“You create your own luck by working hard”: Lessons from international fragrance and body care brand, Malée

zeze oriakhi-sao malee shehive london

If you’re part of the SLA community, it’s likely that you have big dreams just like Zeze. Enormous dreams. Huge ones. The “I want to be Africa’s answer to L’Oreal” kinda dreams. That was Zeze’s dream for her healthy luxury fragrance and body care brand Malée, and over the last few years she has taken major steps to pursue that vision. Go girl.

But how do you get to that point?

How do you give yourself the right tips and stretch yourself?

We know, it sounds quite overwhelming right? That’s why Zeze came to #SheHiveLondon to break to down for us, and lucky for you —we’ve got some of the best snippets from her talk.

(By the way, nothing beats hearing all the gist for yourself in person —so try and make it to a #SheHive event near you, we’re in Lagos this October, so don’t dull yourself and get your ticket now).

First of all, Zeze wouldn’t take no for an answer

Even when pros like her college marketing professor told her that there was no real opportunity for a brand like Malée, it didn’t stop her. She was relentless from day 1, travelling across South Africa to find hotels that she could partner with to stock her brand, and giving them products on consignment.

Zeze took a step of faith and learned the ropes as she went along, looking for every opportunity to get her high-end, value for money product into the hands of her customers. She also went to major trade shows in the beauty and fragrance industry, such as Top Drawer in order to meet potential retailers who could stock Malée in their stores.

Looking back, Zeze knows that no experience goes to waste

From working in the stockroom of Faith Shoes, she learned the ropes of retail and running the store. She reminded us to “count everything you know today as something that will prepare you for tomorrow”.

We create luck by working hard, and within a few years her hard work began to pay off. Malée was featured on CNN in 2011, giving it some major exposure. But that was just the beginning.

By 2011 Malée had won two awards, and by 2012 it was featured in one of the world-leading trend forecasting websites Trend Bible, confirming that Malée would be the next big thing.

Malee online laboratory

But building a successful business doesn’t come without its challenges

In the same year, Zeze launched Malée’s first physical store and manufacturing facility to help other small businesses create new products. Shortly afterwards, she had to rethink her business model, and make some major changes.

That included closing the retail store and manufacturing facility, which was difficult, but it was the right thing to do for Malée. It be like that sometimes; things change. Accepting that you don’t know it all is part of being a successful business woman, and it keeps you humble.

Shortly afterwards, Zeze invited four of the smartest people she knew to South Africa to give her what felt like her own personal Business School crash course. Ladies, this point is key —build on your strengths but also make sure you’ve filled major skills gaps, there’s nothing wrong with needing a bit of help.

A true mogul never stays down for long

After two years of hustling hard to bring Malée into the UK, it will now be stocked at some of the largest, most influential retailers: Harvey Nichols and Fenwick.

A good hustle isn’t enough to get your products in stores though, you also need a unique product, and for Malée, their high-quality, healthy, authentic African-inspired range is what made all the difference.

Get to know desperation

Sounds crazy right? Get to know desperation, so that you can ignore it. Too many times we let desperation drive us to making the wrong choices.

Being able to tell when desperation is driving you instead of passion and common sense will save you time, money, and maybe some tears too.

Stay inspired and completely focused on your goal: that is what will sustain you when things get really tough.

We couldn’t leave this post without talking about the CA$H

Capital is one of the major things on any entrepreneur’s mind, after all there’s a lot we can do with money. We all dream of getting that magical cheque that will sort everything out, but Zeze suggests it’s best to start with what you have now.

Save all that you can, be smart with your money and even if you can only make one product, one is enough to sell and test whether people actually want to buy your stuff.

One sale might just lead to someone pre-ordering a large quantity, but you never know unless you try. It’s called bootstrapping my friend, and most times, having limited resources actually helps us to make better choices.

