The Holy Month of Ramadan started last Monday and for the 1.6 billion Muslims around the world it is the month of fasting and prayer. For those that don't know what Ramadan is, its a time each year when all Muslims fast from dawn until dusk and they must refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and drinking alcohol. Its a month of spiritual reflection, a time to look upon ones own activities and question them and reconnect with your faith and cleanse your soul. I'm not Muslim but as I've lived in the UAE all my life, its very much part of my yearly calendar and I find the month very important to my own character and soul.
So I wanted to share with you why Ramadan is a great month for Entrepreneurs even if you are not Muslim and how you can make effective use of the time.
Time to reflect and renew our energy levels
So each year when Ramadan comes round I see it as a time to reflect on my own life and take a moment to reassess my own energy levels. I have fasted in the past to embrace the Holy month but most of the time I see the month as a time to detox my health, rebuild my exercise regime and meditate some more. Feeling physically better does wonders for my own mindset so when Ramadan comes around I do indulge all of these activities and I really recommend the same for you.
So how can Ramadan help Entrepreneurs - well really for similar reasons. Take the time to reflect on your business, get clear about what is working and what isn't, detox your own business by cleaning your office space, your computer laptop (I know I always have tonnes of files sitting on my desktop screen that really need to be properly filed), reorganise your leads, your budget, get clear on your business's future needs. In Ramadan its a time for Muslims to reconnect with their faith and their core values. You can do the same aswell. Get clear about your core business values again. Sometimes during the year I know these values can get blurry particularly if you are super busy and starting to spread thin. Ramadan is also great time to learn, articulate and understand a lot of the key knowledge you have learnt over the passed few months and get that material ready to use in your business, with colleagues, co-workers or even family.
So just taking the month to detox your business, reset your business intentions and knowing your path will really revive your energy levels and get you ready to take on the world again.
Opportunity to slow the pace down.
How many of you are doing long days? Possible more than you've ever done when you compare it to your previous career you may have had. A lot of the long hours is because we love what we do and time has little meaning when you get to spend the day doing what you love. However, there are times when we need to slow down or even take a break. Its not healthy to be constantly in active mode. We do get tired and grubby when all our engines have been depleted, well I know I do anyway.
So with Ramadan, lies the opportunity to slow the pace down. Take your foot off the gas and don't rush. Yes we need to get a lot done with leads to funnel and sales to close but with an opportunity to reflect and reassess your energy levels why not take the time to slow things down a bit. Slowing things down destresses us too. Feeling more relaxed and less stressed does wonders for our productivity and helping us get clear about what we want to achieve. Ramadan is also about reconnecting with your family and friends so use the time to reconnect with family and friends and people you've been wanting to connect with for a while but haven't. I did this recently. I set up a meeting with an old colleague in Dubai who I hadn't seen in 18 months and it was awesome. We shared, chatted and brainstormed and more than likely will do some collaborations soon too. Awesome!
Opportunity to look at working 'on' the business
How many of you work 'in' your business as opposed to work 'on' your business? Its interesting to get clear on this as it can help you map where you are going and how your business is going to get you there. My husband suffers a bit from this issue. He's a strategy and detail man but sometimes he can gets so caught up in the detail that I need to tell him to come to the surface again because we need to work on the strategy. He recognises his blindness quickly and realigns himself with our strategy objectives. Its all very easily done and can sneak up on you subconsciously. I think a lot of us do it so Ramadan is an awesome time to reconnect with your 'Why' of the business. Your 'values' of the business. Where you are now and where you are going. We can plan as best we can but we all know that a lot of the time its guess work but knowing your why, your values or your potential direction is more about being clear and having clarity so use the holy month of Ramadan to take a step back from your business and look at the bigger picture. You never know what you could be missing. Detail can be organised later by your team or by yourself but in complete awareness that you are in 'the detail'
Fasting is possible and so others things are possible.
The BIG objective of Ramadan is fasting. Its the 5th pillar of Islam and one of the toughest to do. This particular holy month of Ramadan, Muslims in the middle East are looking at Fasting for over 15 hours and this is tough particularly when its 45 degrees outside and thirst really is the big factor with those heat levels. I watched video on Facebook yesterday where Muslims in Finland are fasting over 20 hours a day! Watch it becuase its just amazing. The fasting is to help you understand what its like not to have food or water and that there are people of this world that don't know where there next meal is coming from.
So fasting is done and is possible I think if you can discipline yourself to follow your faith and push your way through the hunger and deprivation then I say, 'think of what you can do when you have been nourished!?' I have learnt that a lot of what we do is often down to our mindset and if we all had the strength of mindset to be disciplined, have some self awareness of our thoughts then we can see ourselves through our goals or objectives successfully.
