Business Innovator and Catalyst
Adversity is one of the most powerful forces driving progression, innovation and entrepreneurship. Depending on your approach it’s either an insurmountable obstacle or a ramp for your successful trajectory. It will force you to choose to bring out the best or the worst in you.
There is something very powerful about adversity. It moves the human race forward. It scares us, challenges us, and forces us to forge our character in a way that without it, we may never have otherwise done. The trick is a fundamental shift around our view of adversity, the type we face daily in Africa. We need to rewire our brain to see these as a force for good; life’s way of packaging our next opportunity. This will change the way we react to them. It’s not about overcoming adversity, it’s about embracing it as a necessary platform for innovation and success.
This platform reveals that there are so many uncharted frontiers to explore and new businesses to create. Legendary entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel (co-founder of PayPal and an early investor in Facebook) explores how we as entrepreneurs should be moving the world forward. In his book Zero to One, Thiel presents an optimistic view of the future of progress and a new way of thinking about innovation. He insists that we need ask the questions that lead us to find value in unexpected places; it’s not just doing the same thing in a different way. Much like the questions we are faced with when presented with great adversity (opportunity).
In Thiel’s words: ‘Doing what someone else already knows how to do takes the world from 1 to n, adding more of something familiar. But when you do something new, you go from 0 to 1. The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. Tomorrow’s champions will not win by competing ruthlessly in today’s marketplace. They will escape competition altogether, because their businesses will be unique.’
Pioneering businesses and solutions for humanity will be born out of the view of the entrepreneurs that face and embrace adversity (opportunity) in such a way that they move us and the world from 0 to 1. In Africa, we are privileged to be presented with this type of adversity (opportunity) daily. This was never as apparent as when William Kamkwamba − an entrepreneur from Malawi with no formal education or funding and with only the resources he could salvage from a scrapyard − built an electricity-generating windmill to save his family and village from famine at the time. This led to multiple entrepreneurs offering distributed microgrids returning electricity and pumped water solutions for millions, fuelled by real African adversity (opportunity).
- ‘I tried and I made it!’, said William Kamkwamba.
- There is something very powerful about adversity. It moves the human race forward.
- As entrepreneurs, we need to shift from doing what someone else already knows how to do, moving the world from 1 to n, to overcoming adversity by doing something new for the world, pushing us from 0 to 1.
So, whatever your age …
- Understand your financial planning framework and objectives for each class of asset.
- Don’t ‘bet the house’ on your business with your retirement investments.
- Protect your business assets and personal wealth with appropriate assurances for when ‘business or life happens’.
- Invest the wealth from business assets prudently whether for business growth or building personal or retirement assets.
- Evaluate the legal structures, estate planning, tax planning, and cash flow planning options available to you.
- Have a clear understanding of the value of the business you own and your exit strategy.
- Seek professional financial advice in each category.