Ego, the Achilles heel of many entrepreneurs. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that we’re the only ones who can save the world with our brilliant ideas. But the truth is, having an exaggerated sense of self-importance is a one-way ticket to failure in entrepreneurship.

When you think you know better than everyone else, or that your ideas are the only ones worth pursuing, you are setting yourself up for a fall. You might push people away, isolate yourself, and lose sight of the bigger picture. And when that happens, it’s hard to build a sustainable business.

The reality is, entrepreneurship is a team sport. You need the input and ideas of others to build something truly great.

When you shut yourself off from the world and ignore feedback, you’re only hurting yourself. You might miss out on critical insights that could make your business better, and you might lose valuable partnerships that could help you grow.

An example of an entrepreneur who struggled with an exaggerated sense of self-importance is Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of the now-defunct blood-testing company, Theranos.

Holmes was touted as a visionary entrepreneur, who was going to revolutionise the healthcare industry with a breakthrough technology that could run multiple diagnostic tests on just a few drops of blood.

She was lauded for her brilliance and confidence, and many investors poured millions of dollars into her company.

However, it was later revealed that the technology was a complete fraud, and that the tests were actually being run on traditional lab equipment.

Holmes had exaggerated the capabilities of her technology, and refused to listen to any feedback or criticism from her team or external experts. She had an unwavering belief in her own vision and abilities, and dismissed anyone who didn’t share her enthusiasm.

This attitude ultimately led to the downfall of Theranos, and Holmes was charged with fraud by the SEC. er trial concluded in September 2021, and she was found guilty on four counts of fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud and sentenced to 11 years in jail.

The verdict was seen as a significant blow to the image of Silicon Valley, and served as a warning to entrepreneurs who prioritise their own self-importance over the well-being of their company and stakeholders.

So, how do you avoid the trap of an exaggerated sense of self-importance?

Start by recognising that you don’t have all the answers. Embrace the fact that you need help and that others can bring valuable insights and ideas to the table. Build a team of people who complement your strengths and weaknesses, and be open to feedback from everyone around you.

Entrepreneurship is not a solo endeavour. It takes a village to build something truly great.

So, put your ego aside, listen to others, and be willing to learn and grow. When you do that, you’ll be well on your way to building a sustainable and successful business.

My Biggest Blunders Speaker: Ms Refilwe Sebothoma, Entrepreneur

Refilwe Sebothoma, founder of specialist PPE [Personal Protective Equipment] business, PBM Group, in South Africa, a company started in 2014 and today with 2500 employees.

As the builder of a growing market-leading business, she continues to grow as a visionary entrepreneur with proven business savvy and qualities. 

Through such business acumen, she founded her business in an industry monopolised by large, well established business and manufacturing industries, and established it as high-growth start-up that is highly recognised as a valuable business partner. In the past two years, as part of her growth strategy, she has been acquiring business shares in huge businesses which own her value chain. 

Catch Fifi at My Biggest Blunders | Pretoria taking place on Wednesday, 26 April 2023 in Pretoria from 10:00 until 15:30.

This is a free admission event but registration is required due to limited space. We expect this event to be fully booked like our last one.

To register, please go to this link: My Biggest Blunders Registration.


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