My Working Day – Bukola Adisa – Founder & CEO of Career Masterclass

As the leader of a company, you are there to set an example, to lead and inspire a team of individuals to achieve a series of business goals. But how do these business leaders go about their daily routine? Business Leader spoke to Bukola Adisa, Founder & CEO of Career Masterclass, about her working day.

What time do you wake up?

I wake up at 6 am to pray and meditate. Doing this first thing in the morning goes a long way in setting the tone for my day. After this, I get into some reading – I am a big reader! I spend 15-30 minutes looking at headlines and features in some of my favourite newspapers – New York Times, Financial Times, Business Insider.

I go back to bed if I don’t have any early meetings, but when I have some scheduled, I just get on with my day.

What do you have for breakfast?

I’m really not a breakfast person. I only have one main meal a day which I plan for: dinner. To keep my energy levels up during the day, I’ll often have a yoghurt or tea by mid-afternoon.

What is your mantra for your working day?

Get the important things done. Sometimes, good enough is enough.

As a business leader, is it hard to separate your business and personal life?

Absolutely! It’s an ongoing battle. I find that it’s easy for your identity as an entrepreneur to be so blended with the business’ identity that it takes an effort to keep them separate. I’m on a journey where this is concerned, to stay committed to my wellness, wellbeing and mental wholeness by keeping boundaries in place.

What advice would you give to aspiring female entrepreneurs?

Back yourself. Believe that you are worth it, that people like you succeed and that you can make it work. You don’t have to have everything figured out – the path will open up as you keep taking one step at a time.

Who is your business idol? Why?

My all-time business idol is Sara Blakely, CEO of Spanx. To me, Sarah is the embodiment of believing in yourself. She typifies how success and generosity can go together, and constantly lifts the community of females that follow her. It also helps that she is authentic and doesn’t take herself too seriously

What motivates you?

Impact and community are the main motivators to me. Stories of transformed lives and career stories. I can never get over hearing how our masterclasses or events have transformed the career journeys of our community. The testimonials just spur me on, to do more.

How do you persevere through challenging times?

There’s an inscription on my laptop’s wallpaper which I find simply inspirational- “Remember why you started…” Remembering my “big why” always manages to bring me back from the doldrums of despair and fills me with energy to run another mile.

Another thing I do is to think back to other challenging times and how I got through them. I also lean on my support system – my friends and family. I’m a firm believer in the power of community and not doing life alone.

What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a female entrepreneur?

There are a couple of things:

The first is funding and access to opportunities. There are many reports that show that women from Black and ethnically diverse backgrounds lack the vast networks and access to opportunities that could make a difference for their businesses. I experienced this while raising funding for my business last year – it was challenging but we eventually ended up raising over £400k through the crowdfunding route.

There’s also the perpetual struggle to want to balance work and home perfectly – to be the perfect mum, wife and business owner all at the same time. I tell myself that perfection is a myth, and the important thing is to be the best I can be at any given time.

The myth of the strong black woman is another challenge – as a Black woman, there’s the temptation to sacrifice myself and my wellbeing on the altar of success and ambition. It’s easy to be there for everyone else except myself but I’m gradually unlearning this as it is not healthy or sustainable.

What is the best piece of advice you have received?

That came last year when I was going through a rough patch. Someone told me, “Bukola, you’re doing a lot better than you think – just relax.” As simple as it may sound, that statement gave me a lot of freedom from the angst I was feeling at the time.

When building a business or anything that impacts lives, you often can’t see the forest through the trees because you’re so busy putting out fires and solving problems. That piece of advice gave me permission to breathe a little and actually start enjoying the process.

Are you hopeful about the future of female entrepreneurship in the UK? Why?

I have mixed feelings about the future. I’d say yes, I’m hopeful because there’s never been greater awareness about entrepreneurship. Many more people are taking the path of going into business and having the self-belief to do things on their own. Government support is more readily available and there are institutions supporting entrepreneurs with grants, mentorship and opportunities.

However, the pace of change remains too slow. Female entrepreneurs’ share of the UK’s multi-billion-pound Venture Capital funding has stayed stubbornly below 2% for most of the past decade, according to figures from investment tracker, Dealroom. The figures are even more damning for Black and ethnically diverse female founders. This shows that there’s a lot of work that needs to be done to support the growth of entrepreneurship among women in the UK.