An entrepreneurial mindset is the foundation of any existing or aspiring entrepreneur. Yet, it’s often limited to the sphere of business or considered superfluous by the established entrepreneur.
Defined as a way of thinking that identifies opportunities and has the belief to turn those opportunities into reality, an entrepreneurial mindset is becoming an increasingly important component of a skill set required for the twenty-first century.
It’s especially evident when considering that entrepreneurship is about more than narrow commercial gain. It’s actually about harnessing the fullness of human potential for the benefit of society.
Entrepreneurship is universal
Its universal applicability begs the question: can it be developed? And if so, how? Like any attempt to improve oneself, developing this kind of thinking requires practise, in particular how one thinks about the world and how one thinks about oneself.
Whether one sees problems and inefficiencies and how one responds to them colours the way one views the world. One either responds with ignorance and apathy or recognition and possible solutions.
The latter should become habitual for those looking to develop or expand their entrepreneurial mindset. And you can start wherever you are – in your business, at work or in your community. The more you engage problems and inefficiencies as hotbeds for opportunities, the more it becomes a normalised process.
Ask the right questions
Another way of practising this opportunity-seeking muscle is to read widely, pick up on emerging trends and ask second-order questions, e.g.: “If everybody’s in self-driving cars, what does that mean for parking?” Though it’s a silly example, it serves to illustrate that in terms of building a new mindset into a consistent habit, quantity is more important than quality.
Equally one should not be too quick to discard seemingly silly ideas. It’s actually often impossible to distinguish between a great idea and a terrible idea at the beginning.
Embrace the practice of experimenting
Research done by Babson College professors identifies five practices of entrepreneurship. Out of the five they identify, I’d like to highlight the practice of experimentation and the practice of reflection. The former links to how one views the world and offers greater room for flexing one’s opportunity-seeking muscle.
By definition an experiment can never fail; there is only an outcome. Since an outcome cannot be inherently good or bad, there can be no emotional attachment to it.
The beauty of experimentation is that it takes sting out of trying repeatedly. Or put differently, it takes the fear out of failing.
Related: Bokang Seritsane: A Maverick Mindset
A fixed mindset and a growth mindset
How one thinks about oneself is practised through the art of reflection. At the core of reflection is self-awareness and a willingness to submit to feedback from others.
Worth referencing here is the work of Carol Dweck who distinguishes between two basic mindsets: A fixed mindset and a growth mindset. The fixed mindset engenders the belief that one is either good at something or not and no amount of effort can change this reality.
Conversely, the growth mindset is underpinned by the belief that improvement is possible through practice.
Poor performance or results finds someone with a fixed mindset saying, “Well, I’ll just keep learning and do better next time.”
It’s so easy to get locked in a fixed mindset in unnoticed areas of one’s life. Reflection becomes the light that exposes them. We can self-reflect up to an extent, but beyond that we need others to gain the full picture of our entrepreneurial capacity.
No person can realise their full potential without the coaching and the input of other people. Even feedback should be seen as a source of opportunity and a source of growth.
Youthful Entrepreneurs Light The Way
If there’s one thing these go-getters have in common, it’s a determination to succeed. As we celebrate Youth Month, let’s learn from their example.
South Africa is already a very young country with 45.88 percent of the population under 24; by 2050, this proportion will have increased as the youth population is expected to double to 830 million. Already, 50 percent of the youth are unemployed, so it’s very clear that young people can’t sit around waiting for jobs to come their way – if they want a satisfying life, they will have to take charge of their own destinies.
This is just what these four inspirational young people have done
1. Imke de Villiers
All of them started young. Imke de Villiers, the youngest of the four, is only eleven, but her first book, The mouse hole, is available on Kindle and in online stores. It is evident that a big part of her success is the lead given by her parents.
“At the beginning of the year, we all had to write down three goals for the year, and the book was one of those,” Imke says.
“I have very supportive parents. My sister and I are challenged frequently to think outside of the box. We tell stories, think of money-making ideas and always use our creativity.”
2. Ingrid Moruane
Ingrid Moruane was also an early starter. “Since I was in high school, I’ve always seen myself as the boss. I’m a very driven person, and love working under pressure,” she says. Ingrid was fortunate to get some work experience as a project manager and optical assistant before following the advice of her then-boss to go out on her own, which she did in 2015. Now, aged 24, she will be moving out of her home office to premises in Joburg’s trendy Melrose Arch.
Ingrid’s business is Ing Management, and her concept is a unique one: she provides a portfolio of non-core services to government entities or corporates – event management, team-building events, catering, stationery and even office furniture. She uses trusted subcontractors to get the work done – what she provides is the vision and management. It is a turnkey service designed to remove a lot of detail off the to-do list of a corporate employee.
She sees funding as one of the biggest hurdles she has faced – and this is something one hears a lot about when talking to entrepreneurs. However, she pays tribute to the innovative approach taken by her bank, which stretches to introducing her to potential clients.