So there you have it. My four reasons of why Ramadan is an awesome time for Entrepreneurs and how you can embrace the month even if you are not Muslim. How else have you embraced the tradition of Ramadan? Would you fast from dawn till dusk? Do let me know as I'd love to know your thoughts on this. Have an awesome day.
Failure and mistakes are not a bad thing!! That is the resounding message I'm getting from the ladies I have interviewed. They wouldn't be doing what they were doing if they listened to the negative self talk or were self conscious about what they said or did. When they fail or make a mistake, they just stand up, dust themselves off and travel on to the next 'to do' item from their business plan.
I think that is very powerful feedback and one that I'm slowly coming to terms with myself. At school you are taught to not make mistakes but when you fail your exams or tests, we are taught mistakes and failing are reflections of you not paying attention or studying hard enough. Think of the times you got a big fat red 'F' - on your paper. Its totally demoralising - What do we do with that feedback? We start the negative self talk....'we are not good enough, we are useless, I'll never go to University, my parents will be so disappointed' and there begins the cycle of negativity. From a young age we start this negative self chatter and so we hide away from new things, new ideas because we clearly failed at something similar! I remember my dad saying he was awful at maths. But was he awful or did he have a bad teacher or the class was too big or he was too shy to speak up?? Who knows. But those circumstances meant him blaming himself for not being good at maths. OK. So we do need to be accountable but 50 years ago there wasn't learning support. You were just expected to get on with it but it still leaves you stained with negative messages ringing in our ears. I heard Robert Kiyosaki say recently, 'rubbishing failure and mistakes in school is so anti learning'. And I couldn't agree more.
I've been plagued by my own failure and mistake demons. You know the things you have said or done in the office and you think the whole office is still talking about it months later..... when they are not!!! Or my own negative self talk that I'm not good enough or feeling nervous or inadequate because of my fears of failure or mistakes. Its seriously painful and so overwhelming. It can suck you in and hold you tight for minutes, hours or even days. I'm sure you can all feel your own negative feelings when you think about your mistakes and failings.
But come on... lets changed that tune!! Science and cognitive psychology has shown us that what we say to ourselves impacts our emotions. To 'get' this yourself, the best time to understand this is the morning, when you wake up. If you start thinking negatively in the morning your tummy might start to get butterflies or you feel your stress levels rising and your just irritated ....and you have just woken up. I've been that person and I hate getting butterflies in the morning!! I hate that wobblying feeling in my tummy that just hangs there. In my head I'm stressing about the day ahead, meetings, projects, deadlines...and I've only been awake 30 minutes!!!! So instead now I get up in the morning and I exercise - and watch a ted talk - that works for me. It totally raises my energy levels, changes my mindset to a 'can do' attitude and gets rid of those butterflies. I've become more aware of my thoughts and work heavily on being resilient constantly. So how did I get there? Well this is where I tell you what I learnt from the many interviews I've done with Women Entrepreneurs in the Middle East and how I think you can accomplish whatever you want if you put your mind in the right frame and use your failures to your advantage.
Head to your Treasure Box of Passion & Strengths.
Through all my interviews with my women entrepreneurs in the Middle East, I've learnt that they have recognised their strengths and their weaknesses. They have sat down and really clarified their values, their vision, who they are and what strengths they have that they can use. Their primary strengths is the passion they have for a subject, industry or idea. They've taken that passionate energy and just ran with it. When they hit a hurdle they return to their treasure box of strengths, take up more of their passion and reasons for the businesses. Knowing the why to their quest and multiplying that by their strengths, they rekindle that fire and push forward. Mistakes and failing for them is learning. They place it where it should be *in the learning section* and carry on. They will turn to this process over and over again. I know I have. Creating a podcast around women entrepreneurs in the middle east is new, different and very niche. I'm passionate about these conversations I have and want to share how the women of the Middle East are trail blazing and bringing economic growth to their countries but also 'Making a Difference with Lots of Valuable Experiences (MAD LOVE)*. I use my strengths of relationship building, listening and constructing comfortable conversations to really help me connect with these ladies and help share their story. Remember to tap back into your passion and strengths - I'm sure you will give your confidence a nice needed boost.
Collaborate and Partner Up
I always ask my ladies in the interview how important has collaboration and partnerships been to the success of their business and 99% of the time, they respond with a YES! Every business can't grow in isolation just like people can't grow in isolation. You would never learn anything. So when things aren't great and you've hit a wall think about how you could reach out to a complimenting business or a mentor group or even your mum and dad just to help get you some perspective. In that perspective lies your resilience. When you reach out, get clear about what it is that you need to move forward, how you would like them to help you and how you can help them. Give yourself workable and flexible targets and just ask. Use your strengths and your values to work out a new plan. See if your values and their values align and start a new collaboration or partnership. It doesn't have to be monetary it can be as simple as a barter deal or cross promoting one another. These actions will have you heading down your success route once again. We've all scene that image of success as a windy road and it totally is. So don't hit that wall and feel failure looming, see it as an opportunity to learn, talk to people and take action. Be resilient.
