This 28-Year-Old Started Her Social Media Management Agency With Zero Capital

The owner of branding and social media management agency Izi Social shares her girl boss journey, which started with just her laptop and a lot of coffee.

Among the millions of people here in the Philippines, 84.45 million of them are social media users. That is equal to 72.5% of our total population!

This staggering number is a driving force behind the decision of many businesses to have a social media presence. Not only is it a platform that lets them advertise their products and service, but it has also become a venue for customer service and even to earn and make sales. 

However, marketing and trying to make a sale on social media are more complicated than many entrepreneurs realize. It is not just about posting daily on social media or having an account on every platform available. It can get a lot more complicated and tedious than that, which can be a problem for businesses that don’t know how to properly do their branding and social media management.

These are the very same concerns that Zia Lim, the owner of the branding and social media management agency Izi Social, hopes to address with her business. This is her story. 

Leaving the Corporate World Behind 

Like many young professionals, Zia started off her career in the corporate world with the goal of steadily climbing the corporate ladder. “I wanted to be one of those women who have high and respected positions in a big company. This goal excited me so much that I only took a one-week break after college graduation before I started working to hopefully be someone in the real world,” she recalls.

Life in the corporate world had numerous ups and downs for Zia. “I was fulfilled but also discouraged. I moved fast-paced, but I felt stuck. I was productive but also lifeless,” the 28-year-old describes.

These ups and downs eventually led Zia to want more for herself, her career, and her future. “I wanted it now,” she emphasizes. “And so I made a choice between being patient or moving faster. I chose the latter.” 

Transitioning Into Being a Girl Boss 

Making the choice to move faster is the only first step in Zia’s entrepreneurial journey. To go further than that, she had to go back to the plans she made at the age of 19. 

“When I was 19, I had a clear vision of myself as a 30-year-old,” she shares. “I’d wake up earlier than the rest of the world in a condo I can afford to call my own—sipping my morning coffee, while looking forward to conquering the day with a job that makes me stay driven. That life and that mindset was my goal.”

By the time she turned 25 years old, she realized that she was nowhere near that goal her 19-year-old self had set. “I wasn’t even close,” she points out. “I used to ask myself ‘Is my goal too extreme for my capabilities?’ But then, I realized success is a decision and in order to reach my extreme goals, I have to be extreme too. And so I made the choice of just taking the risk and starting a business without a plan B.” 

Her opportunity came when the COVID-19 pandemic rolled along. The pandemic, for Zia, was a dark time when people experienced different kinds of loss. Wanting to see the light amidst all the darkness, she chose to see it as an opportunity to change things for the better. 

“It took a while for us to adjust but we slowly adapted to a world where we had to live through what we have, even if it meant living life through our screens,” she says. “The online world is where we keep in touch with our loved ones, where we make a living, where students learn, where retailers sell their products, and where we shop for literally everything.” 

Realizing everyone is now in this new world, and it looks like it is here to say, Zia put up branding and social media management agency Izi Social in May 2021. “I started Izi Social so I could be the bridge for businesses to go from the old to the new norm,” the girl boss explains.

“It has always been my goal to help them stand out from the online noise so that they can continue to bring their business’ message, vision, and products to their customers.” 

Although starting a business requires a lot of careful planning and finances, Zia jumped into it with no plan B whatsoever—fueled by her goal of achieving success by the time she hits 30.

Zero Capital Needed

It may surprise many, but Zia did not need to invest any cash when she started Izi Social. “To start my business, I just needed my then-four-year-old and almost-dead MacBook, my venti iced coffee, countless sleepless nights, highest-level creativity, and a whole lot of confidence,” she proudly shares. “I didn’t spend a single Peso.”

What’s more, Zia did not major in marketing or any related course in college—having graduated with a degree in psychology. Despite the lack of related educational background, she relied heavily on the six years she spent in eCommerce, retail, trade, and advertising. It also helped that she has always been an artist.

“I was able to adapt to the marketing world very easily because I naturally have a creative eye. I’m a visual artist first and everything second,” she says of herself. “Painting has always been a part of my life and it will always be. But this part of my life is my passion, while business is my goal. I never thought that I could merge those worlds together but now, business has become my art.”

Thus, in order to run Izi Social, Zia makes sure to try out different business strategies just like how she tries to find the right type of paint to discover what’s best for her.

“I stay up-to-date and keep up with the fast-paced world of marketing and design just like how I familiarize myself with the proper mix of colors,” the 28-year-old girl boss shares. “I continue to learn everything there is to know about brand design and social media marketing just like how I taught myself how to paint.”

“I apply the knowledge and skills I built from the previous companies I have worked into my business just like how I apply artistic principles to every canvas. It takes time and practice to create a masterpiece, but my eagerness to learn and grow is what makes it work the way I want it,” she adds.

