The Entrepreneurial Mindset: Adopting Exponential Thinking

by | Sep 8, 2017

When I first started to think about ways to draw in an extra income, many people told me to “think like an Entrepreneur”. The phrase seemed pretty straightforward and without doing any research I assumed, as most people would, that it meant that I should try and sell something for money. Thinking about starting my own business, I began to expand the way I looked at the world, trying to identify the kinds of skills I  needed for Entrepreneurial success. Since then I’ve come to understand that becoming an Entrepreneur involves more than learning a few business skills, it is about adopting an Entrepreneurial mindset .

Any successful Entrepreneur will tell you that it’s not only about the skills you have, it is about the way you think. Entrepreneurs think by actions and possibilities, going beyond the current status quo. Actions increase experience and possibilities keep them one step ahead.  They are not afraid to shy away from risk and approach the problems they face  with solutions that can add value.

The topic of Entrepreneurial thinking was addressed at this year’s Innovation Summit in Cape Town. Amongst the Innovators and ecosystem players, Mushambi Mutumbi (Co-Founder of Altivex Creative and Managing Director at Kairo) led an inspirational talk on evolving the Entrepreneurial mindset. He opened with a powerful quote by Howard Stevenson which read – “Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regards to resources currently controlled”  The idea that Entrepreneurs should go after opportunities regardless of their limitations brought to life the concept of Exponential Thinking. Knowing how complex the Entrepreneurial mindset is, the idea of further evolving it really caught my interest.

For those who are unfamiliar with the term, Exponential Thinking can be explained as a futuristic thought process. Most people who understand the concept would explain it like this – “If I were to take 30 linear steps, it would be one, two, three, four, five.  After 30 linear steps I’d end up 30 paces or 30 meters away and all of us could pretty much point to where 30 paces away would be. But if I said to you take 30 exponential steps, one, two, four, eight, sixteen, thirty-two and said where would you end up? Very few people would say a billion meters away, which is twenty-six times around the planet”. Someone thinking linearly would move at a much slower predictable pace than someone thinking exponentially.

It is a known fact that the world is moving at an exponential rate. Steven Kotler, a ambassador for the power of Exponential Thinking has stated that – “Exponential growth is sweeping the world. It’s in technology. It’s in software. It’s in leadership thinking of those disrupting traditional brick and mortar thinking”. So it makes sense to assume that if  the world moves at an exponential rate a business that flourishes in the present could fail as early as the following year. This is because Entrepreneurs who think linearly will produce more of the same – moving forward in a predictable manner at a predictable pace. We are living in an exponential world and are constantly trying to keep up with the latest technological inventions. Entrepreneurs in tech thinking linearly are at high risk of going out of business.

During his talk, Mushumbi Mutuma highlighted the ways in which Entrepreneurs can start adopting an Exponential mindset. Continuously asking what and why questions and thinking about how quickly the world is changing where some of the key things he mentioned. Mushambi also taught the audience a beautiful Italian word that ties into the concept of Exponential thinking “Sfumato – A willingness to embrace the unknown & still be okay with it.” Combining the Entrepreneurial mindset with Exponential thinking could change the game for many Entrepreneurs in South Africa. In a nutshell, by re-approaching how you solve problems and how your business will compete in future markets you will become a fierce competitor in your industry.

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” – Alan Kay

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