They keep growing their knowledge bank and learning
I interviewed May Khizam yesterday and she said a really cool then.... she said, ' Entrepreneurship looks so glossy on the outside but its not' and she is so so right. *here come some negative self talk* - its a life of hardship, its brings difficulties, chaos, questioning yourself and your business, money worries and fear. There I have said it! Now lets move on! To be an entrepreneur you need to be resilient. Be able to turn all those fears into actionable positives but we need to put ourselves in mindset of wanting to be a learning person. Tricia Evans and Cherine Kurdi both called themselves 'Learning Junkies' and I loved that. They make time to learn, they make time to read and listen to what the latest developments are in their industries aswell as complimenting industries. They've also become really good listeners. Listening for the message that will help them marry that information with their business so they can move forward. They are open to ideas and all this new information empowers them and improves their confidence. So when they do have a set back, they can fall back on their knowledge bank, their goals and recognise their achievements and push forward. They are resilient.
Through out all my interviews I think the key to all of these ladies efforts has been resilience. There are peaks and troughs in their journeys which create challenges and excitement. I think the trick is to recognise when things are going great and make sure you recognise those moments and be thankful for them. Show some gratitude. When things are not going great, turn to your resilience. Even create a resilience list so you have a go to list of activities you can turn too when your brain is not engaging and you are feeling demoralised. The online dictionary I used to define the word failure has two definitions, a) 'lack of success' or b) 'the neglect or omission of expected or required action'. hmm.... it should say 'failure is a blip in your learning and you haven't looked at your resilience yet. Go to resilience'.
*I credit that brilliant Acronym MAD LOVE to my awesome friend and awesome author Jules Miles Lewis. She's written a book on Moving Mountains. All About helping you move forward, discovering your inner mountain and finding your path foward emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically... in business and in life
I recently interviewed a lady called Leen in Algeria. She is the Founder & Executive Director of Injaz El Djazair - Algeria. A global non-profit organisation aimed at empowering young people & young entrepreneurs to own their own economic success. They run soft skill programmes to help the kids in Algeria get a better start in their career.
We were creating her episode for the show and one of the things she commented on was 'we never live in the' moments of our success, we see our goals and then we are very quickly move on to the next one'. Its true we are always in a constant rush and on to the next goal or objective in our work aswell as our personal lives. So while she said this I said, in jest, 'we should take a holiday each time we have a success'. We laughed and giggled about it. But then it got me thinking that maybe that would make us stop and live in the moment of that success.
Think of it like this, when we go on holiday. We do sit back, evaluate our goals and objectives, talk about what has being going on and what we would do different BUT we also enjoy our holiday. We snap up every moment and diarise it so we never forget the smells, feelings, thoughts and even the weather. We absorb everything so we can package it up and hold on to that memory forever.
Why can't we do that we our successes? Lap it up, pull in the smell, feelings, thoughts and I suppose the weather and package up that success and stamp it firmly into our memory? Live in the moment of that success, revel in it and learn what we can from it.
So I'm suggesting a new way to measure our successes. Take a holiday. Take a day to stretch out and live in the glory of that success and suck it up like a sponge so your brain fully stain itself with the success that was. Then at the end of the year, add up your holidays and then see how much success you have had. We thrive on positive energy so wouldn't this just be such a massive boost to our confidence, abilities and our overall being!!
.... now where is my suitcase :)
'Your Dream is like a skyscraper. You are standing at the top of it and all you have to do is Jump.'
Nicholla sat down with Saniya, the CEO of The Pulse of Life Design House and the Wadi Tribe The Author of the children's adventure series, 'The Adventures of Chee and Dae',. Based in Oman, she started her entrepreneurial journey at the tender age of 11 years old where she embraced her dreamer and creativity qualities into creating furniture. She knew then being creative would be her life's work. Today she works on building her business and continue to embrace her love of creative, children and working from the heart.
Read More Here --->
Picture this: you’ve spent months (years even) plowing all of your energy into your big, brilliant idea and you finally get in front of someone who matters.
You deliver your pitch and… it falls flat. For whatever reason, that potential client, investor or other third party just doesn’t get it.
So, what do you do? First up, it’s natural to feel like the world is closing in on you and you can’t breathe. If you weren’t feeling this way, it’d be fair to say you’re not really passionate about what you’re trying to get up off the ground.
The thing is, rejection is inevitable at some point for all entrepreneurs.
