This article was originally published on Medium
Technology, entrepreneurship and innovation are the essence of Mushambi Mutuma. He co-founded Altivex Creative Foundry, which focuses on African engagement in technology and digital industries.
One of his passions is the entrepreneurial mindset. He has tapped into it to build multiple brands and businesses in the last decade.
An entrepreneurial mindset looks outward to create a business that provides products and services to meet needs while making a living independent of other occupations.
“Simply put, this is the art and practice of thinking and behaving like an entrepreneur no matter one’s setting,” Mutuma said. “It takes speed, urgency, agility, being resource-minded and most importantly, rapid experimentation.
“Entrepreneurs are the greatest problem solvers amongst us,” he said. “Translating that thinking into corporate, schools and everyday life is invaluable.”
Although a simple concept, entrepreneurship takes a lot of effort.
“This is more than being an entrepreneur,” Mutuma said. “This is putting the traits that make entrepreneurs great into action in a variety of settings.
“Not everyone is an entrepreneur, and that’s OK,” he said. “However, everyone should certainly think and behave like one in their approach to problem solving, innovating and driving impact. It’s about the way of thinking and what you put to action.”
Others no smarter
An entrepreneurial mindset starts with ambition, a sense of adventure and confidence. Then channel it into an others-first point of view, knowing if you do well for them, you’ll do well for you.
“To quote Steve Jobs, first understand that everything around you was created by someone no smarter than you,” Mutuma said.
“It’s also looking at future problems and solving for them today,” he said. “Elon Musk does a great job of this. What happens when we run out of fuel — Tesla. What happens when we run out of this planet — SpaceX.”
An entrepreneurial mind does not take things lightly.
“Da Vinci also coined my favorite Italian word, dimostrazione,” Mutuma said. “That means a commitment to test knowledge through experimentation and constant application. We also have to take our minds away from thinking linearly — 1, 2, 3, 4, 5… — and instead exponentially — 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64….
“Human challenges, technology, business models, social impact are all moving exponentially,” he said. “We have to shift our thinking, planning and listening accordingly. Otherwise, we’ll be left behind.”
An entrepreneurial mindset gives you your bearings. It incorporates your vision, core values and mission. When in doubt or fatiguing, this frame of mind recharges you with the realization of your purpose.
“It’s nonnegotiable,” Mutuma said. “What other way of thinking will unlock your next level of growth?
“Grit — one of the core principles of the entrepreneurial mindset — is one’s ability to hang in there, to keep going, to combine perseverance and passion,” he said. “Grit has also been proven to be the best predictor of success — beyond IQ, family income, grades, location. So, we can’t afford not to develop it.”
Not for all
Mutuma distinguished between mindset and vocation.
“Remember, we’re not saying everyone must be an entrepreneur,” he said. “She can be entrepreneurial in her approach to becoming and developing as a pilot. It’s two separate ideas.”
Entrepreneurs must know what their stakeholders have a stake in and why. Knowing their “why” will help address their wants, needs and passions.
“Value isn’t a blanket across all stakeholders, but we do have to rethink what value is,” Mutuma said. “This isn’t just likes, follows or even the bottom line. It has to be impact.
“Being in the business of doing good day in and day out is exceedingly more important now than it ever has been in the past,” he said. “Consumers are watching every move.”
An entrepreneur’s actions should be directed toward creating value for the business and consumers.
“Value in innovation is making things better, easier or simpler,” Mutuma said. “Value in tech is making things more accessible, cheaper and scalable.
“Most importantly, we create value by solving a problem — and a problem that has far-reaching impact,” he said. “What’s the impact of everyone believing ‘Yes we can?’ Children across the world can see what their dreams actualized actually can be.”
Actions back ideas
This places greater emphasis on ideas.
“Implementation of those ideas is even more important,” Mutuma said. “We often get stuck in the idea stage alone. Ideas are meaningless — and impactless — without action.”
Organizations that are flexible and welcome new ideas will keep entrepreneurial blood pumping. Stimulus will spark imagination and productivity.
“Any business, corporation or startup that wants to survive the eventual Mike Tyson knockout punch of disruption has to support and develop the mindset with their teams,” Mutuma said.
“The most successful brands embrace failure, experimentation, thinking different, being resourceful,” he said. “Those that don’t might have survived the last 20 to 100 years, but they won’t survive the next five to 10.”
Mutuma noted that programs such as Singularity University are thought leaders day in and day out.
“I believe — especially on the continent — we need more educational systems that foster these skills and values in our children,” he said. “We have to move beyond century-old systems.”
People young and old learn from examples. Doing your best today will help ensure the best practices of entrepreneurs tomorrow.
Start at home
“I couldn’t be more passionate about this,” Mutuma said. “It starts in our homes and education systems. From the jump, we have to allow kids to grow in a world where they don’t implement but they experiment.
“Our current systems reward the ability of youth to repeat what they’ve learned, sometimes to put it into action,” he said. “But we don’t teach them to try to improve it, to break it and build it up again. To fail.”
Simply being young or remembering how you acted as a child has value.
“We need to allow children to capitalize on their passions first,” Mutuma said. “That’s hard, especially as parents. But that freedom to make what they are excited about at work is a challenge. Want to be an artist? Show me the impact and scale that can have.
“Mentorship, mentorship, mentorship,” he said. “I don’t believe we need yet another incubator or accelerator program. We need more organizations committed to solving problems two to three generations from now — involving the world’s youngest population on that journey.”
Appreciate the youngest members of an enterprise for their fresh ideas.
“Many look down on millennials, but they present a tremendous opportunity,” Mutuma said. “That can work in tandem with ‘older’ viewpoints to really push change.”