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Arrogance – both a necessity and a danger to young entrepreneurs

Arrogance can be both a necessary driver and a danger to young entrepreneurs. So says Koovi Moodley, venture manager at business incubator Awethu Project, which supports entrepreneurs and SMEs in under-resourced communities in South Africa’s Gauteng province.

Speaking to the 12 finalists of the 2014 Anzisha Prize, a competition for Africa’s youngest entrepreneurs, Moodley pointed out that entrepreneurs are typically arrogant.

“There is an arrogance associated with entrepreneurs because you believe in the product, you believe in yourself, and you know it’s going to work. That’s why you do this instead of going out and working for someone else – you have that confidence.”

She added that young entrepreneurs especially have to deal with constant doubt from friends and family who question whether they have what it takes to succeed at an early age. A bit of arrogance is then required in order for entrepreneurs to keep believing in themselves and what they are doing.

“But unfortunately, when you transfer that arrogance into the running of your business, it comes back to bite you.”

According to Moodley, arrogance can become an entrepreneur’s downfall when it keeps them from being honest and realistic about their strengths and weaknesses. If entrepreneurs do not identify their own weaknesses, they are at greater risk of failure. Letting arrogance affect their ability to acknowledge what they are not very good at must be avoided.

“Not understanding every aspect needed to develop a business is one of the most common causes of entrepreneurial failure. Entrepreneurs are typically skilled in innovation and developing their company’s product or service offering, but often are not experts in other vital parts of running a business – such as financial management, sales, or marketing,” she continued.

But once entrepreneurs have identified those parts of running a business they can’t do, they can then redirect resources and employ people who have the skills needed to do the job right.

“So you need to actually look at and identify your personal weaknesses even before you identify your business weaknesses.”

To do this, Moodley advises young entrepreneurs to do both a business and personal SWOT analysis – where they can evaluate their Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

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