Entrepreneurism a learning process for Laws
In part three of a series about the Enterprise Bermuda incubator programme, we speak to Nadia Laws.
While most participants in Enterprise Bermuda are new or aspiring entrepreneurs, Nadia Laws has successfully operated her business for nearly three years.
Ms Laws runs The Media Maven, an award-winning boutique communications and media consultancy firm. She earns a full-time income from the business, which has an exclusively local clientele that includes corporate entities Marsh & McLennan and Clarien Bank.
When she launched the business, Ms Laws says her intention was to assist non-profits and small businesses with what she described as a “heart-centred approach” to doing business. While Ms Laws adopts that outlook to this day, she soon learnt that those entities did not have a budget for communications, so she pivoted.
“Now, I work with a lot of corporate clients,” she says. “Many corporates have social responsibility committees, they do charity work in the community, and give donations and invest in Bermuda. The large reinsurance companies, and financial institutions, do want to give back. Profit is important, but they want to do it in a way that is meaningful.
“I help clients to uncover what their key messages are, and communicate them in a way that feels good.”
Ms Laws says the transition from the financial stability of being an employee to the uncertain life of an entrepreneur was “very scary at times”. Early on, she billed out at an hourly rate, but clients now engage her on retainer. In addition to working in the business, Ms Laws has contracted work out to Robyn Bardgett, a freelance writer, since 2017.
“People see an entrepreneur and think they must be an overnight success — they don’t see the long nights, the 4am starts,” she said. “The reality is that entrepreneurism is about lots of small gains. There is lots of learning and growing both as a person and as an enterprise.”
Ms Laws’s education continued recently when she was among a select group of 100 women of colour sponsored to attend Fearless Moguls, a full day of training in California for existing or emerging entrepreneurs led by businesswomen who have founded multimillion-dollar revenue generating businesses.
She returned home with a global mindset. “During my conversations with women from the US and Caribbean, I noticed a handful of opportunities to collaborate, share resources and offer support,” Ms Laws said.
“The world is changing and entrepreneurs are no longer restricted to working with people in close geographical proximity to them. Connecting with people from across the world is extremely simple thanks to advances in technology and I’m really excited to be operating my business in a time such as this.
“There was so much knowledge shared from the women who spoke at the event. Hearing from entrepreneurs like Sophia Amoruso, the author of best selling book #Girlboss, and Robin Mcbride of Mcbride Sisters Wine on how they created their multimillion-dollar brands was incredibly inspiring.
“What I remember most from their stories is the grit and determination these women in business have shown. Many of them heard dozens of ‘no’s’ before they finally got the right ‘yes’ to move their business forward. Others failed and made mistakes, but took each misstep as a lesson. It’s a reminder to me that I’m on the right track and that success doesn’t happen overnight.”
The Media Maven boss took the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation’s Icehouse entrepreneurism course before she began working for herself. “That gave me a lot of appreciation and insight into what it means to be an entrepreneur,” Ms Laws said.
As she became more familiar with the BEDC, she “developed a new level of respect for what they do and the level of support they give to entrepreneurs. When I started my business, I did it alone. When I learnt about Enterprise Bermuda, I thought ‘wow, I would love to have that level of support to grow and scale my business’.”
Now that she is among eight entrepreneurs participating in the initiative, BEDC board member Kyle James of the Bermuda Business Development Agency has become a mentor.
“The best thing to come from it is accountability,” she said. “Every week, we meet up and he makes sure that I have done what I said I was going to do, whether that is meeting a client, reading a book or completing another certification. Whatever my goals are, he holds me to them.”
Nearly three years after she struck out on her own, Ms Laws is pleased with her progress to date.
“I’ve heard that half of all businesses close in the first five years, so to be just shy of three years in and to be in a good space, I’m extremely grateful,” Ms Laws said.
“I tend to be quite ambitious and there is still a lot more I want to accomplish with The Media Maven, but I’ve learnt so much about being an entrepreneur and have had tremendous support from clients and the community. This makes me hopeful and excited for the future.”
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