Connect with us

Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship

How to Fly like a Bumblebee but Swim like a Penguin

Nature is incredible at finding real solutions to impossible situations. Entrepreneurs are the same. Do you have what it takes?

Allon Raiz




The natural world has always been a source of inspiration for artists, writers, engineers, and people engaged in a whole host of human endeavours. Entrepreneurship is no different in this regard.

Personally, I have found two very different creatures inspirational as examples of the entrepreneurial mindset at work in nature.

I don’t mean the classic examples of the ant, hoarding away food to make it through winter, or of the rigid hierarchies in a hive of honeybees, where systems and processes ensure that the whole colony survives while honey production continues unabated.

Rather than the honeybee, as an entrepreneur I am attracted to a story about its distant cousin, the bumblebee.

According to this story, an aeronautical engineer once did a calculation about the aerodynamic capacity of the bumblebee and discovered that the surface area of the bee’s wings and the force that the bee’s muscles can generate are in fact too small to lift the weight of the bee – aeronautically speaking, the bumblebee should not be able to fly.

Related: How Fortune 500 Leaders Spend Every Minute of the Day

But fly the bumblebee does, blissfully ignorant of its scientifically calculated limitations.

Achieve the impossible

Whether this story is true or not, the bumblebee reminds me of a number of entrepreneurs, including myself.

When I started Raizcorp in 2000, it was because it seemed the best thing to do for a group of entrepreneurs who had asked me to help each of them grow their businesses.

I certainly didn’t know that what I had created was a business incubator. Ironically, if I had known that I would be creating an incubator, I probably wouldn’t have done it – had I followed incubation best practice models from a number of countries, I would have discovered that it was thought almost impossible for a business incubator to be profitable. It may have taken a while, but Raizcorp, despite its incubator nature, certainly is profitable!

What does this say about entrepreneurship? Simply put, entrepreneurs are able to break paradigms – even if they don’t know that they are doing so at the time.

In many instances, in fact, it is because they don’t know the paradigm that they are able to transcend the constraints perceived by others. When people buy into a paradigm, as most people do when the experts tell them what can’t be done, they shut down avenues of thought without even exploring them.

Such uncritical acceptance is completely at odds with the characteristic talent for lateral thinking that successful entrepreneurs display.

Another example of a bumblebee entrepreneur is Pierre Omidyar, the multi-billionaire founder of eBay. eBay, originally called AuctionWeb, was a pet project for Omidyar, and it initially comprised just one page hosted on his personal webpage.


A broken laser pointer was one of the first items sold, for the princely sum of $14,83. When Omidyar, astonished by the fact that it had sold at all, contacted the winning bidder to ask if he understood that the laser pointer was broken, the buyer replied, “I’m a collector of broken laser pointers.”

The growing popularity of the site eventually led Omidyar’s Internet service provider to demand that he upgrade to a business account to cover the number of hits he was receiving. Omidyar could not afford the $250 per month fee the account would cost, so he was forced to ask eBay users to pay.

Despite the fact that digital marketing experts of the time were convinced that no one would pay a fee for the privilege of bidding in an auction (especially for a broken laser pointer), Omidyar decided to test the waters and ask his early adopters to pay for the service his site was providing.

Far from chasing users away, this action soon led Omidyar to raise the money to hire his first employee – simply to handle the number of cheques that were arriving for fees!

Related: 10 Things Successful Entrepreneurs Do Every Day

Transcend limitations

However, not all animals are able to fly in the face of preconceived notions like the bumblebee. Sometimes, in nature as in business, constraints and limitations are real. In such instances, an entrepreneur need only look at a second animal to draw further natural inspiration.

In contrast to the bumblebee (which shouldn’t be able to fly but does), the penguin is a bird that should be able to fly but – due to very real physical limitations – can’t. Nonetheless, the penguin is as successful in its own way as the bumblebee.

The penguin is an example to entrepreneurs about what to do when the experts are right about your limitations. Understanding their aeronautical limits, penguins don’t even try to fly. But their ancestors didn’t give up – they adapted.

Their wings, feet, feathers, and beaks evolved over the years, allowing penguins to become extremely efficient at swimming, instead of flying. Penguins represent the following entrepreneurial mindset: If your model doesn’t work the way you anticipated, then adapt and make it work in an unanticipated way.

This mindset is also behind a number of successful tech entrepreneurs – it is the attitude that allows entrepreneurs to pivot their businesses when it becomes clear that they are failing in their original intent. For example, Flickr started out as an online role-playing game; Instagram hatched from a check-in app with gaming elements; and Pinterest developed from a retail browser with online sales notifications.

