Choose fear, not envy, as a driv­ing force

CityPress - - Business And Tenders & Auctions - Muzi Kuzwayo busi­ness@city­press.co.za

Have you heard about this young girl from an im­pov­er­ished back­ground who built a busi­ness em­pire from scratch? Non­tombi Si­wisa is her name. She be­came a bil­lion­aire be­fore she turned 30. Her story is the stuff of fairy tales.

Her mother was a do­mes­tic worker. When she grew old and sickly, Non­tombi stood in for her at work.

The el­dest of six chil­dren, she be­came a mother to her sib­lings and a nurse to her own mother. That did not stop Non­tombi from pass­ing matric with fly­ing colours.

She won a schol­ar­ship, de­vel­oped an app while at univer­sity and, by the time she fin­ished her first year, was al­ready a dol­lar mil­lion­aire. Sound too good to be true? It is. Sadly, Non­tombi does not ex­ist. She is a fic­ti­tious char­ac­ter from Face­book utopia, which far sur­passes Hol­ly­wood glam.

Ev­ery­thing in the world is now geared to­wards mak­ing us feel in­ad­e­quate. Our achieve­ments count for noth­ing, be­cause peo­ple younger than us are bet­ter than us, thanks to their phe­nom­e­nal ac­com­plish­ments.

Ev­ery day we read about peo­ple who have built multi­bil­lion-rand em­pires, and the lux­u­ri­ous lifestyle do­ing so can buy which in­volves any­thing from own­ing pri­vate jets to cas­tles and golf courses – as if these are the things to as­pire to.

Those who do not have this lifestyle pre­fer to fake it. So, in ad­di­tion to sim­ply try­ing to keep up with the Gumedes, an un­quench­able thirst for out­shin­ing them en­sues.

It does noth­ing to im­prove so­ci­ety, but in­stead, takes us down a de­struc­tive vor­tex.

We have dif­fer­ent tal­ents, and the world needs them all. We need the dry cleaner around the cor­ner, along with the butcher, the car­pen­ter and the plumber, as much as we need the gar­dener.

Yet, our minds have been twisted to think that busi­ness means big – the big­ger, the bet­ter – and that all suc­cess must be white-shirt con­spic­u­ous.

When peo­ple fail to bot­tle their as­pi­ra­tions and sell them, they feel like the vil­lage id­iot.

Times are tough. Peo­ple are los­ing jobs and it is com­mon to see gen­er­a­tions of youngsters coun­try­wide sit­ting idly, watch­ing their youth pass them by.

Soon they will be un­em­ploy­able, con­demned them to a job­less life with no chance of fi­nan­cial se­cu­rity come mid­dle age.

Sadly, we do not have enough in­sti­tu­tions to ab­sorb all our school leavers since many were closed down over faulty in­fra­struc­ture, al­most nonex­is­tent teach­ing and other sys­temic fail­ures.

It is cru­cial to change young peo­ple’s mind­sets that the fail­ure to gain a univer­sity en­trance means they are fail­ures. This is a false­hood that can­not be per­pet­u­ated.

To para­phrase the late US es­say­ist and hu­man rights ac­tivist Maya An­gelou, young minds must not be al­lowed to go to waste.

They should be en­cour­aged to start their own busi­nesses, no mat­ter how small.

Many busi­nesses were started with­out much cap­i­tal, but with guts and money bor­rowed from friends, un­cles or aunts.

Per­haps it is time stokvels changed fo­cus and went into ven­ture cap­i­tal – with strict guide­lines.

Many may fail at first, but that is how ev­ery­one learns.

We must give our youth the con­fi­dence to start again and in­stil in them the be­lief that they can suc­ceed.

Re­sults and prof­its are se­duc­tive. Prof­its make some peo­ple take short cuts, to the detri­ment of the long-term sus­tain­abil­ity of the busi­ness.

Vic­to­ries are sweet, but they do not guar­an­tee that to­mor­row will be as good.

The trick, per­haps, lies in fear rather than in wish­ing to em­u­late fic­ti­tious Face­book char­ac­ters.

The fear that it can all go wrong quickly mo­ti­vates many peo­ple to keep a keen eye on their busi­ness. It drives them to wake up early and work late into the night.

Per­haps US busi­ness pioneer An­drew Grove was right when he said: “Only the para­noid sur­vive.” Kuzwayo is the founder of Ig­ni­tive,

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