Business Development Opinions

The art of swimming when others are sinking: How to thrive in the business world

Karen Maturure

By Karen Whitney Maturure

If you are an entrepreneur, unemployed, and hoping to get a job soon or have your own business, or if you are already employed then this article is for you.

At a time when organisations are struggling to stay afloat, unemployment rates soaring, there is a need to have an evaluation of how you are doing things as an entrepreneur or as an employee. However, this article is not about why people don’t thrive in the world of business because at times one can do everything possible but still end up on the other side. This article is rather about how one can maintain their relevance within the business world. All the wisdom you will find here is certainly from my own personal experiences both as an entrepreneur and employee I hope that someone out there will certainly learn something valuable.

  1. Do not downplay your achievements

How many times do you find yourself saying this to your service users or supervisor, “Oh it was nothing” or “No need to thank me, it was not that big a task” yet you will have spent hours on end sweating over a certain task. Please do not downplay it. You worked hard and for others to recognise this.   Be the first to acknowledge it as you communicate with others.

  1. Take your work seriously

Are you jotting down minutes? Are you printing important documents for a meeting? Are you sourcing quotations? No task whether big or small is unimportant. Recognise this and you are set to survive in the world of business or work. When you sit down at that weekly meeting mention all those “small” accomplishments with a serious look that screams, “I take what I do seriously”. Don’t scratch out those little details. They matter! If you do not take what you do seriously you will not do it with your all and the result will not be top-notch. Most importantly if you do not take yourself seriously imagine how much more difficult it will be for others too.

  1. Take time selecting the right look/dress

Remember you are the face of the organisation, whether your own or as an employee. People often say looks do not matter and there are even organisations that allow employees to be as liberal as they want in their choice of clothes. There are directors who also go around clad in the casual wear when they feel like it. But be wary of this as such freedom can imprison you. What you put on will definitely have an impact on the extent to which people will take you seriously. You are safest in nice, clean, neatly ironed, and perfectly fitting formal wear. If you are to go casual on a normal working day I personally advise smart casual. And remember there is a thin line between classy and trashy. Ladies you may be one side away from being the latter. Above all wear what makes you comfortable as this has a direct impact on your levels of confidence, self-awareness, and consequently how you relate to others.

  1. Speak! Speak! Speak!

I once used to classify myself as an introvert and felt so comfortable being quiet during meetings and simply listening to others speak. I thought this was just fine. After all, I was an introvert. Right? But I quickly realised that the more I was quiet, the more invisible I became together with my accomplishments and relevance. You have to learn to speak whenever it is crucial to add your voice. If you keep on keeping quiet you are slowly killing your relevance to your service users or within the organisation.

  1. Results are the new mantra!

So you have been seen arriving at work before 8’ O’clock and you are the very last person to leave the company? Do you think this has much significance? No. Certainly not much. I have seen the type of employees that always arrive at work late and make the most noise about leave days but still maintain their positions at work whilst the punctual fellows who are always working overtime get sent home. This is also even more important as an entrepreneur. Imagine how many clients a business can lose after upsetting a few customers considering the lightning speed of bad news since time immemorial.   The art lies in producing the much-needed results. Period! It is about being efficient and effective whilst being goal-oriented. Who is a better employee? One who comes late and leaves early after accomplishing set tasks or the one who arrives early but wastes the entire day and then works overtime to finish a task? Most organisations are now focused on results as they too need to maintain relevance and beat the competition. They too are now being monitored and evaluated based on set indicators so definitely you too are being monitored and your performance is being placed on a scale daily whether you realise it or not. If you are an employee do not be found wanting.

  1. Exude positivity

They are people who walk around with an “invisible” cloud of greyness hanging over them. You encounter them in a taxi in the morning and your whole day becomes grey ate. If it was a Friday, it begins to feel like a Monday as all your positive energy becomes sucked out of you the moment they speak to you. You may think this is nonsensical but being a positive team player at work is key. Here what is important is to be able to separate your work life and private life. If you are having problems in the private sphere better keep them there. People will listen as you cry over how your partner cheated on you for the millionth time and have massive fun gossiping about it but trust me employers won’t be very amused. Also the more you share your never-ending problems the more they doubt your capacity as a problem solver and other key competencies at home and at work. Again when a new proposal is being laid out by a colleague be positive and supportive. Don’t always be the one to “kill the vibe” of your team or your service users.

There are many other tips on how to thrive in the business world but I find these to be very important ones judging from my own personal experiences. However after all is said and done, we all have different strengths as well as experiences that make our business journeys unique.


Who is Karen Whitney Maturure? I am a woman aged 28 who lives for writing, researching and most importantly, development work. My life and career have been driven by a strong passion to contribute to the improvement of the position of disadvantaged people in my country and the world over and I believe in the woman. I also have a strong academic grounding in human rights and project management having completed a Bachelor of Arts in Development Studies at Midlands State University. I am also a student at the University of Zimbabwe who is about to complete a Master’s Degree in International Relations and a holder of a Professional Certificate in Monitoring and Evaluation with the University of Zimbabwe.

I am currently the Communications and Administration Assistant for BIO-HUB Trust. I am a qualified, dedicated and experienced development worker, with over four years’ experience in project management particularly with ROOTS Africa, under the Zimbabwe Human Rights Fund at Hivos, the Urban Space Harare environmental project and the Adolescent Sexual and Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights department at the United Nations Population Fund Zimbabwe.

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende