1. Can you please tell us more about your business?
A. I have been a self-employed freelancer for the last 6 years. My core business is Anel Martin Training, I specialise in soft skills (or as I like to call them human skills), communication, presentation skills, productivity, as well as technical training for executive assistants. I have conducted international training since 2013.
I am also a qualified Results Based Coach, which is a modality recognised in 26 countries and I have been helping people reach the results that they really want since 2015.
During Covid, I was pushed to explore other alternatives, as my core business was impacted due to travel restrictions, so I created Marabou Media which specialises in social media management, web development, and content creation. This arm of my freelance business has now been successfully running for a year.
2. When, how and why did you start your business?
A. I have always loved working with people and supporting them and started my career as an executive assistant for a major South African corporation. I spent 15 years in the profession and won PA of the Year South Africa in 2011 which led to various speaking engagements, and it all grew from there.
I studied drama so getting on stage was no problem for me, the in-depth knowledge that I had gained from my working experiences (both good and bad) gave me tons of material to draw on to support others on their journeys within the world of work.
At the end of 2015, I decided to accept a voluntary separation package from my former company in order to pursue my passion for skill building and working with people.
3. What is your role in the business?
A. As a one-man-band, I do everything. I am a published author, speaker, coach, content creator, and a web designer (depending on the day of the week).
4. Where did you study and what did you study?
A. I studied a National Diploma in Drama (TUT) which was followed by a National Diploma in Business Management (Damelin) and then a coaching qualification (Neuroleadership Group). But the most important things that I have learnt about business and people I learnt from working in close proximity with senior leaders which was one of the massive advantages of working as an executive assistant.
5. How did you finance your business?
A. Starting a business does not always need money. If you are working in a skills-based profession you need your talent, a laptop, and Wi-Fi. So, to answer your question I did not have a significant financial outlay, which meant that external funding was not required. I had also managed to create my business while I was still employed full time, which gave me a solid platform to step onto when the time came.
6. Describe your average workday, if such a thing exists.
A. Such a great question. My workflow is incredibly diverse and unpredictable. Lucky for me, I am a planner but also fluid in how I approach my day. I try to “theme” my days e.g., Coaching Days, Content Creation Days, Website building days, etc. This technique helps keep me focused. The one thing that every day has in common is dealing with people and creativity-on-demand which really stretches me on many levels but also makes me very happy.
7. How do you balance your home life and your work life?
A. After years of working the wildest hours imaginable in corporate I have learnt to compensate not balance. I rest when I need to, I grind when I need to, and ensure that I am getting opportunities to have fun and recharge. You cannot give of yourself if you are running on empty. As a freelancer without a team this is even more important. Follow your body’s natural rhythms when planning your work for the day or the week. For example, if you are an early bird, do your most intensive work then.
8. What drives you and inspires you?
A. I think the main motivator for me is the ability to impact others, serve them and create value. On the hard days when you feel like giving up and you get a call out of the blue from a happy client or a great recommendation, that’s what keeps you going!
9. Where and when do you have your best ideas?
A. Usually when least expected. So, it will be in completely random places and times. I usually grab my phone and make a note of it just so the idea doesn’t fade away. I also have great ideas when I am talking to people, collaborating, or problem-solving. But almost never at my desk.
10. Where and how do you market/advertise your business for sales leads?
A. Social media has afforded me the opportunity to create an international business and to date, I have worked in 13 countries around the world. In the beginning of my business, I didn’t have the budget for a website or fancy logos, so I had to learn how to do it all on my own. Over the years I developed the skills required for which I am grateful and now use to support other small business owners.
I am not someone who likes to “sell” people. I rely very heavily on good word of mouth and recommendations from happy customers and building a community online and it has worked very well for me up to this point.
11. What is next for your business?
A. This year, hopefully, I will be able to get on the road again, with a few international events already scheduled. I would like to grow the coaching side of my business as I can accommodate more clients and want to help people recover their confidence and zest for life, after what has been a very challenging two years. My rallying call for this year is “survival is insufficient” and I am striving for more flow and more wins this year.
12. What advice would you give to female entrepreneurs hoping to start their own business?
- Don’t wait for the money or the right time. Because you will never have either! Work with what you have and start where you are.
- Define your talents and start to harness them to create your business. Your strengths will guide the way. They are not coincidental.
- Don’t listen to the critics, make your own decisions. Sometimes you will win, sometimes you will learn. Be very careful about the quality of your circle.
- Be ready to be uncomfortable. Nothing worth having is within the confines of your comfort zone.
- Don’t become complacent, keep refining, innovating and working at your craft
- Nurture and grow your network!
- Develop a growth mindset, keep learning, figure things out, ask question
Make plans, add value, operate ethically (even when others don’t), and keep fighting for your dream!
Anel is a solopreneur who is passionate about helping others achieve their goals, manage their time, and increase their confidence. She has worked with several premium companies across the globe for in-house training interventions and performance coaching namely SAP North America, HSBC, Stanlib, NHS (UK), The Football Association (UK), Arup, Glasgow Caledonia University (UK), Exxaro, MTN, Sanlam, Oppenheimer Group, Telkom South Africa, Discovery as well as various forums and training companies around the world.
She has worked with audiences as large as 2000 from 24 different countries and this has given her a global view on her subject matter. Her travels have exposed her to delegates and clients from all over the world, different accents, backgrounds, cultures, and industries.
She has a special passion for female empowerment, executive assistants’ technical training, and small business development with regards to digital skills and marketing.