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Having an entrepreneurial mindset is key to starting and running a successful business. And if you’re a business owner, you already know that growing and managing a business is no stroll in the park. It requires hard work, determination, wearing many hats, sacrifices, adaptability, and courage.
But what exactly is an entrepreneurial mindset, and how can you improve yours?
What does an effective entrepreneurial mindset look like?
An entrepreneurial mindset refers to a set of skills that enable you to thrive in all areas of business. From the initial creation to growing the business, learning and bouncing back from failures (which are inevitable), seizing opportunities that come your way, and managing and leading a team toward your grand vision.
Most schools and even colleges are great at preparing you to be an employee in the big wide world, but not so great at developing entrepreneurial qualities.
So if you’re running your own business, it’s up to you to develop these skills and qualities within yourself.
A positive entrepreneurial mindset will help you keep going even through the darkest of times. It will be the light and optimism you need to find an opportunity in every problem. And it will enable you to take calculated risks along the way.
Talking about the mindsets of an entrepreneur can feel fluffy. I get that. But, it is something important and shouldn’t be laughed off.
Entrepreneur mindsets are a choice we make — positive or destructive? The choice we choose can have a dramatic difference.
But here’s the best part: an entrepreneurial mindset can be learned.
So, now that you know what an entrepreneurial mindset is and how it can benefit your business, what can you do to improve yours?
Here are 11 tips to help you boost your entrepreneurial mindset.
1. Built Your Confidence
There will be many times in life where you’ve watched a speaker give an incredible talk on stage or read an excellent book someone has written or witnessed serial entrepreneurs launch one successful business after another.
You’re left in awe, wondering how you can tap into that level of confidence, especially when you don’t know what you’re doing—yet.
Here’s the deal—those people were all once where you are today. People who are at the top of their game haven’t always been that way. They put in the hours and did the work, and each time they showed up and noticed improvement, their confidence soared. If they learned to build their confidence, so can you.
Confidence is vital when it comes to mastering an entrepreneurial mindset. So the next time you’re doing something you don’t have much experience in, act with confidence. Get used to that feeling of not knowing what you’re doing. Because as your business grows, this feeling will never stop.
It’s okay if things don’t go as well as you planned. Keep learning and keep saying positive, empowering things to yourself along the way.
2. Having an entrepreneurial mindset is about breaking the rules
Remember when Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone to the world? He completely revolutionized the phone, transforming it from a device that only makes voice calls to something that you can complete multiple tasks with.
This is a great example of how entrepreneurs can bend conventional rules and see the world differently than most people. It requires a critical and analytical mind to search for ways to improve things constantly.
However, this critical mind can also be your nemesis and prevent you from taking risks or being innovative. This is why creativity and innovation are stifled in most traditional organizations because the rigid processes and structure don’t encourage it.
So, to work out your entrepreneurial mindset, ensure you’re giving yourself (and your employees) sufficient space and freedom to think freely, break the rules, disrupt the status quo, and run with their ideas. You never know where they’ll lead.
3. Find your drive
If you sometimes struggle to feel motivated about your business, it may be because you haven’t yet figured out (or you’ve forgotten) why you even started your business.
The answers to these questions will help you clarify your why and help you stay motivated even through the most challenging times.
You could have all the other qualities on this entrepreneurial mindset list checked off, but without drive, you won’t achieve your goals, and your competitors will undoubtedly outperform you.
4. Seek out mentors to boost your entrepreneurial mindset
Unfortunately, there’s no fast forward button you can hit to speed up your learning curve in business.
But the next best thing is seeking out mentors who have already walked a similar path to you and have a wealth of experience to share with you.
You can’t put a price on experience like this. Think about how long it will take you to learn what this person already knows and can give you golden advice on.
If you want to boost your entrepreneurial mindset, seek out as many mentors that you admire and respect as you can.
Reach out to business owners and offer them value first before asking for anything, and build a genuine relationship with them. Join a business mentoring program and partner with someone in your industry.
Start working with a Certified Business Coach who already has a wealth of experience in growing businesses like yours and can guide you forward to wherever it is you want to go.
Remember, you don’t need to know all of your mentors personally. You can learn so much from people through online courses, podcasts, YouTube videos, or attending seminars.
The bottom line is, if you want to achieve great things in your business, you must adopt a growth mindset and be willing to learn from others.
Accept that you don’t know everything (none of us do). Have the humility to and implement their guidance.
5. Get out of your comfort zone
I don’t need to tell you that being an entrepreneur is not in any way comfortable. If you’re already in business, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
Expect plenty of challenges, setbacks, rejections, criticism, self-doubt, failures, embarrassment, and loneliness, to name a few. If you want an easy life, get a job.
On the other side of that is the magic of building something great out of nothing. And all of the discomfort and adversity you face along the way forces you to grow and shapes you for success.
This is never going to be an easy ride, so get comfortable being uncomfortable today.
Do things you’ve never done before. Push yourself to do something that scares you. Lean into anything that makes you nervous or fearful. Allow yourself to be vulnerable sometimes. Challenge yourself each day. Learn a new skill. Push past your self-imposed boundaries.
As the infamous saying goes, if you’re not growing, you’re only dying.
Here’s some inspiration to fuel your entrepreneurial mindset:
Jia Jiang realized one day that his fear of rejection was holding him back from realizing his full potential in life.
So, what did he do? He spent 100 days getting rejected on purpose!
The moral of the story?
