Ronke Lawal, Founder and PR Consultant at Ariatu Public Relations
Specialising in PR and communications across a range of B2C industries, with a particular focus on reaching African and Caribbean diaspora audiences
You’re more daring when you’re younger; you’ve got less of a background of failure. Becoming an entrepreneur in my twenties, I didn’t ask too many questions. I had a degree in International Business Economics and experience of administrative and personnel management. Having helped a friend put together a marketing plan, I set up my own business in 2004. I had no training, background or network – just a belief: ‘I can do this!’
I was used to registering with online business forums, so when the social media boom happened, I was already digitally savvy – attracting good-quality clients early on; then reality hit and, from thereon in, it was very up and down. I’d been naïve and there were harsh lessons to be learned. Living at home without the responsibilities I have today was a blessing.
I started looking for jobs. It was a conscious step back – not a failure. Becoming the CEO of my local Chamber of Commerce for three years was perfect; it filled all my knowledge and experience gaps.
I knew I couldn’t go back to my old business as it was and expect to get different results, so I started again from the beginning – rebranding and streamlining all my services to focus on PR and communications.
Even though I saw the complete turnaround, I felt vulnerable and started to dim my light. Introspection, self-coaching and my virtual mentors helped me get out of my own way.
An associate recommended that I launch a YouTube channel but, at first, I put it off because I didn’t have the ‘right’ camera. Once I got past that excuse and escaped the perfection trap, I got on with it using my phone!
I thought I had to wait for an invite to facilitate someone else’s event; then I woke up one night and decided: ‘Just book a room!’
I also got strong on setting boundaries. Women are conditioned to be people pleasers, which often leads to us being taken for granted. I’ve learned that there’s nothing wrong with being good, kind and principled, but within that you can be respected too.
You don’t have to be anything other than who you really are; claim your voice authentically!