All successful entrepreneurs have one mindset; an attitude of resilience, fortitude and tenacity. Before you think of raising investment capital or invest your money in a project, your state of mind must be positive. You should believe that the market environment will be receptive to your ideas, bank managers will listen attentively to your project proposal and Konkola Copper Mines will give you a supply contract.
You should never carry with you the heavy baggage of long held perceptions that Indians are hard people to deal with. There are Zambians of our colour who have dealt with these same Indians and made a fortune out of the mining company. These are the people you should focus on and not on those voices coming from individuals who failed to penetrate.
To those of you that seek to break new ground in business, always focus on things that are true and honest. At times we focus on negative things we have heard about ourselves, that we are mere impostors, chancers, opportunists, frauds and uneducated. As long as these sentiments are not true, they should never pre-occupy our thinking.
There are many strategies you should employ to develop a healthy mental attitude as an entrepreneur. I share three of them:
First, broaden your world of opportunities. Many times, we narrow our world of opportunities by harboring negative sentiments and perceptions against people who are different from us. What we forget is that our views of others mirror back and those people equally see us as deleterious, prejudiced and malevolent.
An entrepreneur conquers new territories. There are entrepreneurs in nearly every country, even those going through turmoil such as Syria, South Sudan, Niger. Zimbabwean entrepreneurs once got hit very badly by economic reforms that negatively impacted on the performance of the economy. Some stayed in faith while many others conquered new territories in Europe and other parts of Southern Africa.
I have personally been making attempts to offer training programmes to multinationals in Zambia. I know they are hard to crack. They value external training institutions offered by their mother companies to benefit from transfer pricing. I, however, believe we have something better to give them.
One bank asked me to open a bank account a week after telling me they already had training arrangements from South Africa. As long as they needed my money and not money from South Africa, they needed my services too; otherwise how would I manage my account if they did not scratch my back? Entrepreneurs are never easily put off; they fight until the door opens.
Second, shape your mental state in such a way it has cognitive ability to recover from upsets and shocks. Winning is in how we think and it is that attitude that helps us compete effectively.
I quote from Jose Mourinho after his team’s loss to Everton four years ago, ‘The results are the worst in my career. They are not adapted to my quality, my status, but I am coping well with the situation. I am not feeling pressure.’
There are horrible shocks and risks in business; a contract suddenly counselled; a dependable client lost, a debtor goes bankrupt, Zambia Revenue Authority demands payment despite upfront negotiated instalments. These are heartaches that kill the most unprepared.
When disasters happen, think about the positives about your clients, your employees, your value chain and the bright future ahead. All bumps are only but temporary. Even the multi-billion businesses have travelled that journey. Neve harbor grudges against people you think were responsible for your loss. Move on.
Third, always make informed conclusions. We live in a gossip world. Some of us have been victims of social media innuendos. Seeking the truth is the mind of an entrepreneur, otherwise you will never do business with anyone. Before you dismiss KCM, Mopani Copper Mines, Zambia Sugar, Zambian Breweries and many others as hard-to-deal with companies, invest your time in knowing who they are, their value and quality standards and overall business value chain.
Never cancel a contract based on scuttlebutt. Find the truth. Believe the truth. Always seek knowledge. A lot of dirt and offensiveness gets thrown against many successful entrepreneurs by watchers. Keep your focus on things that are true, just, lovely and ethical. You are in business because your mental state is always kept in shape by reading and interacting with positive minds.
(Read Talking Business with Chibamba Kanyama every Tuesday, only in Diggers)