Women’s Day, be it national or international, is a time to reflect on the progress made in achieving gender equality and to honour the remarkable achievements of women worldwide.

In this spirit, we thought we would celebrate the journey of our female founder, Barbara Farrell, who has not only shattered glass ceilings but has also recently shared 20 invaluable lessons that transcend gender boundaries.

As we commemorate Women’s Day in South Africa, we sat with Barbara to unpack these lessons learnt from her experience thus far.

UDEC Group

Lesson #1: Be courageous and believe in yourself.

Throughout your journey as an entrepreneur, there will be countless naysayers and skeptics who will try to discourage you or tell you that something cannot be done. In those moments, it’s essential to trust your instincts and have the courage to pursue your vision. Believe in yourself and your capabilities, even when others doubt you. Embrace calculated risks and be willing to step outside of your comfort zone. Be bold, take that leap of faith, and embrace the unknown. The rewards can be extraordinary, and you’ll inspire others along the way with your courage and determination.

Lesson #2: Always deliver on your promises.

Your word is your bond. When you make commitments to clients, employees, or partners, ensure that you follow through with actions that match your words. Consistency and reliability build trust and credibility, fostering strong relationships and a solid reputation. Strive to exceed expectations whenever possible, but never underestimate the power of simply doing what you said you would.

Lesson #3: Cultivate and maintain meaningful connections.

In business, as in life, the value of relationships cannot be overstated. It’s essential to keep in touch with people, even if your current interactions are not directly related to business matters. You never know how a seemingly unrelated connection may come in handy or lead to unexpected collaborations down the line.

Lesson #4: Embrace innovation and stay ahead of the curve.

Continuously explore new ideas and technologies to keep your business thriving. Innovation is the lifeblood of progress and success. Foster a culture of innovation within your organization, encourage creative thinking, and embrace emerging technologies that can enhance your products, services, and processes.

Lesson #5: Embrace mistakes as stepping stones to growth and improvement.

Embrace mistakes as steppingstones to growth and improvement, for a mistake only remains a mistake if not accompanied by learning and growth. Remember, a mistake only retains its negative impact if it is repeated without reflection or adaptation. Embrace the lessons that mistakes offer, and use them to fuel your personal and professional development.

Lesson #6: Surround yourself with a stellar team that becomes your extended family.

In the journey of building a successful business, the people you work with become more than just colleagues—they become your support system, your cheerleaders, and your trusted companions. Just like a family, they stand by your side through thick and thin, offering guidance, encouragement, and unwavering loyalty. Treasure and nurture your team, for they are the heart and soul of your business, and together, you can create a legacy that goes beyond just financial success.

Lesson #7: Adaptability is key. Embrace change and be willing to pivot when necessary.

The business landscape is constantly evolving, and those who are quick to adapt and embrace new opportunities are the ones who thrive. Embrace innovation, stay informed about industry trends, and be willing to adjust your strategies and approaches as needed.

Lesson #8: Trust your gut!

Intuition is a powerful tool that arises from your accumulated knowledge, experiences, and subconscious processing of information. Learn to listen to your instincts and trust the insights they provide. Combine your intuition with logical analysis to make well-informed decisions that can lead to remarkable discoveries and opportunities.

Lesson #9: Focus on solutions when challenges arise.

When challenges arise, as they inevitably do in the dynamic world of business, shift your focus from the problem to the solution at hand. Direct your energy towards identifying actionable steps that will address the issue. Instead of dwelling on the problem, adopt a problem-solving mindset that seeks innovative solutions and encourages collaboration within your team. By focusing on solutions, you empower yourself and your team to overcome challenges and achieve desired outcomes.

Lesson #10: Celebrate diversity and inclusivity.

Embrace different perspectives and create an environment where everyone feels valued and respected. Diversity fosters creativity, innovation.

Remember, some of the greatest achievements in business come from those who dared to defy conventional wisdom and chart their own path.

Lesson #11: Make quality your top priority.

It is imperative to ensure that the quality of your products or services is outstanding and world-class. Investing in quality not only enhances customer satisfaction but also gives you the confidence and peace of mind to market your products effectively. When you deliver exceptional quality, you build a reputation for reliability, trustworthiness, and customer satisfaction, which ultimately leads to long-term success and customer loyalty. Strive for excellence in every aspect of your business, from product development to production processes, to create a brand that stands for uncompromising quality.

