1. Can you please tell us more about your business?
A. Disruptive Marketing SA is a boutique company that offers marketing, social media and media relationship management (connecting to and working with the media) services to the market. We have a particular passion for working with SMMEs – small businesses that may not have the know-how or experience in these fields and need a helping hand. We love the brands we work with and believe in them wholeheartedly.
2. When, how and why did you start your business?
A. DMSA went “live” in June 2019, after I spent many years of dreaming, fretting and weighing up the pros and cons of breaking away from the corporate world and diving into entrepreneurship. I had actually started building up the concept in 2016 when I took a sabbatical from working at a big media house (where I’d been for a decade) as a magazine editor, in a very difficult time in my life as I was working through a divorce. Right idea, wrong time – don’t go into something like this when you’re dealing with tough emotional challenges. So I headed back into journalism to find my feet again, then took the leap in June last year.
Aside from it being the cliched lifelong dream, I started this company because over the years I had felt a hunger in the consumer market for marketing ideas that were different, innovative, DISRUPTIVE. Pockets of wildly exciting campaigns and activations were popping up, and breathing life into an increasingly “bored” customer segment. I wanted to be a part of that – harness the creativity I’d been blessed with, and take that fire and boldness to market.
I remember two instances that were probably the biggest drivers to me reaching the point where I decided to take that leap of faith and start this company: the first, a Valentine’s Day adventure for my partner at the time, many years ago when I was at varsity, where I created a “treasure hunt” that sent him to various places, one being a News Café in Melville. I had pre-arranged everything with each stop-point, and I remember the manageress at the Café saying: “If this is what you do just for fun, you are going to do something great in business one day!”
The second, was for a job application at a branding house, where I created a collection of “riddles” with clever items attached – revealing bits about my experience per delivery until the final one where I revealed who I was. They loved the intrigue and creativity, and I secured an interview with the owners themselves. A more experienced candidate got the job, but it will be an application they will never forget.
This is kind of thinking that I want to bring to businesses that are all competing for a “slice of the pie” in a world that is saturated with thousands of companies offering the same products and services. Be different, stand out, be seen and heard.
3. What is your role in the business?
A. I do everything! From sales to business pitches, working at expos with my clients, to writing up content for newsletters, social media posts, and websites, and even “working the door” at some events. This is something you’ll need to be prepared for when building up your own business: it all starts and ends with you until you grow to the point where your business can start hiring people to work with you.
4. Where did you study and what did you study?
A. I studied at the Rand Afrikaans University (RAU), which is now known as the University of Johannesburg (UJ). It was a close call between studying journalism and marketing, but I decided to study Marketing Communications as I felt it would touch on all aspects of my talents and skills – from writing to creative marketing thinking. I achieved my Honours degree.
5. How did you finance your business?
A. Most advisors would say build up enough capital to carry you for two to three years if you go into building your business full-time because that is the average time it takes to get a new business off the ground. This is the best advice.
I was incredibly fortunate to have two small-business owners – whom I had known for years, and who had always believed in me – stand beside me from the start of DMSA: Orlando from The CIRK, an incredibly inspiring circus performance, entertainment, and venue hire company; and Marco and Joanna from Indelicate Apparel, an online retailer of the most fun, colourful and on-trend leggings and other clothing. These guys brought DMSA on board to do their social media and marketing and helped to grow other aspects of the business as we go along. I learn so much from each of these businesses – and that is something to always keep in mind: everyone has something to teach – take every opportunity to learn; ask questions; be inquisitive; try new things; be bold and creative.
6. Describe your average workday, if such a thing exists.
A. The beauty of my line of work is that there isn’t an average workday – each day brings something different. But in general, my days start off at about 5:45 am when I check all the social media accounts to see if there are any comments or queries, and prep my first posts for the day. I then take my daughter to school, heading home afterward to deal with emails and start prepping newsletters, other editorials, or working on upcoming events that my clients will be participating in. Twice a week in the mornings I do fitness training with The CIRK – a double win as I use the sessions to take photographs for social media and other editorial content (I’m all about optimising time).
