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Lessons every entrepreneur can learn from Madiba

learn from madiba

This month, we celebrate the greatness that is Nelson Mandela. As we fast approach Nelson Mandela Day (18 July), reflecting on his messages of hope and perseverance is inspiring and can be applied everywhere – especially entrepreneurship. 

Nelson Mandela’s name will always be held high among the list of effective global leadership. Here’s how his messages of inspiration can help you lead your business to success.

No matter the difficulties, carry on

“Difficulties break some men but make others.”

Nelson Mandela has faced excruciating difficulty but what makes him a man of honour and resilience is the fact that even during these challenges, he never gave up. When you’re starting out, you’re going to face some hiccups. During this phase, it’s easy to throw in the towel but, it’s important to think of these bumps as little lessons.

The truth is that sometimes you’ll be faced with a challenge. The important part is how you overcome this and that you have overcome it. Before you think of giving up, think of all the times our former statesman has faced challenges and how he persevered. 

Conquer your fears

“… judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”

As a business owner, your biggest fear is that your business will fail. This negative thought before you start your business could demotivate you. Eventually, you’ll end up not wanting to start your business and perhaps regretting this decision.

You will have mishaps along the way. Instead of wallowing in your failures, take the lesson and start over again. Maybe you’ll get it right the next time, maybe it takes a third try. Don’t think of mistakes as ultimate failures but as lessons. 

Impossible is nothing

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

Thinking that this client is too ‘big’ for you to land? Anything is a possibility. All you need to do is try. Of course, things may seem impossible because you haven’t taken action to achieve your goals. 

So how do you get yourself out of this mindset? Research what needs to be done to achieve your “impossible” task. Once you have actionable steps, you’re able to clearly realise your goals and you’ll have the confidence to tackle them. 

If you believe in what you’re doing, you’ll achieve great things

“Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.”

If you’re passionate about what you’re doing, you’ll do almost everything you can to make your dreams come true. Your passion will not only ensure that you’ll work hard to achieve your dreams but also makes you enjoy the work. 

No matter the challenges, if you’re passionate these small difficulties will be speed bumps that can be easily overcome. Dedication will equip you for the road ahead and will be your greatest asset. 

Don’t be afraid of your dreams

“There is no passion to be found in playing small…”

No businessman has achieved great success by playing small. You have to take risks to reap the rewards and if you think your dreams are too big, perhaps it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Yes, being humble with what you can achieve is good but there are times that you need to dream bigger to achieve growth. 

One day, your small business will grow. To help build a scalable company, you will need effective leadership, something Tata Madiba can teach us all. For more on how you can become an effective leader, try enrolling in short courses that will teach you practical information that can be applied to your work and personal life.

The common reasons why most startup businesses fail to grow

why start ups fail

You probably don’t want to be reminded – especially at this stage of your entrepreneurial endeavour, about the possibility of failure or early stagnation. As grim as the subject is; hearing the reasons why most small/startup businesses fail to grow, gives you, the aspiration for the best head start.

According to statistics published in 2017, the Small Business Administration (SBA), discovered that around one-fifth of startups fail within the first year. Interestingly enough, after investigating further, they found that there were a few common denominators/areas within the business’s which were being managed poorly, or neglected by the new business owners. These were likely the cause of the business’ deterioration.

Here are just some of the common ‘mistakes’ they uncovered which are the possible reason why so many startups fail to grow and in some cases, collapse.

1. Building a strong team is not prioritised

Many new business owners and amateur entrepreneurs fail to see the importance of building a strong team, especially during the start-up phase. They often think they can do it all on their own – and perhaps are incentivised by the cost-effectiveness.
Building a strong, competent team is crucial to the success of a business and, in fact, is most important during a business’s infancy years. This is because new ventures face many challenges; for example, limited capital and resources, as well as the challenge of breaking into the market. Without a strong team who have the skills and experience in building businesses from the ground up, the venture may be at risk of early stagnation.

2. Poor management and leadership

Poor management and leadership are one of the main reasons why startup businesses fail to grow. Most new business owners take on the role of a manager as they perform the management function in the beginning, however, they often struggle with the leadership aspect. With that being said, it is possible to get by on a good management approach even if the leadership aspect is not refined; however, if both areas are weak it is a major cause for concern. Some entrepreneurs are great visionaries and have exceptional business smarts, but are not strong managers or leaders. For the sake of the business, it’s important that they refine their skills in these areas. Luckily one can be taught how to be a great manager and an inspirational leader!

3. Budget allocations are managed insensibly

Startups often have limited capital and monetary resources which is why it’s imperative that money is handled sensibly. Certain important functions which will propel the business forward should be prioritised in the budget. These include areas such as marketing and staff for example – but this depends on the nature of the business. Many unsuccessful startups have allocated capital to the wrong areas and spent money on less important business functions. It’s critical that you identify your businesses fundamental needs and allocate money to these first.

4. Lack of business knowledge

This is an all too common ‘mistake’ in the startup sphere. While anyone can be an entrepreneur – it takes some business smarts to be a successful one. It’s, of course, impossible to know everything well – but that’s why hiring people who have strengths in certain areas where you may have weaknesses is incredibly important. However, if this is not possible, it’s imperative that you learn fundamental business skills so that you are able to carry the business forward. For example; marketing is one of the most important functions, but if you’re not aware of this, and are unable to execute successful marketing techniques due to your limited marketing knowledge, the business will surely suffer. Invest in yourself – in your skills and your business knowledge, so that you are able to give your business the best shot at success.

