Did you know, you can purchase Barbie Entrepreneur Doll? I sh*t you not. She comes prepped with a sleek, hot pink dress, smartphone, tablet and brief case. Wow. It seems this entrepreneur gig is hot right now, don’t you think?
Im tickled. Are young girls (or boys) being led to think this is what entrepreneurship looks like? I click on the link and get the marketing bio: “Barbie doll is ready to make a bold business move and strike out on her own to achieve her career dreams! Entering the entrepreneurial world, this independent professional is ready for the next big pitch.” I sit giggling as I read it. Ok, ok for a minute I catch myself almost snorting with laughter. The dress is cute and the fact that she is attached to a smartphone is embarrassingly familiar.
The whole thing takes me back to a coffee date I recently had with friends, fellow- entrepreneurs, kick ass go-getters. You know, those coffee dates where you get frank about what we are actually feeling and experiencing in our entrepreneurial journeys. Not the bull of how fantastic everything is. We get chatting about dating. Now, Michelle is a catch- intelligent, ambitious, brunette and she trains for and completes the ironman in her spare time (I’m still trying to figure out where she gets the “spare” time). She can fit into the sleek, hot pink dress. She says something that rang so incredibly true. “From the outside looking in, the life of an entrepreneur looks amazing, sexy, appealing. But once they catch you they realize: there is nothing sexy about whipping out a laptop at 4 am to meet a deadline for a client. Or missing date night because you are preparing for a pitch that may make or break you.”
And that’s just it. In reality it’s not always all that hot and sexy. There are days when we take multi tasking to the moon and back. Where we burn the midnight oil and are back at it when the sun rises (or not yet). There are days where we are last in line to get paid, despite it being our business. Days where you physically work your fingers to the bone. Days where regardless of your effort and time, employees stab you in the back and chase their own agendas or the pitch is awarded to someone else.
Would we do anything else? Hell no. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do. Beauty, entrepreneurship- all of it. We are passionate, driven, sometimes crazy individuals who all want to take over our little piece of the world. What I’m saying is SEE PAST THE GLITTER (Michelle’s famous words).
The conversation boils down to this: are we romanticizing entrepreneurship?
Statistics show that the unemployment rate in South Africa rose to 27.1 % in the first quarter of 2019. With our country’s current status, research shows that corporate companies are minimizing employment to keep afloat and government positions are crowded as it is. This leaves a big problem. Where will the jobs come from for the emerging school graduates? The private sector will provide a few. So society took lemons and made lemonade hero-ing entrepreneurship as the solution to our problem.
It worked and as a result, entrepreneurship in South Africa is the highest it has been since 2013. More than 50% of our entrepreneurs are made up of youth and the gap between male and female entrepreneurs is closing in with females at 47%. Fantastic, right? No wonder we got the doll!
On a serious note though, I leave you with this: the next time you chat to or mentor inspiring entrepreneurs, paint the full picture. Blow off the glitter and enlighten them to the full truth of it. We need the young blood starry- eyed and innovative. What we don’t need is naive youth with shattered dreams because of what they imagined to be the reality of entrepreneurship turned out to not glitter as much after all.
Join in on the conversation. I’d love to hear what you have to say.
*Michelle Janse van Rensburg is the founder of Nimacc, a system implementation company that specializes in cloud accounting systems to simplify your life. Nimacc speaks accounting in a language us normal folk understand. Visit the Nimacc website at https://www.nimacc.co.za/ for more info. This girl knows her stuff!