Career change: ‘I needed more when I turned 30’

Turning 30 made Eleanor Douglas-Meyers decide she wanted more in life. Looking back, she is grateful that she then made a bold choice to quit her job and became an entrepreneur.

“Last year I turned 30 and realised that i had been in the same environment since university,” Eleanor explains. “I wanted to try out more things.

“So I resigned, took on some short courses [on things like branding, SEO, marketing, sewing]. I started sewing kids’ gifts for income and decided to re-evaluate my life…”

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WHAT IS SHE UP TO NOW?

“These days I write articles and advertising copy, design for the paper and take on various projects as a way to generate income and also to keep the creative juices flowing.”

Wow. I met Eleanor also known as Just Ella Bella (on her blog) in 2014 while being on a job. We were both journalists and were reporting on an education-issue in Uitenhage.

We clicked instantly.  I think it’s because one: she is very friendly and two, we both have curly hair [we both seem to love the wet hair look].

On the same day I told her about my miscarriage and Eleanor revealed she lost a baby too. She was really open about it. It helps if we are open about things even if it is really heart-breaking to talk about it.

JUST ELLA BELLA

So a few years later, I started blogging [July this year] and met up with Eleanor again, virtually. Her blog teaches moms (or anyone who wants to) how to create things like a monster wallet for your kid.

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Here’s a Q&A I did with Eleanor:

You’re known for blogging about DIY. Since when did you enjoy doing DIY?

This started while I was still a kid. I have always loved making things -from clothes and homes for my dolls to gifts for my family.

I come from a rather creative family (my mom sews, my dad DIY’s everything) so I think it’s genetic in a way.

Tell us about the projects you have done relating to DIY.

I’m all about saving money, so I do gifts and décor. Since becoming a mom I do a lot of things for kids. I have columns on Tums2Tots and MyHeraldLive, sharing the kid-related things.

Where are you from?

I am from Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape.

Tell us about you.

I am a mom to an extremely precocious little boy and wife to a straight laced homicide detective. I’m a bit of the arty farty type so it makes for an interesting mix.

I am a journalist by trade and work as a freelancer. I spend half my week in an office doing newspaper layout and the other half writing articles from home.

I also run the #ECMeetup with my blogging friend Luchae from the blog My Spreadsheet Brain so this keeps me quite busy.

How old is your son?

He is three but is waaay too big for his boots.

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You make your own kids’ clothes like scarves. How did that happen?

I have since closed this side of my freelancing business – I mostly write and organise events things now

How has your journey been?

Some days I want to cry and some days my heart is so full of happiness, it could burst. I have learnt so much about the media industry and about business in the last year. This makes me extremely grateful for that moment I decided that “I needed more”.

Do you make money from your blog?

Off and on, I do sponsored post and do ghost writing for other sites. It’s enough to plow back into the blog like pay for the site but it’s certainly not rated as a steady income at the moment.

What has been your most popular DIY post?

Funny enough, the most popular was the easiest. I stuck some magnets onto those mini groceries from Checkers and people went crazy for it – how unexpected!

Anything else you would like to say, you’re welcome to.

Find like-minded people. I have business besties and blogging besties (outside of my usual friendship circle). It makes the world of a difference when you can vent to someone who gets it. For someone who has had to wait for payment from clients or had their whole blog post disappear, it will keep you grounded, trust me 🙂

Thank you Eleanor for your time. We enjoyed getting to know you!

If you want to share your small achievements, email melissajavan1@gmail.com.

Entrepreneur interview: Getting to know a food truck owner

I have to confess: I have never eaten any cuisines sold by a food truck. It’s on my bucket list though.

The closest thing to a food truck for me is the ice cream trucks. I hear the ice cream truck’s song in my head now.

Recently, while taking part in the #rsabizblogs blogging challenge by Sam Posselt of the SA Biz Chat tribe, I met Julie George who is a food truck owner. Whoop whoop!

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[All images supplied by Gourmet Girl PE.]
Her gorgeous pink truck also known as The Gourmet Girl PE is seen driven around in Port Elizabeth. Julie sells pancakes with sweet and savoury fillings. Hmmm!

Other delicacies include doughnuts and carrot cakes. Julie says she also does catering.

