Happy New Year. My interview with Afrokanist magazine was featured in their second edition and I just thought to share with you. As always, I’ve kept it real as I know it and I hope you can pick one or two things from it.
Let me know your thoughts in the comment section. Happy reading.
Who is Fauntee Bon? (Faustina Anyanwu)
Faustina Anyanwu is my real name formally Faustina Uche . So who is Faustina ? I first see myself as a woman who has a vision to add value to the world. I’m a wife, mum and entrepreneur . I studied Nursing and Midwifery before coming back to my first love which is media. So you can rightly say that Faustina is a publisher and entrepreneur. With my husband, Emeka Anyanwu, we established a publishing, media and entertainment company – Faunteewrites Limited which is the parent company for all our products which are – C. Hub magazine, Pearlwoman magazine, Divas of colour, Faunteewrites books and CA award and MBW PR. There many others which were yet to launch as we try to cement the foundations of these other brands . I’m also a writer, poet and a business and or motivational speaker.
I like to see myself as a simple yet focused and determined. I’m a Christian and a strong advocate for women’s right . I believe so much in equity as against equality. Also, I refuse to accept that Black history should be based on slavery at all .
What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture or to make significant changes in your society? How did the idea for your business come about?
At about the age of 11 to 12, I began to pick interest in poetry and was writing sporadically. I used to ha e lots of ideas. In fact it was usually in the night that most ideas do flow into my mind. I’ll be half awake half asleep. Those days there’s rarely electricity so I won’t be able to write down my ideas in the darkness. But then, I found out that I’ll wake up in the morning and all the ideas that seemed very vivid will disappear. One day I was so frustrated as the poem I wrote in my head disappeared in the morning . My mum advised me . She asked me to begin to keep pen and paper by my bedside and try to scribble anything I can on the. Paper it will help me to remember actively the ideas in the morning. I did that and it worked. From then, my journey with writing began. My works were published in local magazine and church newspapers.
Then I stumbled onto Oprah Winfrey show sometime . Not quiet sure what age and immediately, I fell in love with the woman I saw on TV. I began to look out for her shows whenever possible . Then when I was in school of Nursing , I began to research more about her. Then I knew I wanted to be like her . In the sense of pursuing my dream of having my own media . That was the first encounter with wanting to create a media business .
However, family pressure kept me on the part of Nursing and being successful in the academic part my mum thought was the best for me as a woman and also due to our family situation at the time. However, deep within me, the idea never died.
When I met my husband and he too wasn’t so keen on Nursing , I told him what I wanted to do. Then also when I came here there weren’t much coverage of any positive thing that Black people were doing , any news about Black people were all very negative. One day my daughter was then 3 asked me, “mum why are all the children in Africa dying? And that was it , I looked at my husband and we both knew time had come for us to take action.
What three pieces of advice would you give to young adults who want to become entrepreneurs?
Being an entrepreneur requires 3 major things. 1. Passion – this is the only thing that will keep you in business as every other thing including money will fail you.
- Be patient and aggressive at the same time. You need patience for all the many times things are going to go wrong and you need to be aggressive enough to stand and pursue what is necessary for your growth.
- You must be self motivated and resilient. – A lot of things are going to go wrong. You will be broke, friends and family are going to leave you. Do you have enough motivation within to carry on without the people closest to you? When you don’t have so much to keep up with demands are you resilient enough to hang on the rope of hope?
If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Every experience I’ve had has been worthwhile . I won’t change a thing. Everything I want to do has been clear in my head and I’ve just been doing that. Someone asked me, “why don’t you merge the two events so you can have one big event?” I said to him, thank you but everything I do carries with it a very important message for specific people. It’s not about the number or how large. But how relevant and how much I’ve been able to deliver that message . For example, most of the things that are said or done at Divas of colour can never be tried at CA award . Different audience , different brand, different message and format too. Likewise our magazines .
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
To be a successful entrepreneur , you must be
- a good manger of everything. – people, time, resources and self.
- You must be quick at learning new skills depending on your area of business. For me, I had to learn a lot of design quickly , editing and all sorts of things that I do for myself.
- You must be competent with the computer and Internet . These days you can not over emphasise the value of computer and Internet to any form of business.
What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
I have failed so many times . One thing about failure is that it helps you kick right back, know what you really want and where your headed.
I’ve held so many events that flopped . Then I had to re-evaluate and re-strategize, removed the ones that didn’t quiet work and moved on. I learnt the hard way never to rely on anyone. Delegate to people, but make sure you supervise and be ready to take over should they disappoint .
How many hours do you work a day on average?
Our business is a tough one. I work almost round the clock. I work mostly at night when I have to do lots of reading , learning and research. Then in the day, is the actual networking and delivery of the services . It’s a clock walk for the past 3 to 4 years.
How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
This is a very interesting question. As a child I grew up working so hard. We work so hard in my family . My mum is a teacher and a single mother of 5. That meant we had to learn to take care of ourselves and my mum too. So transiting into being an entrepreneur and a wife/mum hasn’t been a thing I thought about. Besides my husband is my co-director so we seamlessly interchange roles depending on what’s being done. I mostly run the operational aspect of our business therefore when I’m working , he takes over the family and vice versa.
Thankfully all my girls now go to school from 9am till 3pm. So I have a longer time during the day without them . My husband knows how to sort himself out. So our family is almost the same as the business. Inseparable .
