by Claudia Castellanos, ceo, Black Mamba Chilli
I believe most entrepreneurs agree on the fact that we could have chosen something easier to do in life (in fact I am convinced most of us are masochistic). From the sheer excitement of closing a great deal, to the doom of realizing you don’t have enough cash flow to pay salaries for your employees in a given month, being an entrepreneur is an eternal roller coaster. The levels of stress and anxiety can become intolerable some times. And those are the times when you need to be reminded that everything will be OK and that all your effort and hard work will pay off eventually.
But how do you get reminded of this? How do you come to feel again that whatever issue you’re having is a bump, and not the end of your road? The boost can come from several sources: reading entrepreneurship books, attending events with the latest business guru, and sometimes just even looking at simple affirmative posts on social media: “you are not buried, you have just been planted and are waiting to blossom”; “if you are tired, learn to rest, not to quit”. Some lucky peeps have also that significant other that holds their hand, wipe a tear, and offer moral support during the tough times.
However, as an entrepreneur that has experienced ups and downs - lots of downs - one of the main things that has kept me going, besides my relentless stubbornness, is my friends. And here I am not just talking about my childhood friends (that I treasure), or the friends I go out after work for a drink, (even though those play a crucial role in keeping me sane) but mostly about those female friends that are also entrepreneurs. No one will understand better what you’re going through than another female entrepreneur.
In Eswatini we are privileged: our network of like-minded people, including other social entrepreneurs, is small (being such a small country), and this means that we all know each other, more or less. We get together periodically for meetings, trainings, and bump into each other often. This has allowed me to get to know well other women entrepreneurs and create amazing – and very useful - friendships. When you are having one of those days, your entrepreneur friends will not only offer a shoulder to cry on and encouraging words, but also practical suggestions and valuable information. These are priceless.
So my advice is: surround yourself with other women entrepreneurs. Get to know them by going to networking events, joining entrepreneur communities, participating in business accelerator programmes. Build deep, genuine friendships. These friendships will be fundamental for your personal growth and also for your business growth, and you will be playing also an essential role in their personal and business growth: we all benefit from the sisterhood! Nothing truer than this quote that I bumped into recently: “Behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women who have her back”. So go ahead and build your tribe: it is totally worth it.
Claudia Castellanos, Colombian by birth and African by heart, is the founder and Managing Director of Black Mamba Foods, a social business and growing fair trade brand based in Swaziland that manufactures and distributes gourmet chilli products in Southern Africa and overseas. Claudia holds an MBA from ESADE Business School (Barcelona) and has over 15 years of experience working as a strategic marketing consultant and a lecturer. She is passionate about finding ways to develop the continent through sustainable projects that take into consideration the uplifment of women, the inclusion of grassroots communities and the protection of the environment, and loves good food (preferably spicy) and wine.