the scientist, you will use jagon that business people will fail to understand.

  1. Not having visuals when giving a pitch. E.g Images, gifs etc
  2. Not knowing your numbers
  3. Not selling yourself enough. People should use stories as they are hard to forget, they connect us.

Don’t make things so technical.


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Why you need a Long-Term Digital Strategy for your Business

One of the biggest issues I have with my Nigerian clients is that they don’t particularly think long-term. Everybody wants results right here, right now.

Social media isn’t even helping matters with the instant gratification.

How else would you explain why a lot of e-commerce stores aren’t invested in an SEO and blogging strategy? A lot of businesses in Nigeria just create websites and leave it there excepting orders to magically appear.

 

But I get it. It can be hard to think about a long-term strategy for a side hustle especially if you don’t have any plans to extend it into the main hustle just yet. Still, it is important to consider a long-term strategy for your business even if it doesn’t get there.

Whether you like it or not, the internet is here to stay and is not going away anytime soon. If you have decided that you want to invest in a digital strategy for your business, you need to have a plan. You need to create a strategy outlining your goals and all the efforts it would need to achieve them.

Don't be afraid of failure. Failure is part of life - @Ebun_Oluwole Click To Tweet

Little drops of water make a mighty ocean. Perhaps the most important thing about an effective digital strategy is consistency. No matter how little you’re putting into it, as long as you’re consistent, you will get results in the long term.

A lot of people sometimes prefer to test the waters with social media before plunging in completely. But the problem is you can become complacent and forget your goals.

This is why it is important to set defined goals from the onset to keep you focused and accountable.

Need I remind of the numerous benefits you can get along the way:

  • A recurring and diversified income
  • Brand authority
  • Thought leadership
  • Influence

But perhaps, you’re struggling to stay motivated and you need to be constantly reminded of your goals, positive affirmation helps. You need to place them where you can see them every day.

You can use a vision board or just have them in strategic spaces like on your desk or on the walls of your office.

Don’t be afraid of failure. Failure is part of life. Don’t be afraid to think long-term because of failure. Even if you do fail, do not stop there. Pick up the important lessons and move on to the next one!

In conclusion, to get the reap the incredible benefits of a digital strategy for your business, you need to think long-term.


 

I’ve Got Bills To Pay & You’re Talking About Brand Building?

Not every single marketing activity will translate to direct sales! Can someone please scream this from the rooftops?

If you’ve worked in a marketing capacity, you know this. And you also know a lot of clients straight up refuse to accept it. It’s easy to want to connect all marketing activity directly to ROI.

Some of these activities, such as social media, may be viewed as extras and add-ons because they do not translate to direct revenue, but do they help in solidifying the overall brand picture?

You bet!

It’s imperative to place brand building and sales activities in separate categories. Although they might occasionally overlap, they must be treated as different actions, with different strategies that generate different results.

if consumers feel your brand is wack, they won’t be willing to pay much for it - Oluwaseyi Bank-Oni Click To Tweet

It is easy to overlook the importance of building a solid brand before diving straight into selling. Especially after investing funds into a business. Granted, in the beginning stages of running your business, you might command profits left, right & center.

But what keeps your clients coming back? What prevents them from switching to a competitor selling the exact same product or services for slightly less?

Your brand – that’s what!

 

Big brands invest millions of dollars in building and maintaining a certain brand image with no direct translation to sales. This is not just for fun or because they feel like splurging. It’s because they understand the value and the equity that comes with a solid brand name.

Even the good book says, “A good name is more desirable than great riches. To be esteemed is better than silver or gold”.

Hallelujah, somebody?

Take Coca-Cola, for example, this brand participates in different types of brand building activities designed to trigger emotions, nostalgia, and certain positive feelings associated with the brand.

Amidst these activities, Coca-Cola products are not explicitly sold. Why? The brand understands the value of building brand equity with their current and potential consumers. What is this brand equity, you ask?

It is simply the value placed on a particular brand, based on the experience, feeling, or perception a consumer attaches to it. Simply put, if consumers feel your brand is wack, they won’t be willing to pay much for it.

If they view your brand as the best thing since sliced bread, they will be willing to pay more for it compared to similar brands. Thus it has a higher equity and commands a price premium in the market.

The problem with focusing on sales before boosting brand awareness and equity is that you may attract a slew of one-time clients. They buy and use your product,  but have no connection to keep them coming back, so they keep it moving!

A competitor product pops up the next time and they switch. Sounds familiar? Yeah, we’re all guilty of doing this. We’re also guilty of being extremely loyal to certain brands based on the value we have placed on them.

