Four years ago, Fabrizia Esposti found herself on a beautiful stretch of beach in Inhambane, Mozambique. Whilst enjoying the fruits of her hard work in the form of a well-deserved two-week vacation, it suddenly dawned on her that she had always wanted to start her own business. returning home to South Africa, Fabrizia hired a business coach who helped her filter through a number of viable business ideas she had developed over the years. “Public relations encompassed all my best business skills and 15 years’ worth of experience, so that was the obvious road to take.”

Four short months later, Fabrizia handed in her resignation at a global sportswear company where she worked as the brand, PR and influencer marketing manager. “I was ready to start this new chapter in my life. Admittedly, the first month was a lonely and tough one, but I never gave up. And look where I am today!” she says excitedly

Since founding her PR agency, 20 Across, three years ago, the company has seen significant growth. Fabrizia credits passion as key to this success. “Passion has been my driving force and will continue to propel me to reach even greater heights. It’s not only passion for what I love doing, but also passion for people and doing great work; passion for success and sharing that success with my team. And finally, a passion for creating a legacy.” She does acknowledge, however, that hard work, determination and sheer guts are what’s needed to build a successful company. “Starting a business is not for sissies, but I can guarantee that it does build character in the long run.”

The Businesswoman of the Year award Fabrizia won earlier this year is testament to the fact that hard work indeed pays off. Commenting on what this accolade means to her personally, and for her business, she says: “I knew the minute I won the award that it would be the beginning of a new era – not only for me, but also for my team. Three years of hard work are nothing compared to what we are about to experience; it was both daunting and exhilarating at the same time.”

As a business, they have been able to grow their Cape Town and Johannesburg offices, as well as their client base which now consists of more lifestyle, entertainment and brand PR – all of which complements the celebrity publicity the company has become famous for. 20 Across has also successfully launched a social media management department that is already soaring to great heights.

Describing her leadership style, Fabrizia says: “My business wouldn’t be where it is today without the team I have working with me. Without the right team, you cannot lead. I have colleagues, not staff. We are all working together to achieve a common goal so there’s no reason to constantly assert my position as director of the company.” Teamwork, along with organisation and planning, are key in ensuring overall productivity. “So much time is wasted when things are not filed properly, thought through, compiled as they should be or not delivered when they are meant to be delivered. A team is most productive when they’re organised and have a plan.” 

Fabrizia says equipping people with the necessary skills and training are imperative in building their confidence, enabling them to work autonomously, thus leading to an increase in productivity. “Let’s remember that no one is born ready to do anything. The ability to fail and overcome failure is a necessary skill that must be acquired before anyone – in my opinion – is ready to abandon their training wheels.” And how does one go about promoting wellness in a company? “Understanding, sharing, caring and setting a good example go a long way in building a solid team and working environment.” 

This article was originally published in Fast Company SA’s November 2018 print issue. 

Image: Abdul Malick Ally