Women in Business: Advice on Thriving as an entrepreneur

On being audacious

You’re most ambitious goals rely on your stubbornness. When you’re an entrepreneur, you’re central identity shifts from what it was before. This might sound off putting or even – completely wrong. How can you put being an entrepreneur supersede any other identity you hold? Here’s how – being an entrepreneur will require your persistence, boldness, and fearlessness. It means hearing ‘NO’ and being ok with it. It will test your patience, drive and, sanity. But when being an entrepreneur becomes your life and not your job, you have little choice but to embody these audacious qualities. The minute you dilute your identity into two or more layers – you place limitations on yourself and your perception of your abilities. Be brave. Go out. Talk to people. Reach out to them on LinkedIn. Find great mentors. Ask questions.

On growing your business

For your business to grow, it must be scalable. Hire freelancers, outsource and get employees. Hire people who are experts in their fields and have them help you. If you can’t afford employees, freelancers are an excellent way to keep your costs down without hindering productivity. The goal is to work for your business, not in it. Focus on your strengths, isolate pain points and strategise more efficient ways to divide and conquer.

On saying no

Sometimes, especially in the beginning of your entrepreneurship journey. The overwhelming urge and/or guilt to say yes to every client, job or opportunity is overwhelming. If a client or opportunity aren’t the right fit, worth the money or your efforts – don’t second guess your worth. Keep things that don’t serve you off your plate so you have room for great people and opportunities that may come along.

On nepotism

Sometimes you’ll feel a compulsion to employ friends and family into your business. This is certainly true for everyone. However, before you commit to employees your familiar with ask yourself the following questions: Can you treat them like any other employee? Can you enforce company policy or disciplinary measures when your expectations are not met? Will you pay these affiliates more than they deserve because it feels awkward not to? Unless you already know your personalities, goals and work ethic won’t clash – avoid hiring friends or family if they won’t be instrumental in furthering your goals.

On Accountability

Excuses get you nowhere—not with dissatisfied clients, customers, or employees. If you mess up, take accountability. Apologise for the problem, find the root of the issue, put a process in place to ensure it doesn’t happen again, and if necessary, throw something in for free. Think about how you’d feel were you in the client’s shoes and what it (reasonably) takes to make it right. Then, do it. Practicing accountability as a business owner will also demonstrate transparency and honesty to build trust.

On staying motivated

“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 only you exist. That’s where the interesting stuff happens.”

– Butheina Kazim, founder, Cinema Akil

On hiring employees

Whenever you hire an employee, you’re trusting them with your brands reputation. The rule of thumb, as you’ve been continually reminded – “Hire someone with experience. The more the better.” However, hiring for talent and attitude will work out better for your organisation in the long run. Find someone who fits your company culture and has the persistence to get the job done. Experience and innate intelligence do not directly correlate with results but hard work, drive and patience do. Employees with less experience can be trained to do what you need so you get exactly what you want.

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