Women entrepreneurs have been making significant strides in the business world as they trailblaze across industries and inspire others to do the same.
Even though they face a number of challenges, the success stories of prominent women entrepreneurs are examples for those around them to follow.
In honour of Women’s Month, four top South African businesswomen who have shattered glass ceilings, defied norms, and carved their unique paths to success in their respective careers, share their best advice for female professionals around the country:
‘Accept the fact that the journey will have its ups and downs.’
For Veronica Moleele, chief executive of Penguin Marketing Agency, accepting that success is not linear is vital.
“I had a period earlier this year that I was just mentally checked out; motivating myself to get out of bed, let alone work, felt almost impossible. I was tired, emotionally shattered, sad, and disconnected, but the worst part was the annoying voice in my head that compounded my mood into an onslaught of abuse and meanness.
“Then the guilt would creep in that I wasn’t good enough, doing enough, being enough, and that just began a vicious downward spiral of depression.”
After getting to a point where she felt she could take no more, Moleele says she made one decision that was going to shape the months to come – she was just going to start being kinder to herself.
“Every time I heard the voice, I would sooth myself with a counter voice of love, patience, and kindness. I realised how important the ebbs and flows of life are, and that being in a dip doesn’t make you a bad person.
“Fighting with the voice in your head is just swimming upstream, it’s not productive and isn’t doing you any favours, so shut the nasty B!%@# up and be kind – and I mean really kind and patient with yourself. This too shall pass.”
‘Don’t overextend yourself.’
In the intricate dance of business, Kriya Gangiah, owner of Kri8tive Media, says recognising and respecting our limits is essential. Overextension can cause major strain on our resources, creativity, and well-being. Finding balance will serve as a major tool for growth.
“If you are busy and have too many clients, I know that you want to be able to help everyone and take on every piece of business that you can, but, sometimes, you just need to take a step back and reflect on how much you can actually do.
“Being a business owner does not mean that you need to work into the early hours of the morning to make sure that you get the business in. Try not spread yourself too thin; allow yourself to give your undivided attention to the work that you do take on.”
‘Learn from, and uplift, the women around you’
It is important that women support and learn from one another, says Deirdre King, managing director at Jacaranda FM. She believes that businesswomen must uplift and inspire their peers while confidently claiming their rightful space in the workplace.
She dismisses distractions like the so-called 'boys club' and the illusory 'glass ceiling', and advocates for letting one's accomplishments do the talking. Furthermore, she suggests that women seek out natural mentors among their fellow businesswomen, observing their approaches, and extending a helping hand when needed.
King also emphasises the transformative impact of finding a purpose-driven mentor, one whose guidance can shape a fulfilling professional journey.
“Align yourself with mentors who work with purpose. Purpose is the driving force that creates a career – jobs are just moments in time.”
‘Invest in your passion’
Beyond her presence as a television personality and model, entrepreneur Kim Jayde – who is both a DStv Content Creator Awards winner and head of marketing at Sneaker District South Africa – has ventured into the realm of business with an unwavering determination to make her mark. And her advice to other women is to put everything into their passion in order to boost its success rate.
“Find what you are most passionate about and invest in that passion. Learn all you can, take the course, and invest in the equipment.
“Surround yourself with people that believe in your vision to bring it to life. Then, shamelessly promote your business. Talk about it, post about it, and market your business or profession with pride.
“My father always told me ‘It takes 10 years of hard work to become an overnight success’, so keep working and you will get there.”