Beyond personal goals and dreams

Sara Nuru is a model and businesswoman known for her drive to step out of her comfort zone. A true polymath, she’s an ambassador for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, as well as founding her own businesses nuruWomen and nuruCoffee. Their goal is to help women in Ethiopia gain independence by offering fair microcredits and education through the sale of Fairtrade and organic coffee. As well as giving them a chance for self-employment, it aims to also connect those involved with their African roots, achieving mutual support and having a lasting impact on their lives. As one of The Art of Drive’s trailblazers, Nuru is here to inspire the next generation to achieve their goals.

Dare to explore new paths

Nuru gained recognition on the global modelling scene at the age of 19, in 2009, and built up a successful career in the industry from there. Hence, the move to entrepreneur was a brave transition – she hadn’t studied for it, or gained experience in business, but she trusted in the courage of her conviction. "At the beginning of this transformation phase, I thought, I can only be one or the other. But, it’s not that black and white,” Nuru reflects. “I now know that I can combine the two, model and businesswoman; both elements can be part of my identity. That applies to all areas of life. You don’t have to pigeon-hole yourself.”

Surely stepping into the unknown was a daunting prospect. “Doing something completely different is always scary at first,” Nuru admits. But she leant into it, asking herself, “What motivates me? What drives me? And what do I want to do? It’s very important to ask yourself these questions, especially when you want to venture into something new, when you leave your comfort zone.”

For Nuru, this aspect was largely inspired by her parents, who came to Germany in the mid-1980s to build a better life for their children. “I’m motivated by the fact that I get to give something back,” she says. “I’m driven by Ethiopia, the country of my parents, and the desire to show it from a new perspective. And to enable women in particular to have a self-determined existence.”

Change takes time

She’s honest about the fact that building a business is, at times, not an easy ride. “When you want to realise a dream, it’s not something that happens overnight. You need extreme staying power. Have patience, trust the path you’re on. However long it takes, it will happen eventually!”

Approaching her business as a marathon, not a sprint, she finds that taking time out to reflect is key. She meditates daily, which helps her to check in with how she feels and visualise the bigger picture. “It’s known that founders, those who make things, those that are filled with purpose, suffer from burnout because they are so involved that they often forget to take care of themselves. That’s why it’s so important to find the balance,” she says.

When she needs more than meditation, she likes to escape to something completely different from her day to day. “I took four weeks off and did a pottery retreat,” she smiles. “It sounds very cliché, I just wanted to do something where I could use my hands, where I could be creative, without having to think strategically or long-term. And essentially, to complete something, for that more immediate sense of achievement.”

When in doubt, work it out

Her advice on finding the courage to start something new? Feel the fear and do it anyway. Imagine the worst-case scenario, analyse it and work through the doubts. Then you’ll be less afraid of failure. “Unfortunately it’s something that we get drilled into us, that failure is bad, that failure must not happen. But, I think it’s part of life – not everything will happen exactly as you think it will, and that’s ok. To go on regardless is actually the most beautiful thing you can do. That courage is really rewarded.” 

“My advice to anyone who wants to start their own business is follow your intuition, believe in yourself and keep at it.”

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