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Here’s 10 things you should know about this food truck owner:

1. She’s from Johannesburg originally. “I now live in Central in the Heritage district,” she says. “I love it!”
2. This is her third career in her life.  “I started out as a Graphic Designer, did that for about eight years. Then I went into kitchen and bathroom design and did that for 15 years. Two years  ago I went into the food and hospitality business.  However, I have been doing specialty cakes for the past eight years.”

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Julie George, owner of the Gourmet Girl PE.

3. Where did her entrepreneurship journey start? “Well it’s hard to pin point as I have had a couple of businesses in my younger years, so I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart.  Gourmet Girl was started in September 2015.”
4. How did she get hold of the food truck? “I bought the tuk tuk from Klinicare – it was their delivery vehicle. I then had a friend of mine convert it and paint it.”
5. Tell us about maintaining your tuk tuk. “Maintenance is a bit tricky in Port Elizabeth, as there is now only one place that does it. I am fortunate enough to have a friend who is very savvy and has been doing all the necessary maintenance for me.”
6. Does she clean the truck herself? ” Hahaha no! I go to the car wash and have had a young chap looking for work, clean it for me.  I do however clean the serving areas myself every time I use it.”

julie george food
7. The best part of her job is the people she works with, especially the customers. “I love the festive atmosphere at events and always have a good time.”
8.  Her small achievements this year? “Well I’ve had some big (to me anyway) achievements this year, mainly getting my blog up and running.  Winning the #rsabizblogs challenge was a huge achievement for me, and just learning as I go along in this business is an achievement.”

julie george carrot cake
Yummy carrot cakes!

9. Lessons entrepreneurship has taught her: Never give up.  “I’ve learned it’s not all glamour, but extremely hard work. The most important thing I’ve learned is how rewarding it is [to be an entrepreneur].”

10. She joined the SA Biz Chat tribe and says it’s beneficial to belong to a network. “Since coming into the blogging tribe, I am blown away by the camaraderie and friendliness shown by all and the willingness to help one another.  I am very blessed to be a part of it.”

Thank you Julie for giving us the opportunity to get to know you. All the best with your journey ahead!
Connect with Julie AKA Gourmet Girl PE on Facebook or Twitter.

7 Steps to Use Twitter When Attending A Live Event + Why Your Business Should Tweet

It pays to live tweet at an event. People who attended the MTN Business South Africa‘s digital entrepreneur masterclass literally saw how the best tweeters of the day got rewarded. The winners got prizes from the day’s sponsors.

Some of the tweets were direct quotes of the day’s speakers, while others posed questions relating to the topics.

As a journalist I learnt the importance of live tweeting a few years ago. At my previous job, Die Son in Port Elizabeth we even got paid airtime if we were great tweeters for a month. That was a great incentive for me – especially since I have family who lives in Cape Town that I had wanted to call. [I owned a Blackberry, I never bought airtime, only data 🙂 Ja, I’m a cheapskate.]

Reasons for live tweeting an event:
— Most people (especially those who love checking their social media platforms like Twitter for news) suffer from Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO).
— Your publication or business gets airplay, meaning their news gets seen by many people and if it’s great content, you get retweets.
— If you continuously share good content, you become a trustworthy source.
— Lastly, YOU GET MORE FOLLOWERS if you share good content.

So what do you tweet, especially if you’re at a live event?

Live tweets are especially great if you are at an industry-related event. Before you tweet, ask the organisers if they have a hashtag [#] for the event. Also find out what their Twitter handle is so that you can tag them. These organisers can then retweet any of your tweets if they’re good.

The Hubspot says that researching before an event is very important. You can create templates before the event and use it to promote the event beforehand – and while the occasion is taking place.

Tweet what you hear or see: Any interesting quotes of speakers will do.

Images and videos work well too. I sometimes take images of people attending the event, especially the speakers.

Try to be personal too: Ask questions relating to the topic discussed. You can also tweet your feelings about being at the event – being positive is key!

Regularly check your notifications to see if any tweeps send you questions about the event. Even if someone asks you where is the event or what is the agenda, try to answer – the more exposure the better.

Be engaging: look at what other attendees are tweeting. If anyone tweets something nice, retweet them. Also try to make a conversation with them.

My number 1 journalism advice: when in doubt, leave it out. This means that if you are unsure of any information, for instance you are not sure if the statistics mentioned at the event is correct, DO NOT TWEET IT.