“More banks should do the same kind of thing,” she believes.
Believe in yourself
3. Sheldon Crabtree
Sheldon Crabtree has a similar drive to succeed on his own terms. Although his parents sent him and his siblings to good schools – he is an alumnus of Pretoria Boys’ High School, which also produced Elon Musk – there was little spare money. “If we wanted personal things, we had to work for the money,” he says. As early as Grade 5, he would save his pocket money to buy sweets to sell at school; he also refurbished items for resale.
No surprise, then, that he decided not to go the route of getting a degree and a “safe” job, but rather took responsibility for his own life. He likes the idea of benefitting from his efforts.
Now aged 24, Sheldon is the proud owner of a woodworking business and the Deep Roots Night Market, which is held on the first Friday of each month in Groenkloof, Pretoria. The market provides not only gourmet food but also entertainment in a beautiful setting. Around 3 000 people attend each event.
Like Ingrid, he found start-up capital a major challenge – his solution was to take a part-time job that gave him some seed money and spare time. The woodworking, which began as a hobby, also provided some initial funding.
4. Zwelakhe Khuzwayo
Zwelakhe Khuzwayo, 26, is a great example of somebody who saw entrepreneurship as a way to make lemonade out of the lemons that life gave him! He lost his job but, nothing daunted, drew on the inspiration of his friend, Thulane Maestro Mathebula, to set up his own business making promotional videos and producing music.
“I’m one of the few people doing this kind of thing in the north-eastern areas of Pretoria, where I live,” he says. “I hope to gain recognition for the work that I do and hopefully my company will grow and expand.”
What all these inspiring young people agree on is the need for entrepreneurs to start young, and to believe in themselves.
Zwelakhe says that if you put in the work and effort, you will never go wrong.
For Imke, it is all about daring to be who you authentically are – you will always find a way to achieve what you want. “There are always other ways, other options,” she says.
Ingrid has stayed true to her childhood ideal of being the boss.
Sheldon (like Imke) says that parents have a big part to play. Being supportive is part of it, but it is also important to get their children on the right path. “Let your kids understand the power of creating their own wealth. On top of the set chores, let your kids do extra chores for money,” he advises. “Ask the school if they will be able to sell anything during break time, and make sure they get to grips with the social, financial and planning aspects of business.”
As the old saying has it, the child is the father or mother of the man or woman. That is very true – but it also helps if there is an adult helping the process along! As adults, let’s make sure we fulfill this role in the lives of our youth.
MiWay is an Authorised Financial Services Provider (Licence no: 33970)
The Kindling Of The Entrepreneur Spirit
The principle of entrepreneurship is to observe challenges and find ways to improve them while simultaneously weighing up the relevant costs and benefits.
Many university students are funnelled into a conservative career such as a lawyer, engineer, actuary or accountant. This is often the popular choice and has the advantages of receiving stable income and benefit packages – it is a “safety net” career and offers the prestige of the title and security of the degree.
That being said, there are a lot of insights that you may miss if you use the narrow definition of what entrepreneurship means in the traditional sense – “starting your own business.” Entrepreneurship is more than that and, in my view, should be looked at using a three-principles based approach. The principle of entrepreneurship is to observe challenges and find ways to improve them while simultaneously weighing up the relevant costs and benefits.
Principle 1 – Adding Value Within Organisations
In my field, being an actuary with a data science background, you always need to find a better way of doing things. We need to use our resources, skills, and systems in a manner that would support our organisations to ensure that we add value to society.
In essence, we need to use statistical or modelling techniques responsibly to ensure that three key focal points are met, which is easily adapted to becoming a viable entrepreneur, with a trusted reputation:
- We do not mistreat or take advantage of consumers;
- The results of initiatives or strategies are measured appropriately; and
- There are no biases based on torturing data to get the results you want.
In addition to doing a good job, we needed to ensure that the work we do can be repeated, with ease and automated where relevant. This will ensure that our influence is long lasting and scalable, which is also critical to starting your own business or initiative. Most long-term solutions should also be flexible enough to add value to society, in whatever touch-points they are impacting.
Principle 2 – Benefitting Society
This is not about how much you give but rather what impact you have. We need to be honest with ourselves and determine appropriate measures to monitor success and what our ROI is aimed at becoming. This is often a challenge and is oversimplified or overlooked by many. For example, we may celebrate success metrics by reviewing how many scholars we fund or how much money was given to upcoming entrepreneurs.
This measure will have little benefit if all the scholars drop out or all entrepreneurial initiatives fail, we will essentially be celebrating an empty figure. The impact we have needs to be long-lasting and setting up society for success, with or without your continual influence.
Responsible and appropriate ways of measuring benefit will help add value to many initiatives. It’s a significant risk starting an initiative without any key performance indicators or measures of success, as you will have nothing to benchmark against and no measure to celebrate or punt as transparent and real success measures.
