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Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship

Got What It Takes To Be An Entrepreneur? International Speaker Justin Cohen Tells You How

The life of an entrepreneur is unpredictable. There will be ups, there will be downs. While you can’t always control what happens, you can choose how you respond.

GG van Rooyen

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  • Player: Justin Cohen
  • Claim to fame: International speaker. Author of four books and seven audiobooks. Television host.
  • Visit: justinpresents.com

1. Success starts with awareness

You should always be open and honest with yourself about both your strengths and weaknesses. It’s easy (and tempting) to ignore your flaws and not acknowledge them, but if you’re not self-aware, you can’t improve and better yourself. Self-improvement begins with the realisation that improvement is actually needed.

As an entrepreneur, you typically need a multitude of divergent skills. You can’t be an expert in all of them, but acknowledge any large gaps in your knowledge and educate yourself. You don’t need to become an expert in numbers, for example, but you need to be able to have a meaningful conversation with your accountant.

Related: RocoMama’s 7 Lessons To Remain On Top Of Your Game With Customers

2. Don’t fear failure

We all know that entrepreneurship is risky. Most new businesses fail. However, you can’t let fear of failure incapacitate you. Instead, try to see failure as an opportunity to learn and grow. Entrepreneurs fail on average 3,8 times before they finally succeed. Those failures are school fees.

That’s the MBE, or Master of Business Experience, probably more valuable than an MBA. The biggest failures never fail, they sit on the sidelines telling you why it’s not going to work and they’re always right.

How can you score a goal if you don’t get on the field? And if you do get on the field and lose, there’s always a lesson to win.

3. Don’t blame external causes when things go wrong

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It’s easy, for instance, to blame the economy when your business takes a hit, and you might even be justified in doing so, but this sort of mindset doesn’t help you to come up with a solution. As long as you’re pointing fingers, you’re not taking charge of your own destiny.

You can’t control what happens to you, but you can control how you respond. What do Microsoft, Burger King, CNN, and Hyatt have in common? They are just a few of the many companies started during a recession. What’s going on out there is less important than what you do about it.

4. As an entrepreneur, you are either in a problem, emerging from a problem or about to go into a problem

The reward for solving problems is we serve our customers, make money, live our calling and get bigger problems to solve. We’ve got to change our attitude to problems. Without problems entrepreneurs couldn’t exist. When we solve them we need to take time to celebrate.

Our caveman brains are wired for survival, that means we focus more on threats than rewards, less on wins than losses. We need to take time to celebrate those wins, however small, so that we stay upbeat and optimistic — a critical mindset for entrepreneurs.

Related: Dream Big, Plan Well, Minimise Risks Says Braam Malherbe

5. As an entrepreneur, you’re going to hear ‘no’ a lot. It typically requires at least five exposures to a new product or business before someone comes on board. Ask just about any successful person what his or her secret to success has been, and they’ll mention persistence.

This requires a kind of ‘smart’ optimism. You’re not naïve in that you just believe that everything will magically work itself out. You remain optimistic that whatever the problem, you’ll find the solution. As mentioned earlier, failure breeds success…

6. Money cannot be your sole driver

Of course money is a driver, but it cannot be the only thing that inspires you. Life rewards people who are on a mission. Huge success comes from the dedication to making a real difference.

In my experience most great entrepreneurs are motivated more by making a difference in the world than in their bank balance. But when you’re truly driven to make a difference in the world you’ll feel the difference in your bank balance. When you serve others, you serve yourself.

7. Service is key

If you’re dedicated to your mission and optimistic in your outlook, that’ll translate to the service you offer customers and clients.

That’s critical. When people are polled as to why they’ve stopped buying from a particular shop or restaurant, 15% will say price and 15% will say quality. The other 70% will say service.

Great service is very often the difference between failure and success.

Related: If 80 Percent Of Success Is Showing Up Then 20 Percent Is Following up

8. Are you able to motivate yourself?

I’m often called a ‘motivational’ speaker, but I don’t like that term very much, because motivation is like a warm bath: It goes cold very quickly. Success lies in self-motivation, especially if you’re an entrepreneur.

