Stella Bida- Building a Belgian Business
By Fati Gorezi
Stella Bida is an entrepreneur, business owner and native from the Central African Republic. She is currently living in Brussels after having the chance to live in other countries in Africa, Europe, and in the US. She studied IT Engineering in Paris and Cameroon. For the past five years, she has been running a successful consulting business and, given that most businesses close in a year, she has proven that when we focus on what matters the most, results follow. Before she launched her business, she worked for one of the top banks in Brussels. Today she owns multiple businesses: a) ‘Happy Clients = Higher Profits’ b) ‘Le Succès des Coiffeuses’ (Hairdressers’ success) which provides guidance to hairdressers who want to become successful entrepreneurs and c) ‘Innovation. Strategy. Results’ where the objective is to help corporate companies to manage the launch of their innovative and ‘disruptive’ digital solutions.
How did you start your journey as an entrepreneur?
Since a young age I have always been attracted by stepping into chaotic situations and finding a solution to everything. Without knowing it, I was already an entrepreneur!
My full entrepreneurial journey started in Belgium after a few years as an employee for corporate companies. I was working in the digital project management domain, mainly in the banking sector, for international companies. I was attracted by the challenging environment, but I felt I wanted to be in control of my own career and my growth. What I was looking for was the ability to create my own successful company from scratch. It seemed obvious to me that I should start my own company in the domain in which I had experience and could bring added value. This is how I started an IT consulting company, providing services to corporate companies.
Progressively, I have started other businesses in different industries, such as business coaching and the hair and beauty industry.
Stella, why do you think you wanted to pursue a career in business?
There are multiple reasons that motivated me to embrace my career in business. The first reason is related to my passion to learn. I am always enthusiastic about learning new things, new ways on how to optimise what I am doing and change what can be improved.
As an entrepreneur, I was attracted by the freedom to choose my own priorities, my clients, my training and to move forward at my own rhythm, in order to impact people. What motivated me was my quest to support others in bringing to society what they believe is the best and in an optimal way.
Doing business for me is exactly the opposite of being selfish. It is the ability to value the work, the product and the services of one another, believing that it will positively change the life of others. It is deciding to step up onto the stage and providing one’s vision for a better world. Despite what some people may think, a true business person should always be oriented towards helping others.
Another motivation for me has been financial freedom. I really wanted to secure my future on my own rather than depending of my family, my friends or the public system. My financial freedom is allowing me to feel secure and in control, when thinking about the future.
You say that you have more than one business. What are the companies that you are running? And how do you manage your time running several businesses at the same time?
I am indeed running several consulting businesses.
“Innovation. Strategy. Results.” is dedicated to corporate companies that want to improve and strategically plan their innovation cycles. I also run a consulting and coaching business for hairstylists called “Le Succès des Coiffeuses”. Another important track for me is that I guide entrepreneurs to develop an action-oriented mind-set with a program called “ACTION”. Finally, I train and guide small business owners on how they can grow their company by using client experience as a differentiator for their markets with “Happy Clients = Higher Profits”.
I have learned over time that if I wanted to see my vision come true in my different businesses, I needed to focus on what really matters. With delegation, I have been able to delegate several activities and define priorities. Managing my time effectively meant also recognising that I am not a Superwoman!
One of my tips to value my time is to exaggerate the figures I use when building my schedule. Instead of saying that I will spend two hours on an activity, I ask myself if it is worth spending 7200 seconds on it. This highly impacts my motivation to make each and every second of my life count, whether I am busy with personal activities or professional ones.
What is your best advice to those women that are thinking about starting a business or have just started on their entrepreneurial journey?
If you are still hesitating, I have four words: ‘Just go for it!’I would recommend these brave women to start making their decisions with their guts! Actually, when you have a business idea which you believe can change the life of others, not daring to step onto the stage and dance with success is for me being selfish. It is of course exaggerated, but this is to encourage women not to be afraid of shining! Because an entrepreneur is truly someone who decides to dedicate a part of his or her life to others.
If you are already a business woman, first of all welcome to the club and now action, action and action! You need to move on and quickly take the next step to implement the wonderful ideas you have. Nobody is going to take action in your place, so you need to create your own opportunities.
As with many successful business people, I would also recommend everyone to be coached. Don’t stay alone in your business, but welcome positive entrepreneurs into your close circle and learn from the experience that others have.
I hope those arguments will help all the wonderful women to dare to succeed!
How was it living in USA and Africa for many years and why did you choose to start your business in Belgium?
I was in my childhood when my family moved from Cameroon to the U.S. I remember being very excited! We lived near Washington during my childhood. I am so grateful to my parents as this period of my life is so useful today. I have learned English and I am now confident enough to be a global woman and speak on the international stage to inspire and help people globally.
When we moved back to Cameroon in my early teenage years, I continued my education studies. I moved to Paris to complete a master’s degree in IT engineering then after my master’s degree I decided to take the opportunity offered by ALTEN to move to Brussels to an engineering and technology consulting company. There, I started my career and I met my lovely husband, Matthieu Kaczmarek.
