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Kim's story on... running into the fire

Kim was intent on becoming a journalist, everyone in school knew that, but in some twists and turns that is typical in life, PR (Public Relations) found her and this is where she found an unexpected passion.  Having been in many sink or swim environments, Kim today has built up extensive experience and really honed her skills as an astute practitioner in her field.  Through further exposure to many CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) initiatives by the nature of her role, she grew fond of that feeling you get when you know you are waking up to doing something purposeful everyday and that you have the opportunity to be a part of impact creation for the wider community.  This pushed her to take the leap into entrepreneurship, abandon her life as a PR employee and build up her own version of impact creation for every Founder she works with.  

“Of course financial sustainability is something we all have to focus on. I realised that as an employee I had the finances to give, and I did give back, but at times I was so busy that even though I could help, I wasn’t always able to due to time constraints and work commitments.  I decided enough was enough, working for myself would afford me the opportunity to take my time back and apply my skills to give back both professionally and personally."

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, unlike many others, Kim’s job was more stable than ever but she felt the suffering that many around her were experiencing and felt a greater urgency to follow her heart and pursue a wider reaching impact than what she was having in her role at the time.  Taking the brave leap into entrepreneurship meant that Kim was now able to connect her passion to something that was purposeful.  Her focus was on NGO’s and startup entrepreneurs who just needed the support from someone experienced enough in the PR function, to have the foresight to advise them over hurdles, and give them a fighting chance.  

Today her next business milestone is one that many entrepreneurs experience a few years on, and that is to make her business more sustainable by transferring the dependence from her alone, to her team.  She reminds us of the severe risk for the business when it cannot function without the Founder. This does not necessarily mean building teams the traditional way, Kim is exploring growth through professionals who can function independently but still within her business.  An interesting strategy which many a Founder is exploring that not only helps them stay small, nimble and self-sufficient but also encourages an entrepreneurial spirit within the business (not to mention wiping out all the HR requirements when it comes to employing). 

“It's very different when you come in as an employee and someone is paying your salary, you only worry to a certain level in terms of how well the business is doing.  I want to take those I work with closer on the journey where they understand the business, from financials to client relationship management to sourcing new business, where together we carry the business forward in a mutually beneficial way.”

Kim has witnessed many Founders going in a certain direction because they are passionate or skilled in a particular area but often they find themselves lacking in business experience from governance to sales to networking and so forth.  She advises Founders to be really honest with themselves and delve into understanding exactly who they need to bring in, in order to help their business function.  She feels the tricky part is not deciding on whether to bring in certain skills and expertise but rather making the decision on WHEN to invest in WHICH skills.  Also how long can the business afford to do without it, and how long can one wait till reaping the benefits, because it all comes at a price.  

“Having the wisdom on when to spend in order to grow is something we are all challenged by and something we all need to learn.”

Kim cautions us not to be ‘driven by our inbox’ meaning if there are no emails coming in, many feel there is nothing to be done.  She advises us to set our OWN deadlines and not be only compliant to those set by others, to set ourselves targets for the various things our business requires from us, to spend time building our business rather than waiting for business to just come in.  She alludes to how crucial self-discipline is for entrepreneurs, with no one else cracking the whip, we have to find ways to keep ourselves accountable.  In the same vein, Kim reminds us to set boundaries when it comes to work infringing on our personal life so that those that matter the most to us do not suffer because of our entrepreneurial dreams.  

Final words of wisdom?

“Do not run away from a Crisis.  Ever considered how many businesses are born out of a crisis?  This is where ideas that solve problems are born. Do not be scared of a crisis or a challenge because necessity breeds innovation".

"I once watched a group of firefighters responding to a house that was burning in our road. Watching them in action, caused me to adopt a theme, which I share with my teams. We say: ‘Be a firefighter.’ Don’t just run into a fire blindly, you will be of no help! Assess the situation, decide on a course of action to stabilise things and protect the people involved, systematically mobilise the tools for the task, follow the leader, roll out the plan and ignore the distractions. When you’ve mastered this approach, you will not only be able to fight fires and manage crises, but you will be able to turn a negative situation around and salvage a potentially dying business, or like in the case of fynbos, control the burn enough for something new to blossom out of that pressure situation.” 

How fitting for a PR Founder to see the good in a crisis!  Kim talks with an overwhelming sense of calm, it’s no wonder her clients entrust her to bridge the gap in narrative between them, their business and the outside world.   

“Solving niche challenges Founders face”.

Illustrator: Lisa Williams (Instagram: @artist_llw)


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