The Right Mindset and Mentality to Start a Business

Starting a business is hard, watching the world pass you while you struggling to get off the ground, watching other successful people live in luxury and you struggling, it’s hard to stay the course and maintain focus and motivation.

To start a business you need to be able to be focussed and motivated to get you through the challenging times. Your mind will dictate whether you give up or not, change course and untimately succeed or fail.

Today I am going to look at something really important, probably most important when starting a successful business is the mentality, mindset, motivation and mental health of the entrepreneur needed to start, run and grow a business. How do they stay focussed and motivated when things are so very hard. People that skip this usually don’t have the right mindset.

Before I continue it has been brought to my attention that scammers in Kenya are using my content to scam people, someone named Samuel Maina operating Know this: they are scammers and they don’t represent me. Scammers are also part of the quick buck mentality I speak of below, the laziness and greed and refusing the legwork of an honest days work. The fact that they feel the need to rip off the rambling diatribes of a madman to scam people shows the problem of this mindset, but where was I? Yes, mental health. OK

In order to start and run a successful business, you need to understand the value of an honest day’s work. This might seem like a laughable thing to say, but as anyone who has employed South Africans will tell you this basic tenet seem to escape many South Africans. Then you need to be realistic if you have no money and no skills you not going to be successful immediately it is going to take a long time.

First and foremost you need to make sure that you are free of ideological barriers, I have always admired WORK 4 A LIVING for including this in their unemployment programmes, I think it should be compulsory for all school leavers. The four they cover are:

  • Poverty Mindset – “I am poor, I will always be poor. I cannot change…”
  • Spirit of entitlement – “I am owed something…”
  • Dependency syndrome – “the government must give me a job…”
  • Morals & ethics (lack of)

Just like poor people have mindsets that keep them poor, entrepreneurs have mindsets that keep them from success.

In order to make a success of your business, you need to be free of any mental barriers. Assess if you have the following mental barriers that will limit your ability to succeed in business.

You should have work ethic (not be lazy). In fact, work ethic is something you should be proud of.  Do a job and do it well.

You should not live beyond your means / Live beyond means mindset

You cannot start a business with a poor mindset, without work ethic AND live beyond your means.

I will go through them briefly.

A combination of a lack of work ethic and living beyond means will lead to a desperate or greedy entrepreneur, one that wants to cut corners. I call them “low-effort” entrepreneurs, they don’t want to apply their minds. They just want to make money as quickly as possible without much effort. They don’t want to put in the groundwork required to build a successful business. This mentality is what causes a lot of businesses to fail and keep people poor. People who live beyond their means seek quick solutions; cut corners and look for get rich quick schemes. Even if you were poor for 50 years and did nothing about it. You are not owed anything. And if you start a business now. The clock starts running now you are not owed for the 50 years.

You cannot compete with existing businesses and then compete with new startups without putting in a lot of work.

There are two very problematic traits in South African entrepreneurs: desperation and greed. Now desperation does not necessarily come from a bad place. It could mean that the person has been struggling for a long time and is just frustrated to the point of desperation and this often leads to a lack of work ethic where the only focus is making money. Greed, on the other hand, is often driven by people living beyond their means, they forever need money to “plug holes” (unrelated to the business) it is a very bad trait. This also, may or may not come from a bad place, people might have had too many children that they can afford, maybe they were not taught about family planning. But that is a problem if you starting right at the bottom, where every cent matters that will affect your ability to start and grow a business because it means there is less money to put into the business.

We also need to look at the unfortunate reality that many people really don’t know what is required to start and run a successful business. And the obvious fact that the majority of people are poor and have been for a very long time. I know how it is to be sick and tired of being sick and tired but you need to have common sense. We see how normal people are losing what little they have due to all the pyramid schemes and forex scams happening in SA. Sometimes you just want the pain to end but it takes hard work on top of the pain.

Another thing that can be a problem is distractions, I go into the importance of focus and clarity below but I want to get this out of the way first. Business requires a lot of effort, both mental and physical, if you are in a toxic relationship if it’s filled with drama or if he/she is not mature enough to navigate said relationship, it can be a burden and impediment and sap the energy of the entrepreneur. Same if you have a problem with alcohol if you drunk all the time how can you focus properly? Now I’m not your guardian to tell you what to do but you need this focus and clarity and motivation to execute your vision.

Focus & Clarity
“Entrepreneurship by definition takes risk. The process of starting a business, building infrastructure, marketing and servicing to customers requires a combination of time, money and expertise. The more you have of either time, money or expertise, the less you need of the other two. Still, your business venture will not succeed without both clarity and focus. With clarity and focus, you can move mountains. Without clarity and focus, you’re just spinning your wheels.
Clarity is knowing exactly what you want to achieve.
Focus is knowing which actions to take every single day to get there.”

– Yannick van den Bos – The Difference Between Clarity and Focus, and Why You Need Both to Become a Successful Entrepreneur

Most first-time small business entrepreneurs I meet have neither focus nor clarity. They want to make money fast without putting in any work. That is their only focus. When you tell them that you need to research your industry, your business’s supply chain, value chain it goes in by the one ear and comes out the other. People often say “Business is a marathon, not a sprint”. And it’s true.

Successful and sustainable business is a long game (“considering the future implications of current choices, thinking ahead, being deliberate and patient”). To use a simple analogy: you are poor, you have nothing, you grow incrementally, you walk on your two feet, then you get a bicycle, then a cheap car and then an expensive car. If you are poor and walking and spending all your waking moment going straight for an expensive car. That right there is what causes a problematic mindset.

I touched on this the other day where I said:
Starting, running and growing a business is hard. There will be long hours and often your only companion is loneliness.  However, you don’t want to be poor and at the mercy of the government, waiting for their help or have to use their healthcare facilities and that is why you HAVE to succeed in South Africa.

Sometimes your mind and your body are just not up to the task, you just want to pull the blanket over your head and give up. What if you just don’t have the energy? Next time I will look at the supplements and stimulants that entrepreneurs take to get them through the day.

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