I hope you found this informative. The above is my perspective. I wrote it as part of Sam Posselt‘s 7-Day #rsabizblogs Challenge. Sam is co-founder is the blogger and business network, SA Biz Chat.

To find out how to use Twitter, read more here.

If there is anything relating to Twitter or tweets you would like to teach me, please, you’re welcome to. Thank you for reading.

Networking: surprising ways to connect with strangers

I don’t know if it’s just me but I like watching people.
For example I used to watch people at night clubs. A lot of them seem expectant, like they are expecting to meet someone that night.

I have been at that stage too. You expect someone to talk to you and make a connection. Heck, I even met some new people in the ladies’ bathroom while we check if we still look good. [If the bathroom looks very nice, you take some photo’s with your friends.]

I am not saying everyone going to a night club is expectant. Some just go there to dance and drink with friends.

The same thing goes for being at a business event. A lot of us go there to network and meet new people, possible clients. But are you one of those that are a bit shy and expectant that someone might talk to you first?

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I have to talk to people, because I am a journalist. No matter how shy I am, I have to mingle because I might meet someone and find a new story for the publication I work for.

LET’S TALK NEWSPAPERS
I wrote a story this week on the Pocket Reporter. It’s a new cellphone app designed to help cadet journalists of the community and grassroots level.

So basically, it helps you get information for the story you are working on. For example, the app gives you questions that you can fill in while working on the story. This way you will have efficient information for your story.

Are there apps that help you talk to someone for the first time? I don’t know.

I do know that approximately 28-million people read independent publications. This is according to the Association of Independent Publishers in South Africa. The organisation says their members print more than 7-million (7,000,340) copies publications like newspapers per month.

So this means A LOT of people in the country reads community and grassroots level newspaper.

I have worked at a newspaper as a journalist and I have realised that a lot of people want their stories to be told. A lot of people want to be listened to. A lot of people want to read others’ stories, especially if they can identify with the person in the story.

WHAT’S MY POINT?
Newspapers or any other publication like a church or company newsletter being printed, shows us that there are stories to be told.

While being a journalist I always heard the term “everybody has a story to tell”.

So whether in a night club or a business event, you have a story to tell AND someone else has a story to share. Holler!

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HOW TO GET SOMEBODY’S STORY?
I often start my networking sessions at an event with a question that could come off as dumb. Like, “are you also an entrepreneur” I would ask the person next to me.

I saw Christopher Barrat’s video on Tedx Talks. He says (successful) networking can be placed in four categories: 1- Know. 2- Like. 3-Trust. 4-Buy.

In his talk, Barrat says you have to be interested before being interesting. That’s why the first two categories are important.

“It’s about how you make them feel [referring to the people you are networking to],” says Barrat.
“Be fascinated by them.”

If you are fascinated by them, chances are that they will start to like you. Once they like you, they will trust you.
Once the trust is there, this person (or people) will buy into you or [buy a product/ service] from you.

So whether you are a business-person or just someone who wants to meet new people, try expecting something different.

Instead of making it about, thinking “someone might talk to me tonight” – rather go and be the first one to talk, then try finding out someone else’s story.

Introduce yourself and get to know someone. Then follow Barrat’s steps.

To find out what else Barrat has to say on networking, watch this video:

Have you done any networking lately? How was it? Do you have any tips on meeting new people?

PS. I have been focusing on the theme “what I learn as a journalist” this week after joining Sam Posselt‘s #rsabizblogs Challenge. Sam is the co-founder of SA Biz Chat, a network that connects brands and bloggers/ small business owners. Today is Day 6 of the Challenge. Today’s theme of the challenge is “anything goes”.

Thank you Sam for the cool tips you send via email.

3 Lessons For Budding Entrepreneurs + IAAE entrepreneurs share successes

I am a journalist and a budding entrepreneur. I learnt the term “budding entrepreneur” on Saturday 19 November at the “I Am An Entrepreneur” (IAAE) event held in Sandton, Johannesburg.

Before I share some small successes, I want to tell you what some of the attendees taught me. Firstly, I learned that a “budding entrepreneur” is someone who is on his way to be an entrepreneur. This person might be in a job – employed by someone – but is taking steps to open his or her own business.

