Any success is the result of our behaviour which, in turn, is governed by attitude. Attitude starts in the mind, so getting our thinking right is crucial. The first Standard Bank SME Summit online discussion, in partnership with Business Day, put the spotlight on how an entrepreneurial mindset can turn a crisis into opportunity.

The discussion, with business growth expert Pavlo Phitidis, focused on getting business owners into the right head space to take control in an uncertain world.

The panel members shared how they rebounded in unpredictable times, leveraged crisis to move to a mindset of innovation and resilience, and rewired their thinking to embrace rather than resist uncertainty and change, enabling them to move forward with renewed clarity, energy and vigour.

Kung fu master Si Fu Marco provided insights into how the human body instinctively reacts to crisis with a fight or flight response. When you are faced with a shock it can be easy to make the wrong decisions. “You have a choice; you can either run away or deal with the situation.” 

In martial arts “you have to take a hit to give a hit”. In preparing for a mental reset, he said, you need to quiet the mind because it’s only when you are in control that you are able to lead your way out of a crisis.

Veterinarian Dr Joubert Viljoen said he was forced to reassess his life after a serious motorbike accident. He had a dream of working with animals and opened a veterinary clinic, which was a thriving and busy practice. After being in the motorbike accident, and encountering a near-death experience, his life changed forever.

“It was a scary time because I had two small children at home, a work-from-home wife and my fellow vets had plans to emigrate. We lost more than 4,000 patient visits in those three years.”

After battling more complications, Viljoen said he could no longer practise as a vet and started an IT software development company.

“My first love was always my animal hospital but I realised I couldn’t live my dream the way that I wanted to by being involved in the lives of people and animals. So I created an environment for vets that worked with me by creating software that took care of the admin while they focused on the veterinary side of things.”

The big takeouts from Viljoen were that necessity is a good motivator and that a vision is all-powerful. His account also highlighted the need to draw on those around you.

Zipho Sikhakhane, a business strategist and CEO of EMZ Advisory, talked about how she was raised to be resilient. An MBA graduate of Stanford University, she said the best education in the world is not as important as the ability to be resilient.

Sikhakhane said it’s important to work with what you’ve got and to learn from the people around you. “I grew up with strong women who had gone through significant struggles and they gave me the tools to break through the bars and ceilings to make it to the other side.”

Phitidis said, “A strong vision with the right attitude changes the behaviour of us all; it’s the beginning of all our greatest successes.” 

So once we have the vision, what’s the next challenge? 

Adam Gottlich, head of behavioural science at Standard Bank client solutions, talked about the relationship with time. “As humans, we have a survival instinct to prioritise today because we don’t know what tomorrow holds. We need to understand how we view time versus how we view ourselves in time.

“We prefer a tangible reality over an intangible one and as a result time, as opposed to currency, feels abstract, when in fact as the saying goes, time is money. So how do we view ourselves in time? We need to understand that time is an abstract concept that changes us all.”

Ultimately, success is an attitude that puts you in full control. Entrepreneurs need to begin with the end in mind and define what success looks like. They need to have a plan and be purposeful in how they enact that plan. Finally, they need to be authentic, make good use of their time and lead their business rather than allow it to lead them.

Once you have your mindset right, you are ready to act.

If you enjoyed part one of this series, register here for part two of the Standard Bank SME Summit on June 23 on how to reset your business for success.


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