5 tips to starting a side hustle whilst working at your 9-5

When people consider launching a new business, most imagine quitting their jobs and risking it all. However, aspiring entrepreneurs should stick with traditional jobs, rather than take a complete leap of faith by quitting their jobs. This is to ensure they can take the necessary time to grow their brands whilst earning multiple streams of income.

A side hustle is a business you run in your free time, which allows you to pursue what you are most interested in. It is a chance to delve into different areas such as  fashion, food, hair ,the not- for- profit world  or whatever you are passionate about- whilst keeping your day job.

Yes we love working our 9-5’s! But, extra cash from something we really love is vital. The good thing about having a side hustle is that you can make extra money and use talents that are dormant in your 9-5 day job.

Starting a business whilst employed gives you the opportunity to make a meaningful impact in the world, doing work that you love on your own terms. It is not easy as you’ll have to share and balance your time between your day job and business. However, it is possible.

Here are some tips for starting a side hustle:

Pinpoint your passionchoose something you are really enjoy, which people need and are willing to pay for. E.g. Event planning, logo illustrator etc.

Use your network – don’t be afraid to let your contacts know that you are open for business. Post it on social media, send emails, make phone calls get the word out!

Stick to the schedule – set time aside for your business periodically, like an appointment. Have a specific time during the day to work on your side hustle. It is important.

Collaborate/Network – the bigger your community, the more potential opportunities you have. Also, always make time to meet with new people.

Hire an assistant – remember, you have a day job, and most of the time you won’t be able to have meetings with clients or customers. Hire someone who can help with the work while you’re at your job.

Starting a side hustle is not easy and you probably won’t get it right the first time. Just be patient, focus and plan and it will happen!


Do you have side hustle? How do you balance your side hustle and 9-5?

If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

6 steps to quit your current job for your dream job

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity” Click To Tweet

A little while ago, I got a text from a good friend to ask for my advice. She wanted to quit her current job to go pursue something she was passionate about. But, she was having trouble mapping out a plan.

Thinking through how I’ve handled similar situations in the past. Here is a summary of the advice I gave to my friend on how to quit her job in 6 steps.

Pick a date and plan your exit strategy

It all starts with having a plan. Decide for yourself what is the absolute last day you can see yourself being in your current job. It can be 3, 6 or 12 months from now. Write it down somewhere you can easily refer back and be reminded of the commitment that you’ve set.

Once you’ve picked an “I’m outta here by X” date, then you need to come up with a specific and detailed plan of all the things you need to do in that time-frame. This plan will map out priorities which will enable you to leave conveniently and support your transition into your dream job.

 

Know exactly where you want to go

What is your dream job? What are the profiles of people in the positions you aspire to? Identify 5 of these scenarios. How do you stack up against the competition? Are there any common threads across these profiles and are these things that you see in your own profile? If yes, great, if not, then you have to get serious about acquiring those skills, attributes, qualifications.

 

Focus on building your brand

In this age of social media, it’s all about perception. Sometimes you get that next job not because you’ve been the best at your current job, but because you’ve learnt how to get better at promoting yourself and your work.

These days, its not enough to just “stay in your own lane”. You have to find a way to strategically be seen and heard, while remaining authentic and true to yourself. Think about your long-term goals and ask yourself whether the things you’re doing now are in line with that vision.

 

Network, network, network

Like it or not, you have to put yourself out there, be it virtually or in person. Attend more events where the people who have the job you aspire to, will be present. Challenge yourself to talk to these people, ask them questions, get their contact details and be proactive about following up with them.

Approach people, not with the intention of showing off, but rather to find out what they are interested in and see how your interests align with theirs. Be purposeful and intentional about networking and watch it pay off.

Put in work behind the scenes

At the end of the day, when the right offer comes your way, you’re still going to have to back it up with experience. So whether you need to go back to school; take a course online; spend more time at your local bookstore; or schedule coffee dates with your mentors; the reality is that you are going to have to put in work.

Turn the job hunt process into a fun experience. Give your CV a makeover and add new certifications to your LinkedIn profile. Talk to people you look up to and realize that all of your goals are within your reach. You must be willing to work hard for the life you want!

 

Be your biggest cheerleader

Finally, learn to be your biggest cheerleader. But also surround yourself with a tribe of people that are committed to your success, both personally and professionally. Keep working towards your goals. Know that when you cross that line, all the people who love and care about you will be right there cheering you on.


