Following is my business interview that Pineapple Pakistan conducted in October 2020:
How does Nadiya Najib manage to be an entrepreneur, a super mommy and a digital marketing business owner all at one time? On the public front, Nadiya is a digital influencer with over 45k followers on Instagram and a huge following on her blog.
Please tell a bit about you and your business for those who don’t know you
I am a digital marketing business owner based in Halifax, Canada. The main areas of my business are website, social media, brand promotion, mentoring and some add-on services like photography and logo creation.
I started my business in December 2018, the same month that I found out that I was expecting. I just love having my own business and having the freedom to:
- Work on my own terms
- Work as much as I want
- Manage work-life balance
- Do what I love and
- Work how I want
After a lot of struggle in my life, I feel my own business gives me the flexibility, freedom and ease I feel I deserve at this point in life.
What inspired you to be an entrepreneur?
Both my sisters (Nataliya & Waliya Najib Khan) have had their own business for many years now. They were the major source of inspiration for me. My husband also provided full support throughout this journey.
What prior experience did you have? And what made you think of doing something of your own?
I’m an MBA in Marketing. Before I started my own business, I had 10 years of work experience within Sales & Marketing from different cities in the UK & Pakistan. I had worked with a total of 8 companies (because of shifting) and had gathered a lot of corporate and professional experience.
Somewhere in the middle of working in the corporate grind, I started feeling uneasy and questioned myself if this is the life that I really want for myself?
There was difference of interest with my bosses. I was passionate about some of the company products which they didn’t want to invest in or they wanted me to write about services that I didn’t feel strongly about.
“I started asking myself: I’m spending 40 hours a week helping others achieve their dreams. What about my dreams?”
That’s when I started focusing a lot on my own blog and gave it more attention. I loved the fact that I could be my own boss and choose to write about things that I truly was passionate about.
I explored and started a blog on Blogger platform then moved on to WordPress and learned all its tricks and trades. I constantly kept learning by watching tutorials and reading blogs online. I kept looking at benchmark websites and knew what I wanted my website to look like. That’s how I learned how to create websites with no formal education in that field. During my full-time job, I collected all my samples of work and built my online portfolio which could prove my work anywhere in the world.
I highly recommend you all in corporate world, to start a side hobby, activity or business that will give you inner happiness and peace and may, one day become your main source of income. My blog was definitely a stepping stone for my business which helped me gain the audience I needed.
How did you start your digital marketing business from scratch?
Moving to Canada, was my third migration and I had seen how badly it affects one’s corporate career. So I was very clear that I do not wish to start applying for a job and start from scratch anymore. I also didn’t really want A JOB. I had no fascination left for it.
I used my free time to improve my blog for some months. After spending 40 hours of my valuable time at work doing others projects for years, I had realized how precious this time is that I could finally focus on my own passions.
I set up ads & affiliates on my blog to start earning. I started building an Instagram audience and my blog posts finally started getting noticed. But soon, I realized that it would be near impossible for me to only survive on the income from my blog.
I was scheduled to fly to my sister in Seattle who has had her photography business there for 5+ years. She is extremely talented and has been my business guru since that trip. I was so inspired by her professionalism, business ethics and how she manages her home, business and daughter, all at the same time. She helped me with some references, links and a lot of inspiration.
Her friend in Seattle became my first ever business client when she said to me that she loves my website and wants to hire me to create hers. I had been doing it for other companies in the corporate world but I thought why not take this project and do it all myself. That first project gave me the boost and confidence to start my own business.
Since moving to Halifax, my husband and I have been actively attending and engaging in professional/social networking events. After I returned from my holiday, we sat down and designed my new business cards my husband always makes them for me) and I decided to start my own business then. Made a few phone calls to get business tax registration set up and I was good to go. At networking events, I met so many of new people and exchanged business cards and told them about my business. I found all my local clients through such events.
I had been attending various events where I made a lot of friends in Canadian, Pakistani and other immigrant communities. One of my friends also hired me as a mentor. Word of mouth also helps esp. if you’re social.
