So last week - I had a new 'first' in my life! I walked across the desert from Al Ain to Abu Dhabi. We were supposed to do 120km but unusual stormy weather across the UAE cancelled 2 days of our journey. The experience was such a mix bag of emotions. From exciting and nerves at the beginning, too 'I don't want to do this anymore' in the middle, too feeling overwhelmed and teary that we had achieved our objective at the end.
The Women Heritage Walk
The Women’s Heritage Walk (WHW) from Al Ain to Abu Dhabi honors the women of the United Arab Emirates who made this journey twice a year not so long ago. Forty-four women retraced this historical trek. Expat women accompanied Emirati women walking in the footsteps of their ancestors who helped sculpt this country. This experience was a celebration of the past and an invitation to shape a vibrant future.
My 'Sand sisters' and I took on the dunes of the desert and during the whole walk I was able to assimilate many feelings and thoughts that I could relate back to daily life for women as entrepreneurs! Women pushing forward, making change and taking action to evolve and grow. Through this journey I noted words and phrases said by the ladies that reflected life and our work life and how it doesn't matter what you are doing there are key skills that apply everywhere!
Skill 1: One step at a time
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 :)
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.
The Learning Curve Podcast - THE Podcast for Women Entrepreneurs in the Middle East and North Africa Region: We sat down with Ludmilla Figueiredo, the Business Development Manager for Eureeca to find out more about the concept of Crowd Investing and how Investors and business could benefit from this innovative funding strategy.
How would you like to take your business to the next level? As an entrepreneur have you ever thought about Crowdinvesting? As an investor, looking for opportunities have you ever thought about crowd investing? What is crowdinvesting? Its a process where by businesses raise capital to expand and grow from a crowd of investors in exchange for shares in the business. Nicholla sat down with Ludmilla to find out more about this concept. We explored the opportunity for both businesses and investors and how both parties could benefit from Eureeca's funding strategy. Read More and Listen to this Interview
“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)?
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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.