The Truth About Entrepreneurship Nobody Wants to Talk About

Updated on 27 November 2018

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By: Mushambi Mutuma

This article is an expansion on a topic Mushambi Mutuma spoke on in behalf of QB at a conference by SAIBA and QuickBooks – ‘Unlocking the entrepreneurial mind-set for exponential success’. Mutumba spoke about how accountants and bookkeepers can unlock the entrepreneurial mind-set for exponential success.

The world doesn’t need another entrepreneur. Don’t let social media fool you. Or news of another billion dollar tech unicorn. Or the rise of another accelerator, incubator or co-working space in your neighborhood.

This certainly isn’t one of my most popular opinions. Most certainly in an environment like South Africa where we’re faced with rising unemployment, growing wealth disparity and youth with no clear path of where to go, educated or not.

However, I’m not going to tell more people to pick up the gauntlet of self employment as a means to escape these challenges. It’s not the right answer.

We have also have a shortage of doctors and engineers. But guess what? I hate blood and am horrible with math. Why aren’t we telling everyone to join those professions?

The reality of entrepreneurship

It’s a difficult path and journey filled with heartache, stress and depression. We all know the stats, 90% of small business fail within their first year, South Africa in particular ranks less 53 on the most difficult place to do business. Oh you think we can just find funding? Less than 1% of African businesses get funding. Or here’s this for a simple separator, if I told you to go without a paycheck for the next 6 months would you? Or year? Or 5? That’s a real possibility.

It’s not all doom and gloom. However it does require a specific type of individual. Open to risk, uncertainty, with the ego/pride that people will believe what their selling. It’s said entrepreneurs have the same DNA hardcode as extreme athletes – Drd4. It controls the amount of risk you believe you are in as well as your belief in your ability to escape it. How’s that?

So entrepreneurs are a special species. We don’t necessarily need more of them for the word to be better.

What do we need then? What’s the point of this here book?

While the world doesn’t need more entrepreneurs it needs more people who think and behave like entrepreneurs day in day out, in multiple environments and settings.

Think about the characteristics of your favorite entrepreneur:

  • Focused
  • Creative
  • Opportunity seeker
  • Resourceful

What director or manager wouldn’t want her team to have more of these skills?

The power is in developing the entrepreneurial mindset within us all. It’s not going to teach you how to start your own million dollar business, but it will teach you the tools, hacks and values the most successful entrepreneurs have invested in and leveraged for their growth. Each will position you exponentially.

1. The Power of Storytelling

People are attracted to stories because we’re social creatures and we relate to other people. Humans have been communicating through stories for upwards of 20,000 years, back when our flat screens were cave walls.

Data can persuade people, but it doesn’t inspire them to act. Our stories is what makes that magic happen and pull at one’s heart strings. In this day and age, we’re all storytellers. It’s how we stand out in the infinite scroll of information.

2. Purpose

In this age of overflowing abundance of every product and service under the sun and the combined lightning quick pace of rapid innovation, one needs to know the story that truly sets them apart. Entrepreneurs in particular must have a clear picture of their purpose here on earth. In the face of constant failure, lack of resource and continuous struggle it’s important to remain resolute in the game plan behind the scenes and the real reasons we go to battle.

In the words of Simon Sinek, “People don’t care what you do, they care why you do it.”

Your purpose is your articulated brand. It is an overflow of your identity & very essence of what makes you, you.


My favorite definition of grit, comes from Andy Miller, CEO of Big Swift Kick, who says,

“Grit is your capacity to dig deep, do whatever it takes — especially suffer, sacrifice, struggle, and stumble — in order to achieve your most worthy goals.“

It’s deeper than skills or your societal circumstances, true grit is what truly sets you apart. The motivation you find when nothing else is there to show you it’s worth it.

Dr. Duckworth, psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania has studied grit for past 2 decades through interviewing successful CEO’s, teachers, West Point graduates, Fortune 500 sales teams, entrepreneurs, grade school students.

Her research has determined that grit has better predictability for ultimate success than…

  • Grades
  • Social Intelligence
  • Family Income
  • Good Looks (yup even mine)
  • Physical Health
  • IQ

So grit, which comprises of a person’s perseverance and passion—is among the most important predictors of success and each of us all have the power to increase it’s capacity within us.

4. Owning Failure

Failure is the most crippling fear on earth. It keeps individuals from starting, from changing and from growing. This is typically due to the connotations we have around failure.

One of my favorite Italian concepts is “dimostrazione.” This is a commitment to test knowledge through experience, persistence, and a willingness to learn from mistakes. It’s about constant application and testing.

The only problem with failure is if you stay down. If you don’t learn. If you don’t change.

If you embraced the inevitability of failure. Understood that there is a reason and purpose to every part of the journey. Understood that it’s a necessity to entrepreneurship and life.

Imagine if you learned not to fear it, be crippled but to embrace it as key to your development.

5. Exponential Thinking

We also have to take our minds away from thinking linearly — 1, 2, 3, 4, 5… — and instead exponentially — 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64….

Human challenges, technology, business models, social impact are all moving exponentially. We have to shift our thinking, planning and listening accordingly. Otherwise, we’ll be left behind.

Adjusting your mindset to an exponential one is focusing on growing by 10X instead of just 10%. Grand achievement vs incremental slow and steady.

Want to be as impactful and successful as Uber, Facebook, AirBnb etc? Your mindset, your work effort, your business model, your plan for growth has to be exponential.

The exponential mindset is the key to thriving in a world where anything is possible. It’s actually a necessity.

The entrepreneurial mindset has the potential to unlock these opportunities and more. The key to our success and scale is not more entrepreneurs but instead the need to foster the ecosystem that spurns that thinking. With this mindset we can address not only this continents challenges but it’s opportunities.

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