Pause: It’s time you become an entrepreneur

__Start right where you are, today!

This is one of my business secrets: I look for entrepreneurs all the time. The managers that I value the most are those who show an entrepreneurial flare. To paraphrase Moses, “O I would that everyone who works in our organization was an entrepreneur!”

The other day I stirred quite a discussion when I remarked that some of the greatest entrepreneurs I’d ever met were not in business… that I’d even met civil servants and teachers who were great entrepreneurs!

Entrepreneurship is not just about making money.

__Think of an entrepreneur as someone who hungers to see transformation, and goes out to do something about it in an innovative and sustainable way.

A friend of mine who was a senior executive for a well-established business once came to me and said he was thinking of starting his own business:

“I’ve been working for 20 years; now I want to be an entrepreneur and start my own business.”

My reply surprised him:

“If you’ve not been an entrepreneur in your job, you will not be an entrepreneur in your own business.”

Then I added, “You should be an entrepreneur, whether or not you own the business. Every day you must go to work with the understanding that, first and foremost, you’re paid for being smart; for being someone who has ideas to innovate and find solutions to help your organization and its customers.”

I remember discussing this with a guy who once worked for Microsoft, and was amazed when he started to tell me about the great products he’d developed himself, or helped to develop.

He’d say things like, “You know that product? Well, some of us went to Bill and said, ‘We’d like to develop this idea’ and he would look at it and say, ‘Go ahead,’ and we did… Great success!”

“Wow, you did that?!”

Then he laughed and said, “You didn’t think that Bill Gates comes up with all the ideas, and we then execute, did you? Like little robots?! Hahaha, that’s funny!”

“We see him only as the ‘Chief Entrepreneur,’ but there are a lot of entrepreneurs at Microsoft; it’s not all Bill.”

A few months ago I visited a start-up company in Silicon Valley that was developing an amazing new product which I think will change the world. I will never forget how a young woman started her presentation:

“I wanted to change the world, so I did a PhD in Biochemistry; now I’m here working on this cool product.” She wasn’t the owner of the business. Just like the guy from Microsoft, it was a mindset!

__Nothing can stop an organization once that kind of mindset is encouraged and nurtured. This powerful mindset should drive our approach.

I know some of you are going to say, “Where I work they don’t allow me to come up with ideas or to express myself as an entrepreneur.”

My answer would surprise you:

# That’s your opportunity! Start thinking about how you can change it.

# If you succeed, you’re an entrepreneur, and you’ll be successful wherever you go, and in whatever you do after that.

# Unleash the entrepreneur in you, right there where you work now, in whatever vocation it is.

Every organization must be designed in such a way that it attracts and keeps entrepreneurs at all levels, even if that organization is not-for-profit, and that includes government departments, and schools.

# Are you an entrepreneur in your job?
# Does your organization hire entrepreneurs?

If the answer to either of these questions is no, then there’s a problem. But you can change that mindset today, right where you are, because it always starts with one person recognizing it, and getting to work.


24 thoughts on “Pause: It’s time you become an entrepreneur

  1. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 1.
    I once listened to a young man explain his small business to me. Prior to setting up the business, he’d worked for a global company. I really didn’t like his business idea at all, but I liked him very much! “Leave what you are doing and come work for me,” I suggested. “Under my guidance you will realize your potential as an entrepreneur.” Today he runs one of our most successful ventures, and one day he will compete with several other entrepreneurs in our business, to succeed me. My most successful hires have been entrepreneurs!

  2. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 2.
    There is a word for a person who is an entrepreneur in the workplace, but in the end it’s not about words and titles, it’s about mindsets. If you cannot measure your contributions in the way of new ideas and innovations that have improved services or products, you’ll struggle in the years to come.

  3. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 3.
    I’ve never had much time for managers who see themselves as “supervisors” of others. I prefer someone who sees himself or herself as a “leader” of a team in which they’re a player. Imagine if the captain of a sports team cannot play, but just bosses the other players around?!

    • Tau

      Dear Sir,
      I wish the leadership and the staff at Econet Telecom Lesotho (ETL) had your vision and followed your example. There is a definite discount between ETL and your vision, attitude and work ethic. I would be grateful if you could do something about it.

  4. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    The entire Kwese Tv project has been driven from beginning to end by entrepreneurs within our organization.
    I remember listening for the first time to the team which developed the Kwese App.

  5. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    There are so many amazing initiatives being developed by our entrepreneurs. Another example is a project called Kwesefied. I had no idea it was even going on, until one day a young lady who leads the team showed it to me when I was visiting!
    Visit their website, and just watch it over the next few weeks!

  6. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    One day I was having a meeting with a friend in the US, who runs one of the largest mobile networks in the world.
    I asked him if they had any technology they would be willing to license. He took me to their labs, and showed me a cool new service:
    “Send us some of your guys, and we can discuss a license”.
    I knew such a project could only take off if I found an entrepreneur in the company to run with it.
    I explained it to a guy called Norman Moyo, and he flew to the US. Today Norman runs a business called CUMI, based on that technology, which is in 5x countries.

  7. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    One of our youngest CEOs is a woman called Natalie Javangwe. One morning, I read an article on Mobile Money, which was extremely well researched, and full of amazing ideas.
    I called one of our CEOs, and said to him, “find her and try to recruit her.”
    A few days later he came back and said “she is based in London where she works.”
    “Do everything to bring her home. Let’s give her a chance to work in the industry she has been writing about.”
    The rest is history, as they say. In a few short years she has risen through the ranks and is one of our key entrepreneurs as the CEO of Ecocash!

