#WIB -Q&A With Gwen Serrotti Founder & CEO Of Xtraordinary Women

business woman Gwen Serrotti
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1. Can you please tell us more about your business?

A. Xtraordinary Women was founded in 2007 and is a platform that Leads, Inspires, Supports and Recognizes Women Entrepreneurs of South Africa. It takes a community to build a business, and Xtraordinary Women is that community.

We are passionate about helping women entrepreneurs and encouraging them to DREAM BIG and to live their life with purpose! Our events are aimed at providing inspiration and business knowledge to women entrepreneurs. We take a genuine interest in their success. We do not only offer networking opportunities but also access to workshops, educational events and cocktail evenings and much more!

At Xtraordinary Women, we support the South African economy by building a community of confident and successful women in business who actively engage and contribute to their community’s growth and development.

2. When, how and why did you start your business?

A. After leaving a very successful corporate career, I found it very difficult to find my purpose. I was at the stage in my life where I wanted to make a difference in the community but was not quite sure how to go about it, let alone turn it into a business. I sought out and bought into various business ventures which didn’t work out for me, as it just didn’t feel like I was fulfilling my purpose.

I did, however, realise through this process, that I loved bringing people together, so I decided to host my first event. I envisaged at least 100 women attending, however, only 9 people arrived. I felt like such a failure. While I was sitting there, feeling really sorry for myself, a dear friend of mine asked me if she could share her story. Inspired by her story, each of the other ladies shared their stories as well. I was so inspired by each of their stories that I realized that Women are truly Xtraordinary.

No matter what they have going on in their lives, they just get up and do it – no matter what. We each have a story to tell, that inspires others. The seed was planted for Xtraordinary Women that evening and it was the inspiration for our now, very successful “Success in High Heels Cocktail Evenings”, where we host women sharing their stories of success.

I found it very difficult to navigate the murky waters of entrepreneurship on my own. I was used to having a team around me in the Corporate World, but as a solo entrepreneur, I felt very lonely and I did not know where to turn to for advice and support.  Most of the things I attempted was by trial and error. It was through all these struggles and frustrations that Xtraordinary Women was born. We realize how difficult it is to “go it on your own” so Xtraordinary Women offers the support, inspiration, and guidance to fellow entrepreneurs so they don’t have to navigate the waters on their own.

 Xtraordinary Women Logo
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3. What is your role in the business?

A. I am the Founder and CEO. I focus on strategy, marketing and growing our platform.

4. Where did you study and what did you study?

A. I completed the Associate in Management program at The Graduate School of Business.

5. How did you finance your business?

A. It is self-funded.

6. Describe your average workday, if such a thing exists.

A. My average workday involves creating our inspirational messages, marketing our upcoming events, strategy & planning for the upcoming 3 months, supporting our community and management of our Membership.

7. How do you balance your home life and your work life?

A. These lines, unfortunately, get blurred on a regular basis! I do strive for the work/life balance by committing to stop working at 5 and then dedicate time to my family. This is not always possible, because as an entrepreneur, your work is never done! I do, however, understand the value of finding some quiet time too, as this is normally when the inspiration hits. Often we are so busy working in our businesses, that we don’t always see the bigger picture and having some valuable downtime, enables us to lift our heads up from our busy schedules and evaluate where we are going.

8. What drives you and inspires you?

A. Women have such amazing stories to share and being able to create a platform for women to shine and share these stories drive me!
I am inspired by each and every woman that is striving to live her life with purpose. It is not easy running your own business or following your dreams. No matter what you decide to do, when you get up and do it, no matter what your challenges are – this inspires me and others to do the same.

Every day I see women working hard at building their business and following their dreams. No matter what they have going on in their lives, they get up and show up. Because they want to make a difference. When women have the courage to break through barriers and follow their dreams, this inspires me!

9. Where and when do you have your best ideas?

A. My best ideas happen when I have some quiet time sitting at the ocean. I also can’t express the value of having a trusted support system around you enough! I attribute a lot of Xtraordinary Women’s success to our team, having a trusted friend that is always willing to listen to my challenges and the valuable support of our community. Their ideas and feedback have assisted us in our growth. I believe that it takes a community to grow a business and without it, Xtraordinary Women would not be where it is today.  

10. Where and how do you market/advertise your business for sales leads?

A. I mainly use our Social Media platforms and our mailing list.

11. What is next for your business?

A. We have just launched our new website and our new Membership Platform will be launched very soon. The Membership Platform will offer online courses by industry experts, webinars and support for our Members. The online courses are designed to provide entrepreneurs with information to support them along their entrepreneurial journey. We are also excited about our new online networking events starting next month, enabling us to network and connect with women all over the globe!

12. What advice would you give to female entrepreneurs hoping to start their own business?

A. Fear can stop us from following our dreams. Feel the fear and do it anyway! The fear of failure has stopped me from achieving so many things. Looking back, I realise that these fears were unwarranted. I strongly believe that we all have a purpose to fulfill and the world needs YOU to make a difference. You are unique and have so much to offer. Embrace the fear, seek out a mentor that can help you and don’t give up. You don’t have to do it alone. Find a community that can support you and ask for help! I would like to share my favourite poem and hopes it serves as an inspiration to follow your dreams!

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ~Marianne Williamson

Short Bio:

Gwen resigned from a very successful corporate career of 19 years to pursue her own dreams of being an entrepreneur and living out her purpose. Xtraordinary Women was born out of Gwen’s passion to create a community and platform for Xtraordinary Women..doing eXtraordinary things…

Gwen began Xtraordinary Women to inspire women to live their lives with purpose as she is passionate about women and helping them turn their dreams into reality. Being Self-Employed for 12 years and running two successful companies, Gwen understands the challenges women face when trying to find their purpose and start a business whilst maintaining a balanced life. Gwen has extensive experience in many different fields. She spent almost 10 years at ABSA Bank after which she left to obtain her MSCE. Thereafter, spent the next 8 years in the IT field where she obtained various IT qualifications, managed various projects and implementations.

She studied at UCT’s Graduate School of Business in 2003, where she learnt the fundamentals of business. Networking, connecting people and hosting events that inspire people are among Gwen’s favourite things.

Contact Information:

E-Mail: Gwen@XtraordinaryWomen.com
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