Have you ever left a job for your dream job? What steps did you take?

Let us know more about you and your story here.

 

5 tips on how to talk your way into a promotion at work

Do you feel like you are stuck in a rut in your current position? Is the thrill of having a challenge long gone ? Are you having a hard time connecting the dots between how your current position will lead you to the position you aspire to be in some day?

If you’re feeling any of the above, the obvious choice might be to move on from your current job, to “greener pastures”. However, there is another alternative. Maybe all you need is a “current job makeover”.

I applied the 5 tips below when I found myself in a similar situation and the result was that I got a promotion, a significant salary increase and renewed passion and excitement for my job.

In the end, facts win over feelings when it comes to your professional life Click To Tweet

Make yourself indispensable

From day 1 when I started my current job, I was eager to prove that I could do the job better than anyone else who had come before me. I came in early and left late. I often took work home in the evenings and on weekends (I had just moved to a new city in a new country so, in a way, work was also my solitude).

I asked lots of questions. Read as much as I could to help me understand the new industry I was working in. When the opportunity to do tasks outside of my job description came up, I jumped at them immediately. Soon I started to see that my boss was getting more comfortable letting me do things that were technically above my pay grade. Work hard to make yourself indispensable.

 

Figure out what you still have left to learn

In the early days, I would sit in meetings with my boss and the higher ups, and realized that half of what they were saying was Greek to me. Granted, I was doing a kick ass job in my little corner, but there was so much about the work that I had no clue about.

I made it my personal mission to learn from every member of the team, by offering to help them out with various assignments. The more I learned, the more I realized that the higher ups in my team started to pull me into the inner circle. Eventually, they even started asking for my opinion about things.

Pitch a new position which reflects where you are trying to go

Realizing that I could do so much more in this field was probably what brought on the itch to leave in the first place. Suddenly my role became too small and too confining. On one hand, I wanted to grow and take on even more responsibility. Bur on the other hand I knew that I did not have the over 10 years experience the colleague next in line had.

What to do? I drew up a list of the things in my current job description that I wanted to keep doing; the things outside of my job description that I wanted to do more of; and the things that I wanted to learn to do.

In doing this exercise I came up with a whole new job description. I pitched this idea to my boss. She took my proposition seriously and brought this to the attention of the higher ups. After some deliberation and modification; they agreed to create this new position for me.

Back up your request with facts

I didn’t just rock up into this meeting and demand to have them switch things up for me for no good reason. I took the time to document every single thing that I had done on the job, including the things that were outside my role.

From the big things where I’d helped out with projects in other countries, to the little things like the new initiatives I’d spearheaded within our country team. For every new task and responsibility, I included in my new job description, I backed it up with examples that showed that I was up to the task.

In the end, facts win over feelings when it comes to your professional life. No one is going to hand you something just because you ask for it. People are never going to pay you what you think you’re worth. You’re going to have to get in there and show yourself as worthy and then claim what is yours.

 

Keep your cool and be prepared to walk

I remember walking out of the meeting thinking “What if my boss takes this to the higher ups and they say no? Then what?” I knew that if it came to that then I would have to make a decision to leave.

If you realize that you are in an environment that is not invested in your growth and is not helping you actualize your full potential, then I think that is always the best time to walk away. Luckily for me, I didn’t have to.

A week later, they came back with an offer that was even better than I could have imagined. So I stayed, and I’m committed to growing but also contributing to the growth of my team; and doing my part to help them achieve their objectives.


Have you been in a similar situation at work?

Let us know your story here.

 

Five Tips to Manage Your Team

Below, I share 5 tips to manage your team, which I gleaned from Richard Templar’s book on the Rules of Management.

As a  team leader at work, you are responsible for managing and leading a group of people to reach their targets and in turn contribute toward the organisations larger objectives.

Being in a position to lead requires effort, strategy and understanding of your team members. The onus lies on you to bring out the best from the team you lead.

Rather than shooting some bullets of criticism, keep calm and dole out encouragements... Click To Tweet

Talk  your team up

I have often heard the cliché “it is better to encourage than to criticize”. How apt this is when it comes to leading a team!

