In the last decade, it has become desirable to pursue entrepreneurship as a career path. Social media is strewn with posts about young people finding riches out of anything and everything. I, myself, have been seduced by the idea of creating something of my own, on my terms. Starting a business can be overwhelming and it can be easy to become drowned in the dos and don’ts that you become lenient with your vision. For me, those moments have been many until recently. At the risk of sounding like a salesperson, I can attribute it to reading.
One book in particular, Dear Female Founders, resonates deeply with me. An inspiring, honest and deeply personal read written by 66 diverse female entrepreneurs, filled with practical advice and encouragements, and compiled by the one and only CEO and founder of Blooming Founders. These women have experienced it all, every milestone and every setback and reading their experiences can help to motivate the next generation of female entrepreneurs.
Without further ado, here are 6 lessons I’m currently learning:
1. Be yourself
The person you are is your greatest asset. Nowadays, people see being yourself to mean being the right amount of ambivert and embodying the right amount of humour, amiability and other qualities that will ensure you don’t offend anyone. No, be yourself. It’s about developing the confidence in who you are. Whether you talk a little too much or laugh a little too hard or usually stay on the sidelines until it’s time to speak. This becomes your personal brand. Your personal attributes will embody the business you’re building so work on yourself. Develop your skills, talents and unique selling point.
2. Don’t start a business to start a business
Don’t start a business because it’s fashionable to have an online clothing boutique or a blog. Most of us have an entrepreneurial spirit that wants to be set loose. However, not having a plan of action or an idea of what we want to start will lead to failure. After all, if it was simple and easy, everyone would be an entrepreneur. In the meanwhile, aim to be a better you. Become a better leader and become a better listener.
Start defining your values early on so when people begin to advise you later on about what you should with your business, your response can be sure and strong “No, this is what WE do”.
3. Knowledge really is power
Read, read, and when you think you are done, carry on reading. Find out anything you don’t know about the field you’re interested in. The internet has made the world more accessible and smart individuals are usually always happy to impart advice.
4. Get some cheerleaders and do away with the nay-sayers
One of the key points that every successful entrepreneur agrees on is ‘you can’t do it alone’. Your cheerleaders may be close friends and family who have no experience is the field you are interested in, yet they are ready to invest in you with their ears, voices, and if you’re lucky, money. Some of your supporters will be individuals you’ll never meet but you read about or listen to and their words are enough to propel you to the next level. Others you will meet via networking and it doesn’t have to be in person. An email or message on LinkedIn or Twitter, could find you a co-founder and like-minded individuals. But choose wisely. Negative people are soul-suckers. Dare I say, if you have friends who are not interested in discussing your business ideas then don’t discuss it with them, as it may lead you to become discouraged.
5. Good health can be your greatest wealth
Yes, many of us work better in pressurised environments, but constant and chronic stress is a silent killer and the precursor of many preventable diseases. The allure of the hustle is tempting, however you’re not doing yourself any favours by not resting or eating well or prioritising your health. The notion that our youth can set the standards for wealth in 20 years, should be applied to your physical and mental health. Get a sleep schedule, take regular rest days and don’t ignore brewing symptoms.
6. Start and know it will be the best times of your life.
One message that resonates from each and every one of these female entrepreneurs, is that the journey isn’t straightforward. Each has learnt to take risks amid largely-male dominated environments. Each has learnt to be resilient, committed and disciplined even when they run out of money and all their friends seem to be building successful corporate careers. They have learnt to take responsibility for their actions. They are learnt to follow their gut and for those who prefer head over heart, analysing why their gut has said no, has been vital to their success.
The quicker you start, the quicker you can find out what does not work and get to the real juice of the business you’re building. So ladies, I compel you to stop talking about your ideas and start today. And while you’re at it, keep a journal. You’ll be surprised at your growth.
Interested in reading Lu Li’s outstanding book for an aspiring female entrepreneur? Buy her book ‘Dear Female Founder’ here: Amazon
This post was written by Joy.
“The difference between those who dream about becoming a female entrepreneur and those who become one is simply the latter tried”
– Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Author –