Why You Must Learn To Grow With Your Business If you can keep learning along each step of the start-up journey, you'll continue to grow, and your business will be a success, says entrepreneur and author, Matshona Dhliwayo.
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PLAYER: Matshona Dhliwayo
ABOUT: Matshona Dhliwayo is a Zimbabwean-born and Canadian-based philosopher, entrepreneur, and author of books such as The Little Book of Inspiration, 100 Lessons Every Great Man Wants You to Know, and Lalibela's Wise Man.
Q.What is the difference between a "learn it all' entrepreneur, and a "know it all' entrepreneur, and why is it imperative that a start-up strives to be the former?
A "learn it all' is one who is driven by the desire to learn and a "know it all' is one who is driven by the desire to prove how much he knows. It's imperative that you focus on the former because, in life, we are only as successful as what we know.
Knowledge is more than power, knowledge is wealth. How can someone go about being a 'learn it all'? First, be humble; humility allows you to learn from others. A humble student is better than a proud scholar.
Q.Energy is a great thing, but it needs direction. How can a start-up entrepreneur calm down, focus, and find their direction?
You find direction from having well-defined goals in a business plan. You keep a tab on those goals by using a daily planner to help you steadfastly execute your objectives.
In good times, be cautious; in bad times, be hopeful; and in busy times, be level-headed, never taking your eyes off your goals.
Q.Why is it important to have direction?
A chariot can't travel in two directions, and when you know where you're going it's easier to get there. When you lose direction you lose opportunities, and when you lose opportunities you lose rewards.
Q.What are the pitfalls and limitations of ego?
Ego is an inflated sense of self and is therefore no different from arrogance. The pitfalls of conceit, which shouldn't be confused with confidence, are endless. You start thinking you are better than others and the moment you do, this means you can't learn from them.
If you don't learn you don't grow, and if you don't grow, you die. Most experienced entrepreneurs understand the importance of being humble because people buy from people they like, and people don't like egotistical personalities.
Humility opens people up to you, but arrogance drives them away. And the more people an entrepreneur draws the more people he can serve, and the more people he can serve, the more money he can make.
Q.That said, a degree of arrogance allows you to push through the hardships. Where is the balance, and how do entrepreneurs find that balance without getting discouraged?
Only a few people in history like Julius Caesar and Nebuchadnezzar II rose to great heights with arrogance, but their very egotism destroyed them in the end. I prefer courage, not pride, because it rises from conviction; and also faith, not ego, because it rises from hope.
These two have helped the weakest of men and women achieve the greatest feats. An entrepreneur must be filled with courage daily and emptied of hubris incessantly. The higher you rise with ego, the lower you will also descend in the end because of it.
Q.Why should you never, ever feel threatened by someone smarter or with more skills than you? In fact, why should you be partnering, hiring or learning from these people?
I am never threatened by people who are smarter and better than me because I see them as gifts, and not as competition. I view them as assets, not threats, so I allow them to do what they do best, thereby benefiting from it. It also frees me so I can do what I do best.
We can be Jacks of all trades but we can't be masters of all disciplines. Partnering with people who are cleverer than you elevates you.
Q.Many entrepreneurs trust the wrong people. Why does this happen, and what is the solution?
People are complex creatures. The best of us can't always predict human behaviour. Entrepreneurs, like everyone else, make mistakes.
What they should shy away from are the avoidable ones. My advice: Take time to get to know people. Do your due diligence. Ignorance is your opponent, fear is your enemy, vice is your adversary, virtue is your friend, and wisdom is your helper.