There will be days when  tasks are more demanding, resources are not sufficient or there are tight deadlines to meet. These conditions might fuel managers to lash out at team members. But, rather than shooting out bullets of criticism, keep calm and dole out encouragement. Such as “we can do this”, “we are getting there”, or “we will get through this”.

I know a leader who tells his team at every turn that “our best is yet to come”, and each time, his team churns out a better output than they did in their previous feat.

... your team's success is your success Click To Tweet

2 ways to encourage your team

Templar offers two ways to encourage your team: “one is to tell them they are going to do good before they have done it. Or wait until they have done good then tell them they have done good”.

He emphasizes that your team will most likely perform better when you praise them beforehand, because they wouldn’t want to “fall their hand” (in my Nigerian pidgin English parlance).

Allow your team to be better than you

Founder of TEF  Tony o. Elumelu  in his recent article titled: Advice for new managers, ,published on LinkedIn, pointed out that “great leaders don’t compete with their staff”.

A corporate executive once wrote that, in the early days of her career, her VP told her she wasn’t good enough. Fast forward to a few years later when she was making waves in her career, she said she ran into him. He revealed to her that during those times he was demeaning her work was a reflection of his own insecurities and not that she wasn’t good enough!

You should always give your team the necessary resources and support that they need to reach their objectives.

No one is a repository of knowledge! Click To Tweet

Train them to develop solutions to problems

When you have trained your team to the extent that they can deliver excellently, you should naturally expect that they will bring you solutions and minimal problems.

According to Templar, a question which indicates a problem should be answered with “and what would you like me to do about it?” and a complaint should be answered with “what do you think we should do?”. Applying this rule makes your team think in terms of the solution and not the problem.

Listen when they offer suggestions

No one is a repository of knowledge! No matter how skilled or experienced you may think you are, you will still need input from members of your team from time to time.

Caution here is not every idea or suggestion must be used, but it’s important for you to let your team know that their input is welcomed. In this way, they will not hold back important critical information.

Clearly spell out the responsibility of each member of the team

If you are delegating responsibility, clearly define what is expected in terms of the result. Provide the necessary resources, and make sure they understand how it should be achieved.

Click this link to learn 10 ways to motivate your team.


 Do you have any tips on how to best manage a team?
Let us know more about you and your story here

 

How to start/run a fashion label with no money and no clients

No money or client at the outset poses a challenge but doesn’t render the situation hopeless Click To Tweet

No money? No Clients? …No Problem!

In business as in love, it is not always the individual with the ‘deepest pockets’ and the best connections that wins. In most cases, it’s the individual who applies their imagination and creativity that wins the deal or the girl. Starting a creative business of any kind with no money can seem like a daunting task, regardless of what industry you might be trying to break into.

Despite the challenges you will have to face on this journey, a lack of money or a lack or clients need not be an impediment to your pursuit of this lofty goal. With these five essentials in mind, you should be well on your way to securing your first client with absolutely no money in the bank!

Label DNA

Before you call all your friends and family to tell them you are finally starting your very own fashion label, you need to understand your label’s DNA. What kind of clothes will you make? What type of clients will you cater to? What is your style? What sets you apart from other fashion labels…what is your DNA?

Many aspiring entrepreneurs do not figure this out at the very beginning and then find themselves swept from corner to corner by the various fashion trends constantly emerging. Your label DNA lets the world know what you are about. Are you an eco-friendly fashion band? Do you specialize in street wear? Are your clothes only meant for A-list Africans or are they meant to make the hard working career woman feel powerful as she chases her dreams?

Your label DNA tells you and all your potential clients what your brand actually stands for, thereby setting the tone for the type of clients you are likely to attract.

Your label DNA tells you and all your potential clients what your brand actually stands for Click To Tweet

Chutzpah

The fashion industry is cut-throat, with more and more brands coming into the industry, not just in your country, not just in Africa…in the world! With all this competition, an entrepreneur must have what the Jews call ‘chutzpah’, which roughly translates to audacity, nerve, supreme confidence. You must be able to stand by your choices- especially your creative choices- even when only one person gets it.

The biggest fashion trends were not started by shy and timid people or the companies they run. The world’s trends are started by those that a willing to tap into the very core of their beings and dig out bold ideas, radical ideas, ideas that the rest of the world has to catch up to. Think Levi’s denim jeans, Chanel’s ‘little black dress’ and others that gave those then tiny brands, the chance to truly contribute to the world. With no money and no clients, a brand with a little chutzpah can go a long way in carving out its very own piece of the delicious fashion pie that is up for grabs.