Principle 3 – Starting an Entrepreneurial Initiative
Some skills are necessary to start your initiative and working for a large organisation may help you build these skills or refine them. Key performance indicators are often used within larger organisations, and these companies may have proper structures in place to learn communication skills, the importance of planning, setting up budgets, pitching ideas or tracking results over time.
As such, some young adults prefer entering the world of work as a first step and then using what they learn to start something new in the years to come. Whichever approach you take, ensure you are learning as much as you can and are open to mentorship, guidance and constructive criticism, we can’t possibly know everything, and there is always more we can learn and improve on.
Bringing It All Together
Starting an entrepreneurial initiative will require a lot of bravery and resilience, an open mind, a good idea, relevant skills and support (financial and social).
What I admire, is that a foundation such as the Make A Difference Leadership Foundation has robust structures in place to support and encourage their scholars, should they wish to start an initiative in the future. And despite the prestige or the safety in obtaining a degree, the foundation inspires the scholars to follow their dreams, no matter how audacious they might be.
With the vision of the Make A Difference in mind, we believe that our scholars and fellows will be able to contribute and add value to organisations. Some may start their own initiatives and those who don’t will still use the principles of entrepreneurship in their daily lives. We all aim to continuously identify solutions that will add value to those around us.
Going It Alone In Business? 5 Reasons That’s A Really Bad Idea
Being a solopreneur sounds great, but it’s actually a poor choice for your business.
When we read about Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington and all the other business giants – we immediately see a single champion. Much like old literature traditions where the hero triumphantly wins alone, our legends in business are often portrayed as the singular hero.
Steve Jobs reigning over Apple, Bill Gates towering over the giant that is Microsoft and Richard Branson stylised in his cape throughout the veins of Virgin – this kind of mythology and idealisation of the single hero in business has spurred a new wave of entrepreneurs who call themselves “solopreneurs.” We idealise the entrepreneur who does it alone and doesn’t need a team or support.
If you’ve been doing it alone or aspire to become a solopreneur, let me share with you five reasons to not be a solopreneur – and why the myth of any singular hero, whether in literature or business, is a misnomer and will only hold you back from having the most significant successes.
1. You’ll become a jack of all trades and a master of none
When you are a solopreneur, it’s practically impossible for you to master every skill needed to substantially grow.
Running a business takes a lot of capabilities: Mapping out content, creating it, sharing it, building a tribe, sending out emails, doing sales, attending events and growing the network, coaching, consulting and building out products is a small list of what a profitable business requires.
If you’re weak in some of these areas, it will hamper your business growth and fun.
Related: The Foundations Of Growth
Trying to do it all will soon see you doing low-level activities that pull you away you from making sales, doing projects for your high-end clients and doing the things that help keep the business growing.
2. You can’t scale or grow
Business strategist Jay Abraham says there are only three ways to grow a business. You either get more clients, increase the cost of each transaction or you service your clients with more products. Two of these methods will mean more work.
If you increase clients or increase the number of products you sell, you will most likely need to increase your output.
Since there are only so many hours in a day, you’ll either become your own bottleneck and slow business down – or decide to outsource some of the tasks to your team and ensure business runs smoothly.
3. You won’t have time to do everything you want to do
When you’re overworked and doing it alone, you have no one to relieve the pressure. You have no team to support you, and you have no partners who can take some work off your plate. That means when there are emergencies, you won’t be available.
If a client needs you, your kids need you and a new client wants to pay you a lot for a new project – you’ll have to decide which is most important.
While having a team may not save you from making hard decisions, ideally you aren’t so thinly spread out that you find yourself saying no to more clients, family emergencies and serving current clients to the best of your abilities.With a team, you’ll be able to free yourself more, and you can say yes to more opportunities.
4. You’re more vulnerable to mistakes
Imagine if didn’t have spell check your documents and emails. Or what if this magazine didn’t have editors and any article got through? I’m sure you’d agree, the quality would be lost, and it’d likely result in many lost customers.
In my life, I’m lucky to run a business with my wife and my team. Having a team helps me to not only “cut once and measure twice,” it also relieves some of the pressure to be perfect. It helps me to do my work, knowing my team will help me, and that inspires me. Doing it alone would be too stressful.
Having a team will allow you to call upon a support network, hand off jobs and have an extra set of eyeballs when you’re delivering a service.
If you’ve aspired to be like Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington or any highly successful entrepreneur – take some time and study them and you’ll find they love building and being a part of a team. Soon you’ll find out all these legends have a team, an incredible support system, and they don’t do it alone.
5. You can’t ever sell your business
In most entrepreneurs’ minds, the idea of selling isn’t there until decades after starting the business. But, it’s something that if given the opportunity most of us would do.
Even if you wouldn’t sell your business, isn’t nice to know that if you wanted you could take your business and get paid one lump sum equaling years of work?
Or if you don’t want to sell your business, maybe you want to step out of business but collect payments and keep it in the family – well, if you’re a solopreneur it’s tough to ever to work yourself out of a job.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
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