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We need to start teaching women about entrepreneurship early

As young girls, we may have thought that that success in the real world means success at a corporate job. Working towards this goal, you start first by making sure you do well in school, entering into a good university, passing at university and ultimately finding a prestigious job in the corporate world. It really is tempting to believe that success in the corporate world is the only success that matters. But when you get get exposed to different kinds of people and career paths, you realise it’s not.

Especially when you encounter entrepreneurship, where one can control their own destiny. Then you realise that corporate is not the be all and end all, and there’s far more available to you than climbing the corporate ladder. In my own life, I’ve come to see that there’s a huge misconception about entrepreneurship among women and I’d like to debunk some myths.

It’s not as daunting as you think

To some women, just the thought of struggling or having to put their lives into something that isn’t guaranteed to last, can be daunting. Struggle is real

There is more focus on the negative rather than the possibilities of making entrepreneurship work for you. It’s true that we all fear of the unknown. When you add unforeseen risk to that, staying in your comfort zone seems easier. But staying in comfort zones implies that you’re scared of what starting your own business might bring.

Yet there’s always hope.

I’ve learn a few things in the past two years. It comes from being exposed to what entrepreneurship is and meeting various people that have found their passion here. Most important to me is, the advantages of being familiar with entrepreneurship from an early age.

Start young

Girls graduating high school need to know that entrepreneurship is an option when it comes to career paths. Once girls understand what it is, and what they can contribute to this exciting career path, self-doubt will vanish. Here’s how it works.

High School

No, I’m not saying young girls need to start hustling from high school. I mean that the knowledge needs to be instilled from there. This way when girls head to university, they know have an option to study entrepreneurship further.

During school career fairs, the concept of what entrepreneurship is and what it offers should be shared. The onus is also on the high schools to make entrepreneurship knowledge more reachable to students.

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University and onwards

Though Africa has many good universities, we have limited options for entrepreneurship as a degree. I didn’t even know that you could study entrepreneurship formally. I recently found this out when my colleague told me about her daughter studying entrepreneurship in one of the universities in SA. I can’t lie, I was shocked. Most universities don’t offer a degree that isn’t related to a corporate field.

Still, it makes sense when you consider that pursuing entrepreneurship doesn’t necessarily mean you are saying goodbye to the corporate world. There are many #MotherlandMoguls who are successfully climbing the corporate ladder, while running their own businesses. In my opinion, if you have the opportunity of doing both, then you should take it. Juggling the work load might be too much, but at the end of the day the results will be fruitful and worth it.

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Find a community

This is not as easy as you may think. It may be hard finding a community of like minds at first but more women are creating organisations that allow women to come together. With these groups, you can freely share interests, passions and ideas. I think such communities should become available for young women from high school onwards. (Imagine entrepreneurship clubs in high school).

This helps so young women won’t feel isolated in choosing this path. I’d like to see more communities for young women become a safe haven. This will help us relate to one another and create a trusted and supportive community.

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Top 10 best black girl magic moments of getting ‘WANDA’ in formation

women entrepreneurship, leadership, international women's day

Earlier this month, I had the distinct pleasure of attending the launch of WANDA, a newly established nonprofit organization educating, empowering and advocating for women and girls of African decent to become leaders in the fields of nutrition, dietetics and agriculture.

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Tambra Raye Stevenson, WANDA founder, and Rahama Wright, founder and CEO of Shea Yeleen International

The launch, which took place on March 5th was held in honor of International Women’s Day and as such, featured a panel of innovative and groundbreaking social entrepreneurs in industries ranging from beauty and cosmetics, to television and entertainment. WANDA Founder, Tambra Raye Stevenson, groundbreaking in her own right as a National Geographic Traveler of the Year and founder of the DC-based NativSol Kitchen, describes WANDA (Women Advancing Nutrition, Dietetics, and Agriculture) as an initiative bringing together “sisters of the soil” to encourage all women, young and old, to lead in advancing the fields of nutrition and agriculture.

