Lebo Lion is referred to as the ‘Voice of Marketing’ in South Africa. She’s one of the leading Digital Marketing experts in the country, and a storyteller par excellence. Her popularity has since crossed the borders of South Africa, as her craft is paving way for her across the African continent. Her insightful podcast ‘Lessons with Lion’, which is designed to nurture and accelerate the growth of African Businesses, aided her continental penetration.
Lion is the co-founder of Beople SA, a fast-growing Digital Marketing agency that combines the use of digital tools and storytelling to create solutions that allow companies and entrepreneurs to thrive.
She tells us more about her business journey in this interview.
Q: How did you discover your vision or what led you into this line of business/career?
A: I grew up in an entrepreneurial family, where reading, education and continuous learning through different experiences was encouraged. Whether it was selling hot dogs at school functions, or trying to convince my friends to start a business with me in the activities we enjoyed, I was always ‘hustling’. I think I became interested in marketing while I was in University. I was admitted to study Accounting Science, but I soon realised that it was not my calling. I was usually at my happiest when I was finding efficient and creative ways to solve problems. Even in my business pursuits, my strongest areas were in selling and creating a brand. It’s been a long process of self-discovery, but when I eventually understood myself, I realised that marketing is my calling.
Q: What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before you started in business?
A: I believe that people who win in business are people who have a strong sense of who they are. I wish I had known that business is mostly about mental strength and self-awareness. If you don’t know yourself you will not know how to maintain who you are through the challenges that come with entrepreneurship. You can’t be teachable if you don’t know yourself because you will let your ego drive your decisions and interactions. It’s hard to have direction when you don’t know yourself because you will allow every comment, and every piece of advice to define your next move. Self-knowledge is the compass that guides you to the right path and keeps you on the right path.
Q: Tell us about your company.
A: Our company is called BEOPLE SA. The name BEOPLE is a quirky combination of the words “brand” & “people” which describes the core pillars of our organisation. We are the meeting place for brands & people. We are a small agency that’s firmly rooted in the exploration, and demystification of the different kinds of African consumers, influencers, celebrities, thought leaders, etc., that exist in the market. We believe using a honest depiction of African people is the most effective way to create inspiring campaigns that represent the African market with integrity, allowing companies to host target hitting events and grow market share. Beople SA is the synergy between brands and the people who use them.
Q: How did you get started – business plan, capital sourcing, prior experience, mentorships…?
A: I started my business in a typically millennial fashion. I built my brand as a marketing expert first, and used that as leverage to get the attention of potential clients and investors. My marketing podcast and twitter are the vehicles I use to showcase my knowledge, expertise, and skills without having to directly target one group. In this way, my clients and investors come to me. My business is self-funded, from the money that I saved from previous consulting jobs I’ve had over the years. A service business with a small staff complement in the digital marketing sector doesn’t need intensive capital contributions. We often outsource services or talent that we don’t have in the company. It allows us to keep costs low and stay competitive in a time when the only constant is change.
Read the rest of the interview in our digital magazine here: Find it on pages 36 & 37.
Editor’s Note: This interview was originally conducted by Victor Oluwole
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