Being A Born Entrepreneur Doesn’t Automatically Mean You’re A Born Leader

More often than not, we tend to think of entrepreneurship and leadership as synonymous qualities.

Entrepreneurs are expected to break new ground, be innovative, start something new. It only stands to reason they would naturally take charge of what they’ve created and lead it.

However, it turns out that the required skills of an effective entrepreneur are almost entirely different from the required skills of an effective leader. As many CEOs of growing companies can tell you, there’s a vast difference between creating a business and growing one.

One of the primary reasons great entrepreneurs including Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Henry Ford were so influential was precisely because they were both master entrepreneurs and leaders.

To successfully grow a business, an entrepreneur must learn how to become an effective leader. Here are the five leadership skills every entrepreneur must master:


Entrepreneurs, and especially solopreneurs, who run growing businesses are eventually shocked to realise it is impossible to do everything by themselves. Most entrepreneurs are uncomfortable with the idea of delegation. They want to do everything themselves because they have a natural sense of ownership over their work. They find it difficult to believe anyone else would do what needs to be done. After all, they were the ones who built the business from scratch all by themselves.

The reality is, though, as a business grows, so does the amount of work that needs to go into running it.

Leaders understand their own time and energy are finite resources. Great leaders understand that, to be most effective in the company, they must play to their strengths and delegate their weaknesses to others who are more qualified.

Steve Jobs famously played a very small part in building the OS and designing the original Apple computers. He knew how to grow a business, so he focused on what he could do and wisely left it to Steve Wozniak and his team to execute his vision.


lone-wolfThe perk of being a lone wolf is that you know exactly what needs to be done and the right way to do it. But, that has to change when you find yourself a leader.

We all have horror stories of working for a manager who didn’t communicate instructions effectively, which inevitably leads to confusion and frustration from both parties. As a leader, you’ll need to clearly and succinctly explain everything from your vision to administrative tasks to your employees.

But, communication is not a one-way street. You need to know what to say and how to listen. Effective leaders don’t simply give orders. They accept feedback and criticism, as well.

A constant bridge of communication between a leader and an employee not only reduces inefficiencies but also leads to a healthier and more productive workplace for all.


Entrepreneurs seldom lack in the inspiration department. They were passionate enough to start a business themselves, but not everyone shares their enthusiasm. A key skill of any good leader is to inspire the people around them.

It’s not enough to simply tell people what their job is and expect them to do it. To get the most out of your team, you have to make them believe in your vision and feel like they’re actively making an impact in their role. This is especially important when working in a start-up.

The good news is that anyone can become an inspiring leader as long as they create a clear culture around the company’s vision, values, and beliefs.

When Howard Schultz returned to Starbucks as CEO, he quickly realised the majority of his employees were no longer focused on providing customers with a positive experience. This led him to shut down 7,100 stores one day to retrain all baristas on making an espresso. This bold move not only sharpened his employees’ technical skills, but also quickly brought Starbucks’ ultimate vision back into focus.


As an entrepreneur, you should be well aware of just how powerful a mentor can be to personal and professional growth. As a leader, if you want your employees to be as effective as possible, you need to do more than just give them orders.

Along with giving them the resources they need to do their job well, you also need to be able to help them move forward in their own careers.

This can be as simple as offering them training in skills they are interested in, giving them more responsibilities, or spending more one-on-one time with them. Leaders should be able to do more than just lead from the front; they have to be able to provide support from behind as well.

By adopting a coaching mentality, you can be assured of your employees’ loyalty to you and your vision. Plus, helping your employees achieve their full potential means they’re more likely be an asset to you and your business.


It should go without saying that being innovative and adaptive is key for entrepreneurs. But, instead of only using their knack for problem-solving on market opportunities, leaders are also focused on providing solutions for problems within the company.

A large part of running a growing company is learning how to deal with internal problems like employee disputes, disorganisation, or a lack of motivation. Employees will always look to the leader to solve these issues.

When no clear-cut solutions are present, leaders need to be able to think outside the box. One surefire way to quickly lose both the respect and trust of your employees is to outsource the solution to someone else or avoid responsibility by blaming others.