“Women and girls are at the heart of transforming our communities through preserving our foodways, building vibrant economies and healthy communities,” she said. WANDA will also be launched in Abuja, Nigeria in May.

As a Ghanaian-American woman just beginning her journey into the fields of agriculture and nutrition, I find WANDA’s mission intriguing. The organization promotes itself as a Pan-African initiative, which is hugely significant to me at this point in my career. Though most of my professional experience falls within the realm of international development, a heightened social awareness of racial injustice in the United States, underscored by the growth of the “Black Lives Matter” movement, has compelled me to offer whatever service I can to ensuring a healthy future for Africans AND African-Americans alike.

Having shared this passion with colleagues and advisors, I have been told that I cannot have a successful career straddling both sides of the Atlantic – I would have to choose. The launch of this organization confirmed that I am not alone in my desire to protect and promote health throughout the African Diaspora. And for me WANDA is blazing a trail where there had been none before.

If you missed the launch, check out my top 10 black girl magic moments that continue to resonate with me.

1. Getting in formation

Inspired by the song that launched many a think piece, WANDA flexed its impressive marketing and social media muscle by borrowing from Beyonce’s celebrated and controversial song, “Formation” for the title of their event. Dubbing the launch, “Black Women Getting in Formation: Power of Media and the Arts to Advance Nutrition and Agricultural Advocacy,” WANDA brought attention to the convening power of a song some have identified as a call to arms for black women.

In a recent interview with Black Enterprise, Stevenson shared that WANDA’s version of “getting in formation” means encouraging women and girls to pursue education and leadership roles in health and agriculture.

For me, gathering under the backdrop of “Formation” and a national conversation about self-love and unapologetic blackness brought a palpable sense of pride and purpose to the launch. It was an environment that allowed participants to celebrate each others accomplishments, relate to each others struggles and commit to partnerships moving forward.

A moment that stayed with me, however, was when panelist and WANDA honoree Rahama Wright, CEO of Shea Yeleen International reminded attendees that countless unnamed and unknown women have always and are still doing the work only recently championed by Beyonce. Way before the Super Bowl performance that stunned America, black women worked together to achieve success and independence. This moment from Wright reminded me that despite Beyonce’s undeniable contributions to the movement, the real heroes in the quest for justice and equality are in our midst and should not be overlooked.

2. Celebrating excellence in entrepreneurship

Speaking of celebrating the heroes in our midst, WANDA set a great example by honoring four WANDA women leading the way in promoting positive images of blackness and black women. Along with Ms. Wright, WANDA honored Julian Kiganda, CEO of Bold and Fearless, DeShuna Spencer, Founder and CEO of KweliTV, and Mukami Kinoti Kimotho, Founder and CEO of Joodj.

Julian Kiganda, CEO of Bold and Fearless, DeShuna Spencer, Founder and CEO of KweliTV, and Mukami Kinoti Kimotho, Founder and CEO of Joodj.
WANDA Honorees: Rahama Wright, Julian Kiganda, DeShuna Spencer, and Mukami Kinoti Kimotho (Left to Right)

During the panel discussion, each honoree offered a unique perspective on the realities of being a black female entrepreneur. The most memorable moment for me was the vulnerability each woman shared in explaining that their successes were not won overnight. The panelists openly discussed the tendency in the black community to erase struggles from one’s personal narrative. By openly discussing the blood, sweat and tears that goes into growing an organization from the ground up, the panelists believe that more women may be encouraged to continue chasing their dreams even when they face hardship. It was a message that resonated with the audience who clapped in support of these personal and uplifting statements.

3. The food

NativSol Kitchen provided the tasty, healthy and culturally relevant fare originating from different countries across the continent. Stevenson dazzled attendees with a Morroccan stew, West African rice dishes, savory black eyed peas, and my personal favorite from the event, bissap, or zobo as it is known in Nigeria. The drink is made from dried hibiscus leaves and is known for its tangy flavor and deep crimson color.