Consider these famous tales:
When it comes to rejection, the real problem lies in our perception of it. Far too often, it stops people dead in their tracks… there’s the embarrassment, the shame, the fear that the saying about ‘light at the end of the tunnel’, is just a myth.
What separates those who succeed from those who fail, is their ability to fall and rise again. The quicker you get back up, the quicker who can continue moving ahead.
If you’ve just experienced a rejection that rocked you to the core, keep these 5 things in mind.
#1 – Not everyone is going to love what you do
This one’s just a fact of life. Think of your favourite movie… not everyone loves it right? Well that’s how you need to think of whatever you’re trying to create business-wise. You’ll have your fans and then you’ll have people who just don’t fit into your target market.
#2 – Ask yourself what you can take away from the rejection
Give yourself a couple of days to allow the emotion to settle. Then, go back to the feedback and consider whether there’s any substance as to what’s being said. In the long run, this will only help you to improve whatever it is you’re trying to do.
#3 – Remember it’s all part of the process
Entrepreneurship is no easy gig. Otherwise, everyone would be doing it. However, remind yourself why you first chose this journey as opposed to having a standard 9am to 5pm job. Anyone who tells you what you’re doing will be easy, is lying. But the rewards are likely to be sweeter in the end.
#4 – Don’t take it personally
If someone has given you their honest feedback, the worst thing you can do is lash out and be unpleasant. Just be polite and remember this: you never know when you may run into someone again. You don’t want to burn bridges unnecessarily.
#5 – Keep going!
If you have faith in whatever you’re trying to create, don’t allow rejection to stop you in your tracks. Keep at it… keep persevering and refining whatever it is you have on your hands.
Most importantly, remember that easy success is very much the exception… keep your eyes forward and focus on the positives. Sure, learn from the negatives but don’t allow yourself to drown in them.
“Do. Or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda, Jedi Master
We’re channeling the wisdom of Yoda from Star Wars here in order to tackle the first big question in our month long focus on entrepreneurs. That question is…
Can all of us become entrepreneurs?
The answer is… It’s complicated! Fact is, not everyone can be their own boss. Ask any entrepreneur and they’ll tell you that you have to put a lot on the line to be an entrepreneur.
You have to be willing to lose things in order to make way for all of the things the universe is likely to be throwing your way.
Additionally, you need to have drive – The kind of drive that means you’re working into the early hours in the morning instead of sleeping or hitting the party scene with your besties.
Focus, commitment, self-belief and the ability to overcome fear… They’re all key ingredients any successful entrepreneur boasts.
Most importantly, you need to have a mindset in which you’re okay with being outside of your comfort zone. A lot.
This way of life isn’t for everyone: Some people enjoy routines, stability and not having to worry about how they’re going to transform an idea into more.
Some people just aren’t risk takers and that means they’re not cutout to be an entrepreneur. We’re talking about the kind of people who take calculated risks and are willing to back themselves when others wouldn’t.
When you look at the most successful entrepreneurs, they see beyond themselves. They’re big vision people… The kind of people who fail five times and get up six times.
Failure is part of the entrepreneurial journey. Often, what differentiates a successful person from everyone else, is their ability to pick themselves up and continue going when others would give up.
This is harsh but oh so true: It’s not going to get you far just by being ‘good at something.’ An entrepreneur is more than just talented… They have a business brain and while they don’t have all of the answers, they’re good at asking the questions they need to and digging until they find those answers.
They’re the kind of people who don’t just have an ‘idea’ – They’re the kind of people who have an idea, make sure it’s more than just a passing whim and do
whatever they need to in order to determine their ideal client and to make their business profitable.
Not to mention, these days, business is about so much more than making money – Organisations have a social and commercial responsibility and if you look at the most successful entrepreneurs, they always have a vision that’s bigger than themselves. They seek to change lives.
Finally, any entrepreneur needs to be good at networking and communicating. Even the most talented of people get help on their way up… Being able to make people listen to your message and having the ability to think outside yourself and ask how you’re going to help others first, is essential.
Why? Without people, you have no business.
So, let’s answer the question that’s front-and-centre: Can all of us become entrepreneurs?
Yes. Ultimately, anyone can do anything they set their mind to… But that doesn’t mean they should!
Before we go, here’s a 55-point checklist to grading entrepreneurs published on Forbes.com.
And don’t forget to check out our interviews with a selection of female entrepreneurs to discover how they’re making a difference.
What do you think? Can everyone be an entrepreneur (share your thoughts below)?
Got a topic you’d like us to blog about? Click here to tell us now.
ABout the blog
Share interviews with Arab and Expat women entrepreneurs, sharing their entrepreneurial journey with their top business advise. We blog about knowledge, articles, FAQ on social media and share tools and resources to help us get going in our niche.