You must be able to stand by your creative choices even when only one person gets it Click To Tweet

Guerilla marketing

The concept was first promoted in 1984 and has never had more significance than in the 21st century with all our smart phones and social media platforms. Never has there been a time where the small, barely recognized fashion label can give huge and well-established brands a run for their money.

Guerilla marketing is suited to small brands that do not have the financial resources to create expensive advertisements for their products. Guerilla marketing is all about creatively gaining the attention of your target audience with bold and most times unconventional marketing strategies that cost close to nothing. This will mean going against the grain and catching your target market by surprise through your clever marketing.

It might cause you to step on a few toes, maybe a few people will instantly dislike it. One thing for sure though is, you will become the talk of the town which will eventually ring the cash register. Like Oscar Wilde once wrote, “There is only one thing in world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” The recipe for a perfect guerilla marketing strategy; little or no money, a fresh target market and a tonne of creativity and imagination.

Social media

The age of social media platforms is upon us and it would be remiss to ignore what a great impact setting up a social media page for your fashion label can have on your growing business. However, a note of caution must be given at this point; when setting up and running a social media page for your fashion label, it is very important that you have a clearly defined strategy.

Your social media strategy includes all the things you will ‘post’,’ like’ or ‘reblog’ as well as those that you will not include on your professional pages. Your fashion label’s social media pages are an extension of your brand DNA, in fact, they help communicate your brand DNA more effectively, they re-enforce the lifestyle and mindset that your fashion label promotes through the clothes and accessories you create.

With a lot of creativity and no money, you can set up a page for your fashion label that will see you rise from zero followers to thousands, or even millions of followers by staying true to your brand DNA and being creative with the content that you put up on the page. No money down and yet you can be assured of scoring a few great clients if this responsibility is handled with care and precision.

Skills

The lack of financial resources or clients at the outset poses a challenge but doesn’t render the situation hopeless by any means. The lack of the required skill set, however, can mean that even if an individual found themselves with a huge reserve of financial resources and zero competition, one is not guaranteed of success.

To build a successful fashion label from scratch requires creativity, determination, flexibility, foresight, the ability to effectively handle resources and the ability to understand and work with different types of people. All these skills are essential at the very beginning and though difficult to master, can be developed through years of practice.

There is no substitute for skills in the realm of entrepreneurship and this is especially true in the cut-throat fashion industry. You must be able to take an honest inventory of yourself to discover in which areas you might be lacking and then start taking steps to learn those skills.

Starting and running a fashion label with no initial capital and no clients is not impossible for anyone with the right amount of focus and drive. With these few ideas in mind, you too can be able to jump start your business and watch in amazement as what once seemed like very little, turns out to be all you really needed! No money, no clients…No problem at all!

Three hacks to help you beat procrastination

Serial procrastinator? You'll need these 3 hacks to help you out when procrastination hits Click To Tweet

We’ve all had those days. Ones where we just can’t seem to get our fingers moving on our keyboards or can’t find the words for that e-mail.

Here are three hacks to helping you save time when procrastination hits.

tumblr_inline_mr2ursk2Ls1qz4rgpgif1. Create keyboard shortcuts

Spent all morning procrastinating? Save time by creating shortcuts when texting on your Samsung phone. Use a text snippet expander like the TextExpander custom keyboard to reduce time when sending those bulk e-mails.

What’s the tick? Set up shorthand to stand in for a longer text. For example, if you text “eml” your full personal email address would appear. Always signing off with the same sentences? Cut out all that time by setting up a snippet.

2. Scanning business cards and receipts

Make up for the time spent procrastinating by scanning your business cards, instead of manually inputting them into your Samsung phone.

Save the time you spend cleaning out those nasty receipts from the bottom of your purse and the time you would spend scanning and filing them. ScanBizCards is an app from the Galaxy Apps store that lets you scan business cards on the spot.

3. Download work-related podcasts

That procrastination time might as well be well spent. If you’re not going to type that e-mail, then you might as well be retaining some skills to keep you in the hustle.

Use your off time to listen to business-related podcasts. Take your time to listen to a few and then pick your favourite; listen to it while you’re scrolling through Instagram or taking that 3:00pm snack break.