Last-minute changes and mishaps happen in any business, so it’s up to the leader to adapt quickly and show everyone else the right way to handle these situations.

If entrepreneurs who have the passion and innovation to start their own businesses can develop these five skills of great leaders, they will be most effective in leading those businessess into growth and a bright future.

How smart people handle difficult people

By Simosethu Zondi

Difficult people defy logic. Some are blissfully unaware of the negative impact that they have on those around them, and others seem to derive satisfaction from creating chaos and pushing other people’s buttons. Either way, they create unnecessary complexity, strife, and worst of all stress.

Studies have long shown that stress can have a lasting, negative impact on the brain. Exposure to even a few days of stress compromises the effectiveness of neurons in the hippocampus — an important brain area responsible for reasoning and memory.

Weeks of stress cause reversible damage to neuronal dendrites (the small “arms” that brain cells use to communicate with each other), and months of stress can permanently destroy neurons. Stress is a formidable threat to your success — when stress gets out of control, your brain and your performance suffer.

Most sources of stress at work are easy to identify. If your non-profit is working to land a grant that your organization needs to function, you’re bound to feel stress and likely know how to manage it. It’s the unexpected sources of stress that take you by surprise and harm you the most.

Recent research from the Department of Biological and Clinical Psychology at Friedrich Schiller University in Germany found that exposure to stimuli that cause strong negative emotions — the same kind of exposure you get when dealing with difficult people — caused subjects’ brains to have a massive stress response. Whether it’s negativity, cruelty, the victim syndrome or just plain craziness, difficult people drive your brain into a stressed-out state that should be avoided at all costs.

The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance. TalentSmart has conducted research with more than a million people, and we’ve found that 90 percent of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control. One of their greatest gifts is the ability to neutralize difficult people. Top performers have well-honed coping strategies that they employ to keep difficult people at bay.

While I’ve run across numerous effective strategies that smart people employ when dealing with difficult people, what follows are some of the best. To deal with difficult people effectively, you need an approach that enables you, across the board, to control what you can and eliminate what you can’t. The important thing to remember is that you are in control of far more than you realize.

They set limits

Complainers and negative people are bad news because they wallow in their problems and fail to focus on solutions. They want people to join their pity party so that they can feel better about themselves. People often feel pressure to listen to complainers because they don’t want to be seen as callous or rude, but there’s a fine line between lending a sympathetic ear and getting sucked into their negative emotional spiral.

You can avoid this only by setting limits and distancing yourself when necessary. Think of it this way: If the complainer were smoking, would you sit there all afternoon inhaling the second-hand smoke? You’d distance yourself, and you should do the same with complainers. A great way to set limits is to ask complainers how they intend to fix the problem. They will either quiet down or redirect the conversation in a productive direction.

They rise above

Difficult people drive you crazy because their behavior is so irrational. Make no mistake about it; their behavior truly goes against reason. So why do you allow yourself to respond to them emotionally and get sucked into the mix? The more irrational and off-base someone is, the easier it should be for you to remove yourself from their traps.

Quit trying to beat them at their own game. Distance yourself from them emotionally and approach your interactions like they’re a science project (or you’re their shrink, if you prefer the analogy). You don’t need to respond to the emotional chaos — only the facts.

They stay aware of their emotions

Maintaining an emotional distance requires awareness. You can’t stop someone from pushing your buttons if you don’t recognize when it’s happening. Sometimes you’ll find yourself in situations where you’ll need to regroup and choose the best way forward. This is fine and you shouldn’t be afraid to buy yourself some time to do so.

Think of it this way — if a mentally unstable person approaches you on the street and tells you he’s John F. Kennedy, you’re unlikely to set him straight. When you find yourself with a coworker who is engaged in similarly derailed thinking, sometimes it’s best to just smile and nod. If you’re going to have to straighten them out, it’s better to give yourself some time to plan the best way to go about it.

