Griselda Togobo, Owner and Managing Director of Forward Ladies, shares her insights on being a successful entrepreneur – and how to make your business flourish.
Running a business is like having a baby. You see people doing it and they make it look easy, but both are journeys of personal development, and throughout these journeys you have to be prepared to learn and hone your skills.
In the seven years I've run my own company, I've learnt vast amounts more than my degrees taught me. You can have the intellect, but it's near impossible to prepare for the emotional investment – or the sheer graft it takes – to run your own business. Like having a baby, though, it's very much worth it.
Qualities of entrepreneurial success
Being an entrepreneur isn't easy. If you want to succeed, it's important you have some of the following qualities:
1. Confidence in yourself and your abilities – Self-belief goes a long way as an entrepreneur, as you need to trust your ability to create something out of nothing.
2. The ability to handle uncertainty – You need the mental fortitude and capacity to deal with the fact you don't know what tomorrow will bring.
3. Sales skills – If you can't go out and generate interest in what you're doing and sell it, then it doesn't matter how fantastic your product or service is – you're going to struggle.
4. Vision – Having the ability to picture what the right team looks like, and then lead that team to deliver, is crucial.
5. Financial discipline – You'll need to set yourself a strict code of conduct when it comes to looking after your cash. Without this, even the best accountant won't help you and your business. Financial planning is key.
It's not about how hard you work – it's how smart you are about what you're doing.
Tips for growing businesses
The UK economy needs the business growth and job creation that entrepreneurs bring. Because of this, there are huge opportunities available. My top tips for those considering starting their own business – or beginning their next venture – would be:
1. Be aware of your own strengths and weaknesses – Play to your natural abilities and create a team of smart people that complement your skills to help you overcome your shortcomings.
2. Find the right network – Surround yourself with people that can support you and be ambassadors for your brand and business.
3. Meet people before you need them – As a start-up, you won't always be able to pay people market value, but existing relationships will prove invaluable, especially when they understand and buy into what you are trying to achieve.
Finding inner resilience
Business is tough and it takes a certain type of person to weather the storms. You cannot survive if you don't have the mental resilience to face those challenges.
If I've learnt anything, it's to take time to unplug from it all and to give myself the headspace needed to maintain mental resilience. I've learnt to give myself the space to think creatively and strategically, and not to simply work harder because there's work to be done.
It's important to say "no" a bit more and only say "yes" to those projects that excite you and have the most impact. It's not about how hard you work – it's how smart you are about what you're doing.
Griselda began her career as an electrical engineer, then veered into business having been influenced by the challenges and successes that her parents experienced as entrepreneurs. She trained and qualified as a chartered accountant with one of the BIG 4 firms but now runs her own businesses, including Forward Ladies. Griselda is also an author, business adviser, lecturer, trainer, media commentator, STEM Champion and a mother of two beautiful children. She is extremely passionate about positively impacting the future of women and girls in the workforce.
About Forward Ladies
Our mission is to create a global platform that connects women to opportunities, networks, businesses and expertise that empowers them.
Since 1999, we have worked closely with some of the biggest names in business, creating innovative events and programmes designed to bridge the gender gap in business. Our programmes help companies achieve much-needed diversity in leadership becoming a company that is truly representatives of the communities they serve.