Allon Raiz, founder of Raizcorp, explains how attitude can make a huge difference to your ultimate start-up success or failure.
Start-up failure rates are high around the world, and much discussion and research has gone into why. What separates successful businesses from those that don’t make it past the starter’s block?
Why do some businesses not make it past their first two, three or five years? And what can entrepreneurs do differently to ensure their businesses do not become another failed statistic?
According to Allon Raiz, founder of incubator Raizcorp, one of the most prevalent characteristic traits he sees in successful entrepreneurs is a ‘will do’ attitude.
“It’s a simple distinction,” he says. “Unsuccessful entrepreneurs will only take a risk if they have the resources required to capitalise on an opportunity. This means that they work from a value base that essentially says that things can or can’t be done and problems can or can’t be solved. When a problem arises, the gut reaction is either ‘it can be solved’, or ‘it can’t be solved’.
“Successful entrepreneurs on the other hand believe they can muster the resources required to solve any problem. This means that if an opportunity presents itself and the resources required aren’t necessarily in place (or even available), the successful entrepreneur’s mindset is whether the problem ‘will be fixed’ or ‘won’t be fixed’, and this will be determined by how they manage to pull the necessary resources together.”
For Raiz, by taking a ‘will be fixed’ or ‘won’t be fixed’ view, successful entrepreneurs begin with the question ‘how will it be fixed?’ It’s the ‘how’ that lies at the heart of successful entrepreneurial thinking.
Here’s a hypothetical example from Raiz. John’s factory manufactures 100 widgets per day. An established customer calls with an urgent request: He needs 1 000 widgets by the next day for a major project. He understands it’s a last minute request, but can John help him?
“Working from a ‘can/can’t’ mindset, John knows he will only be able to produce 200 widgets by then, so he can’t fulfill the order,” says Raiz. It’s important to recognize that John has a good business, his systems work well and he knows exactly how much output his factory achieves in a day. Even with all these great points going for him though, he will never be truly successful without a will/won’t mindset.
“Because he sees he can’t solve the problem, John regretfully tells his customer that he can’t do it, and he will have to look for another supplier,” says Raiz. “He does want the business; he just knows he can’t manage this particular order. Unfortunately, in turning the business down, he not only loses the order, but also any reputation for reliability that he may have had.”
Finding solutions that work
On the other hand, if John had a true will/won’t mindset, he’d handle the situation completely differently. Upon receiving the request, he immediately tells his customers: “You’ll have 1 000 widgets by tomorrow,” and then sets out to figure out how he’s going to fill the order.
He has 200 widgets in stock, produced for another customer who is only expecting delivery next week. He calls in temporary staff to increase production and offers overtime pay to ensure that he can continue production through the night, meaning he can produce 500 widgets by the end of the next day.
He then manages to source another 300 widgets anonymously from his competitors. The result? He can fulfill his customer’s order.
“The customer is delighted, and happy to pay the premium that John adds to his usual price due to the urgency of the order,” says Raiz.
“The problem with ‘can/can’t’ thinking is that it short-circuits the kind of creative thinking that lies behind successful entrepreneurship. At Raizcorp, we work with a definition of entrepreneurship that describes five elements that are required for entrepreneurship to flourish into success.
One of these elements is that entrepreneurs must have belief in their ability to muster resources. Please note the wording: It’s not an entrepreneur’s ability to muster resources, but their belief that they can. It’s a mindset that makes all the difference, and paves the way for true success, even when times get tough.”