What should have been an exciting new start for Karin Igesund and her husband in 2018, turned out to be slightly different than planned.  As a Marketing and Consulting Coach, married to a seasoned retail businessman, Karin and her husband bought Packtown in Bredasdorp.  It was an established business which started operating in 2007. And, since it was food related, they felt this would be a good choice as they were both familiar with the industry.

However, Karin’s husband was diagnosed with Dementia and Cognitive Disability in the week they took over the business. She has been sole owner ever since. “Distribution was new to me, but luckily Packtown had an existing client base and experienced staff to work with”, said Karin, reflecting on those earlier times. She admits that she also felt at times that this was difficult and that she would not be able to cope.  “It is important to stay grounded.  Do not get overwhelmed and find yourself in drama or denial mode. I have learnt to stay Optimistic Realistic”, said Karin.  Her advice is also to celebrate victories with a ritual.

She faced many challenges when starting out at Packtown.  She had to up-skill herself in this industry. She also believes that you should learn as you go and have faith in your own abilities. “The financial aspects of business are the core of your business. You need to have solid measures in place. Surround yourself with resourceful people and make sure you have the right system operators.”  Finances is not her passion and she regret not having outsourced this function sooner so that she could focus on her strengths. Karin believes that having strong collaboration partners outside your business is also beneficial. She explained that it helped her to build systems and processes early on so that the business can continue when you are exploring new opportunities.

However, should she have the chance to start over, she would be more thorough in her analysis of the business.  “Sometimes business is not what it seems.  It is important to check in with yourself if this is the industry for you. Also touch base with other operations in your field to learn from their experiences, mistakes, and successes.

The business has given Karin the opportunity to give back to her staff and the community. With a passion for investing in people and seeing growth in others, her customers and staff have become her extended family. Once the business was established and on track, she also had time to be more flexible so she could pursue her personal goals in order for her to grow. “I also want to flex my muscles to give meaning to others,” she said.

In a recent online seminar, she heard someone speak about 2020.  The presenter said 2020 might just have happened because we all needed to grow ourselves at a time when we might not have chosen to do so.  We were also forced to think differently about the businesses we are in. “I resonate with this. My focus has been to be as resilient and adaptable as I can this year,” remarked Karin.

Packtown service about 1000 customers in the hospitality industry and they have all been closed since the President announced the lock down. This obviously had a huge financial impact on her business.  They have in the meantime started another business and is in the process of collaborating with another company in the same industry. “2020 has opened up new opportunities for us. On a personal level I am doing a course with an American company to grow my coaching skills so that I can also offer workshops on starting a new path”, explained Karin.

Despite being classified as an essential service, Packtown also had to cut costs. They stopped all expenses that would have caused them to sink within a month and have consulted an accounting firm to help her manage spending. This enabled her to focus on keeping her team motivated and to explore new opportunities. She turned all accounts to COD (cash on delivery), she is marketing more aggressively and is working extra hard to stay connected to old and new customers.

Her advice for any start-up businesswomen is to make sure you understand the shortfalls and opportunities of your chosen industry. “Start small and make sure that you have reserves to pay your suppliers and carry overheads,” said Karin. She emphasized that you need to understand the risks of your industry.

Although she enjoys networking and to be surrounded by people she finds synergy with, she is also cautious of attending networking events just for the sake of interaction.  She wants to get value from networking and have indeed built several businesses through networking.

During lock down, Karin has been involved with feeding schemes of young people. As we celebrate Youth Month, her message to young female entrepreneurs is to believe in your own ability to start a new path and learn as much as you can to grow your future. “Stay authentic to who you are.  Stay committed to your passion instead of falling around without direction. There are amazing opportunities for women at the moment – use what is on offer to pull yourself up to be the best version of you,” said Karin.

“There is space for the potential you have within you and only you can offer this to us”, said Karin.

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