Why the world needs more ‘unreasonable’ entrepreneurs

The world is changed by those who think differently

human-brain-dc283f76How do you know if you are an entrepreneur? There are several widely-accepted traits, one of which is that they adapt to change, and see opportunities in challenges.

The renowned author, salesman, and motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar says: “When obstacles arise, you change your direction to reach your goal, you don’t change your decision to get there.”

Fear = opportunity

A part of your brain, the amygdala, has evolved to protect you from danger. It is responsible for ensuring fear of, and resistance to, change. It helps to make sure that the things that you do are boring and safe. The entrepreneur in you has to overcome this natural, protective resistance.

Because most people accept the fear of change as normal, that opens opportunities for people who have the courage to rise to meet challenges, and for people who know that there has to be another way, a better way. Which of them is you?

Successful entrepreneurs don’t just take reckless gambles, they have the courage to make informed decisions, they take calculated risks. They know that if they fail, there is no-one to fall back on, there is no plan B.

Anticipate, innovate, initiate

What big changes have we seen in the past 20 years? Here are a few: Google (1998), Capitec Bank (2001), B-BBEE (2003), Facebook (2004), iPhones (2007), longest ever recession (2008), load shedding (2008), e-tolls (2013), 36% real unemployment (2014).

What will change in the future?

• Driverless cars will mean a reduction in car sales as families will only need one car – and they will be more susceptible to hacking and hijacking.
• Will these things be gone – payphones, fax machines, typewriters, cheque books, phone books?
• Will these jobs be gone – cashiers (tap-n-go cards), assembly line workers (robots), air force pilots and foot soldiers (auto-piloted drones), postal deliverymen (email), data capturers (OCR)?
• Will these businesses be gone- video stores, (online movies), travel agencies (online booking)?

Entrepreneurs anticipate and embrace change because it presents them with new opportunities, they don’t resist it.

The power of unconventional thinking

But to ‘change direction’, you need to think differently. What does thinking differently look like? Henry Ford said: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

Don’t always go for the obvious: you may discover unexpected opportunities through unconventional thinking.

In Think Wrong, creative thinking facilitator, John Bilenberg explains that even creative people subconsciously solve problems by following predictable pathways, whereas “what you would want … is as many possibilities as you could imagine. ‘Thinking wrong’ is really about breaking those biases and synaptic pathways to generate a lot of potential solutions before you select and execute one.”

Change is an opportunity for innovation. The iPad and iPhone weren’t invented by Apple, just improved.

Reasonable men adapt to the world around them; unreasonable men make the world adapt to them.

The world is changed by unreasonable men.

How do you respond to challenging changes?  

• Green industries: opportunities in eco-tourism, healthy foods and lifestyle.
• Sustainability: opportunities in fighting poaching, food security, transport.
• Socio-economic: opportunities in fighting poverty, fighting corruption, fighting crime, education and training, housing, health, mentoring entrepreneur.
• Technology: opportunities in mobility, finance, education and training.

The unreasonable entrepreneur

Edwin Louis Cole said that “Reasonable men adapt to the world around them; unreasonable men make the world adapt to them. The world is changed by unreasonable men.”

How have some South Africans changed the world?  Africa’s first space tourist, Mark Shuttleworth developed internet security software which he sold for R 3.5 billion.  Elon Musk founded SpaceX, he co-founded PayPal and Tesla Motors.

A new highway built near American Harland Sanders’ fried chicken restaurant, put him out of business. He then pitched his chicken recipe to over 1,000 investors.  None of them bit.  Then, at age 68, he found a buyer and started franchising his business.  Seven years later Colonel Sanders sold his fried chicken company for $15 million.

Are you a reasonable person?  How will you change the world?


first published in SME South Africa


2015/06/23

CC BY-SA

Click here if you want to discuss what it takes to exploit change.

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