1. Can you please tell us more about your business?
A. Brandfundi is a boutique B2B public relations and marketing communications agency. Our core specialities include reputation management, corporate communication, and issue and crisis management. We also offer writing services, content marketing, event management, and training.
2. When, how and why did you start your business?
A. I always had the ambition to create my own agency but never felt courageous enough to make the leap from corporate life. After being retrenched soon after becoming a mother, I used the opportunity to realise this ambition. I set myself up at home and reached out to my network, and soon opportunities became available. We’ll be celebrating our sixth year in August 2021.
3. What is your role in the business?
A. I’m the managing director, and so I direct and control all business operations. I’m also responsible for new business development, client liaison, strategic planning, team leadership, and the agency’s overall sustainability.
4. Where did you study and what did you study?
A. I studied Public Relations and Business Communications at Damelin in KZN, which PRISA endorsed.
5. How did you finance your business?
A. I used my savings initially to set up the critical aspects, but later I used my income to fund my business growth.
6. Describe your average workday, if such a thing exists.
A. No day is ever the same. That said, each day generally includes scanning the latest news and social media trending topics, emails, coffee, networking, phone calls, writing and pitching editorial content, attending a webinar, listening to talk radio and a podcast or two, and developing yet another proposal with customised recommendations to launch, or reposition, or manage a brand.
7. How do you balance your home life and your work life?
A. I typically struggle with this because I’m so invested in the success of my business. But I am also a single mother. My six-year-old daughter is my priority, too. She’s learned that I work hard over the years, and it takes up most of my time, but I believe that she’s learning so much about life through this. Naturally, I have the occasional flexibility to steal time with her, and as such, I’m involved in every aspect of her life, whether that’s taking her to dancing or putting my hand up as a class mom at school.
We often sneak out for a Wimpy lunch together after school on a Friday. I’m up early and go to bed late – there are no wasted hours. That said, there’s not too much time left for much else, so I try to get to the gym and spend time with family and friends.
8. What drives you and inspires you?
A. I’m driven and inspired by three things;
- Winning. I am a competitive achiever who is highly results – and action-oriented, and I value achievement and success.
- Making a positive impact. I love using my skills, knowledge, and creativity to overcome my Clients’ brand challenges and even more so when my Clients are in the business of making a positive impact, too.
- My daughter. It’s important to me that she grows up learning that she can shape her own future, be successful at anything she puts her mind to, and do so independently (self-reliance). I believe I’m setting the best example for her in this case.
9. Where and when do you have your best ideas?
A. Often at the most obscure times, like in the shower or late at night when I’m about to dose off to sleep – I actually keep a notebook beside my bed to write them down, so I don’t forget.
10. Where and how do you market/advertise your business for sales leads?
A. We’ve achieved the best results through social media marketing. We’ve developed a focused digital marketing plan to ensure consistent and frequent awareness of the brand, celebrate our milestones and wins, and share valuable content that readers can benefit from. We’ve also leveraged sponsored media platforms by posting regular thought leadership content.
11. What is next for your business?
A. The team has grown to three now, and we’re attracting more clients than ever before, so I see a growth trajectory over the next phase – something I welcome with both arms and an abundance of gratitude.
12. What advice would you give to female entrepreneurs hoping to start their own business?
A. “Research shows that women-owned companies generate higher revenues than those owned by men. It also showed that women are more effective as a leader and are better at creating jobs.” (https://bit.ly/3dj4uhX)
Many will doubt you and many who will dissuade you, especially if you don’t have a husband to ‘fall back on financially. But, if this research is anything to go by, women are more than capable of starting and growing their business.
Michelle is a competitive achiever who is highly results- and action-oriented. She has a well- developed sense of responsibility and professionalism. Her ambition, drive and adaptability to various business needs and challenges ensure that she gets things done without losing sight of the big picture. She values achievement, and as a result, efficiency, impact and reputation are crucial to her. Being highly focused on making tangible progress keeps her focused and motivated. Furthermore, she prides herself on having integrity and being honest and receptive.
Having studied PR and Communication, and after working in this field for 22 years, she built up an established network of influential media, reputable suppliers, and respected colleagues. What’s more, her exposure to partnering with clients across a multitude of sectors has nurtured her ability to grasp new industry issues and nuances quickly.
She’s worked both in-house and in agency consultancy environments and started Brandfundi (Pty) Ltd in 2015. The agency was named the Best Boutique Marketing and PR Agency in Johannesburg at the 2019 African Excellence Business Awards. Brandfundi also was awarded the winner of the 2020 SA Prestige Awards: Content Creation Service of the Year.
This will be her third consecutive year of participating on the PRISM Awards Jury (Africa’s most sought-after public relations and communication awards).
Brandfundi is a Level 4 BBBEE contributor.
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