By Josfyn Uba
Carving out a successful career can be hard to accomplish, sometimes it is made even more difficult for women raising a family. Beyond the stereotypical roles of a daughter, sister, friend, wife and mother, the modern-day woman is now also adorning the robe of entrepreneurship. They are often fighting a battle against time to achieve professional goals and fulfil personal responsibilities
These are the exact words of Elizabeth csho, an entrepreneur and communications expert. Taking Daily Sun through her entrepreneurship journey recently in a chat, Osho, founder of So.Me Solutions, a Lagos-based communications agency, said the struggles of an entrepreneur in Nigeria are many, ranging from lack of capital, difficulties in getting loans, the poor state of infrastructure and unstable Nigerian socio/economic and political environment.
What are some of the challenges you have been confronted with, running a business in Nigeria?
Recruiting has been a challenge. Finding the right fit for the business, people who are committed, understand the vision and bring good energy to the brand. Nigeria is very different from England and I didn’t own my company in England. However, the struggles of an entrepreneur in Nigeria are many, from lack of capital, difficulties in getting loans, the poor state of infrastructure and unstable Nigerian economy and politics. I believe the government can help entrepreneurs by understanding our pain points and working with us on friendly and capacity-building SME policies.
As a serial entrepreneur who is passionate about servicing SMEs, government, corporate organizations and delving into journalism, what informed these decisions?
To be honest, my journey to PR was not planned. I found myself naturally drawn to communications, though this was not something I studied for. My background was initially in recruitment in England. I enjoy PR because there’s a never-ending range of opportunities. As a PR professional, there’s a never-ending supply of new ideas, new projects to be tackled, new problems to be solved and new technologies to help get our job done.
How long have you been in practice and how would you assess your impact in the industry?
We are now five years in business. We have been able to help many brands over the years by promoting brand image and values. I would say what makes us different is our passion. Passion is everything and hard work beats talent. We’ve impacted the industry in such a way because we’re known as the agency that goes the extra mile, we see ourselves more as strategic partners with our clients and that is evident in the work we put out.
We have helped many of the brands under our belt to change the way they are choosing to tell their stories. We also pride ourselves in supporting our clients to be less conventional; during COVID-19 lockdown we were able to pivot and work with our clients to enhance the way they communicate – helping them leverage more digital communication and keeping maximum visibility. Many companies went into panic mode at the onset of the pandemic, and we found ourselves implementing more crisis communications, helping our clients determine what strategies and tactics would be the most effective in a rapidly changing environment. Our impact was especially felt during the mandatory lockdowns as organizations rapidly moved operations online and adapted to a work-from-home format. Planned events were cancelled or moved online, this was where we stepped in, helping our clients curate interesting online campaigns and event; helping them captivate and engage a virtual audience.
What has kept you going in this field and how are you able to transition effectively, having lived and started in England?
I love the fact that we get to create a tremendous impact through the work we do. It gives me great joy to know that I have been part of so many amazing and impactful projects across various industries. I love PR, I’m a curious and quick learner, I love a new challenge every day and especially love when I’m prepared to face that challenge. I also love keeping up to date with new media, the tools, new tactics and honing in on learning amazing strategies. In regards to transitioning, it was easy – but where there’s a will – there’s away. And I was determined. I had tried to move to Nigeria before the eventual move, and I only lasted 3 weeks before I packed my bags and ran back. No one forced me to relocate, I decided on my own, and to be honest, Nigeria is what you make of it, in 2012 when I came again on the premise of ‘relocating” I decided that I was going to make the best of things and stick it through
What advice do you have for women who are struggling with chasing their dreams while keeping up the home front?
Carving out a successful career can be hard to accomplish, sometimes its made even more difficult for women raising a family. Beyond the stereotypical roles of a daughter, sister, friend, wife, and mother, the modern-day woman is now also adorning the robes of entrepreneurship. We are often fighting a battle against time to achieve our professional goals and fulfil personal responsibilities, both at once. I am a woman’s woman. And I firmly believe women have been blessed with the capability to manage everything. For me, my advice for women would be to put themselves first. Mental health is a priority, you cannot pour from an empty cup. It’s also worth noting that women can also have it all, but maybe not all at the same time – so it’s wise to be realistic about the stage you are at, be honest and kind to yourself. There will be times to have both a healthy work and family life and you will need to make sacrifices and realise you can’t do everything yourself. Help is there to be accepted. Not having a clear picture of what you want to accomplish as an entrepreneur could result in many challenges as you grow and scale your business. Having concrete goals will allow you to create more defined objectives that will, in turn, make it easier to execute your goals and make your entrepreneurial journey a little clearer. Also, don’t let imposter syndromes stop you. A lot of women out there deal with feelings and symptoms of ‘impostor syndrome.’ It holds so many people back, the second-guessing, the fear. If you know what you’re doing is worthy, absolutely no one can stop you, not even yourself.
What has your career path looked like?
Interestingly, I started my career in the media world as a television presenter in England. I also handled “PR” for various afro-beats events in London, but I didn’t realise it was public relations at the time. I tagged myself as a promoter, but essentially what I was doing was utilising social media, press and events to create buzz for various entertainers in the industry, including Dbanj, Wande Coal, Basketmouth, Wizkid and more. I moved to Lagos about nine years ago and started my career in Lagos at Genevieve Magazine. I served as a website manager for the brand,. Incidentally, my boss at the time noticed my passion for events and my role quickly became some sort of event/campaign focused one, which led to me working with her as a project manager of ‘The Pink Ball’; a breast cancer awareness initiative. Around 5 years ago, I started So.Media solutions, a Communications agency. So.MeSolutions has helped a huge number of brands boost their achieve their goals and increase visibility positively. We have fostered strong relationships with the media and key news stakeholders continent-wide to ensure that our clients have direct channels to market. We facilitate speedy responses to short term opportunities and enable follow-through of long term strategic plans. We craft communications for building, maintaining and managing client reputations and visibility. Our key strengths lie in content development and content dissemination, which is why we are known for telling our client’s stories uniquely.
What should women do differently to sit at the top like you?
Having a support system and a team you trust is integral to helping any professional to the top of their game. This includes everyone from staff and colleagues to a professional mentor or coach. I have had a mentor for nine years now. We get to discuss any and everything and she helps me stay focused with ‘checks in’. With her, I am myself and get to think through everything, it’s a two-way stream though, I bring something to the table of our relationship too. Entrepreneurship can be lonely. So, I implore women to keep an open mind, get to know people and understand that your network is your net worth. As I continue to break barriers, I pay it forward and I invest in and mentor other women (including many women who have worked with me in some capacity or the other) I encourage them and help them grow to get to the same outcomes and beyond.
How are you able to manage all your portfolios and still be at your best?
I rely a lot on my team and delegate where necessary. We outsource where needed and make time for relaxation. (though PR can be gruelling and it sometimes feels like you’re always on call” I always want to put my best foot forward and I do my best to take breaks and plan ahead to maintain my schedule. I keep myself organized. I am passionate about discussing the choices you must make to be successful – sacrifice is important and building a culture of ownership in the workplace.