Both career women and those in business have faced many obstacles in past decades and unfortunately, they still do today. Although many women around the world and particularly in Zambia are embracing entrepreneurship, they often encounter unique issues as they go on in business and most of which not typically shared by their male counterparts.
Guest Bio: Inutu is the co-founder and managing director of Pam Golding Properties Zambia which she founded in 2008 Pam Golding Properties provides residential services, commercial services, property management and valuation services. Prior to Pam Golding Properties she started her career working for Meridian bank for 3 years, after the bank she got into the property market purely by accident starting out as a property agent for Dezraise, and later Platinum Gold equity. She later developed her skills in property and in 2008 the opportunity came for her to start Pam Golding properties.
Property business, what it’s all about….
Mrs Kalumba: I like to liken the property business to any other business, it’s like trading you buy something and you expect to make a profit out of it. So if you are buying a house and you wish to put it on rent, your property broker is the one who helps you with the purchase and helps you find a tenant for that property. This is a professional business and some of the most successful business owners are involved in real estate, take for example president Trump he has amassed wealth from his real estate portfolio.
There are different aspects to property; owning property, selling property and using property as collateral to borrow to start another business.
What challenges have you encountered during your time in business?
Mrs Kalumba: As a business owner you face challenges on various levels, internal challenges and external challenges.
Speaking of internal challenges, the first thing is that you have to get to grips with realising that the business is yours and you are responsible over everybody who works under you and the partners or directors.
The external challenges I have faced are the economic down turns from the time I started my business in 2008 to date. Another challenge I have faced is recruiting; who to recruit, the property industry is a new business and I have had to be careful with choosing the people whom I want to represent my business. Lastly, being a woman in this business I have found myself as the only woman on most of the big projects I work on, sometimes my emphasis on key issues has been misinterpreted by the male counterparts as women are highly analytical, observant, and critical and we have this gut instinct that we can’t explain to our male counterparts.
How have you been able to overcome these challenges?
Mrs Kalumba: I have been able to overcome challenges by changing my mind-set. “I walk into a meeting and not label myself as Inutu a woman doing business, but Inutu doing business has helped me overcome the feeling of being intimidated and staying afloat in business”. I have also taught myself to understand how men communicate differently from women, a man’s communication style is very different from a woman. Women are very expressive and we turn to go round in circles whereas men always go straight to the point. Most importantly I have learnt not to take offence or take things personally.
I have also developed a mentality of finding out the needs of those I want to work with i.e. my customers, my employees and financiers so as to ensure I get the best out of every relationship in business. This given me the ability to help them understand the intricacies of my business.
The most common challenge women face in business is work-life balance, how do you achieve work-life balance?
Mrs Kalumba: I think women need to be celebrated a lot more seeing that a woman runs two businesses. She runs a business with employees, stakeholders and customers. Then there is the husband and the children that also wait on you. Whether you are working full time or running your own business, I feel one of the critical things is having a good support system and making your children understand that what you are doing will take sacrifice from everybody.
“I shared with my children at the start of my business that I wanted to take that journey and I had them understand that, I also have a supportive husband who helps me get it together when I feel overwhelmed as well as my children giving me brilliant ideas”
To help me achieve work life balance I have gotten myself to understand how I work, I have learnt to understand my mind and when it operates at peak and that you need to rest when you are tired, “when I am tired, I take a seat and recharge”. I also schedule time for myself outside my work environment as too much work wearies you and affects how you relate with employees and clients.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your business to date?
Mrs. Kalumba: The most important lesson I have learnt is to understand the value of two very important stakeholders in any business. Understanding the value of the people who I work with i.e. my team; I work with these for most of the day and my clients; they build my business. These I have come to appreciate, respect and not take for granted. I have also learnt not to take things personally, if something doesn’t work then it’s not about me at times it’s the circumstances not allowing it. I have learnt to be ok with it and learn from it.
Guest Advice: Be passionate about what you want to do, do not be afraid and don’t copy what someone else is doing. Start small and grow… If you have a challenge take a step back, analyse the problem and solve it… Do not dwell in the problem.
You also need to understand your finances, your accounts as that is the engine of your business. Have a financial advisor and accountant to guide you so that you learn not to live out of turnover but on profits.