The Real Reason We Don’t See More South African Entrepreneurs

Fear. That’s the reason.

Now if you would like to stop there you can. If talking about fear is too uncomfortable for you, fear of failure to be exact, you can leave. Or you can stay.

Good. So in choosing to stay you are in the minority of South Africa’s potential entrepreneurs who cannot face their fears and create change in their lives. These are people who see a challenge or opportunity in their community, and know they have the skill to solve it, but do nothing. And if you ask them, they will have very reasonable reasons why.

But these are the facts. Every year the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor ( does an international survey of different countries and the level of entrepreneurship activity in that country.

South Africa’s level is on a decline. And the main reason for it is fear of failure.

And for many, it is not failure that they are truly afraid of.

It is humiliation.

In this article First365 tackles why that might be, and how we can see fear differently.


Humility, in everything, is essential. Always be a student of what you are trying to bring to the world, and as a student, you accept that you do not have all the answers.

So many people do not try out of fear of the humiliation that comes with failure. We stop ourselves before we are ridiculed for thinking we are “special enough” to stand out from the crowd, because that’s how most people see entrepreneurship. Some people, maybe even those you love, will see entrepreneurs as people who think their dreams matter, and they will break you down for trying, or even talking about trying.

Many people who think they could be entrepreneurs are too scared to start because they think that not winning the first time means their community, or those they love, will no longer believe in them. That they, somehow, would have lost.


Entrepreneurs do not have answers. We have solutions that we believe in. We are open to being wrong, in fact, we know we are wrong because we accept that things can always be better. A good entrepreneur understands that leaving room for mistakes and failure is a natural part of entrepreneurship.

It does not mean that you are not able. Asking questions does not mean you don’t know an answer. It means that you are curious about the world, your field, and know that to succeed, your business needs to be changing and evolving constantly.

So many people do not ask because they feel the fear of humiliation that they don’t know everything will make them seem like they aren’t good at what they do.

Meanwhile, asking questions of those who you respect, guarantees that you remain good at what you do, otherwise, you simply remain where you started. And no matter how great you were when you started, if you do not learn, you will be left behind.


There is always room for improvement. Failure is an option, but it is not permanent. We look up to success stories, more so when they came from nothing, or when what they built broke down and it was rebuilt stronger than before. We admire them because we feel that they are remarkable, that we cannot do it.

They did it because they understood that failure isn’t permanent. If you accept failure, you fail. But only then.


We need to talk more. We need to talk about failures, how we learnt, how we changed, and became stronger and better. We don’t, because to talk about that would mean that we accept once felt foolish, that we once felt small and allowed ourselves to feel humiliated. Everyone has felt like that. There is such value in talking about it, because that is true learning.

We need to tell each other that failure isn’t possible unless we allow it. Unless we stop trying. Even if you only focus one hour a day on your business, that business is alive. Only when you stop, will you fail.

It’s up to you.

Post Author: First365