Bumblebees and penguins are therefore symbols to me of two entrepreneurial approaches to limitations. Bumblebee entrepreneurs – whether through ignorance or a deeper understanding than others have – transcend the limitations that others see, whereas penguin entrepreneurs take what they have and figure out how to make it work in ways that make these limitations meaningless. Who needs to fly when swimming can also bring you success?

Related: 3 Reasons Why Passion Might be More Important Than A Business Background

Allon Raiz is the CEO of Raizcorp, the only privately-owned small business ‘prosperator’ in Allon Raiz is the CEO of Raizcorp. In 2008, Raiz was selected as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, and in 2011 he was appointed for the first time as a member of the Global Agenda Council on Fostering Entrepreneurship. Following a series of entrepreneurship master classes delivered at Oxford University in April 2014, Raiz has been recognised as the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School. Follow Allon on Twitter.


Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship

(Podcast) Being An Entrepreneur Is Painful

There is a pain attached to running your own business. It’s time to discuss how tough it is – address the reality and you might just be one of the successful few.

Nicholas Haralambous




Entrepreneurship is fun. But on the whole, running a business is hard. Far fewer business owners succeed than fail. Statistically your business is going to fail. Those are the hard numbers.

There is a pain attached to running your own business. It’s time to discuss how tough it is – address the reality and you might just be one of the successful few.

Listening time: 5 minutes

Related: (Podcast) Playing To An Audience Of One

Continue Reading

Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship

3 Dangerous Entrepreneurial Myths You Need To Ignore

This terrible advice won’t actually get you anywhere.




Entrepreneurial Myths

We’ve all heard the numbers about how hard it is to build a long-lasting business. While there are many factors at play to get there, without effective marketing and sales a business cannot survive.

Unfortunately, there is a multitude of dangerous and destructive marketing advice swirling around the heads of vulnerable entrepreneurs. Like vultures seeking their next meal, “gurus” pontificate nonsense that these hard-working business owners follow, only to discover that what they tried doesn’t work.

Often, once the damage is done, it is too late for them to do anything else about it.

If you want to not only survive, but thrive, here is some of the terrible advice you need to start ignoring:

1“You need to be everywhere”

I’m sorry, but how do these people sleep at night without the use of narcotics? “Experts” spew out dribble to make headlines saying you need to get on Snapchat, get on Periscope, do YouTube Live … be everywhere! They’ll say you need to get on this platform or that social media network. Oh, and use LinkedIn Live! And make sure to post on Instagram three times a day and Facebook twice a day. And don’t forget those Facebook Lives. Make sure to do them every day.

Related: The Journey Of Entrepreneurship: How The Tough Get Going

ACK! Just writing that paragraph stressed me out. How the heck are you supposed to be on all of those channels, never mind doing it all effectively, and still run your business? Of course you can’t. And you shouldn’t. (Unless self-torture is your thing, in which case have at it. There are books about that, but I’m not giving any titles because I’d have to Google them and then I’d be retargeted by the ads and that would just be gross.)

It is impossible to spend even half an hour on each major network and still get any work done. Forget about focusing on measurement, profit and return on investment. They don’t mention that on purpose, because then these crazy-pants suggestions would really make no sense. But, then these “experts” would stop making the headlines, so they keep serving up spoiled advice for the poor folk who chow down and then get sick on it.

Don’t allow yourself to fall victim to their plots of deception. Demand strategies that value your time and produce results in a significant and measurable way quickly.

2“It takes money to make money”


I didn’t take the easy way out. I am part of a group of scrappy entrepreneurs who have a lot of hustle and heart and little/no/negative funds. I didn’t come from family money, and the big banks certainly weren’t lending to businesses like mine.

The only way I was going to get a big pile of cash was if I won the lottery. And since I’ve only played about four times in the last decade, the chances of that happening were slim. What I had to find was the same thing you most likely want – a solution to predictably bring in customers when there is no marketing budget to play with.

3The Schmo-bags

The worst are who I call the “Ferrari Marketers.” They rent a sportscar for an hour or two, hang out in front of it and then sell us shiny object strategies that they haven’t even used in their own business.

Related: 6 Timeless Strategies That Drive Successful Entrepreneurship

They are abhorrent, hideous and dangerous. Not only are they crooks stealing the money of the people who are seeking a solution from them, but they may prevent really talented people who have a gift/service/product/offer to share that can help someone else from ever reaching them.

Did I mention they suck?

But, once you discover a game-changing system, you are responsible for implementing it. You can’t be distracted by shiny objects any longer.

As Jack Welch says, “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision and relentlessly drive it to completion.”

Don’t allow yourself to be enticed or distracted by fads or the “latest and greatest/not greatest” new social media strategy, channel or tactic.

Once you uncover how to truly get results, be strong-willed and stubborn. Repel any idea, strategy or initiative that requires you to keep spending money to make money. If you keep throwing dollars and time at a goal, hoping and wishing that it will work, yet not tracking or measuring the results and scaling accordingly, then you cannot expect results.

