Women’s roles have evolved over time- today, they don’t just fulfill domestic responsibilities, but they are also making their way up the corporate ladder quite successfully. Women have been part of so many diverse industries around the world and have been making their mark– albeit a bit slower in the Arab world.
Some pioneers of change come from privileged backgrounds, but there are others who had to overcome numerous obstacles and have come a long way to make their voices heard and their opinions count. Whatever the profession, every successful woman has fought back to overcome the challenges she faced because of her gender.
I’d like to share with you some of my experiences in my journey of entrepreneurship. As the title suggests, the road is very capricious, bipolar– your emotions and mental state oscillate to extremes. We aren’t always prepared for the emotional ups and downs, but before you go ahead with starting your business, the few points I have listed below might help you set and achieve realistic goals.
I’ve always been drawn to ways for improving satisfaction and harmony within the workplace, which led me to gain my certification as a life coach after 13 years of a successful media career. Understanding the dynamic of the working environment and its impact on people in the personal and professional realm made this the perfect fit.
With this thought in mind, I leapt towards my passion and decided to establish my coaching practice focusing on wellness, particularly in the workplace. But I soon realized that being an entrepreneur isn’t as easy as 1-2-3. The effort it takes to build a business from scratch can be exhausting, and at times, can deter your spirits. Many a time I faced setbacks– the smallest issue would get me down, but I’d go back to it with a renewed vigor the next day. Each step took me closer to realizing my dream.
However, this wait can be frustrating. And more often than not, that causes a lot of women give up on achieving their goals. I’m here to tell you that such thoughts are normal; whatever you’re feeling, I’ve been through it before. Therefore, I believe that a few key lessons will help keep you motivated, focused and determined to achieve that goal you’re after:
1. Patience, patience, patience Before you start thinking about setting up a startup business, know that some things are beyond your control. Paperwork and logistics take their time to come through. Plan for a (time) contingency no matter how sure you are. If things get delayed, you may feel disheartened– it’s okay, but never, ever let your despair get the better of you enough to go running back to your security blanket.
2. No matter how prepared you are, there is still more to prepare Have a very clear idea of the bigger picture and the finer details of your business plan. Troubleshoot the heck out of it. Try and exhaust every possible weakness or threat so that it doesn’t come back to bite you later. Most entrepreneurs are reluctant to talk to the competition, or may even demean them. Don’t get cocky. Sponge everything and anything you can to make yourself the ultimate expert in your area.
3. Positive vibes all around Surround yourself with ambitious, happy and positive people. In my journey, I realized some people’s energy was draining my fuel that could be better used towards my startup, so I kept my distance until I had that excess to give. I rely on my family and closest buddies to celebrate my smallest of successes.
4. “Me Time’? Friends? Who, what?” Your passion will become your best friend for a while; it will be the only thing that drives you. Know that it’s okay. Do you remember that friend who couldn’t stop talking about her wedding? Or the one who just goes on and on about her child? You’re going to be that woman, but… it’s okay, it’s good, and even healthy. Your true friends will understand your goals and will power through with you, I promise!
5. Get used to the taste of humble pie Rejection is one of the most feared feelings for human beings. Most people directly equate it with self-worth, and hence when experienced, it can have devastating effects on a person’s self-esteem. In the entrepreneurial world, however, one must make sure not to let it hurt too bad! Rejection, disregard and dismissal are common and may happen a lot more than we’d like. Again, it’s part of the gig and something that will eventually shape you for the better.
6. Like attracts like If you happen to be in an environment that isn’t fuelling your passion or you find yourself fizzling out, networking can help. Log onto your social media sites and click away– several organizations are targeted specifically at helping women enhance their entrepreneurial skills as well as bringing like-minded professionals together helps fuel that energy.
7. Ego has no place here Ask for help when you need it! Don’t make things harder on yourself than they need to be. If there is a short cut out there, take it. If you need more money, ask for it. If you can’t get to something, reach out. I’m not going to lie, this one was a difficult one for me, but it pushed me into a corner to ask one fundamental question: “Is not asking for help worth losing my dream?” Yes, you may be rejected, or even sometimes ignored, but most times people are happy to help where they can.
8. Fear, doubt and vulnerability are okay Doubt and fear are very normal to feel when doing your own thing. There were days when I would question why the heck I left a well-respected position and secure job to endure the uncertainty and chaos that come with starting a business from scratch. Not to mention the little demon voices that would creep in telling me that I couldn’t do it for one reason or another. Now, I simply realize my shortcomings and work on them, which helps me keep it real when I coach. Acknowledging my emotions helps me understand others better.
9. Empower other women Throughout my journey, I’ve seen the effect that encouraging other women had on me. Do not be afraid to approach a successful woman and gain inspiration. (No, it will not make you look less “powerful.”) And entrepreneurs, make sure you are approachable. Recall how it felt for you– it should make you feel honored, not egotistical.
10. Enjoy the experience Nothing worthwhile comes easy. Each time you experience a pitfall, bounce back harder from the low point and take a leap of faith towards the next step.
The journey of entrepreneurship is much like building something from scratch– you’ll put your all into it and sometimes, the results may not come as soon as you expect. This is bound to get you down, and may even leave you wondering if you’re going the right way or doing the right thing. Don’t panic– these ups and downs are as natural as breathing. What you’ve got to remember is your goal, and think about how it motivates you to give it your best. As long as you’re up for the craziness of the adventure, nothing can hold you back for too long.
Being an entrepreneur can make you laugh, cry and even go crazy trying to manage all the trivial details. But it’s a journey you’ll cherish for a lifetime; you’ll always look back on it with a joyful tear in your eye, reminiscing the day you were crying because of something so mundane. Yes, every detail matters– that’s what will make your business unique and close to your heart. Be prepared to give it your all– a half-hearted effort won’t yield the results you want for long. So, sit in the driver’s seat, strap your belt on and be prepared for the adventurous, capricious road that lies ahead!