Nicolette Mdhluli is an entrepreneur and founder of Afrluent Media, a media house in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Her magazine, Afrluencer Magazine, is a local lifestyle magazine for the everyday Zimbabwean and profiles local influencers and entrepreneurs across Africa.
“Our goal is to bridge the gap between their brands, or brand communication, and the African market,” Nicolette told The Weight She Carries.
We reached out to Nicolette to learn more about her as a businesswoman.
What motivated you to embark on this journey and start your own business?
As a marketing specialist, I’m wired to see gaps within the market service and product-wise. In Zimbabwe we have a deficit in advertising if it isn’t skits on social media or someone doing something awkwardly funny and then talking about a brand. There isn’t really advertising.
My biggest motivation is always to build the advertising industry in Zimbabwe. I also have a passion as a young entrepreneur to create sustainable business solutions for other entrepreneurs. In my head, we can create jobs and change the world one successful entrepreneur at a time.
What challenges did you face starting up?
I like the word “challenge” because it’s always misconceived by us young people. My challenge was raising capital. Just as it was, a challenge, and I like a good challenge. I realized enough capital to get our equipment and set up an office. As it is, it wasn’t easy because [during] the most critical stage of the business, when I was learning the concept of what I wanted the business to be, I was working other jobs [and] getting paid very little money. At the end of the day, the challenge showed me that it was not just money that I needed but the commitment and persistence to make things work.
I say the word itself is not considered proactively by upcoming entrepreneurs. They always think it’s a huge obstacle, which will never be solved or which some external person has to come through and solve for them. But for me, challenge is a daring word. If I ever consider something to be a challenge, it’s to test my limits and see how far I’m willing to go to get what I want.
What would you say are the greatest challenges women face in the business world?
Entrepreneurship for women is a different ballgame. Women want to be conservative in the playground. And people don’t play nice in the playground as well. If you’re not using your toys, someone will come and take them away!
This is what I mean: if you’re a woman and want to make it in business, make noise, claim your space. You’re not helping anyone by staying silent. If you’re selling a product, make sure everyone knows about it! If they don’t know you, they won’t buy it!
Women fail to make the right contacts for some reason. For that to happen, they need to understand the power and ability of us being able to knock on any door by virtue of being a woman. Instead of shying away from situations where we are forced out of our comfort zone, develop strong characters to be able to adjust to any environment.
Say what you need to say always. If you want help, ask; if you want your team to do things this way instead of the other, say! Speak your mind. As it will turn out, it will be your biggest asset.
What keeps you going on your toughest days?
Croissants! Sometimes I just sit and have a croissant and think about what I need to do!
Well, it’s the goals that I have for my business at any point in time. When I have set targets that I want to achieve, I never back down – even if it’s a tough day!
Prayer and meditation. There are times when things won’t be coming together. And I just switch off, I stay home and wait for my intuition to kick in. There’s always a space I need to be in to get my mojo back, and it’s always in meditation and prayer.
What would you say are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
I am a prayerful person; I pray and meditate a lot! I am able to listen to my dos and don’ts when I pray.
My biggest strength is that I am a people person. There’s literally no one I am not able to make friends with! That has been something I don’t even need to work on! I’m great at public speaking! So I can be in a group of people and talk; I’m not shy.
I’m able to take criticism as well. I am not afraid of getting nos. As I have learnt in business, first you get the nos then the yeses and eventually the calls! So when I get nos, I always know someone will say yes, even if it’s one out of ten people!
My weakness is that I don’t know how to not win at whatever I do. Even the little things, simple as making my bed. I can literally be struggling to wake up in the morning, and I will remember that thing that I read which said, “Start by making your bed.” I’m not afraid to lose either. On a good day, I will take my lessons as they come!
What would you advise any woman who wants to be in business, especially in media like yourself?
Media is really broad. Understand what it is you want to do. Master your craft as you go! Get the right paperwork and don’t cut corners. Make the right noise; be as loud as you can. Don’t be afraid because there’s space for all of us! So your idea matters and is just what the world needs.
Sometimes it helps to understand that being a woman is your greatest strength! There really is no substitute for the hard work and multitasking!
You can follow Nicolette via:
Twitter: Nicolette Mdhluli
LinkedIn: Nicolette Mdhluli