In this previous article, we shared how you can decide if your personality matches your business in the marketplace. In this article, you can learn what qualities you need to launch and grow your business in Africa and become a successful entrepreneur.
It’s the Summer Olympics. Like the Olympic athletes, you need three unique qualities to be successful in launching and growing your business in Africa.
This means you know your strengths – and your weaknesses. To find these out, ask a trusted friend or take an online, free diagnostic test. You need an objective, third-party view of what you do and don’t do well. Like an athlete, you must know your strengths and gaps. This is a long journey with many ups and downs that you must manage to maintain your energy and stamina through the tough sections.
For example, in South Africa, there was an entrepreneur whose strength was the technical vision for his artificial intelligence invention. But trying to pitch the idea to future customers was very difficult for him. By becoming self-aware that pitching was not his strength, he was able to seek more coaching and advice and practice on pitching. He did not give up because he was not “good at it”. Instead, he used his self-awareness to honestly assess what he could do and sought help to improve. Today, he is a successful entrepreneur who has launched his product and is scaling to other countries and improving his prototype.
African entrepreneurs are successful when they self-regulate. Your life as an entrepreneur is stressful: finding customers, convincing investors, trying to setup legally, trying to market, taking risks and getting over failures. As you go through these stressful times, your must regulate your emotions. Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist says, “self-regulation is the ability to manage disruptive emotions and impulses, and to think before you react. It helps us stop unhelpful behavior, and keep calm under pressure.”
Self-regulation is the ability to manage disruptive emotions and impulses, and to think before you react. It helps us stop unhelpful behavior, and keep calm under pressure.
Social scientists have studied high performing entrepreneurs and found a successful entrepreneur is one who regulates emotions and stays focused. For example in Egypt, a tech entrepreneur has been growing her security software business and pivoting apps to match the market.
As external forces affect her business, she explains “first and foremost, I must maintain my emotional reaction. I have to stay calm even when the external pressure is ‘too much’. When I stay calm, my employees stay calm. When I stay calm, my customers have more confidence in me and my services. I used to be an employee. That had stress. But it was different. I got paid every month, even if I lost my temper. As an entrepreneur, if you lose your temper, then you lose a customer or lose a valued employee. It is critical to keep control to be a successful entrepreneur.”
African entrepreneurs face doubts and fears every day. Successful entrepreneurs maintain a self-confidence that propel them forward in spite of fear. Adam Grant, a leading organizational psychologist, just completed research in his book Originals on what makes entrepreneurs with original ideas successful. He concludes that “[Entrepreneurs] feel the same fear, the same doubt, as the rest of us. What sets them apart is that they take action anyway. They know in their hearts that failing would yield less regret than failing to try.”
This heart-felt need to act amidst fear is the self-confidence required to successfully launch and grow businesses in Africa. Having self confidence means that you know what you need to do to solve a problem and never stop trying.
By African Entrepreneurship Award’s Mentor-in-Residence