African heritage inspired food
NativSol Kitchen catered the event with its signature pan African menu.

NativSol spiced its version up with a touch of ginger, giving the beverage a kick that rounded out the meal. The message I took away from the impressive spread is that food from across the African continent and Diaspora is naturally delicious and healthy. Over time, departure from these foods and the uptake of the Western diet has left a staggering percentage of the Diaspora suffering from overweight, obesity, heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes. In the United States, over 75% of African Americans are overweight or obese, while in Africa nutrition related non-communicable disease will account for 40% of the disease burden on the continent by 2030.

A part of WANDA’s mission is to reverse this trajectory and restore health to the Diaspora by embracing the heritage foods that characterize so many of its classic dishes. For more information about the link between culture, food and health check out Oldways African Heritage and Health, a wellness program developing resources and initiatives to promote the healthy foods and delicious eating traditions of African Heritage for good health and community.

4. The fashion

Sometimes being one of a few, if not the only black woman in the one’s work environment requires a precarious balancing act of trying to maintain one’s identity while not becoming a target of stereotypes or scrutiny.WANDA ShoesSometimes it can become pretty stressful. For black women, hair can be one of the most treacherous waters to navigate in the workplace. What I loved about the WANDA launch was seeing successful professional black women in all of their diverse glory.

From Kiganda’s waist length locs to Kimotho’s cropped and colored do, the women at the launch exuded class and professionalism no matter the texture, length or color of their hair. Not only did attendees’ hair make a statement, but their clothes did as well. Who says being a businesswoman only means blue, grey and black suits? The WANDA event was a feast for the eyes, with attendees rocking colorful Ankara print and eye catching jewelry from a range of African countries. This reinforced to me the necessity for all women of the Diaspora to rebel against the societal norms of the work place and refuse to forget just how beautiful every kind of black woman is.

5. Establishing a multigenerational connection

The number of mothers and daughters who came to the launch together pleasantly surprised me. So much of whom I am as a woman in terms of my confidence and self-esteem comes from my mother therefore it only makes sense that mother/daughter pairs would be interested in ensuring that their descendants yet to come are guaranteed equal access to the education and job opportunities they desire.

WANDA event

Beyond those with familial ties, women of all ages were able to connect at the WANDA launch. During the panel discussion, a lawyer with plenty of years of experience asked panelists if they ever seek to engage older women. All panelists highlighted the importance of engaging all generations, particularly elders, in their work.

Mothers, grandmothers and women leaders in general play the pivotal role of passing down cultural knowledge and eating habits, and promote economic growth in their communities. This traditional role fits well into WANDA’s model of empowerment through mentorship. It touched me to know that WANDA and its honorees saw it fitting to remind us that we all can influence the next generation. and we ‘have a duty to plant trees, so they can sit in the shade.’

6. Remembering the importance of self care

After the panel discussion concluded, I asked the panelists how they maintain their enthusiasm and confidence. I also asked how they care for themselves and maintain their sanity if they ever face backlash for their work. I asked this question because, as in the case of Beyoncé, black women who stand up for themselves and for their people can sometimes open themselves up to racist and sexist criticism.

Activists and public figures such as Melissa Harris-Perry have publicly discussed the self-care routines they adopted to protect themselves from their detractors. Though all panelists gave incredible answers, such as knowing one’s limits, never neglecting one’s health and feeling comfortable admitting failure, my favorite piece of advice came from Spencer who discussed the importance of having a team of friends and trusted advisers who you can go to for laughs, tough love, a shoulder to cry on and more.

Spencer noted that surrounding one’s self with like-minded individuals keeps one focused and inspired. I remember looking around the room in the moment and thinking, “We need each other. None of us can do this alone.” This sentiment was solidified by Stevenson who admitted that unlike past initiatives she tried to grown on her own, WANDA would be a child raised by the village – a community of women who want to see the child thrive. The grassroots nature of this organization encouraged me to address my own fears of failure and get involved with WANDA by working on my writing.