For instance, I met two partners who have not registered their business yet. While they are busy researching and implementing things to get their company in business, they have already drawn up a contract.

[All images are sourced via pexels.com]
[All images are sourced via pexels.com]
ADVICE FOR ENTREPRENEURS

Tip #1: Draw up a contract between you and a business partner, even if your business is not registered yet. Why, you may ask. This contract will for example list the expectations and duties of each one of you.

Tip #2: Networking is the reason to attend these events. I have already mentioned in a previous blog post that many entrepreneurs attend these events to see if they can get clients. Another reason for networking is that you might meet someone that you can have a partnership with.

Lynette Ntuli, founder of IgniteSA, said that one should make time not only to be interested, but also to share something interesting. “You might meet someone that can help you with something you are grappling with (or vice versa).”

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ABOUT THE IAAE

The IAAE was an opportunity for entrepreneurs and aspiring business owners (budding entrepreneurs) to engage with successful business owners and funders. One of the hot topics was getting funding and strategies to implement if you do not have capital yet.

The IAAE coincided with the Global Entrepreneurship Week. IAAE organised by My Start Up SA and Ignite SA, was hosted all over South Africa.

SMALL SUCCESSES

For my “Small Successes” series, I interviewed two entrepreneurs about what they regard as small victories this year.

Sonja De Buyn Sebotsa, co-founder of Identity Partners was one of the speakers at the IAAE. She said that one of her small achievements this year was hosting a women’s dinner. “I rarely have the luxury to enjoy my personal cultural interests. I enjoy the arts.”

She explained the dinner was a pre-launch of an art fair. “I had invited artists, curators and exhibitors. Among the guests was Pamela Joyner, the largest collector of black art.”

The event was hosted at a friend of Sonja’s home.

The challenge, Sonja said, was the guest list. “We had to invite the right mix of people. Also, we had to sort out things like accommodation for the foreign artists.”

Sonja said another achievement was that Identity Partners have gone in a partnership with Ethos Private Equity.

Theo Ngobeni, fashion designer and owner of Mr Slimfit, was an attendee at the IAAE event. He said his small victory this year was seeing his baby (business) grow. “From struggling to [becoming] stable.”

He added that last year he had two employers. Ngobeni now has seven people as part of his staff. “The fact that I am employing people is an achievement. They depend on me. I am feeding families… I am feeding seven families this year.”

Well done Sonja and Theo on your achievements!

My Bucket List: The 3 Things I Already Have Ticked Off

Ever felt like time stood still?

I remember my colleagues and I joking one day about how it felt like two hours later the clock said that only 5 minutes passed.

On Thursday 10 November 2016 I had the opportunity to be host for the first time of a Twitter chat. IT WAS AWESOME!

It really felt like time stood still as I was busy chatting to the followers of SA Biz Chat.

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In between scolding my husband for doing things like leaving the house to go to the shop five minutes after the #SABizChat started, I had the opportunity to engage with some bloggers and small business owners of this tribe.

Yes, Husband even had the audacity to ask me where is Princess’ bum cream as he was about to change her nappy. I had asked him for an hour off, because of this chat. Tsk, tsk, tsk 🙂

THE TWITTER CHAT

Anyways, the topic of the evening was “How to write like a journalist”.

I thought it would be cool to volunteer to be a host and suggest this topic. I am a journalist by profession.

Successful entrepreneurs and bloggers have a few things in common with journalists. I keep hearing “be consistent” when I hear entrepreneurs or bloggers give the key to success. This is what we share if we want to succeed at something.

Another thing is being persistent. Doing research and planning are the other things we have in common. So yes, we can learn from each other, even if we use what we learn in different ways.

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Here are things we discussed during my topic:

  1. Who is your target market (reader)?
  2. Who or what are your sources?
  3. What and how do you pitch?
  4. Taking action: research, plan and do interviews or go out on your story
  5. What do you write & checking the facts

MY BUCKET LIST

I have been thinking about how I should probably put up things like this on a Bucket List. Instead of drawing up a bucket list beforehand of things I would like to do, I am just going to make up my list as I go along and achieve small things.

The one thing I do not have ticked off yet is “Do a Live Stream Facebook Chat”.

