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Thriving in Adversity

In the midst of ongoing economic and political turbulence, I understand that mid-tier owners face immense challenges. I share valuable insights on navigating these rough waters, drawing on my experience with business owners in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) in this edition of The Money Show.

Resilience Amidst Chaos

In 2023, I had the opportunity to engage with 89 established business owners in KZN, a region battered by riots, floods, and a collapse in tourism. Surprisingly, despite these setbacks, only three out of the 89 business owners expressed a desire to exit their businesses within the next three to five years. The rest were determined to stay and invest in their growth, showcasing an incredible resilience.

The Power of a Growth Mindset

A recurring theme among these resilient business owners was their growth mindset. This mindset involves a willingness to learn, adapt, and implement new strategies despite adversity. These business owners not only sought out new perspectives but also executed their strategies with determination. Their commitment to growth and adaptation was evident in their performance metrics. Compared to their counterparts in other regions, KZN businesses achieved significantly higher revenues and profitability.

Capitalizing on Reduced Competition

The challenges in KZN led to a substantial reduction in competition, as many businesses failed to survive or chose to relocate. This created an opportunity for those who remained. With fewer competitors and a need for infrastructure and services, the remaining businesses found themselves in a position to thrive. These business owners saw potential where others saw only risk, demonstrating the importance of a proactive and optimistic approach.

Strategic Investment in Uncertain Times

One of the most courageous steps these business owners took was investing their own money back into their businesses. With banks and private equity firms reluctant to provide funding, these entrepreneurs used their resources to fuel growth. This decision, although risky, proved to be beneficial. They understood that holding onto money in uncertain times could lead to diminished value due to inflation and other factors. By investing in their businesses, they not only survived but also positioned themselves for future success.

Navigating Political and Economic Shifts

With political coalitions, geopolitical shifts, climate change, and changing work practices, the challenges are manifold. However, the key takeaway is to focus on what is within one’s control. These KZN business owners exemplified this principle by concentrating on their immediate environment and making strategic decisions based on their circumstances.


The experiences of KZN business owners provide valuable lessons for entrepreneurs facing adversity. A growth mindset, strategic investment, and a focus on controllable factors can turn challenges into opportunities. By learning from these resilient business owners, other mid-tier business owners can navigate uncertain times with confidence and optimism.