This Entrepreneur Has a Career Lesson for All of us

Hard work. Determination. A willingness to take feedback. A desire to keep learning and improving.

These are career-boosting traits we talk about all the time at The Muse. And sometimes, we’re lucky enough to see them in action.

Last month, I visited Soweto, a township in Johannesburg, South Africa, and met women who had started businesses in their community. It’s one of the poorest parts of the country, with unemployment rates of more than 30%.

One of those women was Gape, the 28-year-old owner of a fast food stand. She wakes up at 2 AM, seven days a week, to bake 150 loaves of bread and prepare the day’s food for her regular customers, mainly men who work at a nearby steel plant during the week. “Their wives are at home, and I like feeding them so they don’t go out and find new wives,” she tells me with a smile.

Her recipe for success is continuing to learn and grow. In the spare time she does have, she’s taken business classes through Coca-Cola’s 5by20 programto improve her skills in inventory management, accounting, and marketing. They’ve helped her business so much that she’s hired three employees and is contemplating a second location.

She also makes a point to listen to her customers. She’s not afraid ofhearing their feedback —instead, she uses it to become a better cook and a smarter business owner. It’s a lesson for anyone who wants to grow: Be humble enough to seek advice from those around you. Even if you’re the woman with the best bread in town, there’s always more to learn.