Four successful businesses built and sold. A non-profit organisation rescued. A multitude of organisations driven strategically from board and senior executive level.
Reading those lines makes me think back to a time when I was the most unlikely to dive into the world of entrepreneurism – a time I would never have imagined that sentence could be written about me.
Born in South Africa in the sixties, I moved to Zimbabwe when I was three months old. Schooldays often ended at lunchtime, leaving the rest of the day to run around bare-foot under the African sun.
When I think of those bright days, I also think of my beautiful mother. She was the most incredible human being I have ever known. She taught me that being an empath and being kind is not a weakness, but a super power. She taught me how important it is to be reliable and trustworthy and she was and will remain my role model even though she has since passed on. My childhood however, was also eclipsed by a haunting darkness. I suffered sexual abuse from an older half sibling at the tender age of six and also grew up in fear of my father’s anger which forced me to keep this devastating ‘secret’.
My mother was a stay at home mom and she had her hands full with 6 children in the household. The first year I started school my mother would ask me to go and do my reading homework in my older half brother’s room unknowingly sending me to the place that I feared the most. I remember my reactions to this were mixed – some days I would plead with her and tell her that I didn’t want to do my reading today and other times I would stand in defiance and refuse to do it. A desperate child trying to find a way to not have to face what would happen in that room. I am sure my mother was often confused by my behavior, but how was she to ever comprehended what was happening behind that closed door. I was a child reacting to an experience that no child should ever have to experience and when I think back on it now I wonder how different things would have been if only I had not been so frightened of my father and I had the courage to just tell her what was happening.
My father was a hard working man, old school and he believed ‘children should be seen and not heard’ He said that a woman’s place was in the home, looking after her husband and her children and because I had bigger dreams in my sights he would tell me that I was wasting my time because I wasn’t clever enough and he would not waste his money on a university degree. He told me that I would never find anyone to love me or marry me because I will make a very poor housewife one day.
So why am I telling you all this? Well my story is proof that you can overcome adversity and crushing confidence blows to attain potential you never knew existed.
Finding my spark
I found my spark on the sports field at school, and pursued chasing that rush of momentum, progress, and success to founding one of my first businesses in 1990: an IT company.
With such an unconventional and challenging environment for a female entrepreneur to dive into, I found myself relishing the opportunity to counteract and surprise those that doubted my abilities.
One of my biggest turning points was the day a male client requested to speak to a man instead of me because his inquiry was ‘too technical’. I could have cowered back to my six-year-old self, I could have gotten emotional and screamed… but no, I calmly suggested he give me just one chance to meet his request, and if I couldn’t, I would pass him onto a man immediately.
The ending of that story? I gained one of my best repeat clients and even received an apology.
That was the moment I truly mastered how to turn defiance into delight.
Unlocking the formula
I channeled that fire and continual learning to propel myself to build and sell three further IT companies, each more successful than the last. I began to question why I kept going through this cycle. It made me realize I loved the ‘thrill of the build’.
My journey of extinguishing self-doubt, building confidence, learning from my mistakes, and figuring out how to start working ‘on’ my business, instead of ‘in’ it uncovered the formula to finding value and building business at a rapid pace.
I’d found the key to repeatable, scalable, successful business practices, but I needed to learn just one more lesson – how to live life on my terms and give my family all the love and attention they deserved.
Achieving the balance
Fast-forward to now. I live in the United Kingdom and I’m continuing to build a legacy I’m proud of with the love of my life, Wayne at my side. We have two beautiful children; Byron and Amy, and I’m happy to say I’ve entered into a chapter in my life where my personal and professional lives co-exist and flourish side by side.
I’m still that girl that loves the sunshine and likes to feel the cool grass between her toes, but now I look over a horizon of possibility and wonderment. I live life on my terms, and you can too. I’ve transformed my love of the ‘thrill of the build’ into a love of empowering other women entrepreneurs to ignite their path.
Today I work with women business owners who want to evolve, play bigger and become better versions of themselves and accelerate business success without sacrificing family and personal happiness. Get it touch with me today, it would be a pleasure to talk to you – email me at: [email protected]
It’s time to find your power, accelerate your success, and enjoy your life.