What I know about losing the label and defining myself: Genny Ghanimeh
Looking at Genny Ghanimeh’s resume, one might think she hasn’t slept a day in the past 15 years, but yet she’s full of energy and doesn't miss a beat.
Ghanimeh has been an entrepreneur since the age of 18. She had founded two companies: Pro ID, a company she set up out of necessity to expand on her engagement as a project follow-up agent of eight international groups from Europe and the US, and Pi Investments, a boutique advisory for mergers and acquisitions deals in emerging countries. But, she really hit her stride after founding Pi Slice in 2013. The company is a microfinance crowdfunding platform which allows both individuals and companies to lend to microfinance institutions in the MENA, hence funding regional micro-entrepreneurs.
Currently, Ghanimeh is focusing on her fourth company, Mind Cloud Academy, set to officially launch in October. The venture is currently in the final piloting phase of its entrepreneurship program. The Dubai-based project has been certified by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority and is aiming to develop an A to Z compendium of entrepreneurship, offering a wide variety of courses, from business model design, to scaling essentials to marketing techniques.
Besides that, she is a guest lecturer and entrepreneurship mentor at London Business School, an organizer of disruptive CEOs talks series, and a professional speaker at the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
Ghanimeh spoke to Wamda about why ridding yourself of labels can help you grow your business and pivot your priorities when the need arises.
Know yourself. It is essential to complete a thorough assessment of your personality, skills, attributes, and downfalls before starting a business. Only through this type of in-depth analysis you can understand what drives you, how to market your strengths and watch out for your weak spots. Knowing yourself will allow you to surround yourself with the right teammates and cofounders that will encourage you and pick up your slack.
Have a mission statement. Write it out and let it be the backdrop to everything you do. Having a clear direction is as necessary as understanding yourself, these two factors must match up and be kept aligned for anyone to survive entrepreneurship.
Work on your intrapersonal skills. People with great interpersonal skills are the ones that make it the farthest. Learn how to make people feel like the best version of themselves. This is one of the hardest things to learn, as it is usually an innate quality. It’s incredibly important when it comes to motivating and growing the people around you, and leads to incredibly loyal teams. Even those who initially lack technical know-how have a lot to gain by improving their people skills.
Pivoting is necessary. Knowing how and when to pivot is a true mark of a leader's mental toughness. Reinventing yourself or your business, even after years of hard work down one path is not a sign of failure. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Almost all successful entrepreneurs know that failure is sometimes necessary, and should be embraced. Launching a startup is a volatile business, and you must be ready to handle the outcome when things go south.
Lose that label. It’s not ‘female entrepreneur’, it’s just an ‘entrepreneur’ that happens to be a woman. The same goes for ‘social entrepreneurs’, or any other category for that matter. Working within a tag is limiting. It constrains how people think about you and your business. I adopt this philosophy while teaching. My classes are currently populated at 90 percent by women and I give them the same advice I give anyone: be confident, trust your skills and don’t make excuses, let the business speak for itself.
It’s a balancing act. Entrepreneurship is not as glamorous as it may seem. In reality, it’s exhausting. To succeed on the long term, being a workaholic is not the right way to go. Learning how to balance your professional, personal, physical, and spiritual well being, will make you a better business leader and a happier person overall. Having a great cofounder by your side is a great way to diffuse responsibility and gain valuable insight.
The value of mentorship. All the instructors at Mind Cloud Academy are entrepreneurs themselves. Talking to someone that has gone down this road is one of the most important things to do before setting out on your own. In the emerging Middle Eastern startup ecosystem this is more important than ever, established leaders must give back to young up and comers if the region is to truly thrive.