7. Reflecting on the pain that unites us (and how to overcome)

The moment that drew out the most thought and reflection came from a comment shared by a woman named Rose. Originally from Uganda, Rose had this to say during the question and answer portion of the panel: “Africans will never heal until African-Americans heal”. Having never heard such a statement, I stopped, as did many other participants, to seriously reflect on what this means.

WANDA Group Photo

Though I’m sure it can be interpreted in many different ways, I took what Rose said to mean that our destiny, as people of the Diaspora is interlinked. It has been interlinked since the first of us endured the Middle Passage. It was interlinked when the Civil Rights movement exploded during a time of widespread liberation on the continent and will continue to be interlinked as Africans and African-Americans battle the very similar challenges of hunger, malnutrition, unemployment, marginalization and limited access to resources. These feelings were hard to unpack, but were appreciated by the panelists who praised Rose for remembering the importance of communal healing and love within the African Diaspora. This was a thought provoking moment that will not be soon forgotten.

8. The unveiling of little Wanda

In a moment that drew a collective “Awwwwww!!!” from attendees and panelists alike, Stevenson unveiled an exciting and creative aspect of the WANDA initiative: Little Wanda of the upcoming “Where’s WANDA?” series, is a character inspired by Stevenson’s own journey to Africa and childhood goals of healing her family.

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In developing series, Little Wanda travels across the African continent meeting WANDA Women, or Big Wandas, that research, produce and promote African heritage foods to nourish their communities. “Where’s WANDA,” geared towards girls under ten years of age, will include educational enrichment resources inviting young girls to travel and learn with Little Wanda.

I believe this character, the Diaspora’s answer to “Dora the Explorer,” will open so many opportunities for little girls of African descent to learn about culture and heritage in a way they never have before. With her adorable afro and cute ankara skirt, Little Wanda is a character young girls can relate to and that sort of representation in the media is so important. Follow @NativSol and @IamWANDAorg to catch updates on where Little Wanda goes next!

9. ToluMiDE debuts “Mama Sunshine”

tolumideTolumiDE is a talented Nigerian-Canadian singer and songwriter whose music spans the genres of R&B, Afropop and Soul. Having never met her nor listened her music, I was struck by Tolu’s earthy voice and quirky adlibs. A WANDA honoree herself, TolumiDE graced attendees with a new song called, “Mama Sunshine”.

While listening to the catchy song filled with themes of growth, resilience and renewal, I felt the song was a perfect way to begin a new chapter for many of the women standing in the room. WANDA has provided an opportunity to connect and build a community with a common purpose and that is something I am very thankful for.

TolumiDE had a song for these feelings as well, offering an encore with her song of thanks and praise, “My Love”. Be sure to check out the video on YouTube!

10. Recognizing the strength in numbers

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 The WANDA launch was an awakening for me, drawing out feelings of affirmation, inspiration, solidarity and energy that come with finally feeling understood and identifying a direction. Following the close of the event, participants lingered for hours, laughing, sharing and embracing their newfound roles as students, mentors, leaders, advocates, and WANDA Women.

We closed by taking a final picture, which solidified for me that I have become apart of something bigger than myself. The sense of community offered by WANDA and its powerful women and male advocates fills a hole that many black women in the fields of nutrition, dietetics and agriculture often feel, being one of a few, if not the only black woman in their work place.

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, people of African descent only make up roughly 2.6 percent of the registered nutritionists and dietitians. It is time to change this and WANDA is a big step forward in finding the solution. There is strength in community and strength in numbers, and I look forward to watching WANDA’s membership grow.

Join the movement and be sure to follow WANDA on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag, #IamWANDA.