For some mothers, only a certain brand of diapers will do for their babies, for others, such as myself, we buy fuel from only a certain brand of petrol stations. That’s the beauty of building a strong and trusted brand.

There are many angles to this “brand equity” business, including consumer-based brand equity as discussed previously, employee-based brand equity, and more. As your business grows, employee-based brand equity cannot be neglected.

In growing brand loyalty and equity, employees can be your most cost-effective brand evangelists. The people who will love and promote your brand from the mountaintops – for free.

Let’s use Heineken as an example, I have a couple of friends who work for the brand, and as we say in Nigeria, they “carry it on their head”. Sometimes I think to myself, “Na your papa own this place?”-(Does your father own Heineken?) but guess what? The last time I was in Amsterdam, where the HQ is located — What was I most excited to see & do? To tour the Heineken brewery!

The passion their employees have for the brand and the sincere love and joy that emanates when they speak about it, in turn, gave me the “ginger” and excitement to go see things for myself. When your employees truly believe in your brand and become loyalists (not just because you pay them a salary), something truly magical happens.

They become one of your greatest and cheapest marketing assets. The word begins to spread organically and the positive brand equity transcends from employees to consumers.

When your employees truly believe in your brand and become loyalists (not just because you pay them a salary), something truly magical happens - Oluwaseyi Bank-Oni Click To Tweet

It’s understandable, you put money in, you want money out, and quick! Unfortunately return on investment is not always immediate or that simple.  

Recognizing the need for brand building activities which may not necessarily translate to sales in the short-term is the first step. Understanding the need to cultivate long-term meaningful relationships with your target is the next.

While creating a distinction between brand building and selling activities, always remember to look at the big picture and think long-term.

As Gary Vaynerchuk once said, “Brand is not transactional. Brand is forever”.


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Salma Abdulatif – The Hair Nurse: I kept trying till I got Salummy right

Salma Abdulatif was born in Malindi and raised in Mombasa, Kenya.

She studies Marine Business Management at Moi University, and she is a Cohort – 15 graduate of the Young African Leadership Initiative, a programme initiated by former President of the United States, Barrack Obama. Apart from that, writing and poetry have been her forte all through her life.

She also enjoys motivating youth and creating innovative solutions to complex problems which she does through her Community-Based Organization, Motivational Talks for Youth (MTY).

Salma recently ventured into Natural Hair Oil business – Salummy and she takes us through the journey of being a hair nurse.


 Why did you decide to create natural hair products and how did you transform that into a business?

After listening to my friends complaining about stunted hair growth, dandruff, ‘rough hair, weak hair etc…. You know all those problems girls have with their hair.

The problems did not just end there, there was also the issue of hair products which promised to take care of the mentioned issues but most of them failed.  

Personally, I have tried all types of hair oils that I could lay my hands on and I found it difficult to get that one particular oil that I could constantly go back to and this was when I realized that I could be the solution to this problem.

After a number of trials and errors, I was able to come up with a particular oil that I used for some time and there was a tremendous improvement on my hair in terms of texture, color, size, volume, and strength.

I am a Muslim, so I cannot carelessly flaunt my hair all over the place. One day, as I washed my hair, my cousins noticed the change and asked for the secret behind my beautiful hair. After sharing it with it them, they also tried it and it worked!  

That is how Salummy hair oil was born.

Friends kept on asking for the oil, and I realized I couldn’t keep giving them my oil for free, and I slowly transformed it to my side hustle. I moved from making the oil to shampoo, hair conditioner and even beard balm for the men.

Where do you get the ingredients for your oils? Are they natural? 

I mostly use organic products ( chemical- free)which is a combination of carrier oils, herbs, and essential oils which when mixed together can be a perfect combo to more moisturized, longer, softer and thicker hair.

I use black Jamaican castor oil, curry leaves and lavender essential oil as part of the products I use in my combo.

I source all my raw materials locally and I get my bottles from Nairobi, in a plastic industry.

Who are your clients, and where are they located?

Most of my clients are natural and transitioning ladies but I also have a significant number of relaxed ladies who still find my hair oil helpful to their hair mainly in terms of reducing on hair loss.

I have a big market base- I have clients from Mombasa, Kajiado, Nairobi, Kilifi, Lamu, Zanzibar, Daresalaam, Nakuru and even England.

What has been the feedback since you launched Salummy Hair Products?

The feedback has been overwhelming. When I first started, I did not have a good response and I had to go back to the kitchen time and again to work on my recipe and to keep trying until I had the right proportion for all hair types.

There are so many entrepreneurs out there selling natural hair products, what makes your brand unique from the rest?

My brand is unique because I give the clients exactly what their hair needs.