They establish boundaries

This is the area where most people tend to sell themselves short. They feel like because they work or live with someone, they have no way to control the chaos. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Once you’ve found your way to Rise Above a person, you’ll begin to find their behavior more predictable and easier to understand.

This will equip you to think rationally about when and where you have to put up with them and when you don’t. For example, even if you work with someone closely on a project team, that doesn’t mean that you need to have the same level of one-on-one interaction with them that you have with other team members.

You can establish a boundary, but you’ll have to do so consciously and proactively. If you let things happen naturally, you are bound to find yourself constantly embroiled in difficult conversations. If you set boundaries and decide when and where you’ll engage a difficult person, you can control much of the chaos. The only trick is to stick to your guns and keep boundaries in place when the person tries to encroach upon them, which they will.

They don’t die in the fight

Smart people know how important it is to live to fight another day, especially when your foe is a toxic individual. In conflict, unchecked emotion makes you dig your heels in and fight the kind of battle that can leave you severely damaged. When you read and respond to your emotions, you’re able to choose your battles wisely and only stand your ground when the time is right.

They don’t focus on problems—only solutions

Where you focus your attention determines your emotional state. When you fixate on the problems you’re facing, you create and prolong negative emotions and stress. When you focus on actions to better yourself and your circumstances, you create a sense of personal efficacy that produces positive emotions and reduces stress.

When it comes to toxic people, fixating on how crazy and difficult they are gives them power over you. Quit thinking about how troubling your difficult person is, and focus instead on how you’re going to go about handling them. This makes you more effective by putting you in control, and it will reduce the amount of stress you experience when interacting with them.

They don’t forget

Emotionally intelligent people are quick to forgive, but that doesn’t mean that they forget. Forgiveness requires letting go of what’s happened so that you can move on. It doesn’t mean you’ll give a wrongdoer another chance. Smart people are unwilling to be bogged down unnecessarily by others’ mistakes, so they let them go quickly and are assertive in protecting themselves from future harm.

They squash negative self-talk

Sometimes you absorb the negativity of other people. There’s nothing wrong with feeling bad about how someone is treating you, but your self-talk (the thoughts you have about your feelings) can either intensify the negativity or help you move past it. Negative self-talk is unrealistic, unnecessary, and self-defeating. It sends you into a downward emotional spiral that is difficult to pull out of. You should avoid negative self-talk at all costs.

They get some sleep

I’ve beaten this one to death over the years and can’t say enough about the importance of sleep to increasing your emotional intelligence and managing your stress levels. When you sleep, your brain literally recharges, so that you wake up alert and clear-headed. Your self-control, attention, and memory are all reduced when you don’t get enough — or the right kind — of sleep.

Sleep deprivation raises stress hormone levels on its own, even without a stressor present. A good night’s sleep makes you more positive, creative, and proactive in your approach to toxic people, giving you the perspective you need to deal effectively with them.

They use their support system

It’s tempting, yet entirely ineffective, to attempt tackling everything by yourself. To deal with toxic people, you need to recognize the weaknesses in your approach to them. This means tapping into your support system to gain perspective on a challenging person. Everyone has someone at work and/or outside work who is on their team, rooting for them, and ready to help them get the best from a difficult situation.

Identify these individuals in your life and make an effort to seek their insight and assistance when you need it. Something as simple as explaining the situation can lead to a new perspective. Most of the time, other people can see a solution that you can’t because they are not as emotionally invested in the situation.

Bringing it all together

Before you get this system to work brilliantly, you’re going to have to pass some tests. Most of the time, you will find yourself tested by touchy interactions with problem people. Thankfully, the plasticity of the brain allows it to mold and change as you practice new behaviors, even when you fail. Implementing these healthy, stress-relieving techniques for dealing with difficult people will train your brain to handle stress more effectively and decrease the likelihood of ill effects.

How to make your business attractive to investors

Here are my top tips on how to nurture your growth potential and become investment-worthy.

1. Have a clear goal

Prospective investors want to know what your start-up is going to bring to the world. This may sound lofty, but you need a big, blue-sky mission statement that can be summed up in a couple of sentences.

