In the heat of the world’s worst economic recession, May 2009, Lloyd Msomi took a very brave step and resigned from his full-time job to launch a brand activations agency, Urban Nation Advertising.
He connects brands with consumers by setting up engaging activations in consumer ‘hot spots’ such as taxi ranks, shopping centres, stores and campuses across the country.
Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
“I can’t even remember how old I was when I fell in love with the concept of using something small and simple to make money.
My mother is definitely my inspiration. She brought us up by designing and sewing garments which she sold to her network.
I developed an interest in marketing and advertising at university and I landed a job at a marketing agency after completing my studies. However, not long after, I gave in to my childhood desire of being in charge of my destiny.”
How long did it take you before you started seeing substantial profit?
“Every project we’ve done over the past two years has made a profit but in a small business, even large profit is rarely sustainable, as you’ve got to keep closing deals in order to sustain the business.
I’ve taken most of the profit and channelled it back into the company to grow its assets. It’s common knowledge that most aspiring entrepreneurs aren’t able to live beyond 12 months, so I count myself as truly blessed to have made it past the two-year-mark.”
Who is your biggest client?
“Right now, I don’t have any clients I consider “big”. Currently we find ourselves serving other more established marketing agencies through referrals. However, the biggest deal I’ve closed thus far has been Smirnoff (Spin and Storm).
We provided market insights, brand ambassador management, music consultancy and event management services.
We’ve also been very fortunate enough through our solutions to have serviced the likes of KFC, Nedbank and Vodacom.”
Was networking with other people in the industry helpful to your success?
“Networking in my industry has helped immensely. My personality has made this very easy, as I’m quite a talkative person. I’ve also found that it’s best to not only network with people in your own industry but to network with people in general.
I managed to get some business after receiving a call from an acquaintance in the engineering industry.”
What is your business philosophy?
“Always keep your word and never promise something you can’t deliver. Positioning of my personal brand is also very important especially in a small business operation because people buy into the person before they buy into the business, so a good reputation is important.”