Seven Lessons For Women In Business (From Other Women In Business)

A selection of the many pieces of great advice that have been shared with us by women thriving in the region's business domain.

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The occasion of International Women's Day brings with it a variety of discourses surrounding how we can better support the women in our lives, especially those in the business arena. At Entrepreneur Middle East, we've always believed in the value of inspiring through example, and as such, here is a selection of the many pieces of great advice that have been shared with us by women thriving in the region's business domain:

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1. Do what you love YOOX Net-A-Porter Middle East CEO Nisreen Shocair says that she has always been very careful about the industry or company she works with- she is insistent on finding the right fit for herself, and she recommends other women to follow her lead in that aspect. "It's so important to have passion and to love what you do," she says. "Without that drive and determination, you will struggle to put all of your time and energy into something when starting out."


2. Seize every opportunity that comes your way Alia Al-Shamsi, Acting Cultural Programming Manager at the Louvre Abu Dhabi, believes that women in the UAE have access to a lot of opportunities that are essentially being presented to them, and as such, it's up to them to make use of them to realize their hopes and ambitions. "When you have a government that supports you, the doors are obviously open, but you need to seize these opportunities," Al-Shamsi explains. "You are given something, but what you make of it is what renders you unique from another. Some people take these opportunities, and create something larger."

3. Be mindful of what you devote your time to When asked for advice she'd give entrepreneurs like herself, one of the suggestions Ghost Concept founder and CEO Budreya Faisal had for her peers was to be extremely choosy (and careful) about how they make use of their time on a daily basis. "Everyone starts by doing everything they can, and speaking to everyone they can to get their business going," she notes. "But eventually, you learn to value your time more, and not waste any of it on meeting with people who don't get you or your business, or people who need to be convinced that they need you. If they're going to be that difficult to bring on board, they will be more difficult to work with."

4. Remember that it's okay to make a mistake There was a time when Re:Set founder Aakanksha Tangri was so hell-bent on making sure everything was perfect that even the smallest mix-up would send her down a path of intense self-doubt and negativity, but she has since learned to accept stumbling blocks as part of the journey she's on. "Recognize that mistakes are a part of human nature, and that we learn as we stumble," she notes. "We all make mistakes; we just need to learn from them. Just because something didn't go right the first time doesn't mean you're not worthy, or that you don't deserve the opportunities that are coming your way. Nothing will ever be perfect; so, we need to actively learn from roadblocks, and learn to let go."

5. Stay true to your values Mae Romero Do-Thanh, owner and CEO of The Branding Room, says that she has had to deal with several biases in her time as an entrepreneur, but she has powered through them all by staying true to her beliefs and values. "What I have learned to overcome is the feeling of frustration that is associated with those preconceived notions," Do-Thanh says. "I do that by simply taking everything with a grain of salt. I try to look ahead, so I would not dwell on certain thoughts and events that I know I would just laugh about eventually." At the end of the day, Do-Thanh always makes sure she stays true to herself- and that's what keeps her going, no matter what. "One must adjust according to the situation, but that shouldn't mean that you should lose who you are in the process," she concludes. "Keep being honorable, even when you're thrown in the den of thieves."

6. Be your biggest cheerleader Goshá founder Natalia Shustova believes that there is nothing wrong with bragging about what you do, and being proud of what you bring to the table- that's what will end up attracting people to support you in your endeavors. "When you're proud of what you do, when you talk about what you do with so much love and passion, people want to be associated with that- they want to be associated with success and happiness," Shustova says. "People want to be associated with the entrepreneurial journey of somebody who made it from scratch. Honestly, I got so much support from people, just because they wanted to be a part of my success story."

7. Don't forget to take care of yourself Women often find themselves taking care of everyone else but themselves, and that's something female entrepreneurs should be especially wary of, says Evakind founder Sladjana Franovic. "Juggling between pregnancy, motherhood, a new business, life far from family, the COVID-19 outbreak, and life post the pandemic has indeed put a lot of pressure on me, but I also believe that my startup will never be successful if I destroy myself in the process," she says. "Don't sacrifice your well-being for the sake of your entrepreneurial goals, and stop believing in the stories that only two hours of sleep a day, skipping meals, and sacrificing your family and personal time is the only way to grow your business."

Related: Inclusivity Matters: Speeding Up Gender Diversity (And Breaking Glass Ceilings) For Female Board Members In The GCC