Ask yourself: why does my business exist? It’s crucial that your start-up has a purpose and that you can communicate it clearly to potential investors.

2. Maintain laser focus

Your start-up’s success depends on so much more than your big idea. Time and money are critical resources – both of which will be in short supply. You need to be extremely disciplined about how every second and every penny is spent.

Build a ruthless priority list. Push any task, project or idea that doesn’t help you solve your biggest problem – staying relevant to customers – down to the bottom. Investors are impressed by hungry entrepreneurs who are on the ball.

3. Launch fast, start small, scale slowly

Don’t drag your feet and delay launching until your product is perfect. It never will be. The truth is, your start-up is worth much more in practice than it is in theory.

Also, don’t try and be everything for everyone from the outset. Define a small market, get it onto the market sooner rather than later, test it, collect feedback in real time, tweak and grow slowly.

With a niche audience, it’s much easier to build your business model, adjust your offer and deliver a personalised service. This will enable you to build a data-driven picture of progress and growth – one that will attract interested investors to your door.

A small, loyal customer base is also harder to lose to the competition – and can act as a valuable marketing tool, winning new business through word-of-mouth.

4. Don’t fall in love with your product

Your start-up’s success depends on your customers – not just your brilliant business idea. Always put your end users, not your product, first.

To attract the right investment, you need to show that you know your market and your customers thoroughly. What are their preferences, pain points, and buying patterns? How much would they pay for a product like yours? Armed with this information, you can tailor a specific solution for them.

Lose sight of your customers and you’re faced with one very likely outcome: no users and no business.

5. Keep pushing forward

You can’t stop working on your business once it’s launched. It needs your help now more than ever. Keep testing and refining your offer. Look for other ways to grow, and investigate other markets or customer segments you can target.

Don’t sit on your laurels for one second. How can you keep challenging the status quo and expand your offer to serve under-developed markets? This will keep you competitive – and worth investing in.

6. Have a good team behind you

An investment-worthy business is one that attracts – and retains – the right employees. Investors are assessing you and your team, not just your product and business model. They are looking for a start-up run by people they can build a rapport with. It doesn’t inspire confidence if you hire the wrong people, or try to manage everything on your own.

7. Choose investors carefully

As much as an investor is assessing you, you need to assess them in return. It’s very easy to get excited by a potential deal, but before you sign, make sure you know who you’re partnering with. A successful partnership really does take two – so if they’re not a good fit, your business will suffer.

Becoming an investment-worthy business is crucial to your start-up’s success. The seven steps above can help you attract the right investment – rather than just any investment – and secure your future.

Source: Startup Africa

Top business growth learnings from South African entrepreneurs

Here are the highlights and top learnings from the talks.

Erica Elk: Executive director of the Cape Craft Design Institute

Erica shared 6 key lessons to keep in mind when you’re just starting out.

  1. First things first – whatever industry you’re in it’s important to run an enterprise that is responsive, addresses a need and is adaptable.
  2. Running a business is usually a lifelong journey. Don’t get caught with the idea that eventually you’ll get to a point where you can sit and put your feet up once you’ve ‘made it’. If you do, you’ll always be beating yourself up thinking “when am I going to get there?” Life becomes a lot easier when you switch your thinking and enjoy the process (your journey) rather than focusing on the end goal.
  3. Don’t start a business just for the money. It has to be about something more meaningful, something that you are truly passionate about.
  4. Keep your feet on the ground. Don’t be seduced by your success. It’s essential to keep a clear head about what you’re doing well and what you need to improve upon.
  5. Be willing to fail, as long as you learn from it. Things will go wrong but there’s always a kernel of truth in every failure that will help you move forward.
  6. Finally, before you start a business buy lots of hair dye and make sure you bring your sense of humour along for the ride.

Ronald Makomba: VP of Commercial at Yoco

Ronald spoke about how to use technology to help streamline your business and set it up for the growth phase.

You need to know your customers, and you need to know what’s happening in your business on a daily basis. It’s easy when you only have 5 customers, but things start to change when you have 100 customers. And they change fast. To stay on top of matters you need to make friends with technology, so you can work smarter not harder.

