How She Did It: 'Easyjet, jazz music and how table tennis gave me the drive to succeed'
How She Did It showcases your stories of success. Here, business coach Ramona da Gama explains how being a professional sportswoman gave her the determination to strike out on her own
Born in Nairobi in Kenya, Ramona da Gama has had a varied and challenging career. She has played table tennis for her national team, worked in factories in Australia, studied zoology at the University of London and walked the catwalk as a model. Oh, and she’s currently learning French.
After a successful career in newspapers, working for the Times, Sunday Times and the Mail on Sunday, Ramona, 55, set up her own coaching, media sales and business consultancy. She has also been instrumental in helping to launch many businesses for her clients including Easyjet, with Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou.
She also has her own jazz club in Kensington, which reflects her passion for live music.
Here, Ramona tells us how she did it.
What moved and inspired you to start your business?
I come from a family of entrepreneurs so they were always inspirational role models for me. As a professional sports person, I played table tennis for Kenya, so working hard and knowing that success was round the corner really motivated me. The challenge of creating an idea and bringing it to life is very inspirational.
Tell us about your business
Today I am a business growth strategist helping young entrepreneurs move from employment to starting their own businesses. I work with them to bring their business ideas to life and achieve their goals. I also help people achieve their dream through mentoring and coaching
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
I made sure that…
1) I had a planned strategy and vision for my short/mid/long term goals
2) I was financially self sufficient for at least 6 months to a year
3) I put in place a coach and mentor
4) I established a great network and ‘little black book,’ with which to create my business pipeline
5) Gave myself permission to cut off from work and have ‘ME’ time.
How have you raised awareness?
1) I’m fortunate that most of my clients thankfully say great things about me
2) Some press activity
3) Speaking at events
4) Through networking.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
When my husband died suddenly aged 42. He was my best friend, advisor and mentor. They were very challenging times for me.
How do you overcome challenges?
A challenge is really an opportunity. Even when my husband passed away, I decided that all that he taught me about being successful would not go in vain. So my cup was always half full and not half empty.
Like Winston Churchill said: ‘The courage is to continue!’
What do you love about running your own business?
I love helping businesses and their people grow, helping them bring their initiatives to life, achieve their goals and make a difference.
How do you stay motivated through difficult times?
Someone else always has it worse off then me.
Do you have a business philosophy?
If you don’t try how will you know? Never say ’I wish I had…’
What advice would you give to other budding entrepreneurs?
1) Simple Ideas are the best
2) Be visionary
3) Set yourself targets and goals against timelines
4) Don’t be afraid to ask
5) Don’t be afraid to fail
6) Believe in yourself. If you don’t who will?
How I did it
When I face a big challenge I…
Know it’s the chance of a great opportunity.
My greatest fear is…
Not trying, better to fail then not having a go.
The most courageous thing I’ve ever done is…
Launch out on my own.
If I could go back in time to when I was 20 I would tell myself…
I believe…in me!
The biggest lesson I have ever learned is…
Have faith in other people to deliver, learn to delegate, invest in training and development. You cannot succeed without a great team behind you.
My favourite business tool or resource is…
The people I work with.
My favourite quote is…
Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts” – Winston Churchill.
Ramona is taking part in an event run by Telegraph Wonder Women and the Women’s Chapter, called ‘Women innovators and disruptors: How to be a revolutionary’. It also features Kelly Hoppen MBE, Julie Meyer MBE and Anita Barr. The panel discussion takes place on June 3 at 6pm at Harvey Nichols London. For more details and to buy tickets, click here.