I Am Not Allergic to Money: Mofolusade Sonaike, CEO, Mumpreneur
Personal branding goes a long way in making or marring the image of a company. Employers who invest in personal branding have higher business longevity as well as employee retention and business turnover.
Mrs Mofolusade Sonaike is a personal branding expert and serial entrepreneur who started her career in the bank before starting her business in Lagos and was a guest on The Good Citizen Show. She was born and bred in Lagos and made a name for herself as an impact-driven entrepreneurship advocate.
Talking about the start of her career, she said that at some point in her banking career, she got jaded because she felt she was not making any progress in that line of work. So she left and went into manufacturing. She started as a business analyst for a manufacturing company. She later discovered that despite the many caregiving aides she had as a mother, she couldn’t find a balance with business because she felt like an absentee mother.
She later resigned from business analysis to start her gift-consulting agency. According to her, nothing prepares a person for being an entrepreneur. It doesn’t matter if the person was part of the business process in the past through accounting, management or in any other way. An entrepreneur is the only one who truly knows the business. The pressures from her business made her start her blog, where she shared her experiences vulnerably as she could.
She found out from her blogging that her pressures and struggles were a shared experience, even with some of the big names in the industry. A lot of things were not as they seemed in reality, even if people liked to walk around with a facade and flashy lifestyle. Her shared experiences allowed her to start a community of “mumpreneurs” who motivated each other and offered advice to each other where necessary for tips on how to have a balanced home life and career.
A grand idea is the first step in building a successful business but it is not the only step. Learning to effectively prioritise and compromise is a very important ingredient for a successful entrepreneur with a balanced life. However, while chasing dreams, certain aspects of life that require care and attention still need to be taken care of. In her entrepreneurship journey, she sold wristwatches, modelled and did a lot of odd jobs within legal boundaries to make ends meet, because a person with big dreams also has bills to pay. Sometimes you have to roll up your sleeves and do the dirty work to get to the top.
Speaking on “Mumpreneur”, Mrs Sonaike described it as social-impact work. She spoke on how monetising your talents at times could make you lose sight of why you started in the first place. Business to her is also a ministry, so if a person isn’t called, they can’t stay in business. “Mumpreneur” was registered as an NGO in 2018 as “Mumpreneur Women’s Support Initiative”. She started looking for sponsors to train women through entrepreneurship. The initiative was focused on women’s empowerment and it is funded by corporate organisations and individuals who support the vision.
Ndidi called in to ask what the most important thing a person should consider when becoming an entrepreneur. Mrs Sonaike advised that people should always focus on the “why”. She explained that everybody has a reason why they choose their line of work and the “why” helps them keep their focus. Her “why” was she desired to be a present mother and the corporate world wasn’t working in line with that goal.
Entrepreneurship is hard and being in Nigeria while building a business makes it even harder but when the going gets tough, remembering the “why” keeps you going. Several years into the business, some of the stakeholders were not happy with the lack of profitability, so she started considering making a business out of the initiative. The host explained that it didn’t make sense at first to charge for what she felt God had called her to do. She had to have a mindset shift that she described as still changing 11 years into the business. She said it did not make sense to have so much workload and be charging peanuts for it.
Mrs Sonaike narrated how she started out delivering gift packages at far off distances for an extremely low fee. The passion for the business or her “why” was what kept her going. An upside of being self-employed for her was that she got to carry her children along. A lot of the events she was invited to for work were not paid in the beginning, but she got her compensation by putting smiles on faces.
The host observed that women aren’t brought up to be aggressive about money-making. She said that both of her grandmothers were successful businesswomen but being under their husbands hindered them greatly. She said her grandmother made money but had to hand it all to her husband, who would only end up giving her back a little percentage, to put into the business and start afresh in the new year.
As a personal branding tip, Mrs Sonaike said that women needed to take up more space in business. Culturally, women are taught to not be too loud. Women needed to find their voices and use them. They also needed to not be afraid to charge for whatever service they rendered. Women should always ask for or get paid their worth. She advised that people needed to break all the stereotypes surrounding women.
Mrs Sonaike talked about her courses on personal branding and skill acquisition. She explained that in the course, business training comes first, especially with grassroots women. This was to enable them to expand their skills and gain knowledge on essential aspects of business like record-keeping. This is will in turn enable them to transform their talents into a more structured programme. After that comes the development of skill acquisition. Her course also offers personal mindset shifts to see what is possible in a community with others who would enable them to see that they deserved the best.
She advised that one thing people should always bear in mind when branding themselves is authenticity. Personal branding is not about packaging a person into someone else. It is about equipping people to reach their highest potential. She concluded by saying authenticity played a major role in building her online presence in the sense that she never tried to make it seem that everything was perfect in her life and that is what her brand is all about.
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