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Start-up Advice

Limiting Beliefs of Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Three reasons why entrepreneurs fail – and none of them are related to skills or competitors.

Axel Rittershaus




When we’re watching our competitors, the market and our product, we can miss looking at an even more important element responsible for our success: our mindset!

Talk to any successful entrepreneur about his success formula, and he will almost always place more emphasis on his mindset than on education, skills or product features.

Looking at my coaching sessions and trainings with entrepreneurs, I can confirm that. Let’s investigate a bit more and discuss three major limiting beliefs of aspiring entrepreneurs:

Why Me?

Many people have great ideas. They would be great entrepreneurs. They would be inspiring leaders. They develop great concepts and are very positive that they will work.

But they don’t act. Because a voice in their head is asking: “Why me? Why should I be the one who is making this happen?”

And the voice goes: “If this is such a great idea, why didn’t other people come up with it already? I’m sure I missed an important catch and the idea isn’t that great.”

Since the mind is really powerful and wants to test you, it takes the last punch to eliminate any remaining will power:

“Who do you think you are? You don’t have the experience or the education or the network or the money nor are you smart enough to do that! There are so many people out there who are much smarter than you! You are so stupid. If you try doing that, you will fail miserably. Your friends will laugh at you, your family will be disappointed and you will make a fool out of yourself. Forget it and stick to your roots. Keep on doing what you have done so far.”

Does this sound familiar to you?

These words are very common, especially for people who have never run a business and who are not surrounded by other entrepreneurs.

Now listen to some wise words by Steve Jobs:

“Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.”

Now ask yourself again: Why you?

Because you have the passion, the persistence and the will power to do it. Because you will do it in your own style, you will make it different to others and that makes you unique. You don’t have to put all your eggs into one basket immediately. But you have to get over these limiting beliefs by taking a few little steps. Just a few steps to get some feedback from real people and customers and not only your inner voice.

Be assured: Many successful people had and still have to fight with their inner voice which is trying to hold them back.

What can I do if it fails and doesn’t work as expected?

Okay, you’re ready to go out, pumped up with your mind-blowing business idea that will change the world forever. You expect everybody to buy into your idea immediately. You want to see excited faces looking at you, begging to be your client.

Unfortunately this might not happen to you, because it almost never happens. At least not at the first try.

And since we love our idea, we expect everyone to love it too. This can become quite frustrating.

When we experience an unexpected (negative) reaction to our business idea, we tend to question ourselves. Many aspiring entrepreneurs will take this as proof that their idea was not that good. That they are not smart enough, and it was a crazy idea to even think about becoming an entrepreneur.

Whatever you do in life, it will most likely not always work immediately. We have to be prepared to fail. And failing scares many people to death!

A successful entrepreneur expects setbacks.

He knows that setbacks and rejection are key elements in creating a great product or service. You can only improve by getting feedback! If a client tells you why he’s not buying, you should say “thank you.” If you know his “why” you can work on your offering and make it better. Get back to him later and provide the new solution.

By the way: You don’t need to make everybody love your product or service. This would be a nightmare – because you won’t be able to handle it! Getting a market share of 5%, 10% or 15% is a pretty good share for many businesses. This means, 85% – 95% of the prospects would not like your product. But who cares if 5% – 15% do actually love it!

Even at a later stage in your venture, there will always be setbacks.

If you’d be a football player, a striker, would you use every chance to make a goal if you see an opportunity? I trust you would.

Would you stop playing football, because you shot at the goal once and did not make it? I don’t think so. You and your teammates would go on and on and on – until you make it. Even Lionel Messi, maybe the best football player ever, is not making a goal whenever he fires at it. So don’t think you have to score every time you’re talking to someone!

But never stop trying!

That’s what differentiates the successful people from the struggling ones:

  • The struggling people are taking a setback as a proof for “I won’t make it.” In the end this mindset will take them exactly there.
  • The successful entrepreneurs take a setback as a part of the journey. They expect setbacks and are willing and ready to learn from them. This mindset takes them wherever they want to go to.

What is the perfect thing to do?

If you believe in yourself and expect setbacks, there is still another little ‘thing’ in your mind that might jeopardise your breakthrough as an entrepreneur.

This ‘thing’ makes the difference between an idea and success.

You won’t believe how many strategy papers I read from mid-size and large corporations. They had great ideas, perfect plans, and excellent strategies. They only failed in terms of that one little ‘thing’ which I call Taking Action.

We tend to ask ourselves for hours, days, weeks and months “What is the perfect way to do this?” Asking this question means that you are never going to do it. Because you will never know what the perfect way is!