We recommend the 500 Startups podcast; it’s filled with stories and lessons from entrepreneurs who have made that side hustle their full time hustle.

Keep these three tricks in hand to make up for yesterday’s binge watch of Big Little Lies.

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How you can use your Samsung phone to reach your goals faster

Procrastination got you down? Can’t stop scrolling 30 weeks back on your friend’s brother’s University friend’s girlfriend’s Instagram profile? Know every single pose Beyonce has done during pregnancy? Have you seen every single comedy skit on every single Nigerian comedy page and now you’re looking for new countries to laugh at? If this is you, please raise your hand.

giphy (6)We’ve pulled together three great tips to help you keep the ball rolling even when you may want to keep scrolling. Even better they all can be done using your phone.

1. Set daily goals

An oldie but a goodie.

We at SLA are HUGE fans of daily goals. So much so that we have to send them to our managers in the morning with a check-in and then report back with a check-out at the end of the day. Our trick to stay on track? Before sending over our goals, we open the notepad on our Samsung phones and jot down a rough draft of our goals before sending over the final copy. This helps us stay on track to make sure we’ve got our content ready to share with you.

If you forget to jot down your daily goals, set an alarm on your phone. Once you get in the habit, it becomes habitual and easier to meet them.

2. The 15-minute rule

“This is a tomorrow problem”…my favourite expression. When I’m procrastinating something to tomorrow, this is what I tell myself. How do I beat it? The 15-minute rule.

That tricky task you haven’t been able to get to has met its match. Take out your Samsung phone and set an alarm for 15 minutes. Tell yourself that you’ll do nothing else for those 15 minutes and get to work.

You’ll find once those 15 minutes are up the ball will be rolling; you won’t even notice the alarm and keep on the task at hand. Procrastination – 0, You – 1.

3. Take advantage of your commute

Ahh, what a joy, the morning commute! If that 30-minute bus ride turns into an hour, use that time wisely.

Catch up on those e-mails from yesterday, use this time to write down your daily goals or start brainstorming about the afternoon’s meeting.

If you keep a few tricks up your sleeve to help with those down days, you’ll be set to rise above your procrastination.

 


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Negotiation 101 for dummies

You'll be winning at negotiations even if you're no good it with these tips Click To Tweet

You have been in negotiations for quite some time already. No matter how hard you try, you are confronted by a silent wall every time you attempt to find anything about the other party. Communication is not passing through and you only know your position. Worse, the tension is building up and your opponent is becoming more aggressive by the minute. What do you do?

You might be tempted to give up, to stay on your position, or to concede to their requests. However, none of these options will give you what you need. This article will present you with tools to ease into negotiations and achieve a satisfactory agreement.

Never state, always ask

Asking questions is a way to educate and seek information. By asking questions, you show a willingness to take the other party’s opinion into consideration. You also communicate your desire to understand their situation.

Questions are also a wonderful tool to make them understand your own position. Ask them what they would do in your place. Ask them hypothetical questions like, “What if I did exactly what you asked, what would be the consequences that I will face?”. It will help put their demands in perspective and show how realistic their proposal is.

The power of silence

Silence, when used right, is a very powerful tool it shows that you are listening and paying attention to what is being said. When silent, do not try to think about what you are going to say next or how to counter their current argument. Focus on what is being said and on making sure you have a proper understanding of the situation.

When you ask a question, make sure you refrain from commenting or saying anything at all until you receive a full answer. By staying silent, you are pushing them to elaborate on what was said. This is an effective way to gather as many details as possible on an issue.

Silence makes people nervous and compelled to fill in the absence of noise. The more comfortable you are with being silent the better negotiation ninja you will become.

Forget about bottom lines

The purpose of setting a bottom line is to protect your interest by making sure that the outcome of a negotiation will never go above what you are willing to concede.

By setting a bottom line you will consider only one scenario as the least acceptable one. However, the costs of considering a unique outcome greatly outweigh the benefits of a bottom line.

A bottom line cannot be changed and therefore lacks in flexibility. It will keep you away from bad deals as well as wise deals. It will also limit the influx of creative input and the making of imaginative solutions. A bottom line will cut short discussions without solving anything.

Developing your best alternative

Negotiating power is gained when the option of not reaching an agreement is as or more appealing than the option of reaching it.

