In my first article, I explained how you can start exercising your entrepreneurial muscles by thinking in terms of problems and solutions. Now that you have been seeing the world in the eyes of an entrepreneur, what character traits do you need in order to make a success of a new company? As we go through those traits one at a time, take stock of your own character to see which ones you already have and which ones you will have to cultivate.
The entrepreneur’s value system is based on what is in his or her heart. It is not patterned after the shifting, sometimes faddish values of the community. Successful entrepreneurs do not strive merely to gain wealth or power, nor are they driven by fear of failure. The search for wealth and power and the fear of failure are not valid reasons for work. They lack a moral imperative. They are myths blown out of proportion by movies, novels and advertisements.
The lives of entrepreneurs are focussed by heart, not by the head. The urges of the heart drive them toward whatever goals they have chosen to pursue. Those people who detach the head from the heart work in large corporations or bureaucratic organizations where they apply their intellects to the success of the company and their own vertical ascent within it. They had hearts at one time, of course, but the corporations had them carefully removed. They become frustrated because their work requires them to do the wrong thing occasionally - to keep silent when they should speak up or to stab a co-worker in the back. Entrepreneurs do not have to deal with these frustrations, although they may have endured them earlier in life. Unlike the corporate workers, they no longer “eat their hearts out.”
If you are driven by your heart , you will be optimistic. You will be sure that you can beat the competition, particularly the large corporations, because people with heart beat people without heart. The reason for this is simple: people with heart knows what drives people without heart but people without heart do not know how people with heart play the game. Thus people with heart build their unique products and pluck from the large corporations the most intelligent people to join their teams. These new recruits, the corporate achievers, get their hearts back along with some stake in what they are doing, and they “work smart,” attacking the weak points of the corporations they know so well.
Entrepreneurial heart makes the difference between the egotistical industrialist and the true altruist who invests his or her profits in the dreams of others. The following individuals truly exemplify the quality of heart in entrepreneurship.
Takunda Chingonzo, the founder of Neolab Technology—a disruptive startup incubator in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s capital, is a perfect example of a young entrepreneur who has heart. He is more concerned with helping others than he is with enriching himself, and his altruism takes many forms. His so called “start-up factory” aims to fully incubate twenty startups that work to solve real problems in Africa every year. Last year, he was one of the few young African entrepreneurs who attended the first US-Africa business forum in Washington, DC. Here is his interview with President Barack Obama where they discussed issues facing young African entrepreneurs.
Mark Shuttleworth, a South African entrepreneur and philanthropist, is the founder of Thawte; a leading internet technology company, which he sold to an American company VeriSign in 1999. He founded an organization that provides fellowship grants to individuals in social entrepreneurship and innovation —The Shuttleworth Foundation.
The Dangote Group, founded in 1981, is another entrepreneurial venture with heart which is fully involved in Corporate Social Responsibility activities. Aliko Dangote set up the Dangote Foundation, which oversees the provisioning of aid to boost education, health and empowerment in many African countries, and it has contributed over $100 million thus far.
Strive Masiyiwa is another entrepreneur whose heart drives him to improve the lives of others. His company, Econet Wireless Group, founded in 1998, supports the Higher Life Foundation. This organization was setup to invest in holistic community development in Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Burundi and South Africa by providing a mix of programs that are aimed at making beneficiaries and communities more resilient and converting them into vibrant ecosystems. These programs are in education, health and evangelism.
The world needs more entrepreneurs with heart to enhance economic and business development. The few examples above have demonstrated that when entrepreneurship is coupled with heart, old ways of doing things poorly can be disrupted with pain solving innovations. In the next part of this article series, I will expound on another quality that entrepreneurs need to have in order to succeed.
(Header Image Credit: Bella Naija)