As an entrepreneur you have to accept this. Especially in the beginning, you need to stop looking for the perfect way, because it will hold you back from taking action, and without taking action, nothing will happen.

Replace the hunt for the “perfect way” with the quest for the “most promising first and second step.”

By the way: This does not mean you can deliver bad products or services! You have to deliver great quality. The quality has to match your client’s expectations – at the very least. Then keep on going and make it better. Many people never act since they are never satisfied and never think that it’s perfect. This is a procrastination trap, making success impossible!

It’s like climbing a mountain: First you make a decision which mountain to climb; next you choose a route to take and start walking. On your way you will change the route whenever appropriate, depending on the terrain and weather. You will keep an eye on your mountain top and adjust your approach. But you will never get on top of it, if you don’t start walking and keep on going.

Wayne Gretzky, the best ice hockey player the world has seen, and holder of numerous world records, once said: You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.

Start now and take action, learn from it and keep going.

Axel Rittershaus is an internationally renowned C-Level / Executive Coach & Author who started as an entrepreneur in the IT industry in 1993. He knows that success is the result of hard work and determination even more than innate talent. A master of maintaining focus and follow-through, Axel supports C-Level leaders globally in achieving goals. Axel is dedicated and passionate to see clients succeed beyond their expectations. Axel is also the president of the International Coach Federation South Africa and a multiple Two Oceans and Comrades finisher. You can follow him on twitter.


Start-up Advice

6 Resources For Start-ups Looking For Funding

Here are 6 online resources that can help you pay the bills and grow your business at the same time.

Josh Althuser




Anyone who has ever considered starting their own business, or is currently in the process of doing so, knows that every little bit helps when it comes to making ends meet. Part of the charm of start-up culture is the low-budget creative atmosphere that seems to continually fuel innovation. But, eventually you’re going to have to keep the lights on and water running, and you can’t do that with creativity alone.

Whether you are a business that is just starting out, or already well on your way, there are plenty of online platforms that offer start-ups advice and funding opportunities. Here are 6 online resources that can help you pay the bills and grow your business at the same time.

1. Kickstarter

kickstarter-logoAt one point it seemed that anyone with a clever idea could make a video showing why the world should invest in the next big thing. While a lot of crazy projects have gotten funded over the years, utilising a crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter continues to be a viable way to get your project off the ground. Of course, if you want to reach your funding goals, it’s best that you have already done your market research, have a solid plan, and treat crowdfunding like a global VC.

Visit Kickstarter here.

Related: 4 Tips To Secure Funding For Your Start-up

2. Toptal

toptal-logoThose who are new to the start-up world might not know exactly where to start when it comes to looking for funding. While the freelance economy has grown immensely in the last 5 years, it’s important to know where to look.

Platforms like Toptal offer a wide range of freelance professionals that specialise start-up funding. Start-ups seeking a consultant on Toptal can also rest easy knowing that they carefully screen each candidate, ensuring they have the necessary professional background and experience to guarantee a successful project. 

Visit Toptal here.

3. Appbackr

appbackrIf you couldn’t already tell by the name, appbacker is definitely worth checking out if you are a start-up working in app technology for both Android and Iphone. The platform helps people discover different apps through the crowdsourcing model. Investors can scroll through apps from around the world, and if they like what they see, they can choose to invest. Funding incentive is based on an investor’s ability to purchase an app at the wholesale price, eventually making a profit once the app starts flying off the shelves in the official app store.

Visit Appbackr here.

Related: 7 Strategies For Development As An Entrepreneur

4. Gust

Gust logoInvestors are more likely to invest locally, which is why Gust is an attractive option for start-ups around the world, as they represent over eighty countries worldwide. Founded by a team of investors and lawyers, Gust knows their way around the start-up world.

With portals for both start-ups and investors, the platform seamlessly connects those seeking funds and those looking to invest. Start-ups can create a profile on Gust, and also have access to tools and tips to help them regulate finances and legal matters. 

Visit Gust here.

5. AngelList

angellist-logoNot just for investment, although that is a major part of the platform, AngelList is also a great place to find start-up jobs as well as recruitment. Those start-ups that are looking to expand can greatly benefit from this feature, while also getting their name out there to potential investors.

Their syndicate platform, led by technology experts make room for those who are looking to invest the chance to apply to a lead or directly invest in a fund.

Visit AngelList here.

Related: 6 Steps To Building A Million-Dollar Ecommerce Site In 60 Days

6. Seedrs

seedrs-logoFrom top corporations to big name accelerators, Seedrs aims to simplify the funding process for investors. Providing a vast network of investors from 48 different countries, who tap into an additionally impressive network of start-ups, there is plenty of room for collaboration on this platform. Seeders also encourages investors and start-ups to continue their relationship after the transaction is made. Their online and offline networks aim keep both start-ups and investors in the loop.

