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Tips For Women In Business (From Women In Business)
We got female entrepreneurs from across the MENA region to offer tips and tricks for their peers in the ecosystem--from advice on taking the plunge and setting up a business, to moving ahead when the odds are stacked up against you, here's what they had to say.
On being a female ‘trep
“[My] most important piece of advice to any woman is don’t think about yourself just as a woman- you are not just a woman, you are a startup entrepreneur. That supersedes any other identity that you have… The minute you put another identity above that it becomes a limitation for yourself: limitation in your own mindset, and in your own perception of your abilities. If [entrepreneurship] is what you want to do, think of yourself first and foremost as an entrepreneur; not as your nationality, not your gender, nothing… Be brave. Go out there. Talk to people. Reach out to people on LinkedIn. Find mentors for yourself. Where I am today is a result of just being really audacious and very stubborn. For my early internships, I was sending companies 20 faxes in a week, and they would get so annoyed that they would contact me and say, ‘Why are you sending us so many faxes?’ I would say, ‘Because I want to do an internship with you guys,’ and they would be like ‘Alright, come over for an interview; we’re so fed up with all these faxes.’ So if you want something- go for it. Don’t be shy. Don’t be embarrassed. You are totally entitled to it.”
- Sara Mohammadi, founder, Eventbox
On pitching for funds
“I find a lot of girls somehow feel a bit intimidated, especially in front of investors. There is a lack of confidence, because it is such a male-dominated ecosystem and a lot of younger females are intimidated by the VCs. For their first round of funding, they go ‘How do I talk to this guy? This guy has 50 years of experience behind him, he sold his business, and he’s made a lot of money… Now, how do I do this?’ Everybody knows that you’re 26, you don’t have to be 45. If you’re 26, be 26- you’ve got a great idea.”
- Ambareen Musa, founder and CEO, souqalmal.com
On scaling up your business
“Hire freelancers… outsource. A lot of business owners try to do everything themselves- it doesn’t work. It’s not going to scale. The only way to scale is if you hire experts in specific fields and you get them to help you. By hiring freelancers it helps you get great people on a relatively affordable rate versus employing people, getting an office, getting visas and all that stuff. So hire freelancers and outsource.”
- Loulou Khazen Baz, founder, Nabbesh
On motivating oneself
“Keep focused on what it is you’re trying to do. Your worst enemy is going to be yourself throughout this journey. Be original… Don’t think of yourself as an extension of anything; whether it’s a culture, a place, an environment or industry... Have the guts, have the courage and the belief in what you do. Think bigger, think within a planet where you only exist. That’s where the interesting stuff happens.”
- Butheina Kazim, founder, Cinema Akil
“Don’t be afraid to knock on doors. If someone says, ‘No,’- no means next… Trust your intuition. If you’ve done your homework, trust your intuition. It is when I don’t trust my instincts that I get in trouble.”
- Kristine Lasam, founder, Pink Entropy