24 Aug SheSays Cape Town: Day Job/Side Hustle
I RSVPed to this event on a whim when a friend sent me the invitation – and I’m so glad I did. Being a business owner in Cape Town, when most of our clients are in Joburg, means that you can feel quite isolated. I’m not part of a big agency. I’m not working late at night surrounded by a team of other people. And while there are many upsides to this, it was wonderful last night to be surrounded by like-minded women working in creative industries, and feed off the energy and enthusiasm in the room.
SheSays is an award-winning organisation that offers mentoring and networking events to women around the world – and this was the second event held by the Cape Town chapter. I really prescribe to the concept of mentoring and of sharing knowledge gained from experience, but it takes a lot for most of us to just ask for help, to ask for advice, to ask for a contact. Luckily these sorts of events are a hugely productive way for women to do this.
The theme this time was Day Job/Side Hustle, all around the concept of being an entrepreneur, whether you work for someone else or you do not. So there was clearly much for this entrepreneur to reflect on, while I was listening to the five dynamic women on stage. After all, it’s been five years since I quit my job and Catherine and I decided to set up a niche agency focusing purely on digital content generation. This was early in the game and at the time when we explained what we were doing to others, we were met with many blank faces. But we stuck to our guns and we did it, and we’re still doing it, and our business is growing in leaps and bounds every day.
Here are the snippets from last night that resonated with me:
- What is entrepreneurship? It’s about self belief and self reliance, and “being your own biggest cheerleader,” according to TV Chef and cookbook author Zola Nene. No one else is going to sell you, so you have to believe completely in what you’re offering, and how good you/your product is.
- Resilience, patience and curiosity were other traits cited as essential for entrepreneurs. You can’t just quit when things don’t go your way and you also need to ask a lot of questions: why are we doing it this way, why can’t we do it that way instead?
- Take a break. As business owners we don’t switch off a lot. But what illustrator Lauren Fowler said about leaving the work at regular intervals made a lot of sense to me. Coming up against a problem? Shut that laptop, go for a walk, soak up the scenery, chat to a friend. You’ll be amazed how that shift in focus provides solutions to those issues you’ve been obsessing over.
- Failure: I’ve been writing about this a lot lately, but society needs to change the way we look at failure. As Paula Hulley, CEO of IAB South Africa says, “failure is the window”. It’s an opportunity to learn lessons and change the way we look at things. We urgently need to normalise and take away the stigma associated with failure.
- Stop underselling yourself. Yogavelli Namblar, CEO of the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation, says that many women apologise for their proficiencies! Like we’re embarrassed about our skillsets, because we don’t want to sound arrogant. There’s a difference between confidence and arrogance, and we really need to stop doing this.
- Your offering needs to solve a problem. And if you’re not doing that, it won’t be long until you are no longer relevant. When is it time to quit your business idea though? Yogavelli says that it’s once no one will pay for what you’re selling. Harsh, but true. If your offering is not something others want, then it’s not a business idea, it’s a hobby.
The good news? If you’re in the creative fields, luckily creativity is something that artificial intelligence cannot replicate, according to Yogavelli. A machine can’t produce what you produce, which is good news for us creatives in the future, as many other jobs will start to become automated.
So what are you waiting for – it’s time to start hustling! And if you’re complaining that you don’t have time? Well then follow the advice from Izelle Ventre, Channel Head of VIA, and wake up at 4am. You’re welcome.