Things to keep in mind when selecting which tech to use:

  1. The tools you get should fit you, and not the other way around. Make sure the platforms you get fit into your daily routine and compliment the way you work. For example, if you live on the go and on your phone, then every tool you use should have a mobile app version, not just a desktop version.
  2. Trial and trial some more. Most tools come with a free trial. Make the most of these before you spend any money. Better yet – hunt for a free version.
  3. Check if they integrate with other platforms. This means you won’t spend your life trying to reconcile data and info. For example, Yoco integrates with the online accounting platform, Xero, so all your cash-flow data is in one place.
  4. A great place to search for new tools is to check out Product Hunt.

Tamburai Chirume: Co-founder of ONEOFEACH

Tamburai built a company that sells the most beautiful and exclusive handbags around. She spoke about her growth journey and the 3 key things she learnt in the process.

  1. The way you treat your customers will determine how fast or slow you grow. A lot of ONEOFEACH’s growth has been a result of returning customers and word of mouth.
  2. Keep building your network and make use of supportive communities and organisations. For example, CCDI and Wesgro.
  3. Be prepared to train people. My mom is the designer and each bag we sell is uniquely designed. Now that we’re growing, it means we have to find ways to transfer her skills to others.

Adam Duxbury Co-founder of Granadilla

Adam has co-founded one of the brightest and funkiest swimwear brands for men. His company is currently looking to expand their product range. Here’s what he’s learnt on his journey.

When expanding your product the key is to first ask yourself “what is at the centre of my brand DNA?” – Adam Duxbury

We played around with a number of options when we were looking at this. Initially, we were stuck on the idea of bright prints. Our Muizenberg huts shorts were our best sellers, so we thought of taking that print and putting it on socks and tops which would help our sales during winter.

After toying with the idea for a while we realised our true brand essence and our bold prints actually symbolised SUMMER. We decided we didn’t want to be just another apparel brand competing against Zara or H&M. We wanted to do something unique and special that had a clear message to the customer. With this focus, we’re going to expand into different ranges of swimwear like longer pants, kiddies and ladies ranges.

Our company motto is now “it’s always summer somewhere”. Going forward we’ll focus on which international markets we’d like to play in.

Panel Questions on business growth

After the introductions by the speakers, we had a short panel discussion that raised a number of interesting and difficult questions. Here are the highlights.

From left to right: Simon Hurry (MC), Ronald Makomba (Yoco), Erica Elk (CCDI), Adam Duxbury (Granadilla), and Tamburai Chirume (ONEOFEACH).

Q1: What do you think causes businesses to fail?

  • Ronald: Basing your business plan or model on assumptions. Someone else’s story is not your story.
  • Erica: Being too married to your product, in the sense that you can’t take in any feedback. You have to be willing to listen, engage and adapt.
  • Tamburai: Not being able to let go. If you can’t let go, your team won’t be able to do their best work.

Q2: What is the one thing you believe would translate into more profits? What would you change if you could have a do-over?

  • Adam: I wish I had set up something to get an annual financial perspective a lot earlier. Being a seasonal business, we’re balling in summer and struggle in winter. Once you get all your yearly figures on one page, you quickly see what’s costing you too much and what needs to change.
  • Tamburai: We would have led with our story more. It took us by surprise how much people find our mother-daughter story compelling and want to feature us because of it. I think every business should try to find something unique and authentic about them and share it with the world.

Q3: People are critical to the success or failure of a business. How do you keep your team motivated and get the best out them?

