Small Business Interview: Nnenna Kalu Makanjuola, Radiant Health Magazine
Meet Nnenna Kalu Makanjuola, the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Radiant Health Magazine, Nigeria’s first women’s health magazine. Nnenna started her magazine due to a major gap she identified where she found that there were not many credible resources for health information on day to day health questions people had. Despite the fact that she had no publishing experience she pursued her dream and put in the hard work to create Nigeria's first women's health magazine. In this interview, Nnenna talks about things she has learnt as a business woman, her successes, her mistakes and she shares some invaluable business tips. Enjoy!
"You will doubt yourself at every turn but you must believe in what you are offering. If you don’t, nobody else will."
Please tell us who you are what your business is about.
My name is Nnenna Kalu Makanjuola. I’m the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Radiant Health Magazine, Nigeria’s first women’s health magazine. I like to describe Radiant Health as the Nigerian woman’s guide to healthy living. It’s created for Nigerian women across the globe whether in Nigeria or diaspora.
Radiant Health is published quarterly as a digital magazine and is available for in-app subscription on the Apple app store (iOS devices) and on Google Play.
Can you share a bit about how you chose this line of business? What transition did you make to owning your own business?
I’ve always had an interest in health as far back as I can remember but my dad’s battle with heart disease in Nigeria was certainly a turning point. I was about 10 or 11 at the time and the life-saving surgery he needed was not being performed in Nigeria. It struck me as odd that a country so into “studying medicine” actually lacked in medical expertise. That was quite a rude awakening but it got me really interested in health systems and population health (of course, at the time I didn’t have a name for it).
Africa is changing and the way we deliver health solutions have to change. I want to see and hear more about the solutions we Africans are offering (and there are plenty). I want to hear more of the African voices sharing their health stories and directing the interventions. I want to see more preventative messaging. I want to see more Africans empowered with relevant information to take control of their health.
As a Nigerian where do you go for credible health information that has been created just for you or to read health stories of people just like you? How do you eat well and healthy on a Nigerian diet? How do you navigate the complex world of seeking health care and making individual healthy choices especially when you have been handed a diagnosis? When my father returned from his U.S. heart surgery many years ago, he came back with a meal plan that just didn’t make sense in Nigeria. But there really weren’t any Nigerian resources to help him. That was over 30 years ago and not much has changed.
At some point, I began to get more restless, uncomfortable, even, and wanted to return to what set me off on the health career path in the first place and be part of the solution. That’s how Radiant Health was born.
Do you have any special training?
I have a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) and a Masters in Public Health (MPH) in Health Policy.
What are some of your biggest accomplishments as a business owner?
The whole journey thus far has been a major accomplishment. I knew absolutely nothing about magazine publishing and I’ve had to learn every single thing from scratch.
How soon after you started did you start seeing profits? Or when do you project to begin earning a profit?
Radiant Health turned two this past April but we’ve only just launched our first paid product, the subscription-only digital magazine, in February. We’re adding a few more products in the next couple of months and expect to be profitable by the end the fourth quarter this year.
How did you decide how to price your services? How did you determine what your services were worth?
The quality and value of our products is a major factor. One just needs to read our magazine to understand the level of detail and quality work that goes into producing each issue. We don’t do fluffy work for the sake of generating content but our content are well researched and written by journalists and health experts. The design is incredible too. Talking to our readers to get a sense of how much our products are worth to them has been very eye opening and incredibly useful.
What mistakes, if any, have you made with your business? What have some of your biggest challenges been? What did you learn from the experience and how did you bounce back?
Ha! If any? I’ve made plenty and continue to make them. A major one that comes to mind is that I wish I spent more time engaging with my readers in the early days. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in running a business but talking to the people you serve can really cut all that guesswork and hard work in half and let you serve your audience better.
What do you consider the most important elements of running a successful business?
Patience. Rome was not built in a day.
Believe. You will doubt yourself at every turn but you must believe in what you are offering. If you don’t, nobody else will.
Take care of yourself. The hustle is overrated. Make no mistake about it - you will work harder than you ever imagined but don’t do it at the expense of your health and relationships. I’m speaking from experience.
Do you have any start-up advice you can share with women reading this who would like to launch their own businesses?
Don’t over think it; just start. Stay focused. Work hard. Most of us have a gut feeling for what we want to do but we run from it because we’re scared especially when it runs contrary to what everyone else is saying or doing. Follow your gut and if your gut turns out to be wrong, correct course and keep going. Nobody understands your vision better than you.
Do you have any advice on managing your small business finances?
Set aside one day of the week to review your business finances -- where you are, are you on target, what’s working, and what’s not, etc. There’s so much peace that comes from knowing your numbers like the back of your hand. It makes it quite easy to make decisions and keep going.
How do you balance work and life owning a small business?
This remains one of my biggest challenges so I can’t say that I’m there yet. These days I’m working more on switching off during the evening hours to be fully present for my kids and family.
When you’re running your own business it’s so hard to switch off the brain so I’m also focusing a lot now on a radical self-care routine that’s heavy on stillness/meditation and movement (exercise/yoga/stretching). Nonetheless, just about every business is marked with up and down periods of intense work and not-so-intense work. I fall short on some days especially during our heavy duty periods but being conscious about how I spend my day has helped immensely.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I see Radiant Health as a leading voice and the premiere go-to source for credible information on all things healthy living and wellness for the African woman.
Please share a fun fact about yourself
I live for daring adventures!