Building a business empire, one brand at a time: An interview with Liketso Ramafikeng of InkCurate

Liketso Ramafikeng

Meet Liketso Ramafikeng, a vibrant young creative and the brains behind InkCurate – a PR and marketing agency based in Maseru. She is a trained economist who holds a Bachelor’s degree from NUL and a passionate marketing enthusiast.

At just 25 years of age, she has been running her agency for a year and has worked with big corporate brands. She shares her journey and experience as a young female entrepreneur.

Tell us about your business and how it started.

InkCurate is a PR and marketing agency that caters to corporates and brands offering branding solutions and public relations services.

I started off in print media as a news writer for a local newspaper but soon moved to work for a marketing company where I discovered my passion for marketing and PR. The role required a creative and out of the box thinker and that was right up my alley despite not having any formal training in marketing, I am an economist by qualification. 

After leaving the agency a few years on, I continued working with clients on a freelance basis and in 2018, decided to officially set up an agency and that is how InkCurate was born.

Have you always wanted to be an entrepreneur?

Not from the onset. While working for the marketing company I saw a gap in the market and a need for local solutions and local perspective for local corporates and brands.

The industry was made up mostly of foreign owned businesses, while small local businesses had a reputation of delivering substandard work and not being on par to meet the quality demands and work with corporates and big brands.

I felt there was a need for more Basotho to play in the marketing and PR space and change that narrative, so as someone that had worked with corporates and understood their branding needs, I felt it was my duty to get into the industry and change the game.

Describe a typical day in your job.

My day always starts with a cup of coffee to fuel me up for the day ahead. I then go through a to-do list of all the deliverables for the day or the week.

The rest of the day is usually filled with email communication with clients and suppliers, going over design ideas for current projects with my designer, sending artwork for client approval and placing orders. Some days I am out of the office meeting clients to pitch or discuss concepts.

Do you have any employees in the business and how big is your team?

I am currently the only full time employee at InkCurate. I work with a graphic designer who I engage on a project by project basis. I also collaborate a lot and partner with other entrepreneurs and SMEs in areas of business I do not operate in when the need arises.

What inspires you to wake up every day and go to work?

The belief that I can be bigger than I ever thought possible.  I wake up and say I am going to be a star and I have always felt that way about myself even as a child, I would say “I am going to be so big and well known one day”.  

I see every day as a blessing and an opportunity for something new, a new client maybe and a step closer to the bigger future I envision. That mindset has always spurred me on so I wake up and say “Let’s be bigger today!”

What are some of the highlights so far in your business journey?

It has been quite a journey with many highlights.

As a start-up agency, working on successful campaigns with big corporates and brands that are considered the big dogs in the business world was a big achievement.

Venturing into new areas of business like events management and knocking it out of the park, exceeding my own and clients’ expectations.

Another highlight was gaining a client base of people that had never worked with me before but trusted me with their business was quite humbling.

What challenges and pitfalls have you encountered running a small business?

Running a business is quite costly, there are a lot of expenses that come with it and that was a lesson I learned the hard way. I struggled with money management and handling business finances. Being a sole proprietor I didn’t separate personal funds from that of the business and didn’t keep proper financial records or manage cash flow which meant that I had no idea where the money was going.

Covid-19 and the lockdown was another blow. Business slowed to a halt but expenses like rent and contractual payments were still due and with no money coming in, that put a financial strain on the business.

In this line of business, clients sometimes want to dictate and steer the ship and cut corners in some instances, so I have had to have to let go of some business prospects so as not to compromise my business values and principles.

Another challenge faced by a lot of start-up businesses is clients that do not pay on time as agreed which affects business cash flow.

What is the hardest part about being a female entrepreneur?

Women are still viewed for the most part, as inferior to men in the business world and for me it is a combination of being female and being young at the same time. There is a perception that young entrepreneurs are inexperienced and incapable of delivering as required.

As a female, I am more likely to be described as beautiful and cute than as smart and intelligent.

Plans for the future? Where do you see InkCurate in a few years?

The plan is and always has been to grow big and everything is geared towards that. I definitely want to build a team to work with permanently and lay a solid foundation and structure for the business to run smoothly.

Working as a one-woman show restricts how far I can go, because I can’t do everything.  I also want to see Inkcurate scale up and grow into a powerhouse that contributes to the economy and offers employment opportunities for young Basotho.

What are your top business tips and advice for new and existing entrepreneurs?

  1. Good customer service is of utmost importance! Without clients, you have no business so treat them well.
  2. Build a good brand image, understand your brand, its values and who it serves. Stick to that and never compromise. You brand represents you and its reputation precedes you.
  3. Educate yourself on financial management and bookkeeping so you can measure business performance and growth. Most importantly, keep personal and business finances separate.

Words to live by:  “If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no, so just do it!”

Connect with Liketso on   www.   Facebook:   Inkcurate   Instagram:  Inkcurate