Entrepreneurs need to better understand risk by failing fast and forward

Are entrepreneurs risk takers at heart or calculated visionaries? According to serial entrepreneur and Ukheshe Technologies CEO, Clayton Hayward, many entrepreneurs don’t truly understand the nature of risk, which has a direct impact on the success of their business idea. He says that to be a successful entrepreneur you need to be willing to take risks with a greater vision in mind – and become comfortable with the possibility of failure.

Hayward (pictured), who has started more than 26 businesses since graduating in the early 90s, says that globally, managing risk is probably one of the biggest entrepreneurship obstacles: “It is important not to overthink, over strategise or over plan the launch of a business. Understand the nature of the risks involved and go for it. Too many entrepreneurs let perfect get in the way of good. Timing is vital, just make a decision and commit to it.”

While avoiding debt is critical, Hayward believes budding entrepreneurs must understand that the risk is there regardless of how good the business plan is: “My advice to first-timers: approach friends, family and fools who believe in your vision for an investment, and then take the leap.”

Side bar – Hayward’s entrepreneurial advice:

  • Understand that risk is always present
  • Fail fast and evolve
  • Focus and make an impact

He says that if you are going to fail, then do it fast and try not get lost in the process: “Get into the market as soon as possible with a minimum viable proposition and evolve the business from there. If you wait for it to be perfect, you will not get anywhere fast.”

Along with understanding risk, it’s critical to learn from failure and Hayward urges entrepreneurs not to fear it: “We learn more from failing than we do from success. Take notes and try again knowing that you have learnt a valuable lesson and won’t make the same mistake twice.”

He admits that it is harder to fail in the South Africa market because it is so frowned upon. Conversely, in the United States failure is regarded as part of being a successful entrepreneur: “There is a lot that we can learn from the United States where I believe entrepreneurship was born. They absolutely lead the way in how to make a success of a business and how to fail successfully too.”

Closer to home, the African continent is filled with the green shoots of exciting opportunities according to Hayward who currently heads up Ukheshe Technologies, a market-leading fintech enabler with an eye on becoming Africa’s next unicorn: “With the launch of 5G we are expecting innovation to flourish. I am excited to assist the market to address financial inclusion and make a meaningful impact across the market. It is here that I learnt another valuable lesson: focus.”

He says that as a serial entrepreneur, the joy is often in the chase, having several projects running concurrently. “But many have suggested that I learn to focus on one instead of many and this is what I am doing with Ukheshe. We took risks, pivoted and took some more risks, and now we have built one of the most exciting businesses that will undoubtedly exceed all my entrepreneurial dreams.”


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