What a man can do, a woman can also, if not better. Take it or leave it, women are also taking the lead in business.
I had the pleasure of speaking with a female entrepreneur, Apolline, over the weekend. She shared the challenges of starting and running a business.
I believe everyone will definitely learn from her wealth of knowledge.
It’s good to have you on this segment, Apolline. I hope you don’t mind sharing more about yourself with the audience?
I am Apolline Adiju, a digital marketing consultant. I work with small and medium-sized companies. Both in the B2B and B2C space.
I help them research, create and execute marketing campaigns to improve their profitability.
Interesting! For how long have you been into this business?
It is over 5 years now.
That’s a really long time in the game. I hope I can follow your footsteps one day. But if I may ask, how did this begin?
Actually, I stumbled into it.
I started as an affiliate and network marketer.
I had a group of friends and business owners in the field who admired the way I updated my social media accounts with captivating content. Which helped to attract recruits and grow my network marketing business.
Most of my colleagues sought for help with their own social media accounts.
That’s how I started managing social media accounts, as a Social Media Manager with a gradual increase.
However, I realized that most business owners I worked with wanted more than just managing their accounts. They wanted leads and sales.
This encouraged me to upgrade my skills (with certifications and training sessions) from a social media manager to a full-time marketing consultant.
What a journey! How has been the journey since you started?
Thank you, Chinedu! I must admit that it is not a bed of roses. But I’m happy I never gave up.
Working with several niches. Learning their pitfalls and how to overcome them.
Like all startups or business owners, you’ve got to be patient and learn the trade.
I made so many mistakes that have helped me become better at what I do.
How did you feel when you landed your first client?
Like a dream come true. Although I was nervous and not sure about myself.
How were you able to handle it?
It was easy, but I lacked confidence at that moment. Thank God, my mentor was always by my side.
Also, I was part of a Facebook group that helped to uplift my confidence as an introvert.
An introvert? Really? I never noticed that about you anyway. Being a Marketing Consultant is time consuming and energy draining, how do you combine that with running a home?
No one does. In fact, most people are surprised when I tell them I’m an introvert.
Because they believe introverts shy away from people and can’t interact with so many people like I do.
However, I studied a lot about my personality and how to avoid being overwhelmed amid people.
Balancing work and running a home wasn’t easy at the start.
I remember working 12 hours a day to catch up with client work.
These days I’ve developed systems and use project management tools that help to streamline some of these processes.
Even at that, I’m not sure I will make a good project manager. Being a female entrepreneur for five years, what can you say about that (I mean the experience)?
It’s challenging in a male-dominated space since most people who play the entrepreneurship game sometimes end up losing or fake it till they make it.
But I’ve always been up to the task and would encourage my fellow women not to give up.
You just had it on your profile that you are an MBA candidate, what’s that all about?
It’s a personal development goal I set for myself.
I’ve always wanted to get a Doctors in Business Administration DBA and the MBA is the first step to achieve that.
I plan to transition from entrepreneurship back to the corporate world. To get C level marketing experience with more substantial organizations while running my business at the same time.
It’s a step up to attract private corporate consulting clients in the future.
That’s a smart move and I must commend you for that. So with this being done, where do you see your business in the next five years?
Thanks, Chinedu! I appreciate it.
In the next five years, I see myself getting projects with larger corporations and organizations.
Being a brown skin woman, was there any point a client refused to work with you because of your colour?
Omg! So many times. I almost gave up at one point.
A handful of people refused to work with me based on that.
I had a prospect who refused to hire me and claimed I wasn’t a good fit. He went on to hire my British friend, who wasn’t good at it. She was new in the business by then.
Guess what? I successfully executed that project for this client under the aliases of my friend and she’s (the client) not aware to date.
I’ve had that a lot too. But it keeps me going stronger.
Apolline, what advice do you have for aspiring marketing consultants that look up to you?
Start with one aspect of the marketing you love the most. Master it, before you branch into another section.
Don’t try to do it all at once.
Word of wisdom! If anyone wants to contact you for business, where can you be reached?
Thank you, Apolline, for your time. I wish you a wonderful remainder of the year and a prosperous 2020.
Thank you, Chinedu, for having me on your segment. I wish you the same.