A positive mindset will be the key to succeeding in 2023, says Sage’s Jordaan Burger


The vice president of finance shares his top three tips on maintaining a positive outlook in the new year.

Sage Africa, Middle East and Asia-Pacific vice president of finance Jordaan Burger believes that a positive mindset will be key to succeeding in 2023. “We’ve kicked off this year with multiple challenges visibly impacting South Africans – not only as individuals but also from a business point of view,” he explains. “Severe loadshedding is probably the most noticeable, but on top of that we have to deal with high interest rates, high inflation, declining economic growth prospects and continued poor service delivery from our local and national government.”

However, Jordaan says the silver lining that has emerged for him from all of these challenges is the resilience that South Africans have shown in the face of adversity, time and time again. He refers to recent research published by Sage, which surveyed more than 13,000 small and medium businesses (SMBs) globally to understand their experiences over the last 12 months and measure their optimism about what lies ahead.

The three key findings for South Africa shows:

  1. Seventy-five percent of South African SMBs are confident about the success of their business right now, which is 10 percent higher than the global average.
  2. Eighty percent feel confident about the success of their business over the next 12 months (versus 69 percent globally).
  3. More than half (56 percent) expect their employee numbers to increase over the next year – significantly higher than the global average of 46 percent.

From the 11 countries surveyed, South Africa comes out top for optimism about what lies ahead.

Other key themes and takeaways from the survey include technology being key to overcoming barriers, talent being a pillar for optimism, and how important government support is.

“The results on our optimism are what really make me proud,” Jordaan says. “But how do we maintain the lead on optimism and what do we need to focus on?”

Jordaan’s top three tips are:

  1. Be laser-focused on your goals and believe that your results will be determined by your effort and not all the noise around you. We sometimes need an adverse playing field in order to excel. Ayrton Senna said: “You cannot overtake 15 cars in sunny weather, but you can when it’s raining.”
  2. Develop your growth mindset. Use the word “yet” to nurture your growth mindset, for example: “I don’t have the funding, skills, talent, product or team yet.” Jennifer Smith writes in her article Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset: How what you think affects what you achieve that we need to believe our intelligence and talents can be developed over time and recognise that experimentation and failure are necessary for the learning process.
  3. Do what South Africans do best: stay optimistic. Bill Taylor says in his Harvard Business Review piece, titled How to stay optimistic (when everything is awful) that leaders are responsible for keeping hope alive and inspiring their colleagues. We also need to counter all the bad news around us with as much positive news as possible. Next time you want to share a story on how bad loadshedding is impacting you, force yourself to think of something positive to share instead, like the new client you won or the great customer feedback you received.

“My hope is that we can all look back 12 months from now, knowing we didn’t miss a single opportunity, didn’t let fear or negative thoughts discourage us and succeeded in making our businesses, other businesses and all South Africans thrive during 2023,” Jordaan concludes.

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