Entrepreneurs need to develop a mental toolbox to sustain themselves and their businesses

Starting a business and sustaining can put a lot of stress on entrepreneurs therefore they need to protect their mental health. Picture: Pexels

Starting a business and sustaining can put a lot of stress on entrepreneurs therefore they need to protect their mental health. Picture: Pexels

Published May 8, 2024


Young South African entrepreneurs face a various of challenges that impact they way that they run their businesses from a lack of funding to unstable electricity supply to crime.

These challenges can put a significant amount of stress on entrepreneurs which in turn can have a major impact on their mental health.

The good news is that they can develop what Nkosinathi Mahlangu, Youth Employment Portfolio Head at the Momentum Metropolitan Foundation calls a “mental toolbox” to succeed and get through any difficulties that they may be facing.

Mahlangu shares what he believes the mental toolbox of every young entrepreneur should have.

A strong support system

Having a strong support system can create an empowering environment for entrepreneurs.

This support system could be in the form of mentorship or peer-to-peer learning, or meetings and workshops with like-minded individuals.

Mahlangu said: “Those born into wealth often have the benefit of having a network of successful people around them, which creates more opportunities. If you are not born into riches, you will need to work even harder to create your own network, which you can do by being proactive and by leaning on your community.”

According to Mahlangu, having a strong community around you acts as a sounding board that allows for learning to happen, creativity to flourish, and ideas to incubate.

Financial literacy

According to Mahlangu, entrepreneurs don’t need to be a maths whizzes to run a business, but they do need to having an understanding of the basics.

This could range from knowing how to draw up a business budget and managing cashflow, as well as terms like income and expenses, assets and liabilities, and debit and credit.

Mahlangu said that there are many great resources out there, many of which are free and can help you get up to speed quickly.


Entrepreneurs that are successful are usually those who are resourceful.

Being resourceful means that you are able to find new opportunities in your environment or clever ways to solve issues that might arise.

“In other words, you can use what you have to succeed, rather than focus on what you don’t have,” says Mahlangu.

The to be resourceful you need to refocus your mindset. Instead of having a mindset of “can do”, yours should have a mindset of “will do”, meaning you will find a way to make something happen.

“Be creative and curious, constantly seeking new ways to realise your goals. Self-belief is powerful. You will be surprised how many opportunities present themselves when you refuse to take no for an answer,” Mahlangu said.

Mental resilience

Being an entrepreneur in South Africa with our challenging economic landscape is even tough.

This is where mental resilience, or the ability to cope with or adapt to difficulty and uncertainty, is crucial.

You can do this by having people in your close circle that you can rely on to not only to support you but who will tell you when you’re not on the right track.

You should also focus on finding time to yourself and prioritise your health and rest.

“This can be difficult, especially when you’re driven to succeed, but these periods to recharge will give you a better perspective and help support a healthy state of mind,” Mahlangu said.

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