I have realised that I have learned A LOT in my career, so I would like to share what I know. This is one of the reasons for the Twitter chat. Another thing I can tick off is giving a presentation about “writing as a journalist” to a small group of people. I did this at our blogger meet up on Saturday.

Why don’t I just do a proper bucket list like normal people do, you might ask. Well, I am a scaredy cat – not an adventurous person. So you won’t ever hear me saying that I will jump out of an airplane to do skydiving or jump off anything (bungy jump = no ways).

So thank you to everyone who participated in the #SABizChat on Thursday 10 November. I had a great time. To hear what some of you are busy with, is amazing. Thank you for sharing.

ABOUT SA BIZ CHAT

SA Biz Chat is a network run by Sam Posselt, Tiaan Geel, Chantal Bezuidenhout and Natasha Nathoo. The chat is hosted on Thursday evenings for an hour during 19:00 and 20:00. Every week a topic is discussed. Previous topics include HR 101.

Do you have a bucket list, and what is on it? Also, what would you consider a small achievement you accomplished this year?

My first time as a host of a Twitter chat

I think my love for entrepreneurship started while I was working at a grassroots newspaper.

It was in 2011, the year I also did the part time National Degree in Journalism course. That year was tough. On Tuesday- and Thursday evenings I had to go to class after a long day at work.

I worked on the Cape Flats – which is known as a very dangerous side of Cape Town. Amazingly enough, despite the fact that I probably surrounded by crime, I only once was robbed (of my cell phone).

Why is it amazing? Well, I also walked to stories – to do interviews with people I mean. I walked and made use of public transport. Yes, I was a bit scared of the bad elements or as I would call the “skollies” (gangsters) back then. The thing is, I was just to eager to do journalism. I practically would do anything to just continue doing my job.

While working at The Cape Flats News, I learnt how tough it is to run your business. I was the junior news editor. I had to oversee the freelancers, create and maintain the social media pages.

The Publisher of the newspaper did sales for the business and also had his hand in the layout of newspaper. Our personal assistant had to sell adverts and also helped with the Youth Page or did some graphic design.

At grassroots level publications you learn to do more than one thing. We went to courses and had workshops on how to maintain the newspaper. [Grassroots level newspapers are mainly run by independent publishers.]

My boss (the Publisher) taught me the value of having relationships with your clients – them taking care of you and vice versa. I later learned that despite the tough economic climate, some the clients still offered to help us financially by buying adverts.

That office was like my second home and it broke my heart when we got retrenched.

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Anyway, so this past few months I have joined a blogger- and small business owners’ network called the SA Biz Chat. On Thursday evenings for an hour from 7pm, there is the #SABizChat on Twitter. There’s a different topic for each chat.

On 27 October 2016, for instance, the topic was Human Resources 101. We chatted with a Human Resources Manager about things like “What is an employee file” to “What is interview guides”. Questions like “What do you need when you start hiring employees” were asked.

While this chat was live, I checked out another chat of a network called She Leads Africa. This initiative tells stories of African women who are successful entrepreneurs, and it also gives advice on how to better your business. Their chat #SheHiveJoburg was an interview with a South African entrepreneur, Thokozile Mangwiro. This founder of hair care company Nilotiqa spoke about how her business started and how research played an important role to get and keep clients.

She said: “Primary research is engaging with potential customers. Research can [also] be observing what a potential customer struggles with.”

These Twitter chats are live and gave me an opportunity to engage with these people, ask them questions and get answers.

I love listening to stories, especially those of entrepreneurs. This is probably why journalism is a great job for me. I get to learn a lot from people and the research I do.

So, on Thursday 10 November 2016 I will be a host of the SA Biz Chat. My topic to bloggers and small business owners will be “Writing like a Journalist”. I signed up, thinking this might be a cool thing to do. You know, like those people talking about ticking off things on their bucket list. Well, I am making up my bucket list as I go along.

Yes I am nervous, but also excited to do this. The last time I spoke in front of people – I think – was probably while I was working at Cape Flats News. I remember talking to high school children about my career and I even taught youngsters about doing citizen-journalism.

This is it.

Thank you to the Cape Flats News team that planted a seed. I also appreciate all the entrepreneurs and senior journalists who taught me amazing things along the way. Tomorrow night it will be my turn to teach. I can’t wait 🙂