The Future Females Show was born out of a desire to educate, celebrate, acknowledge, and inspire women around the globe. This web series, hosted by Media Personality & Transformational Coach, Susana Kennedy, and Co-Founder & CEO of Future Females, Lauren Dallas, aims to celebrate and reframe success – by showcasing the stories and strategies of successful female founders, changing the game in their industries.
In the third episode our co-founders, Lauren Dallas and Cerina Bezuidenhout discussed the shared values for success.
What led you to start Future Females?
Cerina: My career (I’m a food scientist by profession) has been a very traditional career until about five years ago when I met Lauren and everything changed 180 degrees. I don’t know how many of you have started your businesses already or are in the phase of having an idea and you need to take that leap. I was there, I literally am one of those people who had to make that move. So, from a food scientist working in a factory, I became one of those people who walked around with a notebook because Lauren and the rest of our associates were using tech, investment, and entrepreneurial terms I didn’t understand. I had to go home in the evenings and learn these terms. The learning curve was hard and I want to say to those of you who are going to make that jump, or who are in it right now – it is hard but just believe in yourself because you are going to be great.
Lauren: I grew up in a very high-achievement environment. For me winning was number one, being the youngest to do something, or being recognized for something was really what drove me. I remember I rang my mom a while ago and asked her if she knows what my IQ is. She told me that I did the IQ test about eight or nine times because she “wanted to check I was still smart.” 🙂 That’s what I grew up surrounded by and I really brought that into my corporate life. I’ve worked at many different corporations – from eBay to Groupon to management consulting, but entrepreneurship really is my passion. I started many businesses – some for the wrong reasons, some because I thought it was fun, and some because an idea just popped into my head. That’s what I love doing but Cerina keeps me in check! When I moved to South Africa just over five years ago, I knew I wanted to help entrepreneurs. I was sitting in an apartment in Woodstock, tethered to the internet from the building next door, stealing it to start my business and I realized I couldn’t help entrepreneurs in this country if I didn’t even know one. That’s when I started working for an accelerator programme, met Cerina, and three months later Future Females was born.
Please share your achievements!
We started in Cape Town with a one-off event with no business plan. I (Lauren) dreamt the name in my sleep and the next minute we were hosting the Future Females launch. We had no idea how it was going to go, we just knew we wanted to find other women like us who were building businesses. From that first event where we had around 80 people in the room and 500 tuning in online, we have grown. Today, Future Females is in 55 cities around the world where our ambassadors host an event every single month. We have just over 100,000 members in our community and we have graduated over 2300 entrepreneurs from our Business School, which is a three-month accelerator programme.
What advice would you share with other female entrepreneurs?
Cerina: Something that I learned in the beginning and am still reminded of is, coming from an operational background, you think about the systems and processes and all of the things that you want to put in place, but in reality, you are holding the company back. It was hurtful and painful to be like, okay, just run with it! But it is necessary. In the early stages of your company, drop that need for systems and processes and all the other things that are really great for your business, and rather focus on the marketing and sales because that is what you need in the beginning.
The thing that is most important in our company is the question – is our team okay? I believe that if our team is okay, they will be delivering the work in such a good way because they are living our values and our vision.
Lauren: I’ve started five businesses and Future Females is by far the most successful. I put that success down largely to Cerina, who constantly undersells herself. Yes, it’s fine if you are a marketing or salesperson because it will get you those first sales, but to truly build something scalable, you have to have those systems and processes in place. If you are repeating anything, document it, put it into a process, and try to automate it. Always try and buy back your own time.
If you could attribute your success to one thing, what would it be?
Lauren: Never stopping! Everything gets hard, and one of the principles in the early days of Future Females that we abided by was consistency. Businesses need trust for people to buy from them and so we built trust by always being at our events, every single month, even if only two people showed up.
Cerina: Lauren and I met as strangers and when we decided to start a business together, we decided on our values. That was, and still is, the most important thing for us.
What is the biggest lesson you learned from failure?
Lauren: I was featured in Cosmopolitan Magazine once and I was so excited because I read it as a teenager. I went to the newsagent down the road to buy a copy and when I wanted to pay, my card was declined for insufficient funds. I was in tears. It wasn’t a failure, but it did make me refocus immediately. I realized that in business you have a responsibility toward your co-founder, your team, and your community and I needed to take the financial side of the business a lot more seriously.
How do you define success?
Lauren: For me, it is my purpose. It took a long time to discover what it is, but I now know it is to help people – even if it is only one other individual. And then also, to play. I have a play tattoo on my wrist because it is personally the most important thing to me. Every morning when I wake up, I write down one thing I’m doing to move the needle in the business, and one thing I’m doing purely for fun and for myself.
Cerina: Success, for me, is always connected to the profession. How are we impacting the people that we work with? Whenever I meet someone, I hope that they will feel worthy in the five minutes, the two seconds, or the one hour that I spend with them. That’s how I live my life.
The next move…
The NEW Future Females community-led learning platform is launching soon – to be the first in once it’s live make sure you’re on the waitlist! Click here to join.