Lesson #12: Build a robust support system and stay connected.

Networking is not just about exchanging business cards; it’s about forging genuine connections and building relationships based on trust and mutual support. Cultivate a network of trusted allies who can offer advice, collaboration, and even potential partnerships. You never know how a seemingly unrelated connection may lead to unexpected collaborations down the line.

Lesson #13: Minimize debt and explore alternatives before taking loans.

In the world of business, it can be tempting to rely on debt as a means to fuel growth or overcome financial challenges. However, my steadfast belief is to approach debt with caution and explore alternative options whenever possible. Seek innovative funding sources, bootstrap when feasible, and prioritize financial stability to ensure the long-term sustainability of your business.

Lesson #14: Persistence is a powerful attribute that can make all the difference in achieving your goals

It is the resilience that keeps you going when others might give up. Through persistence, you demonstrate your unwavering belief in your vision and your ability to overcome obstacles. Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth and maintain a tenacious spirit to push through the toughest of times.

Lesson #15: Prioritise self-care.

Take time for self-care. As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of business life, but neglecting your well-being can lead to burnout and hinder your effectiveness. Prioritize self-care, whether it’s through exercise, hobbies, spending time with loved ones, or simply taking moments of solitude to recharge. Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup, so make self-care a priority.

Lesson #16: Stick with honesty and transparency.

It’s okay not to have all the answers right away. Honesty and transparency go a long way. If a client or colleague asks a question you don’t have an immediate answer to, don’t panic. Instead, assure them that you’ll find out and provide a well-researched response as promised. Taking the time to deliver accurate information demonstrates professionalism, integrity, and a commitment to delivering value.

Lesson #17: Laugh at yourself.

Don’t take everything too seriously. A good sense of humor can turn challenges into opportunities. It lightens the mood, boosts morale, and fosters a positive and enjoyable work environment. Embrace laughter as a tool to overcome obstacles and create a vibrant and energized workplace.

Lesson #18: Cherish both customers and suppliers equally.

Cherish your customers, as their loyalty is the lifeblood of your business. Treat them like VIPs, going above and beyond to exceed their expectations. But, equally important, cherish your suppliers just as much! Recognize that they are your partners and invaluable contributors to your success, supporting you through good and bad times. Cultivate strong relationships with your suppliers, communicate openly, and build mutually beneficial partnerships.

Lesson #19: Embrace the mantra of #dobetter every day.

Strive for continuous improvement and always challenge the status quo. Embrace a growth mindset that pushes you to constantly seek ways to improve yourself, your team, and your business. Reflect on your successes and failures, learn from them, and consistently push the boundaries of what you thought was possible.

Lesson #20: Embrace the “Eat the Frog” philosophy.

A friend once shared this valuable lesson with me, and it has stuck ever since. It means tackling the most challenging or unpleasant tasks first thing in the morning. By getting them out of the way, you free up mental energy and set a productive tone for the rest of the day. Procrastination has no place in building a successful business, so bite the bullet and take on those daunting tasks head-on. Embrace the satisfaction that comes from conquering challenges and prioritize productivity to drive your business forward.

Our closing thoughts

Women in leadership have emerged as catalysts of transformation, breaking barriers and reshaping the landscape of influence across various sectors. Their forward-thinking vision, compassionate leadership styles, and unyielding determination stand as a testament that gender is no constraint in shaping the course of the future.

From boardrooms to classrooms, political arenas to scientific laboratories, women continue to inspire and guide, showing that true leadership transcends gender and is grounded in qualities that uplift communities, foster innovation, and champion equality.

As more women ascend to leadership positions, perhaps their diverse perspectives will enrich decision-making processes, paving the way for a more inclusive, equitable, and promising tomorrow. Afterall, progress thrives through shared knowledge and experience, much akin to the learnings that Barbara has shared.

In every exchange, there lies a nugget of wisdom; let us collectively contribute to this enriching tapestry, each thread a testament to our commitment to advancing gender parity and empowering all.

Let’s play our part; let’s do better!

UDEC Group