Becoming an entrepreneur may be motivated by many factors, whether it be money, passion or career driven. For Laila Bret, her entrepreneurial prowess stems from the ideologies and principles that were instilled in her by her parents. Having positive influences and role models are vital for shaping young minds to become successful in the future, by equipping them with the necessary tools. Below, Laila shares her story of how she came to be an entrepreneur and shares advice for those aspiring to become one.
“I am not afraid of working in a context of instability, as I am accustomed to building a future with no set plan…”
What was your fondest memory of your childhood and how did your cultural upbringing influence the person you are today?
I am originally from South Morocco. I belong to the Berber people, where women have a central and conquering position in society. I am proud of this heritage, as it gives me boldness and confidence in my daily life. My best childhood memory is of Wednesdays I spent in the markets with my migrant parents. I learned the basics of business from them. I also learned the importance of listening to customers. I believe that I inherited their confidence in their abilities and their certainty of a bright future. I would watch as they left every morning, not knowing how much they would earn each day.
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
My parents have always been my role models. I have drawn many resources from my Berber heritage. Berber women are conquerors and are very self-reliant. Through my upbringing, I developed soft skills which made it easier for me to become an entrepreneur. I am not afraid of working in a context of instability, as I am accustomed to building a future with no set plan, but simply on random opportunities that may come my way. Reliability is a value that they have also instilled in me. Today, my clients know that they can count on me because when I give my word, I commit myself and I am not afraid of tricky situations or business transformation.
What steps did you take to develop as an entrepreneur?
I accepted that it was okay to make mistakes. It was okay to not know exactly where I was going before launching a project. I learned key problem-solving tips from other entrepreneurs who told me about their failures. I was taught that the first, third, fifth and eighth years are key periods for an entrepreneur. As I enter my ninth year, I am aware that I have passed a major milestone and that I am fully prepared for entrepreneurship. I have been working a lot on my entrepreneurial posture: books, podcasts, sharing experiences in entrepreneurial communities etc.
I remember that after the first year, I had to pivot my model because the context of the attacks in France put a stop to my model. This was an opportunity to question what made sense to me. It allowed me to work on the meaning I wanted to give to my entrepreneurial adventure. I realised that I wanted to be in the cockpit with the leaders, in the midst of battle, helping to develop their businesses. I wanted to advise them on how to grow their model and give them access to my incredible network of first-rate experts.
How was your experience being in a male-dominated field?
Whether it be men or women, the subject is patriarchy. I met resourceful men who accompanied me on my adventure. These men were often open-minded and attentive to the professional who advised them in their shooting activities. I take the time to listen actively. Each person has their own references, their own fears. We are all strangers to each other. My parents best educated me on the right things to say in challenging circumstances. I navigate according to the information I receive, and humour helps me to defuse tensions.
Soon after, you became the Director of Operations for the Agency of Entrepreneurial Diversity. Can you explain your role and the significant work you are doing?
People say that I have a strong power to connect projects and people. My main mission is to be in contact with entrepreneurs, listen to their needs and improve the content of their programmes and help them develop. I spend a lot of time in the field, meeting people to better understand their reality and to identify offers and services that would be useful to their development. I always try to find the expertise which best suits the needs expressed, but more than anything else, to the personality of the manager. Over time, I have emphasised the work on the entrepreneurial posture to reinforce the quality of the support provided to managers.
What advice would you give to individuals who are aspiring to become entrepreneurs?
Do not be alone; surround yourself with resource people. Be in the company of other entrepreneurs who want to start a business and those who have already started and can become your guides and mentors.
You may be wondering:
- What resources are available to you?
Support programmes are available to help save time on key steps and benefit from the feedback of the community of entrepreneurs who are part of it.
- How should you make the best use of your time?
Learning to use your time effectively is a major step in itself. Keep track of time so that you know what you do in a day, and how much time you really need to complete a task, can help you to know yourself better and improve your time management.
- What are the possibilities?
Most people start a business in an area or activity that they are familiar with because they were employed in that field and are comfortable. By starting their own business in a field, they know, they position themselves as experts in the subject, which reassures customers. However, an entrepreneur can create whatever they want as long as it makes sense to them. There is no specific choice to be made. The possibilities are endless.