With each and every product/service you market, you will gain a greater insight of marketing and advertisements and what strategies work best. You can start by looking into digital marketing case studies and use businesses/personalities you like as benchmarks.
Where to start?
Start a business idea with brainstorming. Think of what you can do. What is it that you do best? How can you provide value to others lives? What are your strengths? Pick up a product that you are passionate about or a service you think you are expert at and start building your portfolio around it.
Try not to let perfectionism come in your way. ‘Good enough’ is a great place for you to launch. Create good business systems. Automate! Keep working hard and eventually you will get the audience you need.
What is the key to success:
Do what you love and keep improving your systems. Keep finding better ways to work. Eventually, you will get noticed and start seeing results.
- Hard work
- Constant learning
Some pro-tips for starters
The number of online jobs for digital marketing is growing 80% more than other jobs and that’s what makes it a very safe skill to learn and invest in. Following are some tips to help anyone who wants to start a new business:
It’s always a great idea to watch tutorials and guides on YouTube about all topics that you want to excel in.
Attending networking events and distributing your business cards to everyone you meet is a great way to grow your business.
Before you launch your business, make sure you have prepared all your material beforehand and all your procedures are in place. So once you meet a potential client, you have your portfolio, services, media kit, packages and invoices in place.
You should have your website and social media ready and updated. Businesses hire people who they believe are professional and passionate to put energy into their work and your well-sorted presentations and professionalism speak volumes when competing with others for a project.
Start something of your own
Even if you’re stuck in the corporate world, invest some of your free time in something of your own. It’ll give you inner satisfaction, freedom and a backup income plan. The corporate world may seem alluring and promising but honestly, we cannot bank on it.
We can not depend on a single mode of income. Its always a great idea not to put all your eggs in one basket. A great example is the pandemic eating millions of jobs around the globe in only 6 months. Starting a side business (or at least a blog) is a great idea to utilize your skills to your own benefit.
Build your portfolio
In these times, your degrees don’t matter as much as your portfolio (see how I have created mine). Place all your projects, things you can do and the work you have already done on an online space e.g google drive or your own website and send it to potential clients. Once your work clicks with a project requirement, you will easily secure the project.
Grow your audience
Your business growth depends on how many people can find you. So that means good SEO and a high number of followers on your digital media. Once you’ve gained a big audience on your social media, its easy for you to grow your business organically. More exposure translates into more sales for your brand.
Learn from Competitors
Always study your competitors in detail. Get inspiration from benchmark businesses, websites and social media channels that are doing well. Carefully notice everything: website, photography, social media, campaigns etc. Don’t copy, but learn how they are marketing themselves. Following competitors opens up new horizons, gives you ideas and the confidence and boost you need.
Don’t cut corners
I often get asked how to start earning from home quickly and easily. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to start earning money without hard work and struggle. Business owners, entrepreneurs, mentors and Instagram Influencers may seem to have an easy life but it really isn’t so.
There is a lot of hard work that goes into branded yourself right and keep creating content until you’re finally noticed and start gaining some following. Nothing big comes easily in life, we have to work hard for it!
Never stop learning
In the old times, once we got a degree, we were good for life. This is the digital age. The day we stop learning, we are left behind. No matter what business we are in, we must constantly update our knowledge and learn to improve all our processes through technology and new ideas to be successful. Keep thinking of ways you can make your business/idea more efficient and research tools to help you with it.
Use technology to your advantage
It’s a fast-paced world and technology is there to rescue you at every step. There are hundreds of free tools & apps that you can use to your advantage and get things done like a pro. Find webtools, apps and extensions to make your life/work easier.
For instance, for designing, Canva is a free tool with thousands of templates for just about anything. Later is a great app to schedule your Instagram posts. I have a list of free resources on my website compiled for people looking out to automate processes.
Lastly, we must stay optimistic and work towards greater opportunities in life. In order for our business to grow, we have to work hard consistently and one day, our hard work will surely pay off!
Here is the video interview of this article:
Following is the interview published on Pineapple Pakistan website:
- Did this article help?
- Are you an entrepreneur? What advice would you give other business owners?