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Movers and Shakers | Stephanie Njoku| Neo Percept IP

Stephanie Njoku is director and co-founder of Neo Percept IP an Intellectual Property law firm that has a strong focus on helping black entrepreneurs, start-ups and SMEs protect, maintain and enforce their trademarks, designs and copyright. The firm launched in September 2021.

What inspired you to start your own business?

After working in IP for a few years, I noticed that there was a significant disparity between Black-owned or ethnically diverse-owned businesses that were protecting their Intellectual Property and other non-ethnic businesses.
After some research, I realised that there was a lack of awareness about IP and its importance within the Black community. Considering this, my husband and I decided to start an IP law firm so that people like us, could find a friendly voice in what is often seen as a convoluted area of law. I also had a lot of encouragement from my husband, family and friends who saw my passion, heard my story and understood my purpose in life.

What were the first few steps you took to get the business up and running?

I made sure that I had a business plan and knew all the legal requirements necessary for running a law firm. I also connected with key lawyers and other professionals within the Black community that I wanted to either work with or have as advisors/mentors. Once I had some connections, I registered the company and filed my trademark.

How far ahead do you plan and what keeps you on track and motivated?

I have a general yearly planner which has targets and goals so that I can see what I would like to achieve by the end of the year. However, I really like and utilise a monthly planner because it helps me to focus on short term goals and quick wins.
My husband, who is also my business partner is 1000% dedicated to ensuring that I am accountable for any plans or goals we set. He keeps me in check and sets me straight if I am behind or have fallen off track.

Are there any sacrifices you’ve had to make as an entrepreneur?

Yes, absolutely. As a brand new start-up law firm with no clients to start off with, my husband and I had to survive on just his salary (he has a full-time job in management consultancy). It was very difficult in the first few months because we had to do a lot of networking and marketing (which wasn’t free) before we retained any clients. If there are any couples that are either in business together, or only one of you is in business, hang in there! The struggle is real!

What has been the most amazing day in your entrepreneurial life so far?

The best day of my entrepreneurial journey to date was hearing feedback from a client who was so grateful to have found us because we were able to settle their trade mark dispute quickly and efficiently, allowing their business to stay afloat.

What has been your scariest moment?

My scariest moment was the first time that I posted about the new firm on LinkedIn. I was absolutely petrified of what my peers and more importantly, what my superiors might think.

Just to put things into context, it is not common for a lawyer to start up a new law firm on their own. More so, a young black female! I imagined the negative comments that would flood my post from very senior lawyers chastising me for not waiting until I had served as a partner for 100 years before setting up a rival firm. However, that never happened. It turns out that lots of people, including senior lawyers were very supportive.

How do you work on making your business grow?

One of the key driving factors for growth in my opinion is having fantastic mentors and coaches that can help decipher the things that will help a business grow versus time-wasting activities. As the saying goes, you don’t know what you don’t know.
As a trained lawyer, I am an expert on the law and its application. However, business is something completely new to me and any business development that I had done was certainly inadequate for helping me start and scale a law firm. I quickly learned that mentorship and coaching is vital.

What is the best thing about being your own boss?

I am responsible for determining the trajectory of my career and I no longer have to keep hitting my head against any corporate class ceiling. Change is within my hands and not someone else’s.

What are the challenges of working for yourself and how do you tackle them?

The greatest challenge of working for myself is keeping motivated whilst doing tasks that fall outside of my skill set. For many entrepreneurs, you are everything in the business, receptionist, finance department, marketing etc. I try to outsource as much as I can and then for the jobs that I am not able to outsource just yet, I have days when I focus on one type of task.

Who do you admire or look to for inspiration as a business owner?

Steven Bartlett. He is a phenomenal thinker, very outside of the box.

What piece of advice has had the most impact on your business? And who was it from?

Get your ego out of the way. Your job as an entrepreneur is to hire people that are smarter and better than you. This was from Steven Bartlett

What are the three books, websites or resources (professional or personal) that you would recommend to other business owners?

Rich Dad Poor Dad  (book) – Robert Kiyosaki

HubSpot website (there are lots of great free resources for business owners)

The Alchemist (a book about following your dreams)

What other passions do you have away from your business? How do you relax?

I love to cook and travel (prior to covid). I have my own recipe book that I have compiled of the new dishes that I have created. Maybe one day I will open up a restaurant…

How can people connect with you on social media?:

LinkedIn (Stephanie Njoku),
Instagram @neoperceptip

Neo Percept was a finalist in the Start up of the Year category in the 2021 PRECIOUS Awards.

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