Before entering any discussion, you must think about the possibility of not reaching an agreement. What will you do if negotiations are not conclusive? What is your best alternative to negotiations? Thinking about the possible failure of discussions will help make the most out of your situation.

It is, therefore, important to prepare yourself. Take a moment to brainstorm all possible alternatives to the negotiations. Out of all the ideas generated, choose a few to develop into concrete plans. Then assess which out of the developed plans is the best for your situation and select your best alternative.

The more attractive the alternative, the more power you will have during the negotiations. A powerful best alternative should make you want to call off negotiations before they even started.

Dismantling the other side’s best alternative

Part of your preparation will involve understanding the other party. You need to gain as much information as possible on their motivations, interest, and above all, you will need to know what their best alternative is. Sometimes, if not readily available, the information will have to be obtained during the discussion process.

Once you have acquired all the knowledge you need, you have to ask yourself: “Is their best alternative attractive? Is it easily attainable? Is it realistic?”

If the answer to all three questions is no, then you have all negotiating powers on your side.

If the answer to all three questions is yes, you will have to consider taking actions that will decrease the attractiveness of their best alternative.

Most frequently, the answers are a combination of yes and no. If it is your case, you will not only have to show that your alternative is more attractive to you than theirs is to them, but also explain why their best alternative might not be the best solution.

Always keep in mind that the easier it is to walk away from the discussion, the more negotiating power you hold.

8 markings of a strong #MotherlandMogul, as told by Mary J. Blige

Does Mary J Blige teach us that strong business women remain authentic? Find out how here Click To Tweet

I have been a fan of Mary J. Blige since my childhood in the early 90s and have taken great inspiration from watching the way that she has blazed trails, set trends and overcome adversity, both in her career and personal life, from then even up till now. This, in addition to the fact that her songs tend to surround themes such as female empowerment, make her a favourite.

With a title like “The Strength of a Woman,” her upcoming album seems set to carry on this important discussion. So, to celebrate, I was inspired to share 8 markings of a strong business woman through some of my favourite Mary J. Blige lyrics:

1. “Take Me as I am or have nothing at all”

There is a saying that goes “if you try to please everyone, you’ll end up pleasing no-one”. Although it can be tempting to make your business all encompassing, one of the things that Mary teaches us about strong business women, through songs such as “Take me as I am,” is that they remain authentic.

When I say this, I mean that they are self-aware enough to know where their talents lie and who they can best serve. In other words they niche down.

An example of this can be seen via the overlap and differences between She Leads Africa and my blog. Both cater to women but they have different niches- in that SLA caters to business women whereas my blog caters to Christian women. Some of the benefits of having a niche in this way are that:

  • It allows you to play to your strengths
  • It allows you to work with the kinds of people you like to, making your business a joy rather than something you dread
  • It sets you up as an expert in your particular field, making you the “go to” person in your niche or specialism
  • Being seen as an authority has a positive effect on profit margins

2. “All I really want is to be happy”

Through songs like “Happy,” Mary shows us that part of the reason strong business women are able to be so authentic is because they know what makes them…well…happy! Not only that, these women have developed goals; so, they know what they want to achieve in future.

They also honour their dreams by going for them. This knowledge of self may have been hard won- especially if it was something that they didn’t always have- but, once it’s developed, it is what guides their business practices.

3. “No more drama”

In songs such as “No More Drama”, Mary is teaching us that strong business women refuse to tolerate negative entities. This is because they’ve battled through too much to make their businesses what they are today to let another person destroy it with negativity.

They are, however, also wise enough to know when the “drama” is coming from within (through things like fear, self-doubt or negative self-talk) and so will do the inner work needed to shake those things off to progress as well.

4. “Hate it or love it the underdog’s on top and I’m gone shine, homie, until my heart stops”

Sometimes it is not possible to eliminate negativity because it is coming from a family member or colleague, for example. Through songs such as her remix of 50 Cent’s “Hate it or Love It,” Mary teaches us that in such situations, we always get to choose how much we are willing to be affected by other people’s opinions or attitudes.

We may not be able to control nay-sayers or “enemies of progress” (as we Nigerians would call them), but we can control our own reactions. Strong business women realise that, and so they refuse to slow down, give up or let anybody steal their “shine”.