 “An inexperienced but motivated person will probably do a better job than someone with more experience who is demotivated.” – Adam Duxbury

  • Erica: Everyone has potential and it’s up to the leader or manager to help people discover their potential and build on it. A lot of managers expect people to be good at everything, and what happens is they then end up focusing on what people are bad at. My management style is to rather say: “You do what you’re good at and what ignites your passion. I’ll find someone else to take care of what you’re not good at”. Finally, you need to also involve people in your strategy so they feel they have a role to play and are not just a cog in the wheel. They need to understand how they impact the bigger picture.
  • Adam: We respect our employees’ personal time by giving our team an hour back each day. Our working hours are 9:30 to 16:30. This means they have an extra hour to go the gym or see their family. In return, it means when we do have a huge crunch and need extra hands or weekend help, our team is always willing to step up.
  • Tamburai: Give people ownership. We tell the people that run our store in the Watershed that it’s actually their store. Because we’re not there, so it’s up to them to run the store as if they owned it and make decisions that they believe are right.
  • Ronald: Spend some time with your team and understand who the people they really are. At Yoco we get everyone into one room twice a month and talk about what they’ve been doing and who’s been helping them.

In conclusion, when looking to start or grow your business it’s critical to do something you truly believe in. Build a team who is passionate and motivated about what you’re doing, find tools that work for you and look for community support.

Find out more about the speakers and their companies below.  Be sure to join them on social media to support their journeys.

Cape Craft and Design Institute


Source: Yoco

What YOU and a World-Class Athlete Should Have In Common

Shirley Anthony is an author, speaker and owner of Marketing Breakthroughs, a marketing consultancy operating for over twenty years. 

Do I hear you spontaneously say, “Fame, fortune and a high-flying lifestyle!” Look a bit deeper, however, and tennis champion, Roger Federer, displays many qualities which make him an ideal role model for any budding entrepreneur or business owner.

He Has a Vision

We’re all aware that we need to know where we want to go in order to develop a road map to get there.

As a young tennis player, Roger Federer envisaged that he would be playing on the professional tennis circuit well into his 30’s. He’s certainly made that dream a reality! This year he turns 37 and, as I write this article, he has just captured his 20th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open. What a phenomenon!

In business, as we achieve our goals we need to revisit our vision and dream even bigger – that’s what will inspire and motivate us.

Roger Federer appears to have done exactly this, as in 2017 he devised and launched an international tennis event, the Laver Cup, in which a World team of selected tennis players competed against a European team. So successful was this event that it will now be held annually. It’s obviously Roger’s vision to manage this event once he hangs up his racquet.

He Knows How to Pace Himself

One of the risks of entrepreneurship is becoming obsessively focused on one’s business, resulting in potential burn out and neglect of other important aspects of our lives.

When I was a full time corporate employee I worked for an MD who religiously arrived in the office at 8 a.m. and left at 5.30 p.m. His view was that if you had to work longer hours, either your job spec was wrong or you were not competent to do the job.

Roger Federer has perfected the art of pacing himself. When he’s on the court practising, he’s fully focused. However, he also admits to having had periods where for 2 weeks he does not hit a tennis ball.

This approach certainly seems to be a winning formula for him as unlike his rivals, Andy Murray, Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic, who have all had long periods off with injuries, Federer has been mostly injury free.

He Values Mentorship

Warren Buffett, CEO and chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, is one of the world’s wealthiest individuals, and in 2012, Time magazine named him one of the most influential people. He says, “It’s better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behaviour is better than yours and you’ll drift in that direction.”

Federer is obviously of the same belief. A couple of years ago, he persuaded former world tennis champion, Stefan Edberg to join his coaching team. Edberg’s contribution to Roger’s game has been invaluable and it heralded the beginning of a new winning streak for his mentee. Even though no longer his coach, Edberg is often present in the Federer team box at many of the major tennis tournaments, when Roger competes.

He’s Built a Brand

In business one of the best ways for us to differentiate ourselves from the opposition is to build a brand and to promote it. To create a unique identity and reputation for our offering and the value it promises.

Roger Federer has become an internationally recognised brand, with over 76 million followers on Facebook. He’s positioned himself as an ambassador for tennis who gives back to the community.

Recently whilst playing in Perth at the Hopman Cup, he was willing to take time off from practice and visit Rottnest Island (off Perth’s coastline) to promote the event and the city. The selfie he took of himself with an ultra cute marsupial was featured on 9 international TV channels, such is his pulling power.

What Roger Federer qualities can you emulate to champion your business?


Source: SME South Africa

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