You will find most brands promising so much and delivering little but I have always tried to test my products with my own family and friends before taking them out to the market so that I give the people what they really want and not what I envision for them which might sometimes come out as an illusion of expectations not met.

The first time you use a natural oil, you already can feel and know if it works or not. This is the beauty of it.

If you are passionate about what you do, you can never fail - @salummy_salmun Click To Tweet

What challenges do you or have you encountered?

The main challenge has been to grow the business by myself.

I have so many suppliers and ambassadors but I am still the entrepreneur and the head and it can sometimes come out as overwhelming especially since I have to deal with so many orders.

The other challenge I face is introducing new products that my clients need like shampoos, conditioners, deep conditioners, and even soaps. I am really trying to take it easy and go as per my capacity. But I eventually know that I will have all these products out sooner or later.

I am also thinking of adding partners in the company and a personal assistant to help me in distribution and marketing.

What is your advice to young women entrepreneurs who keep dismissing their business ideas with doubts and fears?

If you are passionate about what you do, you can never fail. Businesses do not grow in a day, it is a combination of effort, determination, consistency, and creativity.

If you have all these with you, your business will speak for itself.

Article by Rumona Apiyo.


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Oghenekevwe Omotosho: I started Oh Wow Popcorn in my kitchen, now its selling across Nigeria

Oghenekevwe Omotosho is a graduate of computer engineering. She obtained her B.Eng at the Enugu State University of Science and Technology, Nigeria. She is also a creative thinker and serial entrepreneur.

Kevwe is the CEO and creative director of the unique popcorn brand – Gimme Oh Wow Popcorn & Events – makers of the popular Oh Wow! Popcorn brand. She is married with three children.

In this article, she talks about how she turned her passion for popcorn making into a business, and how she’s overcome challenges along the way.


How did you discover your passion for popcorn making?

Oh Wow Popcorn started in my kitchen. I used to make popcorn for my children and also used it to entertain guests at home. Also, I enjoyed creating new flavors of popcorn especially indigenous Nigerian flavors.

I got excited by the idea of making popcorn art and I offered the service of displaying a variety of flavors at every event, live popping or delivering to clients at their convenience.

 How did the brand Oh Wow Popcorn come about?

I realized it was going to be a business for me sooner or later when I started getting positive feedback from friends and family.

I made samples and took to my children’s’ school to do a little market research and their response was encouraging. So the journey began, it has been a massive adventure since then.

Oh Wow Popcorn was formally launched on the 14th of February 2017 and to the glory of God, we have successfully weathered our fair share of what I call teething challenges. We keep on learning our lessons on this great entrepreneurial adventure and we have come out stronger and better for it.

We are proud to have revolutionized the popcorn and snacks making industry in Nigeria - @ohwowpopcorn Click To Tweet

Do you run your business full time? What did you do before starting Oh Wow Popcorn?

I am a serial entrepreneur, I already had a few other businesses including  Myfoodsupplies and I Sabi Work before my passion for popcorn lead me to start oh wow popcorn. I am currently running the three businesses.

Popcorn making may seem easy, but what major challenge have you encountered since launching, and how did you overcome them?

It has its own challenges. The most challenging was getting a business partner. I thought working with a partner would ease the pressure of running three businesses, but unfortunately, things didn’t work out as planned.

I took the bull by the horn and threw myself into building my businesses by training my staff and restructuring my time.

Another key challenge we have faced is getting acceptability for our brand of popcorn which is different from what Nigerians are used to. We have however been able to overcome this challenge.

Knowing that there are many other popcorn brands in the market, how do you make sure your brand is unique and set yourself aside from the crowd?

We stand out from other brands by being original, unique and creative. Our customer service is also excellent.

 What are you most proud of about the Oh Wow popcorn brand?

We are proud to have revolutionized the popcorn and snacks making industry in Nigeria.

Since inception, we’ve invented and introduced never seen before flavors like Kilishi popcorn and kulikuli popcorn into our specialized popcorn, and candy floss catering for various types of events.

We saw a great potential and are happy to fill the space, by making our clients’ events come alive in previously unimagined ways with our tasty and colorful creations.

When it comes to marketing, how far across Nigeria has your brand gone, and where can your products be found?

Although we are based in Lagos Nigeria, we receive orders from other parts of the country, such as Ibadan, Abuja, Ondo, and Benin.

I took the bull by the horn and threw myself into building my businesses by training my staff and restructuring my time - @ohwowpopcorn Click To Tweet

Beyond popcorn production, what else do you do as a brand?

We also cater for candy floss, ice cream, waffles, meat pie, chinchin, zobo etc.

What is your staff strength currently, and how do you manage them?

We currently have 4 permanent staff, and we also get temporary workers when necessary. I make sure everyone knows his/her job responsibility and concentrates on doing it.