Start measuring, tracking and demanding results from your time and money, rising above others and landing in the successful minority that thrives instead of survives.

This article was originally posted here on

Continue Reading

Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship

5 Mindset Changes You Must Make When Going From Employee To Entrepreneur

As one prominent author wrote, “Entrepreneurs don’t finish when we are tired. We finish when we are done.”

Sujan Patel




Thousands of people dream of the day they can quit their jobs and escape the 9-to-5 life. In fact, Gallup found that 87 percent of the employees it surveyed worldwide did not see themselves as engaged.

But quitting your job and starting your own business is only half the battle. You need to prepare to be an entrepreneur. Besides getting your finances in order and having a plan in place, you also need to prepare your mind.

Your habits dictate your success, and if you’re still stuck in that 9-to-5 mindset, your endeavors will fail. You must adopt an entrepreneurial mindset and start thinking the way the world’s top leaders do.

Being an entrepreneur is very different than being an employee, and the way you envision it may be completely off base. Here are five changes you must make to your thinking in order to prepare yourself for the realities of being an entrepreneur.

1Train your mind to think outside the box

Once you leave your office job, you’re no longer confined by corporate life. That means you need to open your mind to new possibilities – possibilities that may not have been an option in your old life.

Related: For Shatty Mashego Success Lies In Maintaining A Positive Mindset

In an article for TIME magazineWarren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, said, “People will always try to stop you doing the right thing if it is unconventional.” In short, others may not see your vision, but you can’t let that stop you. You need to be creative with your business, offer something new and be different to be successful.

2Develop both short-term and long-term vision

Albert Einstein once told the New York Times, “A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move toward higher levels.”

That new type of thinking needs to be focused on a strategic goal. You must have a vision for your company – an idea of where you’re going and how you’ll get there.

As an entrepreneur, you are the leader of your company, and your team members are looking to you to show them the path to success.

What’s your plan? You should be able to see the big picture as well as all of the steps it will take to reach your main goal. Then, you must communicate that vision to those on your team and ensure they each understand their individual roles in the plan.

3Let it all fall on your shoulders


Becoming an entrepreneur can be scary. Your success is now completely dependent on the work that you do. You can no longer fall back on a salary or benefits.

As an employee, if you had a bad day at work, you were still paid your salary, regardless. But as an entrepreneur, if your business isn’t successful, you won’t make any money. Plus, you now have others relying on you for their livelihood.

Ryan Farley is a typical example of corporate employee-turned-entrepreneur, quitting a fast-paced finance job to start lawn care marketplace LawnStarter Lawn Care. “I was used to working extremely long hours in the corporate finance world,” Farley told me. “I thought that would have conditioned me well, but nothing can prepare you for this amount of stress.

“It’s pretty common for founders to have the stress get so bad it affects your physical and mental health,” Farley continued. “But you have to press on, and you’re better off for it.” Prominent entrepreneurs like Brad Feld and Mark Suster, have expressed similar sentiments.

Working for yourself also means you need to be your own motivator. You no longer have a boss hounding you to get your work done. You need to stay organised and focused, and you’re going to have to be comfortable with hard work and long hours.

Related: 8 Mindsets That Will Set You On The Path To Success

4Get ready to be a jack of all trades

As an entrepreneur, you can’t say “That’s not my job.” Every job is your job now. There’s no one else to pick up the slack but you. You need to make sure everything in your business continues to run on track, and that may mean doing work you aren’t used to doing. You may need to be the accounting department, IT, marketing and more in addition to leading your company.

Entrepreneurs wear many different hats and are constantly learning new skills and working hard. If you think becoming an entrepreneur means you get to sit back and kick your feet up, you’d better stick to your day job.

As entrepreneur, author and investor Robert Kiyosaki has written on Twitter, “Entrepreneurs don’t finish when we are tired. We finish when we are done.”

5Be flexible, focused and positive

Attitude is everything in business. You can’t let challenges get in the way of your dream. Entrepreneurs need to be optimistic and stay focused on their goals. Your passion must drive you.

Related: An Entrepreneurial Mindset – Why And How To Develop One

As Steve Jobs once said in an interview with the Smithsonian Institution, “Unless you have a lot of passion about this, you’re not going to survive. You’re going to give it up. So, you’ve got to have an idea, or a problem or a wrong that you want to right that you’re passionate about; otherwise you’re not going to have the perseverance to stick it through. I think that’s half the battle right there.”

This article was originally posted here on

Continue Reading


FREE E-BOOK: How to Build an Entrepreneurial Mindset

Sign up now for Entrepreneur's Daily Newsletters to Download​​