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Is entrepreneurship worth it if you lose everything?

I am the chairwoman for SACBW Cape Town, my job is to empower businesswomen with meetings and talks by experienced and amazing speakers who have been through the business world and can help us up and comers. I am the Founder of Power Woman Project, an NPC I created to empower teen girls who lack confidence and self belief.

These two titles came about because I entered Mrs SA and met amazing women who believed in me. I remember being a teenager, I remember it clearly and vividly because it was hard. Our family was dealing with a lot of turmoil, my parents did not have a happy marriage, and the rest of our extended family was always in some sort of drama situation. I used to joke that our family gatherings were like a Jerry Springer show, it was funny then, now I realise it was just sad, but I was trying to cope.

I also remember asking for help, and not from strangers, from my OWN family, and they “didn’t want to get involved”. I prayed, I asked the God I then believed in to help us, to let my parents split up so we could have peace. I became tough, and decided that I was going to be successful and everyone that ever ignored me and made me feel like I was not worthy, would never hear from me again.

I am 33 years old now, I have gotten over so much of my childhood, but one thing remains, my drive to succeed and help other women. People never want to “get involved”. Do you know what that would have meant to teenage me? For a family member to come in and see it from the kids point of view? Even if nothing else, it would have showed that you cared.

Today I am sitting here, pretty much ready to give up. As incredible as Mrs SA was, it also created a downspiral for me, because I have been trying to create the me that I always wanted to be. I started working super hard on Power Woman Project, doing things for charity, spending pretty much all of my time on trying to create change and do something positive, and create a life I loved. Because of this, I was asked to resign from my job. Problem number 1, no more income. My lovely husband took it on the chin and supported me, supported the goal and the dream. Problem number 2 – it took a massive toll on not only our finances, but our marriage as well. We have approached the brink of separation and even divorce more than once in the last 2 years. Not many people know this.

So now, almost a year into the Power Woman Project, two great sponsors on board, I am sitting in a financial black hole so deep I cannot see a way out. I keep smiling, and convincing myself that if JK Rowling could do it, if Oprah could do it, if every other businesswoman in the world who has struggled can do it, that I can do it too. I can also write in my book one day about my triumph. But no, I don’t see that happening anymore.

Debt collectors harass me EVERY DAY. Woolies financial services have said the following to me: “We’re all struggling mam, get a job and sort it out” – “Please call me on Monday, I’m busy with my child as it’s Saturday and I cannot sit through this call right now – well it’s a working day for me mam, so you can let me finish talking” – YES, the said this and YES I put the phone down both times. I have actually been job hunting for the last 6 months, please don’t assume that I’m hoping that my new entrepreneurial venture was going to have me owning a yacht in just 1 year. Unfortunately, according to the recruitment agent I tried to use – My side projects are putting people off. On paper, I have some great accomplishments to my name: Entrepreneur magazine, Mrs SA Semifinalist, Chairwoman, Founder, part owner of Caramel Clothing (this venture is a mere 2 days old), Owner of Empire Consulting… all things I created to not only change the lives of women, but to pay my damn bills.

Yet, with all of this going on, I am still making ZERO rands. I have even had debt collectors tell me that they have traced me and see I’m running Power Woman Project and therefore my income from that needs to go to them. Nevermind that it’s an NPC and I’m NOWHERE close to paying myself even a tiny salary from that.

My life insurance has been cancelled, I don’t have medical aid anymore, we’ve lost our house, among many other problems MY choices have created.

Do I want sympathy or even motivational messages? No, not really. What I wanted, was to make something of myself. To help the young girls who also have no one who wants to get involved while they’re growing up, many of them in much worse situations than I’ve ever had to deal with.

Today, honestly, I feel like a failure. I have failed. It will take me many years to get out of this financial mess I’ve created by trying to follow a stupid dream. I’m not special, nor do I have any formal qualifications, I’m just passionate. I’m not afraid to work hard, but even so, it doesn’t always pay off.

This post is not a feel sorry for myself post, it’s just the honest truth. It’s everything I’ve been wanting to say and tell people about how hard it can be. Entrepreneurship is not fucking easy. It’s not glamorous. In the last year I have had more than one person tell me that they are waiting for me to fail. I smile, and I remain positive, because yes, I do still believe in the Power Woman Project and it’s ability to help young women, unfortunately, I don’t believe in myself anymore.

I am good at what I do. I’m naturally good at social media, I can write well. I’m good at motivating others. I’m good at being resilient, and finding sponsors, even though only 1 out of every 50 companies I contact actually give me a positive response. I’m good at marketing, I’ve become good at WordPress and Shopify because I taught myself, because I wanted to learn, because I love knowing how to do things myself. I’m good at basic design thingies, but CANVA has made that super easy. Yet with all of this, my CV shows job hopping, because I never loved anything I tried. My CV shows all these freelance and NPO projects, probably convincing people that I won’t commit to their companies because my passions lie elsewhere. I get it. Is it fair, no. I get it though.

The moral of this post.. was really just to vent. To get it out there. I’m sad, and I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to Whatsapp or answer calls or see people. I just want to sit and be silent. I’m sorry I don’t have anything positive or motivating to say today. This is just the way it is. I feel like a fake, and a failure. People love to hear the story of the struggle when it’s followed by the story of the triumph. Once the person has succeeded and and is motivating everyone to do the same. Well, I’m sharing the struggle now.

Check out the follow up to this post here.

2 Comments

  • Liteboho

    Wow… *Is entrepreneurship worth it if you lose everything* is it really worth it.

    Your honesty really touched me, what you are going through, I know it so well, I live it everyday. I’m very passionate about teen empowerment, I love marketing and I’m a self taught digital marketer and I’m super good.

    I’m currently in a job that is heartless, no passion whatsoever but I do it for the bills. I’m pushing the teen programs on the side, sometimes I get it right and sometimes I feel like a failure because my passion isn’t making an financial sense, I spend more than I work for it. I’m constantly anxious and sometimes depressed cause I’m juggling this double life

    I think with time and great amount of pushing it will come right, definitely my teen program will become my 9-5.

    You letter made me cry and laugh. Thank you for being so really and open.

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