Then I’ll generally have meetings in the afternoons, and/or make those business phone calls, work on and deliver business pitches, research new tricks-of-the-trade to improve my service offerings, and spend time with my daughter. My working day generally ends at around 11 pm, when I do my last social media checks for the day.
7. How do you balance your home life and your work life?
A. I am very blessed to have an amazingly supportive family – both my parents, and my daughter’s Dad and Step-Mom – they help me find my balance and keep me inspired to continue driving my business. My daughter – who is only 9 – is one of my biggest inspirations: her pride in OUR business keeps me so motivated, and I include her where I can, and use as many work opportunities as I can to teach her and share knowledge with her.
I am also very blessed in that the people I work with embrace family, and my daughter will often come with me to photoshoots or other work commitments I may have. She feels as much a part of our “work family” as I do.
But I also have a very solid daily structure in place, from prepping of meals to sharing meals together when my daughter is with me; set homework times where she will work beside me so I am near to help; to our pre-bedtime reading and snuggling.
To working Mums who face this balance-challenge every day, a routine is so important. It is a safety net for both us and our kids and allows our kids to feel safe in their expectations of any given day.
8. What drives you and inspires you?
A. I do quite a lot of reading, from social media to hunting for creative content on YouTube. There are so many ideas out there that can spark a new concept. I also love the variety in my job – meeting different types of people, working at different events – this drives me to keep on pushing the boundaries of creativity.
But most of all, it’s the people that I care about in my life who inspire me on a daily basis – my parents, my daughter, other family and friends; and my partner who encouraged me to take the plunge and start DMSA, and is an incredible sounding board for concerns, ideas – and good pep talks when I need then 😊
9. Where and when do you have your best ideas?
A. I get a lot of ideas when I’m “hanging out” with friends, or in business meetings – conversation sparks ideas, and it develops from there. Looking at what other creatives have done is a wonderful springboard for new ideas too.
10. Where and how do you market/advertise your business for sales leads?
A. I am quite active on social media – Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. And I have initiated monthly newsletters. I have also built up a large network of business contacts over my working years, so I spend quite a bit of time researching where they may have a need for my company’s services, and then contacting them personally to see if DMSA can fill that gap.
Also, the work that I do for my clients allows me to interact with people a lot – and every interaction is a potential business opportunity.
11. What is next for your business?
A. Operationally, first and foremost is to grow our client base, and reach a place where we can comfortably sustain the business from a month to month basis, financially. We will continue to build a national network of distributed employees who will be able to manage portions of the business across the country, eventually expanding that to an international network. I am a firm believer in a distributed workplace, and employees working remotely with an output-based expectation.
We are also working on a “disruptive event”, which will incorporate inspirational speakers, entertainment, and a host of other experiences to inform and inspire the market. More details will be shared soon.
One of my personal goals within this business is to use the experiences, the failures, the successes, to inspire and motivate other entrepreneurs. I would love to start doing motivational speaking as well.
12. What advice would you give to female entrepreneurs hoping to start their own business?
A. Don’t go in blind, and do be realistic. Know WHY you are offering your product or service, what gap it will fill; to WHOM you are offering it, and have a clear vision of where you want to take your business. Be bold and fearless – selling your concept to investors/clients/the market takes guts and a thick skin when the nine out of ten turns you down. But don’t let that deter you! Keep at it, and don’t give up if it’s something you truly believe in. And don’t lose yourself in the process – YOU are the essence, the fire behind why your business is at the brink of being born; your character, beliefs and vision were what inspired it.
Don’t forget the people who believed in you to get to this point – they are the ones who will stand by you through the tough times, and celebrate your successes.
Give back. When you can, where you can. If it’s a piece of advice freely given to a struggling business person, or a sharing of skills – a small gesture can go a long way.
Mobile: +2783 359 7629