Depending at what stage of development your company has currently reached, exploring various funding options available to you is a worthwhile endeavour. Rather than blindly pitching investors, investigating each potential platform, whether it’s crowdfunding or a hiring a freelance funding expert, will save you time and resources so you can focus on the right type of investment based on your needs.

Visit Seedrs here.

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Start-up Advice

Picking Your Lane: Maximising Your Chances Of Success And Happiness

How do you choose? What do you prioritise? What’s right for me is almost certainly not right for you.

Anthony Miller




Most entrepreneurs start businesses out of necessity.  They do what they have to.  They don’t think far ahead.  They fight fires every day.  They are the foundation of every economy all over the world.  Some succeed, some fail, few shoot the lights out.  Some are happy, some are not.

For me, there’s nothing more thrilling than building a business.  Seeing your ideas turn into reality.  Seeing your team exceed your expectations every day.  Seeing your customers’ lives improved by your products.

But, entrepreneurship is not for the faint-hearted.  You pour blood and sweat and tears into your business.  You get more than your fair share of punches in the nose.  It’s hard, but if you’re lucky and you persevere, the rewards are great.

So, how do you maximise your chances of getting into the ‘happy and shooting the lights out’ club?

Related: 9 Quotes Every Entrepreneur Should Live By

Picking the right lane – figuring out what you’re going to do – is probably the most important decision you’ll make.  Once you’ve figured that out, you can get down to the nitty gritty of picking your team and building your business.

But, how do you choose?  What do you prioritise?  What’s right for me is almost certainly not right for you.

sweet-spot-modelThe Sweet Spot Model, which has been drifting around the web for years, provides great guidance.  If you do what you love, the hard yards won’t feel like work.  If you do what you’re good at, you’ll beat or (even better) outstrip the competition.  If you provide something the world needs, you’ll feel a sense of purpose.  If someone will pay for it, you have a business.

When I co-founded Simply, I wanted to tick all 4 boxes AND work from Cape Town AND be extremely flexible (so I could prioritise family health).

I worked on three different ideas: A GIS-platform for solar and other utilities; a transaction platform for stokvels; and a cheeky online life insurance play.

The life insurance play quickly emerged as my best choice (it helped that my partners are top actuaries J):

  1. What I’m good at – doing start-ups, connecting people and teams, and using technology and data to solve business problems.
  2. What I love – working with people I like and trust to build businesses that solve hard problems and make the world a better place.
  3. What the world needs – most adult South Africans have one or more funeral policies. Few have life or disability cover and policies are often very expensive.  There’s a clear need for simple, convenient, well-priced life, disability and funeral cover.
  4. What someone will pay for – the market we’re targeting is huge – nearly R7.5Bn of new premium is written annually.

Related: 7 Strategies For Development As An Entrepreneur

With the stars lining up, we pressed the go button in early 2016.  It’s now twelve months since we launched to market and early signs are good:

  1. Our innovative, online products – Family Cover, Domestic Cover and Group Cover – have been well received and are improving all the time.
  2. We have an amazing, engaged team – inspired by the purpose of protecting vulnerable people.
  3. We’ve sold more than 4 500 policies to date, providing more than R2.5Bn of cover to more than 20,000 people.
  4. We’re based in Cape Town, working hard and having fun, and I seldom miss a swimming gala, netball game or opportunity to go mountain biking.

While picking the right lane is no guarantee of success, it definitely helps stack the odds in your favour. You’re going to need all the help you can get. So, take the time to pick your lane. I bet it’ll be worth the effort.

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Start-up Advice

9 Quotes Every Entrepreneur Should Live By

Entrepreneurship takes great perseverance. Failure is common. In fact, it is expected. Over 75% of venture-backed start-ups fail.

Jennifer Keithson



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Entrepreneurship takes great perseverance. Failure is common. In fact, it is expected. Over 75% of venture-backed start-ups fail.

There are great learning opportunities that present themselves when we fail, but we must be willing to continue on and try again in order to learn anything at all.

It can be quite an arduous task to strive for your own means, to create your own vision and to rally the support within yourself that starting and running your own business requires.

Thankfully, we’re not in it alone. The wisdom of others can greatly ameliorate the process learning from our missteps and hiccups.

Taking from sagacious investors, inventors and thinkers can help you pick yourself up and make something meaningful out of your quest to become a successful entrepreneur.

By studying the thought processes of other entrepreneurs, we can become more enriched and more aware of how to approach the challenges we face in business and in life.

Here are 9 quotes every entrepreneur should live by:

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