The name Gina Din is a formidable one. She is one of the top-notch corporates in Kenya having started and run a PR business for 23 years
She shared with The Standard some of the things that have gotten her through the ups and downs of entrepreneurship and what positioning one’s business involves.
1. Be Okay with Discomfort
She avers that getting out of your comfort zone daily and being totally comfortable being uncomfortable. She says her own company was only three-years-old when they were selected by Vodaphone to handle Safaricom.
“My strength was my need to always keep learning. The more I learned about the different clients we represented, the more I realized what I didn’t know. I was and I am still constantly learning,” she says
2. It is The Sacrifices That Count
Every entrepreneur has to make sacrifices of some sort. Din ditched a secure job as Head of Corporate Communications for Barclays Bank of Kenya to start her own business.
“I had decided to bite the bullet and start my own venture in a relatively new industry in Kenya. There were few independent agencies at the time. Having had a pretty regular 8 to 5 schedule, I hadn’t quite prepared myself for the incredible demands of owning one’s business. There was no routine or schedule. Every day there was a different challenge. While there definitely were sacrifices, I feel grateful to have done what I truly loved. For me it wasn’t just a business, it became somewhat of an obsession. I was focused on my business. Building my brand totally consumed me. Learning the ins and outs of my clients’ business became critical if I was to succeed.”
3. Outpace the competition
Competition is healthy and every business will have to face it.
“Our solutions were to add value to an organization and our brand was strong. Our solutions were customised and nuanced. We understood the market extremely well. It’s really really hard to copy someone’s internal vision. We owe it to ourselves to bring originality into the work that we do. And that is how you outpace your competition,” she adds
You don’t need to copy anyone. Copying is never a smart idea because imitating leaves one simply unable to keep up. You will never lead, you will always follow.
4. Understand the Fluctuating Market Needs
You have to be curious and always be learning something. You have to sharpen your ability to see around corners and see patterns before they became trends.
5. Your brand has to be synonymous with quality
“After starting out, what was important to me was ensuring quality. I wanted to be known for excellence and quality. I not only wanted to attract the right clients, but I also wanted to retain them. Do that for your business, and clients will start looking for you,” she advises
6. Build solid relationships on your way up
“Cash flow is always a challenge. Most large corporates expect you to give them 30 days to make the payment, and in many cases, more time than 30 days. In the meantime, you have to bear all business-related costs – employees’ salaries, rent and your personal expenses. That for me meant I had to build a steady crew of vendors who would extend credit to us ensuring we have enough time to receive our payments and sort them out. ”
7. Expect failure
Gina Din says success and failure go hand in hand and as a first-time entrepreneur, you probably won’t get it right the first time. She advises that one figure out what’s working, which may sometimes not be what one set out to create. But once you find it, focus on it relentlessly.
“Of course, when I first started my journey into the business I took failure way too personal. Further on in my journey, I came to see failure as a challenge. I had failures from lack of proper planning, hiring the wrong people, to scaling too fast. I have learned many lessons.”
8. Hire the right people from the start
“I always hired for attitude. Skill can always be taught. We hired incredible people and trained a large number of PR professionals in the country.”