How do you manage your work-life balance, as an entrepreneur?

I delegate duties to my staff and I try as much as possible to limit my work to some specific hours of the day, especially our social media management. Immediately my children get back from school.

I concentrate on being a mother and a wife, I take them through all their assignment, eating and gist time before bed. Once they’re asleep, I round up my social media engagement for the day.

What’s the next step for Oh Wow popcorn?

The next step for oh wow popcorn is to have a presence all through key cities in the country and the world at large. We look forward to being the number 1 popcorn brand in Africa catering for all types of events.

 Any advice for people with this same business idea?

I will advise you to start small, start with what you have. You may have to give a free service to showcase your work to potential clients. Your first impression can make or mar your brand

Nurture and grow your business through the early years just as you would nurture a child.

The most important tool you’ll need is your passion and drive to keep moving when the chips are down and it looks like you’re getting nowhere.

Be creative, be original, be unique.

Fill in the gap. Before the end of the year,…

I would like to have finalized all plans for the maiden edition of Oh wow popcorn day. It’s an event that would help us give back to our community. It has been scheduled for January 19th next year.


Sponsored Post.

 

What you need to know about Business Marketing

Let’s talk about Business Marketing.

Developing a proper strategy for marketing in business allows you to capture and reach the right audience for your product/service.

If you are an entrepreneur trying to market your products/service on a shoestring budget, developing a good marketing strategy is a good place to start. This way, you are able to manage the resources you have, allocated to marketing efficiently and getting the most of it.

If you are an entrepreneur trying to market your products/service on a shoestring budget, developing a good marketing strategy is a good place to start. Click To Tweet

Here are the overall steps to developing a good marketing strategy for your business:

1. Analyze your marketing environment

The external marketing environment include the micro and macro environment

  • The micro-environment These are forces in the external marketing environment that are distinct and individual to a particular business; such as suppliers, distributors, customers, competition and the general public.
  • The macro environment – These are forces in the external marketing environment that affect businesses in general such as demographics, natural factors, technology, political factors, legal factors, social factors, cultural factors

2. Identify your competitive advantage

Analyze competition. What are your competitors doing, what have they done successfully, what have they failed at? Analyze the internal resources of your company to determine what can be used to create an advantage.

Identify and build up your competitive advantage.

3. Segment your market

This involves breaking down broad markets into smaller homogeneous groups of customers.  Broad markets are broken down based on certain traits.

This makes it easier to understand, focus and connect with potential customers who are likely to buy your product/service; thus making marketing efforts more efficient.

Market segmentation can be done based on different factors such as demographics, lifestyle, geographical locations e.t.c. It is however important that markets are segmented based on factors that are relevant to individuals within each of the groups.

4. Select your target market

From the market segments you have been able to create, you can test to determine your main target audience, test, select and decide to focus on customers your company can best satisfy.

5. Identify core benefits your company can offer to its customers (your target market)

It’s important to understand what value means to your customers.

6. Position your business

Write a positioning statement to consciously position your brand in the minds of your customers/clients. Your positioning statement should determine how you present your business to customers/clients, it should show what you are known for.

Elements of a strong positioning statement include your core value proposition, the unique value you offer customers/clients in relation to your top competitors, target audience and finally benefits your products/services offer the target audience.

There are various formats for writing positioning statements, here are 2 practical ones you can use:

  • Your core value proposition for your target audience who are in need of the benefits your business offers as well as its unique value.
  •  For target market description who target market need, how your business offering meets the need, unlike the key competition, its most distinguishing feature.

7. The marketing mix ( the 4Ps)

 

Product – What product will be sold and what differentiates this products from that of the competition? Are the products on offer relevant to the (target) customers?

Are there related products that can be marketed with the initial products?

Price – This refers to how much a customer is willing to pay for a product /service.

Three factors to be considered when determining the price of a product include the “cost price of the product, what the competitors are selling for and value added”.

Place – Where your product is sold matters. How accessible are your products to potential customers? Consider the type of product to determine where to sell or distribute your products.

Promotion – This involves the way you tell customers about your products/services. Activities involved include adverts, personal selling, PR efforts, and sales promotion.

Overall here are tips that can make your marketing strategy better.

  1. Marketing strategies should be flexible
  2. Define the right marketing message to determine the right marketing method.
  3. Think of your brand in terms of your customers’ needs and how you intend to satisfy them.
  4. Selling is not marketing and marketing is not selling.
  5. Don’t always use pricing as a basis for competing; especially when you don’t know the depth of the pockets of your competitors so you don’t end up pricing yourself out of the market.

I hope this helps you market your products services better…


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