 

Emi-Beth Quantson: There is still so much I want to do

Emi Beth-Quantson

[In picture above, Emi Beth Quantson at SheHive Accra 2016]

As part of SheHive Accra 2016, I caught up with Emi-Beth Quantson, CEO and founder of Kawa Moka, after her talk on how she won Startup Cup Ghana. Kawa Moka is a “social enterprise coffee shop and creative space” that empowers underprivileged women through employment and mentorship.

The Startup Cup competition provides opportunities for entrepreneurs to network and gain financial support, which were essential for Kawa Moka to thrive.


What was your childhood like?

I had a very happy childhood. I have two older brothers who used to bully me shamelessly. And as my parents always entertained, we had to serve. I think that is where the interest in hospitality came from because my parents were always throwing parties – entertaining, they told jokes.

We used to have Christmases where all our cousins would come together and we will have nine lessons and carols and sing and do firecrackers. It was pretty cool.

What dreams did you have growing up?

A lot! I wanted to do so much. I still want to do so much. One of the things I wanted when I was in Ashesi [University] was to be the first woman governor of the Bank of Ghana.

I still have not lost that ambition. I am just praying that nobody gets there first. I still want to go to grad school, maybe go back into corporate and do something finance, sort of setup Kawa Moka, and then afterwards have it run a little and do something else.

I have a million and one ideas. We will see which ones get done and which ones do not. But there are a lot of things I want to do with my life.

What would you say are some of the influences that have shaped you into the woman you are today?

I come from a close knit family, and I would say my mum, aunt, and grandmother were my closest influences on my mum’s side. And on my dad’s side, there were also a lot of women – aunties and grandma. I guess each family sort of taught me different value sets and opened me up to different experiences.

I remember my grandma was always concerned about me: she calls me Aku. She was always like, “Oh Aku, what are you doing again? You say you want to do this or you don’t want to this, ohh”. She is always concerned and finding ways to impart knowledge from way back, not try to necessarily put me down, but then she will use some nice way of telling you that, hey you should do this.

And it was fun to have all those family gatherings so I think my family has probably been my largest influence.

How was your transition from Ashesi University  into the corporate world?

Very easy. I worked part time in my final year of school. I worked part time for Ghana Home loans so I had some corporate experience.

My final internship was at PWC so before I graduated, I already had a job and had already gained experience in that job. As such, it was a very easy transition for me – I did not have to send out a million CVs.

You have a background in consulting. What would you say are some of the key skills that make you a successful consultant?

Being able to think on your feet. Even though a lot of assignments have a lot of similarities, everything is unique in its own way. For every assignment, you need to think on your feet and find innovative solutions based on the parameters that you are given.

I think that is a key skill. Another key skill is networking and just learning how to talk to clients and establish a relationship because a lot of the consulting assignments are based on relationships. They feel the connectivity because you give them the best solution and you do it with a smile and you do it nicely.

So, I would say those are the two key skills, and of course the analytics is a given. You need to have the technical skills. A lot of which, if you are working with a multinational they will teach you, but you can also teach yourself.

You are the CEO and founder of Kawa Moka as well as the CFO at Impact Hub. How do you juggle all these responsibilities?

With Impact Hub, I am transitioning. We are hopefully going to put out a job description for finance manager so that at least I can have support in the sense of the day to day stuff. But I mean it has not been so hard.

I have had a lot of support from the Impact Hub team so there are other team members who sort of put in data and do the rudimentary stuff as well so that helps me with balancing.

But it has also not been easy because, of course, you have your peak seasons running your own business. I also do a bit of consulting on the side so that has been a challenge as well.

Emi Beth-Quantson

Some days you wish there are more than 24 hours in a day, but I think one tool that helps with balancing is communication – just make sure you set realistic deadlines and then you work to make sure you accomplish them.

I also take courses all the time on setting smart goals and managing time just to remind myself how to be efficient and plan things out properly.

How has being an entrepreneur affected your personal life?