What motivates you?
There are a few things that motivate me .
- When I see the final result of accomplishing something that seemed impossible. I’m charged to do more.
- I used to work hard to make sure my mum doesn’t suffer but now I work hard to make sure my children have a role model in me. I want them to know that as girls and as Black children, they can achieve anything they put their minds to
- Waking up each day to see that at least one person is inspired by me simply doing what I’m passionate about, makes me want to keep going .
- Above all I’m self motivated to change the narratives of who we are as a people . It drives me crazy to see all the stuff that we’re labelled and drives me even more crazy to see our people complaining and hoping that anyone can change their situation but them.
How do you generate new ideas?
Lol. This is the best part of the interview. Ideas flow like stream of water in my head that sometimes, I have headache . I have this anthem I always sing – One thing at a time sweet Jesus , that’s all I’m asking from you…
As a child, there were times when my brain used to move so quickly and I will be seeing things like pictures move so fast like my head is spinning . I didn’t know what that was. I used to hold my head to stop my mind from move that fast. But now it’s stopped and I’ve realised that was ideas flowing on and on. So yes, I could just read a line on a book, or a quote or hear a music or just see a flower and like pam! Ideas spark. For example, Divas of colour, I woke up one morning I wrote a complete format of what I had in mind, presented it to my husband , I even woke up with the name on my lips and that same day, I got the logo designed , I knew how I wanted the logo and that was it. Immediately I tweeted it, it was like every woman was waiting for it.
What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
I ask God everyday never to allow me be in a situation where I can’t help myself. I have random ideas and most times people don’t get it at first . So I need to work it until they get it. So if I’m in a situation where anything I need to do was in the hands of people , I’d have be frustrated.
I hate networking and events and meeting new people. That is the hardest thing for me. Except if I have a major role to play in an event , I will hide well behind in a corner with myself . I hate small takes and chatting with people I know don’t care and probably won’t remember me in the next minute.
I’m very introverted but people think I’m an extrovert . So they see me and want to go on and on with Fauntee, but no. If I don’t know you, I can’t chat with you. It’s usually awkward to me. I feel scared going for networking events . So I avoid going to events that I’m not familiar with people. Where I’m not playing any tangible role , I go with someone I trust or it has to be an event that’s focused on something I’m passionate about.
What are your ideals?
I believe that everyone has something special to deliver to this world. Therefore no one is more important that anyone else. I don’t see myself more highly than anyone and don’t see anyone more highly than me. I respect everyone but do not fear anyone. I accord younger people the same respect I accord older people . One of my biggest trait is honesty. Sometimes people don’t believe anyone can be so honest. I say it as I feel or know it. Sometimes it’s weakness but most times it has been my strength .
I believe that the only way to see up is by looking up. If you look you will find.
I believe also that if you’re honest to yourself and do your part, the universe will in turn give you all you need to excel.
How do you define success?
If you can wake up everyday and be able to do what you completely enjoy doing , where, how and when you want to do it. Then count yourself successful.
What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
One thing is, you must have a healthy definition of success. You must have a goal to actualise. Ones you’re able to identify your life purpose, and you focus on it. That’s it. Never ever compare yourself with anyone. Never ever allow anyone to compare you with anyone or try to sway your focus. Be on your guard at all times.
How do you build a successful customer base?
Customers are very clever people. If you love what you do, they will know. If you’re faking it, they know. For me, I’ve grown with my customer base. Because we didn’t have enough funds, we grew organically where almost every single customer knew me by my first name (or nickname Fauntee). I’ve been very authentic, they know what they see is what they get . No faking it. When we’re struggling, I tell them. Look guys we’re struggling and I need your help . And very many strangers have come up to me to pledge to help us get to the next level. So that’s it.
Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
There’s no pattern to becoming successful. They only thing I would say would be , if you know yourself, know where you’re coming from, know where you’re going to, and you’re prepared to get there, you will get there. It might take longer than you anticipated, but you will eventually reach there.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
What book has inspired you the most?
I read ‘who moved my cheese’ about 13years ago and since then, my life has never been the same again.
What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Having to take risks and face the consequences . Whatever that maybe. Good or bad.
What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
The major difference is you are the driver of your destiny. If things go wrong as an entrepreneur you can figure out what next. While if you worked for someone, your fate is not in your hand. They might decide to throw you out when you’re not prepared .
How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
I use every and any method. Social media has been invaluable . However, I find that not all of them work the same way. I figured that very quickly . You cannot interact the same way on Twitter as on Facebook. I have my policies on each platform.
For example, I do t just keep so many friends. I never want to exceed a certain number. So whenever I exceed that number, I go to check for inactive friends and remove them even if they’re my closest family member . Because social media is like my shop space in a shopping mall you can’t just come and be sitting around without making any input.
In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made?
I’ve made a lot of it. Especially thinking that everyone is like me and that they will be as honest. I found that people say completely something different from what they have in mind or think. They just go with the flow.
How can you prevent mistakes or do damage control?
Mistakes are inevitable. They’re part of life. Damage control is what you can do. I like to cut off any one bringing me negative energy . I say the truth and apologise when I’m aware and it’s my fault.
Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
I love how they brand Barclays Bank, Forbes magazine, Entrepreneur magazine, and Oprah as a brand is superb.