DID YOU KNOW, you can purchase a barbie entrepreneur doll?

I’m tickled. Are young girls (or boys) being led to think this is what being an entrepreneur 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 a friend, 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.

What is being an entrepreneur really like?

“From the outside looking in, the life of an entrepreneur looks amazing, sexy, appealing. But once they catch you, they realise: 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 multitasking 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 when we are last in line to get paid, despite it being our business. Days when you physically work your fingers to the bone. Days when, regardless of your effort and time, employees stab you in the back and chase their own agendas or they award the pitch 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 romanticising 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 minimising 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 inspire mentor entrepreneurs, paint the full picture. Blow off the glitter and enlighten them to the full truth of it. We need young blood, starry-eyed and innovation. What we don’t need is naive youth with shattered dreams because 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.

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