While most businesses need capital to get things going, Zia was able to start her business without having to shell out a single Peso—all thanks to her resourcefulness and creativity.

The Downside of Not Having a Plan B

Not having a plan B when she started Izi Social, however, proved to be a problem that Zia had to overcome. “The pressure that I put on myself was a struggle. Starting a business without a plan B was just fear written all over it,” she admits. “But I knew what I had to do—put my 101% to every task, did things at my own pace, stuck with the plan, and enjoyed the journey of learning and growing.” 

Seeing the growth potential of Izi Social as well as the increase in demand, Zia made the decision to take on a business partner, Lizle Co. 

“Lizle Co is the complete opposite of me, which makes us the best fit,” she says of her business partner. “She is logical, while I’m imaginative. She is realistic, while I’m idealistic. She is prudent, while I’m assertive. Her strengths are my weaknesses and that’s what keeps the business going.” 

What Sets Izi Social Apart

From the very start, Zia has always been clear with the goals for Izi Social and how she wants her clients to be served. “We do all our work with our clients and their target audience in mind,” she explains. “What we do is an end-to-end service—from conceptualizing the content to publishing and analytics and everything in between.” 

As Izi Social deals with both branding and social media management, Zia has also made sure to clearly define how each should be done by the agency. 

“For social media management, we start with having a deep understanding of the brand’s goals and objectives,” she explains. “Coming from this, we then conceptualize the content, create enticing artwork, publish the content, and report the analytics.” 

As for branding, Izi Social makes it a point to start with a one-hour kick-off meeting to learn more about the business owner’s story, inspiration, goals, and vision. “Coming from this, we will work on turning those ideas into something tangible,” says Zia. “We design the brand from the logos, fonts, imagery, prints, digital layouts, brand voice, and brand tone then strategize how to get the brand out there.” 

Izi Social aims to be a one-stop agency that offers key services that clients need. This is why the agency recently launched its web design and production services due to the demand that these two services had over the past year. 

What Zia Considers Her Wins with Izi Social 

Zia’s well thought processes bore fruit when—just two weeks after launching her page—she signed a contract with her first client, who did not know her professionally or personally. “She just randomly saw my page, liked what she saw, and trusted me to work on her brand,” she says proudly. 

While it may not seem like a huge eureka moment, Zia considers this a big break for her and her agency. “What separates me from other agency owners is that I don’t look at how reputable my clients are, how established their company is, or how good these brands would look on my portfolio, for me to consider it as a ‘big break,” she emphasizes. 

“It’s a win for me if I see our clients happy with our work. It’s a win for me when they refer us to their friends or colleagues,” the girl boss says. “It’s a win for me when they sign and renew their contracts with us.” 

How a brand presents itself to potential customers and clients is just as important—as a good image can easily spark a sale. And this is exactly how Izi Social got its first big break.

The Benefits of Starting Early 

Now 28 years old, Zia recalls the dreams her 19-year-old self made all those years ago. “I feel so blessed to say that I’m finally the woman my 19-year-old self hoped to be,” she shares. “Two years before the deadline, my teenage self would be shocked! Who would have thought that all it took was turning my goal into a plan?” 

Starting a business before hitting 30 years old has a number of advantages for Zia. “In our 20s, we are eager, we want more, and if we put our hearts and minds into it, we deserve more. This is the time to fail, to learn, and to be the person we want to be,” she says.

Given her experience, Zia has pieces of advice to give to anyone who wants to start a business in their 20s. “Focus on your own lane and your own pace,” the girl boss advises. “Work hard on your goals but in silence. Your success will eventually be the noise for you one day.” 

She also recommends not to start a business without knowing your strengths, your weaknesses, and your goals. In her words, Zia advises: “Don’t just want it. Plan it. Then, work hard for it until you check it off your to-do list.”

Zia also reminds aspiring entrepreneurs to not be afraid to spend. “In order to earn more, you have to spend more,” she points out. She likewise advises not to be afraid of customer reviews and to take them seriously, both good and bad. 

“The good ones are a pat on the back, but the bad ones are free business advice,” says Zia. 

What’s Next for Zia and Izi Social? 

With the goal of making Izi Social a one-stop shop for branding and social media management needs, Zia has a number of plans to grow her agency. “I’ve created a big room for us to grow,” she shares. “There is so much more to learn and discover, and we will continue to focus on that.”

This year, Izi Social will launch its Izi Social Club, which focuses on influencer marketing. When it launches, it will be another step toward the vision Zia has for her business. 

But when it comes to herself, Zia only plans on continuing to be the person her 19-year-old self hoped to be. “But with more hours of sleep and less coffee this time,” she quips.