If there’s anything you need to accomplish, but you’re struggling to motivate yourself, it’s probably because you’re focused on short-term pleasure instead of long-term gains. You have to actively re-orient yourself. Make a conscious effort to focus on long-term success.

This can be hard at first, but once you get into a healthy habit, you start getting intrinsic pleasure from it. It’s like exercise: It can be torture for the first few weeks, but once you get into the habit, it becomes a crucial and very enjoyable part of your day. Your ultimate motivation is purpose. Continue to remind yourself why you’re doing this; how the world is going to be a little better off because of you.

Take note

Your thoughts are not reality. You have the choice to focus on either failure or success. Or to view events through an optimistic or pessimistic lens.

Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship

Build Solid Back-Room Basics For Business Success

What do South African entrepreneurs really know about what goes on behind the scenes building of businesses?

Marc Wachsberger

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South Africa has a vibrant start-up culture with great ideas starting out with a bang, but closing down with a whimper because entrepreneurs picture the glory at the destination, but not the nitty gritty of the journey to get there.

Be smart about scale

When I started out, I literally did everything myself. I negotiated and signed leases, I arranged the furnishing for our apartments and managed the interior décor process. When guests started using our apartments, I signed them in at reception, and then carried their bags.

At that stage, there was no money in my business to pay for attorneys, interior designers and decorators and there certainly wasn’t enough money for porters.

However, when we got to 70 apartments, it didn’t make sense for me to be a porter any longer, so I hired someone to do that job, explaining clearly what I expected of him. Before I did that, though, I spent time designing incentives for him so that he would be more affordable for me, and so that he could earn as much money as possible.

Related: Training Is A Two-Way Trick

Know your talents – and your limitations

There are certain things I’m really good at, but I know without a doubt that sales isn’t one of them – and without sales, you don’t have a business. I couldn’t afford a top-flight salesperson, but I knew that I could attract the right talent with the right business model. I set some high targets for Pamela Niemand, but offered her one third of the business if she met them. We both won: she earned a share in a successful, trend-setting business, and my trend-setting business became successful!

Use your skills – but know when to hand over

My background in corporate finance meant that I had all the accounting skills I needed when we first started out, but I knew that the time would come when I would need someone focused on that side of the business full time. Doing it all myself first meant that I could brief my first full-time accountant clearly and with a deep understanding of what would be required – and that I could help that person find and fix any challenges based on my experience.

In summary, my simple advice to anyone starting out would be to bootstrap your business yourself without investors or staff for as long as you can, but don’t over-extend yourself. Know when to delegate tasks away so that you can focus on what you’re really good at – but don’t do it before you have a solid understanding of what’s required. Know what you’ll never be able to do, and bring in that resource from the beginning – but do it based on performance-based incentives, so that your fledgling business doesn’t lose out if your early hires don’t perform.

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Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship

The Myth About The Relationship Between Entrepreneurs And Taking Risks

This is the true relationship between entrepreneurs and the apparent illusion of risk.

Lisa Illingworth

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“I can’t be an entrepreneur or start a business. I don’t have the appetite for risk.” This line is spoken regularly to brave few that leave the perceived safety of a job, take the plunge and venture into the unknown world of being an entrepreneur. However, there is a gross misunderstanding in the appetite for risk that entrepreneurs are believed to have innately inside of them.

The little-known truth is that the majority of entrepreneurs don’t like taking risks and according to Luca Rigotti and Mathew Ryan in their paper that explores a model for quantifying risk and its translation into enterprising action, the results were very interesting.

Risk is explained by these theorists as taking action where the outcomes are unpredictable as well the factors leading to that outcome are unknown. One of the theorists in this area, Saraswati, who coined the term “tolerance for ambiguity” has a more accurate description of what the outside world deems taking a risk.

