When you first meet Bronwyn, you immediately become aware of her energy – it’s impossible not to be engaged by her vibrant personality. She has a passion for empowering women and making a positive impact in the world. It’s this authentic, soul-fuelled energy that has guided her throughout her entrepreneurial journey.
From qualifying as a life coach and Kinesiologist to building and selling motorbikes, hosting employee workshops, and creating soulful gift boxes, Bronwyn has done it all. I had the pleasure of chatting with her recently and she opens up about what it takes to be an entrepreneur in South Africa today – including some of her biggest lessons and highlights.
What motivates you to do what you do?
I’ve had many passions and interests, and I’ve felt very excited and invested in all the things I’ve done over the last 16 years. But, I’ve never fixated on a particular industry or type of business because I don’t have that set mindset.
I have what I call my true North.
Your true North is like your internal compass, you feel this urge – it’s not a passion or a fiery strong feeling that you must do something; it’s a constant whisper within your soul.
Since as long as I can remember, my true North has always whispered to me to work or collaborate with other women, to help empower them, and to make them feel more confident. This feeling of empowerment carries through to my internal journey of self-discovery at the same time. It’s not always apparent, but it is definitely applied to each business I take on and the decisions I make every day regarding business and my personal life. At my core, I have this desire to collaborate, to communicate, and to leave a legacy.
Why did you become an entrepreneur?
These days, especially in South Africa, it’s not just a case of wanting to be an entrepreneur.
There’s a lot more to it than wanting to run your own business, or doing it because you don’t want to work for a boss. The reality in South Africa is that there aren’t a lot of job opportunities. Being an employee, or rather getting the opportunity to be employed, is a lot more scarce than it used to be.
Being an entrepreneur is a necessary option and that’s why I do it.
My personality is suited to being an entrepreneur and I’ve always had that style of thinking and mindset, even in university. Entrepreneurship is an industry in South Africa that needs a lot more attention and focus because job opportunities aren’t readily available anymore.
What has been one of your biggest entrepreneurial highlights?
There have been many highs and lows, but I think my biggest highlight was successfully selling two businesses. That’s taking a small business that isn’t worth much or attractive to potential buyers and then working the business over a period of years to get to the point where you can actually sign a sale.
The highlight was building something worthwhile in somebody else’s view, selling them the dream, and then successfully closing the sale.
My entrepreneurial mindset shift
There is a mindset a lot of entrepreneurs need to start shifting. When I started, I became so entrenched in my business – I couldn’t imagine life without it. You don’t think like someone who is trying to sell something, you think of your business as mothering a little baby and it’s your responsibility to grow and nurture it.
I was actually seeing a business coach a few years ago and he said to me, “Bronwyn your mindset is wrong. If you are not growing your business each and every day with the aim of attracting potential buyers or investors, then you’re not an entrepreneur and you shouldn’t be in business for that reason.”
So that was quite an eye-opener for me. If you’re just doing it to sustain yourself, that’s fine, but then you’re a contractor or a freelancer. After that wake-up call, we started actively being open to growing the business in such a way that it would be attractive to potential buyers.
How do you handle slow seasons in business?
Many years ago, my husband’s Motocross coach told him that it’s not about being a winner or a champion. You don’t just become the champion when you do the race, you become the champion on Monday when everyone else is sleeping and you get up to train again.
And it’s kind of like that with the slow seasons, because nobody can perform at their optimal all the time.
The slow seasons are there to start preparing for the busy season. It’s the work that you put in during the slow seasons that help you to get to where you need to be so that when your peak season or championship arrives, you’re ready. It’s like an inhale, a time to introspect before you get to the exhilarating season again.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
There hasn’t been any one person or a consistent source of inspiration for me over the years. Different books and mindset coaches have influenced me throughout different eras of my life and business.
Roger Hamilton and his eight profiles of wealth dynamics was a big one, because it helps to profile yourself as an entrepreneur and how to best leverage your natural strengths. I think this is one of the most important things to start with to give you the direction you need.
Aside from that, there have been a few beautiful books, like The Art of Work by Jeff Goins. It’s about how to apply your work to your life purpose and your life purpose to your work. That book was amazing because it’s all about your perception and the way you approach your work and business that makes you feel like you’re living a life of purpose.
Internal inspiration and making space for productivity
Various local and international female transformational coaches, business coaches, and inspirational leaders have also guided my thoughts and actions. I always look for powerful female figures who are living authentically and running their business authentically. I don’t always support or agree with everything they stand for, but I pick and choose and take the pieces that apply to me. That’s all external motivation.
Internal inspiration can only come from one place and that’s working on the relationship with yourself and being committed to that.
And that’s the hardest thing in the world because when you feel busy and you want to create a successful business and you have family and other priorities to deal with all the time, it often gets neglected. I find that when I do go through periods of neglecting that relationship, I’m not productive at work or home and I’m not living the best way I can.
For me, internal work and inspiration is sitting for 10-15 minutes every morning and journaling. Or, it’s putting my feet on the grass. That’s usually when the random thoughts come in, it’s allowing space for those random thoughts to occur and making notes.
That often leads to the most productivity.
What are your biggest challenges as a South African entrepreneur?
My personal challenges are trying to not get distracted by every single opportunity that arises and that is my weakness. I love the beginning stage of projects where it’s just a seed that needs to be planted and watered. Those early days of any new business – or projects within a business – are exhilarating to me. It’s a challenge to stay focused and in line. It’s trying to not be tempted by other passing opportunities because there will always be other opportunities.
It’s about learning discernment and not feeling like I need to chase every opportunity that comes my way.
As a South African entrepreneur, the biggest challenge is that you might have an amazing product, service, or business, but it’s a challenge when you’re trying to plant a garden and your soil isn’t fertile. That’s what it feels like in South Africa at the moment – it’s trying to plant seeds in infertile soil all the time. But, the good news is that it’s the same soil for everyone.
It’s about learning to thrive, adjusting your mindset, and staying flexible
Every other person trying to plant their seeds is also struggling. The soil will change depending on the season and the climate, but I think it’s good news because you will get certain businesses that are able to thrive in conditions like that. I think it’s about adjusting your mindset to stay a bit flexible and not taking it personally if your idea of success or growth doesn’t come to life immediately.
When the weather changes and the acidity of the soil changes, those seeds that you planted are still there buried underneath the soil and they will start to sprout when the weather changes.
I think you need to know that they’re there; you need to keep planting them and keep tending to your garden and know that it’s going to change.