Movers and Shakers | Beatrice Ngalula Kabutakapua
Beatrice helps social good organisations use communication in an effective, strategic and authentic way. As part of this, she designs and delivers tailored communication and marketing workshops.
She is a storytelling coach; helping women entrepreneurs who are at the beginning of a new venture, know, own and share their story to include it in their marketing and communication material. The work aims to make them more visible on their own terms so that they can get more from life but also give back to the community.
What drove you to start your own business?
If you knew you had a super-power that would help people to have more and give more, would you use it?
Even if it meant challenging yourself, overcoming your fears, accepting “failure”?
One day I simply answered “yes” to those two questions and accepted my true calling. I help people tell stories so that they can be visible exactly how they want to, so that no one else can tell their stories for them, so they can feel confident.
I was once a so-called shy young girl who did everything to be invisible until it wasn’t possible anymore. After working as a journalist for years, I felt purposeless and decided to focus on something which was closer to my heart: telling the stories of African migrants like my parents but by travelling all over the world.
The only thing I hadn’t considered was that in order to tell those stories, I needed to share mine, on camera. I didn’t like to be visible. So I had to go through this painfully successful journey of telling my story over and over and over again. Each time I’d learn something new, every time my awkward self-consciousness made more space for pride, confidence and awareness. And when I eventually started sharing pieces of my story in my business, along came income and real, authentic connections and recognition.
I thought to myself, “Wow! Why did I have ever let my voice be a secret? And if I’ve been keeping this a secret, imagine how many other women like me are doing the same!”
We are told as women, as black women, as mothers to stay in our lane, keep our heads down. And this influences the way we show up in everything thing we do.
But what if we hold the microphone, took the pens and start sharing our stories? Not one, but millions of us?
Gosh, the world would be different! This was the vision I had in mind when I started my current business.
What was your career path prior to starting your business?
Before working as a communication strategist and storytelling coach I worked for a decade as a freelance journalist for magazines, newspapers and radio. I then moved into documentary making and eventually became a workshop facilitator. I then created a social enterprise which is now closed.
Tell us about the business planning stage (for example: did you write a business plan? did you contact any business support agencies?)?
For the longest time, I made the mistake of not considering freelancing as an enterprise. But after closing my social enterprise, for which I had developed a business plan, I started to be more specific about my business objectives as a solopreneur.
My first stop in my entrepreneurial journey has been at British Library Business and IP centre. I read countless books on entrepreneurship. In fact, I went to my local library and read every business book. Books were often pointing me towards online resources as well.
Whenever there were business fairs or marketplace I went and collected flyers, asked questions.
But the bottom line was trying to understand exactly what I wanted my business to be about, how I wanted it to be structured and how much I wanted to pay myself. And those are decisions I had to make for myself based on what I wanted my life to look like.
How far ahead do you plan and what keeps you on track and motivated?
I have a one year plan of where I want to get. Which helps me to be effective with whatever I do. Having recurrent milestones give me the advantage of always knowing why I’m doing what I’m doing. And this is for the grand plan of the business.
Then I plan one month in advance for clients outreach and content. Although the actual execution is usually a week in advance for the content of my blog and the newsletter.
Keeping the motivation up for me is a matter of being reminded:
- How I feel when everything runs on track
- The positive impact of my work
Which is why I keep feedback and comments from my clients in a folder on my computer. But to be honest, sometimes the motivation levels are just zero and I simply accept that. Tomorrow is another day.
Can you describe a typical working day?
Each day can differ. But I wake up around 8AM, get the kids ready, have family breakfast and prepare meals for the day. Then around 9-9:30AM I get to work; I usually already know what I’m going to focus on.
If I have a session with one of my amazing entrepreneurs, I spend the 30 minutes before setting myself ready to listen and revise the notes from our previous session. We then have an energetic hour strategisizing via Zoom and after that I send them exercises and a recap from the session.
Throughout the day I try to be consistent in practicing yoga at least once. Before going to bed I work for around two hours and get to bed around 10:30pm, read a chapter of a book and the day is over
What has been the most amazing day in your entrepreneurial life so far?
Honestly, whenever one of my clients tell me they’re making progress I jump to the roof with joy! Both because I’m genuinely happy for them, but also because it’s a confirmation that what I’m doing matters.
And as an entrepreneur that reminder is gold.
What has been your scariest moment?
Probably when I realised I had been burnout and didn’t notice. Balancing family life, two kids and an ambitious career is not a piece of cake and I’m happy to admit that.
Realising I had been exhausted has been really important because it’s something that keeps me in check now. I am more careful and attentive to what my mind and body need.
How do you work on making your business grow?
Growing for me goes hand in hand with developing the ability of being patient. I know where I want to take my business to and I know it’s going to take time.
I have yearly objectives in terms of financial growth but also spend quite sometime at the end of each year reviewing what I have done, what has worked and what hasn’t. I keep experimenting, learning and getting qualified so I can increase my fees as well.
But if I had to sum up the whole process in a few words, I’d say that growth for me comes from: automation, new challenges, learning, measuring.
What is the best thing about being your own boss?
Flexibility and improvements.
Every month, every year, I’m better than I was before, I know more and earn more. And that’s the kind of growth I have always dreamt of. Plus, I can be flexible on my time and schedule but most of all, I can work from anywhere.
What are the challenges of working for yourself and how do you tackle them
Flexibility and social connections. Being flexible is a dream but it can be a nightmare as well if you don’t have discipline and boundaries. So I have learned to set some for myself like sleeping time, breaks, hours of work.
Also, working from home is what I have always wanted but sometimes I really need to connect to other likeminded people, in person. Which is why I love Precious nights at the British Library!
Who do you admire or look to for inspiration as a business owner?
My future self
What piece of advice has had the most impact on your business? And who was it from?
“Focus” is one of the most important business advice I was ever given and it came from a mentor/entrepreneur I met through an organisation called Expert Impact.
What are the three books, websites or resources (professional or personal) that you would recommend to other business owners?
Quiet by Susan Cain
Everything is figureoutable by Marie Forleo
Becoming (journal) by Michelle Obama
What other passions do you have away from your business? How do you relax?
The pro and cons of doing a job that I love is that I’m also very passionate about it. But to stay sane I need to sometimes pull the plug.
During the rest of my time I play guitar and sing, sew, write, do some gardening, read, do some yoga, learn Arabic, play with my kids, watch movies and tv series.
Connect with Bea at www.kabutakapua.com