In simple terms, entrepreneurs don’t go head-first into the shark infested water because they like the idea of danger and potentially being eaten alive; or the thrill of being able to say that they survived whilst others perished in a pool of maimed flesh. They carefully calculate that the sharks have been fed recently, some of the sharks are ragged tooth sharks that whilst looking like they are set to devour a human being, are actually incapable of opening their jaws wide enough to bite. For those sharks that still have space or who smell blood and can’t resist the urge to kill, the entrepreneur has a cage set up that he can retreat into quickly and a knife with which to protect himself.

Related: 5 Infamous Risks Every Entrepreneur Must Face

Tolerance for ambiguity is the careful evaluation of what is known at the moment where a decision must be made and an open-mindedness for what is not known. This, coupled with the agility to change course when new information is presented, has earned the label of high risk appetite. The appetite is not for the risk, but it is the ability to move down a path, when all the information is not known.

I likened it to a person moving around in the dark holding a candle. The candle casts a light that illuminates a limited parameter around the person holding the candle. What is beyond the light that the candle casts, is unknown and potentially a risk. But as the person moves forward, the light reveals what was unknown and in the shadows. As the light reveals new information and new challenges added to what they have already learnt, the person can make better informed decisions. The tolerance is in not knowing what lies in the shadows yet to be illuminated by the candle and then the confidence in his or her own ability to act on what new information is discovered.

None of this behaviour is risky or irresponsible. There is careful consideration for what is known and a tolerance for what is unknown. And once there is more information available, a calculated next step is taken and more information is assimilated into what is now known. This is the true relationship between entrepreneurs and the apparent illusion of risk.

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Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship

7 Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs To Adopt Today

Want to know what skills can help you build confidence and your business? Here are seven…

Nicholas Bell

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For some people, becoming an entrepreneur is as easy as stepping off a bus. They have a big idea, they bring it to life, they hire employees and the next thing they are in a building smothered in branding and living the business dream. For others, the idea and the passion are there but they are unsure as to how they can make these into a sustainable reality. Entrepreneurial spirit isn’t like instant coffee – you don’t add ideas and suddenly get all the skills you need to thrive.

Want to know what skills can help you build confidence and your business? Here are seven…

1. Believable vision

Make sure that your vision is believable and achievable. It has to live in the realms of possibility, not as a blue-sky idea that looks good on paper but wouldn’t work in reality. You need to be able to live this vision so make it realistic and achievable. This will not only keep you on track, but your employees as well.

2. Be inclusive

You need to ensure that every person who works with you feels as if they are part of your vision and understand it. They need to relate to where the business is going and how it plans to get there. Many leaders don’t understand why employees are not engaged with their business and it’s because many of them don’t actually understand what the business does.

Related: 4 Ways To Improve Your Budgeting Skills

3. Communication is critical

If you don’t have fantastic communication skills, then now is the time to hone them. When it comes to building employee morale, commitment and engagement, nothing works as effectively as constant communication. The same applies to client relationships. You need to repeat the vision and ethos of the company at every opportunity and you need to be part of the team that does this communication.

4. Be visible and transparent

You are communicating, now you need to make that communication genuine by being both open and clear. People respond incredibly well to transparency. They feel as if they are part of something that recognises their value and contribution and it fosters a more inclusive company culture. Often toxic cultures come about thanks to a lack of communication and visibility. People know when things are being kept secret and react negatively to it, regardless of whether they’re an employee, a customer or a manager.

5. Be practical

You aren’t going to build an empire in a fortnight so focus on a realistic and practical business strategy that has clear benchmarks and even clearer goals. Communicate these with the company and keep everybody on the same page. Practical and achievable means long-term success.

Related: Crucial Skills You Need To Be An Entrepreneur

6. Build opportunities

As people become immersed in your company and part of its growth they will also need opportunities to grow. You need to tie their careers to the business and create opportunities for them.

7. Be human

It takes people to build a culture, a company and a future. It’s essential that you are human in your interactions and your treatment of others. The impact that a down to earth and authentic attitude can have on a company is extraordinary.

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