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Wise Words To The Budding South African Female Entrepreneur

There are a few trending topics at the moment which resonate with how I feel personally as a woman in business.  To name a few, some of these include the rise of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), multi-tasking magicians that are women as well as the rise of feminism.  I am undoubtedly, privileged to be called a woman.

The present workplace landscape however, leaves more women feeling fearful about their futures in their professions rather than having them walk tall in their vocations.  Combine the fear that the 4IR brings with it, coupled with a crippling economy, most South Africans as well as global citizens are running scared in fear of the bots taking over their jobs and lives.  Add to that gender pay gap inequalities and you find yourself being pushed into a corner in fear for your livelihood.  I however, believe in always looking at the glass half full.  So, how is it half full?  Women in particular are naturally able to flourish and thrive at whatever they set their hands to.  There really isn’t a need for fear but one of proactive confidence. 

Entrepreneurship and finding work in a space that is called for by a broad target is the way forward.  Specifically, in the South African sense, we really need to catch up with our global counterparts and start making our own way as opposed to looking to the government or, conventional places of employments to secure our futures.  On that note, the dividing factor between us and the greater global population is that the latter is proactive with regards to making money.  We live in a time which calls for us to think outside the box – this means everyone needs a side hustle, you’ll be surprised to know that even well-known and thriving celebrities have side hustles, cases in point include DJ Zinhle and her brand of luxury watches; DJ Sbu’s energy drink, Mo Faya and more recently, Bonang Matheba launched her own variety of MCC called House of BNG.  It perplexes me why more South Africans aren’t jumping on this bandwagon as there certainly is money to be made and lives to be enriched as a result.  I inspire those closest to me to start their own side hustles with the aim of turning it into your main gig as a matter of urgency.  If you turn that sentiment on its head, South Africans and our country specifically holds gems the rest of the world don’t.

We are a land filled with beautiful natural resources as well as naturally talented people who possess special business sense – a South African will never tell you that they are ‘self-made’.  We are because of others and, I feel that it’s time we take what’s in our hands and, what was handed down to us to make lemonade i.e. entrepreneurship.

Being a woman in particular, comes with its own set of challenges i.e. juggling home and family responsibilities with work.  If anyone knows these pressures it’s me as, I have raised two young men despite working full-time jobs.  I have learned so much as a mother and woman being a mom!  I offer encouragement to women who are juggling these responsibilities that, having both is possible.  My advice?

Women are natural born multi-taskers.  For me, time management is key and planning sets me up for success in the day.  You’re also going to have to sacrifice some things if success is what you’re after.  Formulating a carefully developed strategy and sticking to it together with holding yourself accountable to time spent on tasks is of monumental importance.  They say that the hardest thing to be is your own boss and I can tell you; I learnt the hard way!  Family is important but, so is leisure and downtime though at the start of your career as an entrepreneur, expect to have to sacrifice some of this time to achieve the success you’re after – in this case, having a good support system and clearly communicating your priorities for now, to your family and friends is key.  This will help you alleviate any feelings of guilt we women often experience, together with managing the expectations of your loved ones. 

You have to keep it real and set your nose to the grindstone in order to reap those rewards later.  You won’t be sorry and, there’s plenty of time for connection later – a joke is that it’s always better to connect with people when you have more money and possibly even at a Caribbean holiday. On that note, women are just about as visual as men contrary to popular belief.  So, create that vision board and have it in front of you – it will truly help you steer your ship to a port of unbelievable success!

If you are keen on getting going with your business, ask yourself:  what is it that you are naturally good at?  It could be creating garments that you wouldn’t find in a department store, maybe you’re good at writing or, maybe you’re good at doing other women’s hair and make-up.  Start marketing yourself accordingly and in given this digital age we live in, make sure your social media platforms talk to these gifts you’re good at and, have your contact information updated – be contactable at all times plus, show your followers how and where to get hold of you efficiently. 

In order to succeed, you must go the extra mile – contact people who leave voicemails and messages on your phone within no more than a 48 hour period, be friendly and learn everything you need to learn about the vocation you wish to pursue – with competition being strong, you need to make sure that you are indispensable and, someone your client cannot function without – excellence in all you do is key, read self-help books, go on courses and invest in yourself.  Also, learn from those who have gone before you and subtly imitate their marketing ploys but, localise these for your niche audience. 

If you’re a millennial South African, hear me out as your South African aunty who has gone before you so, I’m going to dish out the good with the bad – especially in an era where discipline is scorned upon.  I can tell you what I see and have experienced and I can point you in the direction of success.  Millennials are a bunch of highly talented and intelligent individuals.  Having said that, I’m sure you’re aware that you know this too. 

How I know this is based on the bulk of my engagements with millennials.  Arrogance seems to be the new normal versus manners, being courteous and displaying a level of respect for others which mirrors actually, the respect you have for yourself.  Nothing works hard like hard work does – this means learn all you can, go the extra mile, be respectful to your customers as people will never forget how you treat them, how you handled their queries and, how you essentially made them feel.  I’m not saying be a doormat but, learn from those who have gone before you – hard work, discipline and diligence is what earned me a solid reputation both, personally and in business. 

We need to change our attitudes and get back to doing business as it was done in the past however, with new-found knowledge.  Respect for yourself and others and good, honest hard work will get you everywhere.  My vision is to see the women of South Africa rise up and take their place as leaders in the workplace.  I know that with hard work and humility, we can together achieve this dream.

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