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Business in Africa: How to Survive Ups and Downs

When you’re in startup mode, daily bumps and bruises are a way of life. But every now and then you’ll run into challenges that feel akin to a devastating blow to the gut.

From technical meltdowns, to negative press, to deals gone awry, it’s important for company leaders during these critical times to remain focused on what really matters. After all, their motivation levels impact how and whether the entire company can move forward.

That’s why we asked a range of leading entrepreneurs: What keeps you motivated through the ups and downs of running a business? Here are their responses:

1. I feel I’m always on the cusp of something big. Beyond that intrinsic motivation, in a down period, I anchor myself to routine and family.

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— Gabriel Weinberg, founder and CEO of DuckDuckGo, a search engine that focuses on user privacy and doesn’t track your searches.

2. Taking our lumps as we grow is how we learn. So long as we use those experiences to get better, then it smooths the ups and downs that every business goes through. 

— Jayson Rapaport, co-founder and co-owner of Birds Barbershop, a brand of salons that markets affordable, high-quality cuts and color services. The company recently launched a line of hair care products.

3. I see running as business as running a marathon. There are going to be ups and downs, but to stay energized throughout you have to mitigate both. When you’re in an upswing, keep your energy focused down on moving ahead and always improving, and on a downswing keep your energy focused in the exact same place. If you let yourself get caught up in your own hype, you’ll exhaust yourself with all of the ups and downs.

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— David Simnick, co-founder and CEO of SoapBox Soaps, a maker of all natural, handmade soaps that donates soap products to children in need.

4. Having a long-term mission that matters — in our case it’s reducing crime in communities. This helps keep myself and the team centered. We are not building a business for today; instead, we’re working step-by-step toward a 10-year goal that we believe will make a real difference in the world.


— Jamie Siminoff, CEO and chief inventor of Ring, the maker of the Ring Video Doorbell which allows users to answer the door from anywhere via smartphone.

5. Remembering how BucketFeet started, how far we’ve come and what our goals are now. It is easy to get frustrated and overwhelmed when trying to grow a company from that first vision to a major brand. We started BucketFeet with the idea that art should be for everyone, and it is so helpful to go back to that mission in the tough times — keeping alive that same excitement and passion as when we were just beginning is key.

— Aaron Firestein, co-founder and chief artist of BucketFeet, an online retailer that collaborates with artists to design and create footwear.

6. That’s easy: it’s my team. I feel lucky to be surrounded by passionate, smart, humble, and driven individuals. Everyday I am impressed by their commitment and work ethic.

— Olga Vidisheva, founder and CEO of Shoptiques, an e-commerce destination that sells goods from local boutiques.

7. Seeing the teams I’ve built solve problems and be successful. This along with keeping a relentless focus on our company’s purpose and goals has been critical to helping me navigate the highs and lows of being at the helm of one of the fastest-growing food companies in the country.

— Gautam Gupta, co-founder and CEO of NatureBox, a monthly subscription service that delivers healthy snacks.

8. I’m honored (and awed) that over 200 great people have joined me here at Namely. These are hard working, committed, and driven people who have dedicated countless hours to our success. When things get tough, I think of them. They believe in Namely, and that motivates me to build a great workplace where we can be successful.

— Matt Straz, founder and CEO of Namely, a cloud-based platform that helps businesses manage payroll, benefits and other HR needs.


Written by How Africa

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