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Natalie B's story on... Self Belief

We met with Cape Town based Business-of-One ‘Designed for Humanity’ owner, Natalie. Despite her family thinking she is in IT and dabbles in graphic design and development, she is ACTUALLY an astute UI Design specialist with the added advantage of truly displaying a human-centred and UX approach to all she touches.

She tells her story through the eyes of Dumbo the elephant who thought he needed a feather to fly, when in fact, all it took for her to see Business-of-One success was belief in herself. The funny thing about self belief is that you have to do the work first. Self belief is something that you figure out while doing the work, gaining experience, and learning from others, and only then self belief is truly realised and grows even more after taking the leap of faith.

Very early in her career, the Imposter Syndrome she faced was coupled with being locked into an employee position with a boss at the time who believed power lies in breaking people down. There is little to no growth possible in a toxic environment and when finding oneself in this position, her advice is to get out. This does not necessarily mean taking the leap to Business-of-One just yet, but taking a smaller jump to a business environment that can foster your growth, one that can positively prepare you for the ultimate jump.

It’s funny how both good and bad leadership can push us towards a positive jump, as she was also fortunate enough to cross paths with leaders who believed in her more than she believed in herself. Positive leaders and environments can propel your journey in ways one often never imagines. For Natalie, these leaders had such impact that for her, good leadership was a game changer. These positive influencers bring wisdom if we are open to absorb and learn from them, Natalie learnt to appreciate key traits and skills that would keep her pushing for what she wanted. What stuck with her: never stop exploring creativity, learn discipline, keep your sense of humour, and focus on being yourself. Authenticity is about owning your flaws (we all have them!). For Natalie, dubbed by teammates as “the Complicator”, she embraced who she is and for that, those working with her knew what to expect, and also learnt how to bring out the best in her, and visa versa. Without pretence, there is growth. She continues to this day to turn to collaboration as her source of inspiration.

Sometimes a jump from employee to your own business is a mixture of being pushed, and taking the leap from your own doing. This was the case for Natalie and serves as inspiration for any of you who find yourself out of a job as an opportunity to face the music and see this as an opportunity delivered to you on a silver platter - yours for the taking! Becoming a Business-of-One for Natalie means she now has options, a diverse range of clients to work for, broadening her creative outlets, and growth on both a personal and professional level being confronted with a flow of opportunities from which to learn. Caution: the flow isn't always constant. One cannot be passive, it takes effort and hard work at putting yourself out there and developing professional relationships. And for this, we can experience the freedom she enjoys in the choice of clients she works with and projects she works on, she is able to determine the impact she can have on the world. She is very particular about working with clients who share her values to heighten the ‘feel good’ factor when engaging in work.

On reflection, she describes the feeling of operating as a Business-of-One as that of freedom, independence, empowerment and personal growth. She is also open about the limitations and myths around working as a Business-of-One. This certainly is not about working a day or two a week and loafing on the couch. She believes earning a living doing what you love and not working yourself flat, is still a choice: when you work with the right clients, the work you undertake renders higher monetary value to your business when your client respects and values your talent. This infers less ‘cheap and dirty’ work maximising all your hours in a given week. Even more important is the creative satisfaction of doing work you love. She believes the transition from freelancer to ‘Business-of-One’ is a murky one and one that she is continuously discovering, but she notes one of the advantages is being seen as more of a partner and advisor to clients, rather than a worker whose sole purpose is to ‘just get the job done’.

Natalie talks of her journey as a lucky one. However, the sense of kindness, talent, dedication, ‘curious’ empathy, generosity and care one feels in her presence, it is quite clear to us that she created her luck from being true to her inherent nature. It is certainly a magnetic trait she unknowingly encapsulates. Natalie teaches us the lesson of how important it is to listen to our inner voice, to take control back to drive our own professional lives.

“You don't have to have all the answers at the time, but you will get there. It's life experience that makes you wiser. Trust the journey.”

“Solving niche challenges Founders face”.


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