My husband is really fantastic. He is like my number one fan. He is always like, “why are you not doing this?” So he is giving me that male aggression in my business. He always pushes me to make sure I get to the next level and stay honest with my goals and visions.

 So even though sometimes, I spend late nights at work or do events, he understands and he always asks how he can support me. It has been a bit harder on the weekends, especially if there are family events. I have missed a couple.

As I have slowly built capacity at Kawa Moka, I have not had to be there all the time because my capable team keep on top of things.

What motivates you? What keeps you going?

What keeps me going is having something in my head, believing it should be out there, and building it to get to that point. Basically, trying to achieve what you believe is possible. It keeps me going because at every level, I’m like ‘ok, I am here now, but I want to be here so how do I get there?’

And then just a reminder that I want to be at a different level sort of pushes me to get up, to stop being lazy and think about the next thing. So you have hit a roadblock, it is not the end of the world. What is the way around? Do you jump off?

This perspective keeps me honest as well. Also knowing that there is so much I want to do with my life gives me that pressure that ,”time waits for no man”, you need to get it done, you need to move to the next stage drive.

Also, just how do I let other people do a lot more? Because obviously, you cannot do everything by yourself. How can you get other people’s input so that it is a team effort and I am not dependent on just me.

With all of these experiences, what would you say has been your greatest accomplishment?

That is tough. I think it is staying true to myself. Every stage I have been in my life, I have explored, I have challenged myself to be better, to accomplish more and not necessarily be confined by the expectations of society.

For me, it is that ability to stay true and still earn money and still create things that for me. I think is my greatest accomplishment.

Want to learn more about Emi Beth-Quantson, read this ’07 feature of her on Ashesi University’s career services page.


Want to see women you know featured on SLA? Tell us what amazing things women are doing in your communities here.

The one benefit of entrepreneurship no one talks about

Entrepreneur

In the early stages of starting PaintSpace Art Lounge, I went to visit a close family friend, who also owns her own business, to get advice and direction. As we talked, she said something to me that has shaped me as an entrepreneur: “Ehi, no one really knows what they are doing when they start a business. You can plan but at the end of the day, things will happen and you will have to figure it out. Trust me, whether you like it or not you will learn!”

Whether I like it or not, I learn every day.

I recently opened a mobile paint studio in the Greater Toronto Area, Canada and it has been a world of learning. I am learning about my business, industry, the clients and myself. Learning has, by far, been the most rewarding benefit of entrepreneurship.

Here’s what I’ve learned in the past year as an entrepreneur:

Be adaptable

Change is inevitable. Period. Be ready to embrace change. This is the only way you will find out if you are doing the right things or not. When you make mistakes, forgive yourself, learn from them and move on.

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I learnt how to allow myself to make mistakes. Once I made the decision to not beat myself up, I discovered a new depth of freedom.

Surround yourself with positive people

I cannot stress enough the importance of positive energy. Negative people will bring you and your spirit down.

As an entrepreneur, avoid negativity like a plague. Protect your thoughts and feed your energy with pure goodness.

Where there’s a will there’s a way

Let your passion burn and colour every thing your do. Willpower is the fuel you need to move your business idea from abstract to concrete.

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If you can’t exercise your will, forget about being an entrepreneur.

Develop your interpersonal skills

I manage a team of artists and from experience I have had to learn to listen and communicate with tact.  

 

Empower your team

As a new entrepreneur, my business feels like a newborn. I cannot imagine anyone else more capable of keeping my baby safe! But I have had to learn to delegate.

I now spend time training my team so they can take on more responsibilities. This not only demonstrates I trust them, it makes them feel they are part of the business. Empowering my team has made them more effective.

Gratitude

This has been the hardest lesson for me. Learning to be thankful for the wonderful things I have now and not focusing on the things I didn’t have was difficult.

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But once I embraced true gratitude, I found a new kind of happiness.