  8. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Christopher, writes:

    This is a great post, most people work in organizations as if they have no stake in the organization, when you say they will tell you the organization is not for his father. We need to change our mindsets and know we have stakes in the organization we work for, for growth and development. Thanks sir, may God continue to strengthen you.

    My reply,
    Long before I knew how to build proper processes and systems, One of my businesses that employed more than 500 people collapsed because of fraud by senior management at the company.
    After the company was forced to close because of heavy loses, I remember one of the retrenched workers crying, and saying to his colleagues, “we all knew what was happening, and yet none of us did anything to alert Mr Masiyiwa. We have destroyed OUR own company. You see Mr Masiyiwa has other businesses, but we have lost our jobs.”
    Your job makes you a stakeholder in the organization where you work, even if it is a government job.

  9. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Mary Nana, asks:

    Very interesting! Loyalty – how have you handled that. When given such opportunities to help most chief Entrepreneurs expand, what they get back is, the trainees depart and set up similar business and compete with the one that gave them the opportunity! disregarding any legal contracts earlier agreed and signed.

    My reply,
    It would never bother me, if an employee assigned to work as an entrepreneur breaks their trust, and either goes away with the idea or takes it to a competitor. These are my reasons:
    # The successful execution of any venture requires more than the ideas of one person in our organization. It requires the contributions of many, many other people, including myself.
    A person might be a clever engineer, but they do not know how to raise money for example, something I’m good at.

    #The flow of good ideas will never end. So I don’t have to cry because someone went off with one good idea to set themselves up as an independent entrepreneur.

    Most importantly:
    # Jesus Christ once said “And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?”
    [it would appear that walking away with something you were being paid to develop is not a godly way to get yourself started in business or new career.]

    • Ugonne Ann

      I am a kindergarten teacher and I’ve always wondered how to tally my fascination with entrepreneurship and my love for education…and the concept of “teacherpreneurs” has been of utmost interest to me recently. I’m glad i know now that i don’t have to run off and start my own school/business to become a “teacherpreneur” …Thank you Sir.

  10. Wilbert Mutoko

    Dr Masiyiwa

    I am so proud of you. I am so excited with the simplicity of what you teach. I lecture entrepreneurship in University and I am an intrapreneur or corporate entrepreneur; which is exactly what you have been sharing in this teaching.

    It is so true that if one is lazy while working somewhere, when they finally start their own business; the laziness continuous. I always encourage people to be hardworking, innovative, creative and treat employer’s property and time as their own. It is all about the habits we develop.

    May God keep blessing you.

    Wilbert R. Mutoko

  11. Wilbert Mutoko

    After thought

    You are right Dr Masiyiwa that it is an issue of mindset. One day as a lecturer I walked into a lecture room and found the carpet being soiled by dropping water from an air con. Instead of lecturing, first of all I looked for a bucket to stop the drops of water from soiling the carpet. Then I switched off the air con. As I did so, students just looked at me.

    I asked the students why none of them had thought of stopping the water droplets. They laughed me to scorn, saying, “This is not your university. Do not worry about the carpet.” I then explained to them that they had a wrong mindset. We all form the university. I went on to say, “I do not work for XYZ University, rather I work with XYZ University. I see myself as a partner.”

    How I wish everyone could see themselves as partners in companies or government departments where they work.

    I wonder when I see some officers abusing company vehicles and equipment. You find someone who leaves air cons on throughout the weekend and they just don’t care about the waste of electricity, aging of the air cons unnecessarily etc. You find people leaving office lights on for the night or for days!

    How I wish everyone would learn from your teachings Dr Masiyiwa.
    Anyone who is not serious in taking care of property and equipment or time where they work; I do not see them succeed in future unless they change their habits quickly.

  12. Nwaba Chukwudi Jesse

    I have been blessed beyond measure by your inspiring articles and I say may God who has been your ANCHOR, continue to hold you.
    I do have a pressing challenge that weighs me down and I need your advice. I’ve never been able to fully make use of my potentials. I say this because I know from where I am now, that this isn’t where I should be. Most people I’ve met say things like ‘Jesse! You r smart and intelligent but you are always waiting for things to happen’. Pls Sir, how do I change this attitude of ‘waiting for things to happen’ TO ‘seizing every opportunity to utilise my potentials?’

  13. Lawrence Okello

    Thanks Dr. Strive, Ever since I discovered your mentorship programme, I always look forward to the next article, I haven’t missed one since then and more importantly things have never been the same again.

  14. Archie MZ

    As exactly as Robin S Sharma also taught in one of his books, The Leader Who Had No Title. You are a great entrepreneur sir, Thank you for being one of the practical examples of what is true and powerful

  15. Kenny

    I never knew this blog existed but thank you! This is eye opening and it’s profound. I’d love to read more of this!

  16. Olushola Olusegun

    Mr. Strive you are such an inspiration to me. May God continues to increase you in wisdom and understanding.

  17. Isaiah Olusola

    You’re such a blessing to many of us on this platform for your wise counsels,ideas and knowledge sharing on how to have a entrepreneurial mindset to change our world positively!


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