5. Poor customer relations

Your customer is your bread and butter. If you or your team fail to identify the importance of treating your customer well; communicating with them effectively, and listening to their needs and wants, you will have a hard time building customer loyalty and your sales will likely decline drastically. As a startup breaking into the market, you need to find ways to get the customer on your side. You need to give them a reason to leave what they know, and instead use your services or buy your product. Too many startups are caught up in the operations and keeping the business afloat, that they often forget the reason for what they are doing. The reason is: solving a problem – for who? The customer.

5 books every aspiring entrepreneur should read

Whether you’re about to take a leap of faith or not, I’m sure you can agree that it’s essential for us to feel motivated and inspired. To ensure we live fulfilled, meaningful lives we often need to be reminded that we too can make positive changes; that we too can take a shot at success, and that we are absolutely deserving of a great life. And what better way to feel inspired and motivated than to read books written by people just like us – who found themselves in similar positions, and who made a success of their circumstances?

Take a look at our top 5 must-reads for aspiring entrepreneurs:

1.The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

He also reminds us that success doesn’t favour any one ‘type’ of person, it only favours those that grab hold of opportunities whether big or small;Chris Guillebeau reminds us in this fantastic read that you don’t have to be a trust-fund baby to achieve great success. those that work hard, persevere and are creative in their thinking. In this book, you’ll come across more than a few inspiring examples of ‘accidental entrepreneurs’ who identified and acted upon opportunities which lead to incredible success.Image result for the 100 startup

Favourite Takeaway: “To succeed in a business project, especially one you’re excited about, it helps to think carefully about all the skills you have that could be helpful to others and particularly about the combination of those skills.”

2. The Real Warren Buffett: Managing Capital, Leading People by James O’Loughlin

Image result for The Real Warren Buffett: Managing Capital, Leading PeopleThis book is of course a must-read, especially for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to start off on the right foot. Throughout this book Warren Buffett emphasises the importance of people and capital – he believes it is the core of a business and without these two factors there is no business. Author James O’Loughlin has perfectly described the key techniques Buffet has used throughout the years to balance these two worlds. He dives into Buffets decisions surrounding people and capital and later learns that Buffett recognises that this ‘talent’ has massively contributed to his monumental success.

Favourite Takeaway: “Focus on your customers and lead your people as though their lives depended on your success.”

3. Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh

Related imageThis book is primarily about the incredible rise of American online retail giant, Zappos and what it took for them to make over $1 billion in sales in less than ten years. Written by the CEO himself, Tony Hsieh, this book is written with immense honesty as Hsieh highlights even the ‘not-so-pretty’ parts of business and the hard lessons he learnt on the way to the top. Hsieh writes about the mistakes he made in business; the path to finding a balance between profits, passion and purpose and gives the reader incredible insight into how an enduring business brand is built, and how a strong company culture is established.


Favourite Takeaway
: “The best leaders are those that lead by example and are both team followers as well as team leaders. We believe that in general, the best ideas and decisions are made from the bottom up, meaning by those on the front lines that are closest to the issues and/or the customers. The role of a manager is to remove obstacles and enable his/her direct reports to succeed. This means the best leaders are servant-leaders. They serve those they lead.”

4. Losing my Virginity by Richard Branson

Image result for losing my virginity by richard bransonThis book is raw and real; and while it will teach you a thing or two about Richard Branson’s incredible business mind, it will also teach you the importance of just having fun and enjoying life. In this fascinating autobiography, Branson describes how he entered into the world of entrepreneurship; the decisions and choices he made – and is still making on his journey; and even details his ‘formula’ for success, which may just surprise you because it’s not all work – it’s, in fact, a lot of play too.

Favourite Takeaway: “I can honestly say that I have never gone into any business purely to make money. If that is the sole motive then I believe you are better off not doing it. A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts.”

5. The Hard Things about the Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

Image result for The Hard Things about the Hard Things by Ben HorowitzBen Horowitz is one of Silicon Valley’s most respected entrepreneurs, and the co-founder of venture capital firm, Andreessen Horowitz. In his book, ‘The Hard Things about the Hard Things’ he reflects on his experiences with founding, running, selling, buying, managing, and investing in technology companies – and he is brutally honest about what it takes to be successful. This book is packed with the wisdom which will help you identify and navigate the problems that every entrepreneur encounters especially during their business’s infancy years. A lot of people boast about how great it is to start a business, but Ben Horowitz is honest about how hard it is to run one.

Favourite Takeaway: “Great CEOs face the pain. They deal with the sleepless nights, the cold sweats, and what my friend the great Alfred Chuang (legendary co-founder and CEO of BEA Systems) calls “the torture.” Whenever I meet a successful CEO, I ask them how they did it. Mediocre CEOs point to their brilliant strategic moves or their intuitive business sense or a variety of other self-congratulatory explanations. The great CEOs tend to be remarkably consistent in their answers. They all say, “I didn’t quit.”