5 Keys To Entrepreneurial Success

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In a world where female entrepreneurship is gaining momentum, Jacqueline van Rooijen, Business Growth Consultant and Director at Ycagel exemplifies resilience and innovation.

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Marking seven years in business, she shares the key principles that have contributed to her success, offering practical advice for aspiring entrepreneurs in South Africa.

1. Don’t operate in an echo chamber

Van Rooijen highlights the importance of surrounding yourself with diverse perspectives. "You need people to tell you where or when you're going off track," she asserts. “Constructive feedback can be the difference between success and failure so entrepreneurs should actively seek out mentors, peers, and even critics to gain diverse perspectives.”

2. Be prepared to throw everything you think you know out the window

Flexibility and adaptability are crucial in today’s fast-paced business environment. "The market changes so quickly; if you're not willing or able to adapt at the same pace, you're going to become obsolete," Van Rooijen emphasises. She compares this evolution to the transformation from caterpillar to butterfly, highlighting the need for constant reinvention. Entrepreneurs must stay abreast of market trends and be ready to pivot their strategies swiftly.

3. Mentors matter more than you think

Van Rooijen attributes much of her success to the mentors who have guided her. They not only offer valuable knowledge but also essential encouragement and support. “Mentors help you to navigate through often unpredictable challenges and make informed decisions,” she adds.

Aspiring entrepreneurs should therefore seek out mentors who can provide insights and practical advice based on their own experiences.

4. Do not underestimate the value of your network

Your network is your net worth, according to Van Rooijen. Building and nurturing a robust professional network can open doors to new opportunities, partnerships, and resources. “Attend industry events, join professional groups, and cultivate relationships that can support your business growth,” she advises.

5. Whether or not you think you're in sales – YOU ARE

Sales skills are indispensable regardless of your industry and Van Rooijen stresses the importance of mastering the art of selling: "Get used to it, get good at it. Whether pitching to investors, closing deals with clients, or selling your vision to your team, effective salesmanship is a cornerstone of business success.”

Reflecting on Women in Business and the South African Economy

Women entrepreneurs like van Rooijen make a significant impact in the business world. They bring unique perspectives and leadership styles that contribute to a well-rounded and thriving economy. As we celebrate the achievements of women in business, we must also recognise their broader positive influence on society.

When women succeed, they uplift their communities. This sentiment echoes the African proverb, "If you educate a man, you educate an individual. If you educate a woman, you educate a nation."

Empowering more women to step into entrepreneurship can lead to significant socio-economic advancements. Women reinvest in their families and communities, creating a ripple effect of positive change.

Van Rooijen’s journey from corporate comfort to entrepreneurial success, despite economic challenges, is a testament to her perseverance and adaptability. Her insights offer practical, actionable advice for anyone looking to start their own business. By embracing feedback, staying adaptable, valuing mentorship, leveraging networks, and honing sales skills, aspiring entrepreneurs can navigate the complexities of the business world.

As we look to the future, encouraging more women to pursue entrepreneurship will not only empower them individually but also contribute to a more inclusive and prosperous South African economy. Van Rooijen concludes by urging all aspiring entrepreneurs to follow her example and step out, step up, and make their mark.

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