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Updated 20 Oct 2020


Entrepreneurship lessons from Stephen Hawking

The late professor was a genius and helped humankind unravel a multitude of mysteries. But, his legacy isn’t limited to theoretical physics and applied mathematics. As entrepreneurs, there’s so much we can learn from him.


Glenn van Eck, 20 April 2018  Share  0 comments  Print


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Everyone knows the limits Hawking's health placed on him, but it never held him back. This is proof that your mindset makes the difference. Maybe your funding hasn't materialised, you can't find the right people to hire, or maybe your competition has bigger budgets that are making a more significant impact on the market?

Whatever the hurdle, belief in your ability to overcome it is highly valuable. 

Deadlines fuel productivity

Doctors initially told Hawking he only had two years to live, and he proved them wrong. He believed the ‘sentence' given to him by doctors gave him his dedication and focus because he wanted to make the most of his time on Earth.

So, if you’re given a tight deadline, don’t groan. Stretch beyond your usual efforts, use the deadline to channel your focus, and tackle tasks with purpose and dynamism. Your blood pressure might have skyrocketed, but so has your adrenaline and ability to get things done.

Related: What Top Venture Capitalists Are Looking For In Your Start-Up

Lean on ‘what if’ scenarios

Hawking’s ideas were complex;  with ‘out there’ thinking and incredibly uncertain until proven. Just like going it alone in business: any new venture is fraught with uncertainty. While it is impossible to eliminate uncertainty, it can be mitigated.

Play out different scenarios in your mind,  and try to gauge the potential outcomes. Time travel might not be physically possible, yet our minds are capable of taking us anywhere. Explore lines of thought to prepare yourself and your team for the future. 

Get out there and engage

Thanks to Stephen Hawking, science isn't limited to the lab. It’s in our living rooms and on our bookshelves. And he did it by using his personality. As an entrepreneur use your personality to get your business out there.

Founders and core team members are integral components of your brand perception. Can you imagine Virgin without Richard Branson or Apple without Steve Jobs? We need human interaction, especially in the digital age. Put yourself out there, and engage with your market. 

Make time for fun

Hawking's humour was almost as famous as his intellect; he famously said, "life would be tragic if it weren't funny". And it was this mindset which kept him going despite the odds. Being an entrepreneur is high-pressure, so make time for fun. Laughter is the best medicine:  it dissolves barriers, it stimulates lateral thinking, dispels stress and makes employees, customers, and companies happier.

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About the author


Glenn van Eck

Aged 20, Glenn started a gardening service in his second year of University, and sold it five years later to buy Magnetic Storm. Still at the helm, Glenn has grown a two-man disco into a full-service event and tech company with offices in Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, servicing the entire country.

Glenn has also invested in Chas Everitt Nelson Mandela Bay, the Electoquip franchise (now incorporated into Magnetic Storm), established Imagio Productions with Glen Meyburgh, and joined forces with his brother Shaun to form The Tourism Coach.

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