5. “…As long as it’s you by my side, I’m stronger”

In addition to breaking away from the negative sources in their lives, strong business women seek positive relationships and collaborations. According to another Mary song, this means relationships that make them “Stronger”. As already implied, this entails being around people that:

  • Love you for you (only suggesting alterations be made to contribute to you growth and progress, rather than make you feel “less than”)
  • Support your goals and dreams
  • Are positive sources of influence.

By the same token, strong business women are able to do and be the same for others (in the knowledge that a win for one sister is a win for us all and does not detract from them in any way).

6. “In each tear, there’s a lesson…”

Through songs such as “With Each Tear” Mary shows us that strong business women are constantly learning, even if the teacher comes in the form of a mistake or failure.

They roll with the punches, extract the lessons from that season and use it to become better rather than bitter.

Tweet: Mary shows us that strong business women are constantly learning, even if the teacher comes in the form of a mistake or failure

7. “I can see in colour, the first sign of spring…”

Mary demonstrates, through songs like “I Can See in Colour,” that strong business women lean towards such optimism because of a hope and faith in God, or another higher power, who means them good and not evil. This gives them a sense that everything, including bad things, happens for a reason; that even if the bright side of a situation is not immediately apparent- it will be.

They also understand, in line with one of my favourite songs (Total Praise by Richard Smallwood) that, that higher power is the source of their strength in the first place.

8. “[I] put my life all up in these songs just so you can feel me; so you can get the real me”

I’m going to end this ode to Mary J. Blige and strong business women with the song I began with- “Take Me As I Am”. In it Mary sings the words in the title of this 8th point. When we share these things with others, we let people who have the same challenges know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

In being unafraid to share the good, bad and ugly of her life with her fans through her music, this is exactly what Mary does- teaching us that strong business women encourage and build others up. They use their platforms for good and live in such a way that they inspire others.

For me, that’s empowering Christian women by promoting the contributions of strong women of faith (both past and present). What is it for you? Once you know that, like Mary, you’ll know your purpose.

Should you plan ahead or just ‘go with the flow’?

You need intention and you need to have some sort of plan with your life Click To Tweet

There’s nothing wrong with occasionally going ‘with the flow’ when it comes to events that are not major. Like just deciding to get in your car and driving to wherever the road may lead you, we all need to be a little spontaneous at times!

The problem with ‘going with the flow’ is not knowing where that flow will lead you.  I came across a statement that said: “the trouble with going with the flow is, you might wind up getting sucked down the drain”, and isn’t that true?

The danger of moving without a clear plan

There are times when going with the flow feels great, the times when everything just seems to fall into place. And sure enough, there are times we have no control over situations, and we have to just go with the flow of things. The tricky thing about going with the flow is that firstly, it takes time to notice things going astray and you may fall into traps, which you could have been able to avoid, had you had a clear set plan.

The second reason why going with the flow is not always the wisest thing to do is that if all you do is “go with the flow”, you put yourself at risk of losing focus and allowing yourself to settle for less than what you can achieve. You need intention and you need to have some sort of plan, which maps out how you will get to your target.

Life is unpredictable and we often have to deal with things we have not been prepared for. However, planning ahead is still the better thing to do, if you have planned properly, you can always go to ‘Plan B’. Also, if you plan ahead you can usually assess the risks involved, and that may save you from unforeseen challenges.

Your plan doesn’t have to be incredibly researched or very detailed but it should have some general idea on how you will achieve or approach a specific situation. It will always make it easier for you to take the next step required in your situation.

A plan works exactly like a map –you know how hard it can be trying to get to a place with no directions. What would have taken a few minutes, can easily end up taking hours! The same can be said when you go through each year or day-to-day activities without any form of direction; you may find yourself circling the same place over and over again –but with a plan you have some form of direction, meaning you can go straight to your destination point without going through the same circles.

Why planning is important

#1 You have a clearer vision of where you want to go.

#2 It makes it easier to examine the risks involved.

#3 There’s no wasted time; therefore you can achieve your goals in a shorter time frame.

#4 Should something go wrong, you can always move to ‘plan B’.

My go-to manual for all matters of life, the word of God says: “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed” – Proverbs 15:22. We should never forget that there are people who have already been where we need to go. There are people who can guide you in the right direction. That’s what communities like SLA are for.

So, if you have not already done so, it’s time to start making a plan about the steps you need to take to get to the top in 2017. You can’t allow yourself to go with the flow… we need to be intentional!