I think that I could have launched my company anywhere because there are opportunities in every country. But after a few years living in Brussels, as my professional and social relationships developed, I decided to start my business there.
Regarding the business industry I am active in, Belgium is also an ideal country for my desire to be a global player as it is connected to all European countries thanks to the European institutions based in Brussels.
We all have someone we have been inspired by or look up to. Tell us more about who inspires you in your life?
To be able to grow, you need to have people telling you the truth. For several years, I had difficulty finding the right people to whom I could look up to. Until I met one of my coaches Manoelle Van der Straeten in Belgium. She has been the one who has erased all the burdens and the difficult paths I had encountered. When I started learning how to open myself up, I begun to understand the true meaning of the words I have always listened to from inspirational people like Oprah Winfrey, whom I have always admired.
I also had the chance to meet inspiring people like JT Foxx, who has truly changed my way of doing business. And finally, meeting Mirela Sula has given me the opportunity to understand that “If I want to be great I need to start!”. This sentence reminded me that I do not need to be perfect to start taking action. I just need to take the next step.Since then, my success and my potential are just growing more and more!
I truly want to become the sum of all the people I have been inspired from, in order to give the opportunity to other people I meet to find their own path to freedom and success, just as it is the case for me.
How do you differentiate yourself and your business in a global world with many inventions and innovations?
I strongly believe that the new factor of differentiation in business is customer experience, the way businesses make their clients feel. In today’s market, products and services tend to look much alike. So, it is important to be unique on the market. My way of doing it is to focus on bringing in the ‘WOW’ factor by going the extra mile for your clients. If you don’t reach that ‘WOW’ effect your business will collapse because your client’s mind-set expects to be surprised. In every product and service, I develop and propose to my clients, I strive to identify how I can be ahead of their expectations.
Technology is also evolving so fast and being more and more integrated in growth strategies, that any activity has to deal with a risk of disruption with many time delays. To be the one which disrupts the market you need to look for innovative ideas every single day.
What are the biggest obstacles you have faced as a woman in the world of business?
I have studied and started my career in the IT domain which is composed of at least 85%men. So from the beginning of my career I have faced some comments about the ability to do things “like a man”, think about IT systems “like a man does”.Despite the comments, I have always found out a way to show results with my actions and gain back the respect I deserved.
In one of the banks where I worked, I was selected as one of the 50 future leaders and I was one of the few women selected from the IT department. This environment gave me the desire to succeed. Unfortunately, I have also noticed strange behaviours working with women. Sometimes, I have faced situations in which women were not supportive with each other.
The different experiences I had working with both men and women let me feel that there is no special obstacle of being a woman in business. When you face obstacles, whether it comes from a man or a woman, I think it is often linked to fear, jealousy or envy from the other side. It is just human nature unfortunately.
I prefer focusing on the good side of my experiences! It is because I have met wonderful men and women during my career that I had the opportunity to embrace my dreams and my vision. I want my mind to focus only on these powerful memories which give me the fuel to meet other great people globally.
You seem to be very goal oriented – and you achieve whatever you focus your mind on. Is there any formula that you can share with our readers?
There are three fundamental items I strive to stick to in order to achieve my goals.
The first one is about making the right decisions. I avoid making my decisions with my head, because this often leads me to ‘over thinking’ situations and seeing how complicated reaching my goal can be. So, I have decided to “give my mind and my head some holidays” every time I need to make a decision which I know will impact the accomplishment of my goals.
The next element is about having no excuses! I have learned this key to achieving goals from one of my coaches and I am thankful to JT Foxx. Ever since I apply the ‘No Excuse’ rule, I am able to dialogue with my mind. It has become a game to put my mind in silence mode and stop making excuses to myself for not achieving actions which would take me out of my comfort zone.
The last element, which is for me crucial, is about creating the optimal environment I want to be in, in order to achieve success. It is about being with positive people. These are people who can make me grow and most of all people who can make me realise that I have much more to give than what I think. I want to be around people who support me in order to give the best of myself.
Tell us what your future plans are and how you will achieve them?
In 2018, my main objective is to meet the world! I truly believe that I need to give back what I have received from others. I want to give the maximum of people the power to control their destiny the way they believe it should be done. For example, one of my plans is to meet entrepreneurs from South Africa, during an international event I have been invited to, gathering more than 1,500 entrepreneurs from all over the world. I will be happy to share my advice on the importance of keeping your existing customers satisfied in order to grow your business. Thanks to the invitation of the Global Woman Club, I will also have the opportunity to meet successful business women in March in Norway. In New York, I have been invited by the Global Woman Club as well to participate in the Global Woman Summit and to the Phenomenal Global Woman show. I feel humbled and honoured to have these opportunities to expand my voice!
I am also planning to develop my activities in Africa. I have been lucky to learn and experience so many things that I want to bring to the African continent. My concern is to share my knowledge, because I believe that African countries have the potential to evolve with the right tools in hand.