Helping women strategise success in business
Zina Malcolm and Nikki Fagan think they made every mistake in the book when they started The Brand Lion marketing and public relations agency.
One of their missteps was doing their own accounting to save money.
“You shouldn’t be afraid to spend money in order to free up your time so you can make money,” Ms Malcolm said. “When we moved to putting our accounts into a local accounting firm, it gave us freedom.”
Five years later the pair have learnt more than a thing or two about running a business.
This month, they plan to share some of those lessons in a two-day intensive called Get Your Sh*t Together, Sis. The programme is designed to help women strategise and execute their way out of business purgatory. It will cover mindset, marketing and public relations.
Ms Malcolm said their messaging for this programme was deliberately bold.
“We are using language you don’t see in normal business communications,” she said. “One of the issues with women entrepreneurs, and black women, is that we often are trained to be timid. We are trained to be polite. We are trained to be apologetic. This campaign is really trying to push everyone out of their comfort zone and really have the conversations that need to be had. Most of that starts with mindset.”
The course targets women of colour who have been in business for two years or less, or female entrepreneurs who have been in business a little longer than two years, but still have not quite got their business and systems together.
Ms Fagan said the pandemic, and then the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis, Minnesota police in May, caused her to rethink her focus. Doing some self-searching she found she really enjoyed the coaching aspects of her job, and wanted to reach out to women in the wider community. They specifically wanted to reach women of colour, because they themselves have battled a racist and sexist business climate in Bermuda.
“Would I say the environment is particularly friendly to us — it’s not, as a whole,” Ms Fagan said. “We don’t have any white customers except one. We have been Best of Bermuda winners. We have talked to oodles of people. We walk into an office space and people know who we are. We have international clientele, and we both have international experience.
“Still, the larger corporations here in Bermuda choose to do business with other people. That is fine. They can put their money wherever they want. Instead, we have found the market that is friendly to us and it is very niche specific.
“Understanding that journey and having lived it, we know that other people are experiencing it. We know from our network of entrepreneurs that they are experiencing it as well.”
Ms Fagan said it is easy for some women to get discouraged.
Growing up, she never thought about starting her own business.
“I thought I would go to school, get my degree and work for someone,” she said. “That was the bigness of what I had dreamt for myself. When I got into those organisations I thought wait a minute, this doesn’t feel right. I can’t have an opinion. There was no upwards trajectory beyond what the position was. The people there didn’t look like me or act like me. They had had much different experiences.
“My grandmother and aunts were chambermaids. It is not that there is anything wrong with that, but the next step after your education was to work for someone. As I got into that corporate world it wasn’t for me.”
She started her first business, Tego Creative, in 2006.
“Through my experience at other agencies, people found me and wanted to work with me,” she said. “That helped to build my confidence as an entrepreneur. Stepping out on your own is scary when you have been conditioned to think the only security is in working for someone else.”
She said it is crucial for new female business owners to have a community of support around them.
“It is a lonely world,” she said. “Zina and I have been super blessed this time around because we have an amazing group of women entrepreneurs in Bermuda. We share ideas. We brainstorm off of one another. We have sessions together. They support us in the things that we do.”
After the intensive, they plan to run a two-week boot camp in September. Then in November they want to release a course that is a deeper dive into the components highlighted in the intensive and boot camp.
The intensive on August 17 and 18 will be held virtually, and will cost $997.
• To sign up go to https://rebrand.ly/brandlionintensive?fbclid=IwAR2Rv2GoVIv2-Rg3k4LSoEJKfRsEWsf-jTucoxDd8OTbub_A6WpDT_84aTk or see www.thebrandlion.com, or The Brand Lion on Instagram and Facebook or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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