In times of employment uncertainty, going on your own is more appealing than ever. But you need your mind, heart and soul to be right. Picture: ISTOCK
In times of employment uncertainty, going on your own is more appealing than ever. But you need your mind, heart and soul to be right. Picture: ISTOCK

The thought of starting your own small business can be a little scary, if not downright intimidating. Still, there are many great reasons for you to give it a go. 

It is now “easier” than ever before to start and run a business. Whether you are bootstrapping or have venture capital, it is now arguably riskier to depend on your job.

If the past few years have taught us anything, it is that what we thought was secure isn’t really secure. We live in a country with one of the highest unemployment rates in the world, and with this is the growing trend of mass retrenchments at SA businesses struggling to grow in a stagnant economy. 

Suddenly entrepreneurship is in vogue. If only our nation’s businesses — big  and small — could become more entrepreneurial, the thinking goes, we would improve our productivity and compete more effectively in the world marketplace.

But it all starts with how you define entrepreneurship.

Mind

An entrepreneur is a problem seeker, a problem solver and an innovator. I don’t think entrepreneurship is limited to those who start organisations or ventures. More than anything, an entrepreneur is a person that can add value, whether you create something yourself or work for a company.

Under that definition, the path towards entrepreneurship and an entrepreneurial mindset can be pursued by anyone. 

I think it’s a false premise that entrepreneurs are risk takers. They’re obviously not paralysed by risk. There’s risk in taking a new job, in starting something on your own, but entrepreneurship is about understanding fully what risks you’re taking and mitigating those risks. 

In other words, foolish entrepreneurs dive head first and blindly into every risk they encounter, while successful entrepreneurs assess potential risks to know which are worth taking and which should be avoided.

Financial security requires you to embrace risk. Being an entrepreneur gives you the opportunity to take a calculated risk on a passion.

Heart

To be an entrepreneur at heart means to be captivated with your idea in a way that makes outsiders think you’re “crazy”. On the inside, you feel they’re the “crazies” and you know your truth.

Like being in love, being captivated means that you’re willing to allow yourself to be kidnapped by the intensity of a feeling. This is one half. The other is willingness.

Entrepreneurs are willing to bring their feelings to life and captivate others, despite all internal and external obstacles, fears, challenges and realities in society.

Soul

Your company should be a true extension of yourself, what you believe in and what you value in life. If you truly want to be successful, you need to dig deep to figure out everything about yourself and what matters to you. 

Begin by defining your individual purpose, listing your values and telling your personal story to help others believe in you, and eventually your company. There has never been a better time to become an entrepreneur, start a business and ultimately control your destiny in life. But starting a company never follows a straight line to success. 

In today’s transparent, digitally connected world, it is essential that people like and believe in you and what you want to accomplish. Who you are and what you believe in as a person and company matters more than ever before.

• Luthuli is an independent financial adviser and founder of Luthuli Capital.