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  • Rita M

3 Things to Watch if You're a Female Entrepreneur 'in the Arena'

You’re staring at a room full of inventory and stock. You look over to the phone, willing for it to ring with a new lead. The end of the month is approaching and you have no more unpaid invoices to collect. Your list of expenses stares back at you, cold and uwavering. “How in the world did I get here?” you think. Naturally we are programmed like the apostle ‘Thomas’ – doubtful and skeptical of ourselves and our decisions.

First. Remember this, always. "The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again….if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." Theodore Roosevelt.

Second. A little guilt-free TV time might help to put the spring back in your step. Here are 3 of our favourite things to watch on those days you need to be reminded that you are in the arena, and you are not alone in the arena. And with a little patience, this too shall pass.

Grab your preferred poison and draw some inspiration from our special selection below.

1. Joy

Joy tells the story of a divorced Long Island mother of three who invents a detachable, self-wringing mop and overcomes significant obstacles to develop a wildly successful business enterprise. Joy Mangano, played by Jennifer Lawrence, worked as a waitress and, as depicted in the movie, an airline reservations specialist, before her career as an entrepreneur took off. After thinking up the Miracle Mop in 1989, Mangano invested her life savings in the product to make it a success.

Some, if not most, of her hardships depicted in this film are based in truth. In one of the scenes, the entrepreneur discovers that her mould makers had stolen her patent. "When people in the businesses around [you] smell success, they can capture it and take it away if you're naive enough… if you're not strong enough.." says Mangano, referring to her early suppliers.

"Many people don't have that fight in them," she continues. "This is the moment when you have to say: 'I'm going to really, really take a position here.' It's almost an out-of-body experience. I have to become somebody else in mentality."

"...a love letter to me, to women, and to anybody who has a dream"

Our biggest take-away: It's ok to be underestimated, don't let your pride tell you otherwise. Standup for yourself when you need to, and uphold your values, no matter the cost.

2. Self-made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C J Walker

Born in Louisiana in 1867 as Sarah Breedlove, C J Walker was orphaned at age seven and a widowed mother by 20. Her struggles with hair loss - a common problem at the time due to infrequent washing - inspired her to start her business, the Madam CJ Walker Manufacturing Co in 1906. By 1916, she employed more than 10,000 agents and ran a network of schools that trained women to enter the hair industry - one of the few ways outside of domestic work that black women could make money at that time.

She went on to be the country's first self-made female millionaire -"the world's wealthiest coloured woman, the foremost manufacturer and philanthropist of her race", as one newspaper described her when she died in 1919.

"I had little or no opportunity when I started out in life . . . I had to make my own living and my own opportunity.."

"I had little or no opportunity when I started out in life . . . I had to make my own living and my own opportunity.." she later recounted, according to her great-great grand-daughters biography of Walker. "But I made it. That is why I want to say to every Negro woman present, don't sit down and wait for the opportunities to come, but you have to get up and make them!" Our biggest take-away: Walker knew what it meant to lack. So whatever little opportunity she had was the only opportunity she needed. She seized it and never looked back. It reminds us to pay more attention to what we do have - our current clients, our skill set, our problems - and build on those.

3. Dream, Girl (the documentary)

Dream, Girl is a documentary showcasing the stories of inspiring and ambitious (yet relatively ordinary) female entrepreneurs that premiered at Obama's White House in May 2016.

We love this documentary because of the diversity of female entrepreneurs it covers. Every entrepreneur’s path is so different. It is a subtle reminder that we all have unique passions, core competences and circumstances that align and pave way for our businesses to emerge and grow. We love the story of VillaRosa - the 73 year old Founder of VillaRosa Publications Clara - who quit her job as a top banker to open the first Black American-owned bookstore that made a Million dollars. The best part of the story was the way she took what was seemingly a defeat, the need to close down her bookstore; and embraced an even better beginning, the VillaRosa Publishing house; home to various African American writers who were experiencing difficulties publishing their books through other media houses. The end is not always the end!

Our biggest take-away: Entrepreneurship is a part of our journey as individuals as much as it is a journey in itself. Every experience is intended to make us more 'alive' - more conscious. Seeing our present times – be they hard or not - within this context gives us the broader perspective we need to keep going.

Have you watched any of these movies/series? We'd love to hear what you took away from them. Leave us a comment below.

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