Get out of your comfort zone as often as you can.
6. Key for an entrepreneurial mindset: Have goals not dreams
An entrepreneurial mindset is built on having goals and plans rather than dreams.
But entrepreneurs don’t just set any goals. They set SMART goals:
The key is to break down big goals into smaller, achievable goals that you can work on each day and feel a sense of accomplishment as you take one step closer.
A study by Dr. Gail Matthews found that people who write their goals down are 42% more likely to achieve them than those who don’t. So write down your long-term goals, as well as your daily ones. As soon as you reach a goal, pause to recognize it, celebrate it, and then move on to the next one.
Success does not happen by accident. It’s about being intentional with what you desire to achieve, creating a plan, and taking considered action each day.
7. Surround yourself with other entrepreneurs
We are the company we keep. So, who are you spending the most time with, and how are they influencing you?
If you’re constantly with people who moan and talk negatively, you’ll end up dropping down to their level. On the other hand, being with positive, inspiring, and optimistic people will likely lift you up.
Entrepreneurship is a life choice that is very different from being an employee. Anyone in your inner circle who isn’t an entrepreneur is unlikely to understand the challenges and experiences you’re going through day-to-day. This is why having other entrepreneurs around you who get it is essential.
One of the best ways to improve your entrepreneurial mindset is to surround yourself with other entrepreneurs at business networking events and other entrepreneurial events. Don’t see this as an opportunity to pitch other people. Go into it to build genuine relationships, grow your network, and be around this entrepreneurial energy.
You never know who you’re going to meet or where those connections will go.
A great example of this is Jenny Fleiss and Jenn Hyman—cofounders of Rent the Runway. They met at Harvard Business School, where they became friends, brainstorming ideas together regularly, which eventually led to them confounding their company which is currently valued at over $1 billion.
8. Be better every day
Having an entrepreneurial mindset centers on the belief that you are never done learning, and there is always room to grow.
The most successful entrepreneurs and business owners know this and continue improving their skills and evolving professionally and personally.
Guess which one entrepreneurs have?
A growth mindset, all day, every day.
Take online courses. Listen to podcasts. Invest in a coach. Head to a workshop. Become obsessive about tweaking and improving your business. Watch inspiring documentaries. Read.
Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Elon Musk all spend time reading daily without fail. If they can find the time while running billion-dollar businesses, so can you.
Keep working on yourself. Raise the bar a little higher each day.
9. Decide and take action
This brings us nicely on to the next point, which is, you can read all the books, attend the right events, and talk the talk, but are you taking action?
Words are cheap, and there are plenty of “wantrepreneurs” out there these days who enjoy wearing the title of “CEO” but aren’t prepared to back that up with real progress.
Knowledge is great. Ideas are great. But unless you convert those into something tangible, they become worthless.
Having an entrepreneurial mindset means gathering sufficient information, digesting and analyzing it, and having the confidence to decide how to move forward.
There will always be multiple routes you can take and choices you can make—that’s life. But if you procrastinate or find yourself unable to make a decision, you’ll waste a lot of time and end up achieving nothing. Meanwhile, your competitors are taking action and quickly overtaking you as you stand still.
10. Hold yourself accountable
One of the greatest things and most challenging things about running your own business is that you are 100% responsible for everything.
If a new project fails, it’s on you.
If one of your employees makes a massive error, it’s on you.
Everything that happens at work and in your business is on you. The wins, the losses, the highs, the lows, the successes, the failures, and everything in between.
Even if you aren’t directly to blame for something that goes wrong, having an entrepreneurial mindset means holding yourself accountable regardless and taking action to resolve the problem.
As an entrepreneur, you must have complete control over your business, and taking responsibility for everything will help you adopt this mindset.
11. Don't be afraid of failure
Failure is inevitable when you’re taking calculated risks and trying things that have never been done before. This is part of entrepreneurship.
Either you’ll succeed, or you’ll fail. But when you fail, there’s an opportunity to learn and grow.
Every business owner you view today as a “success” will undoubtedly have failed at least a few times in their past. But when they did fail, they learned, adapted, changed their strategy, and came back bigger and better the next time around.
One of the best examples of someone who is intimately acquainted with failure is James Dyson, inventor of the Dyson vacuum. He created over 5000 prototypes that didn’t work before he finally made one that did.
It’s impossible to get everything right the first time when you’re essentially walking blindly down a path that no one has ventured down before. Expect to fail. But fail well. Look for the opportunities in your failures. Encourage your employees to do the same.
Avoid criticizing yourself—mistakes happen to us all. Make time for reflection when things don’t go according to plan. Write down the key takeaways. Revise your plans accordingly.
I’d also like to point out that there is a right and wrong kind of failure. The right kind is with regards to innovation and pushing boundaries. The wrong type is when you experience failures in your day-to-day processes and operations, all of which can be foreseen and avoided with the right planning and systems in place.
So fail in the right way, and appreciate the gifts this brings.
Conclusion: Focus on developing your entrepreneurial mindset every day
Developing an entrepreneurial mindset is not a one-month project. You have to stay committed to it for the rest of your life.
The above tips will help you unlock your greatest potential while dealing with the inevitable challenges that entrepreneurship will bring your way.
All you need to do is stay focused and committed to your goals and long-term vision. Find the motivation to keep going and growing, even when nothing seems to be going your way.
This is what being an entrepreneur and running a business is all about.
Is it glamorous?
But is it worth it as you watch your business grow and become everything you dreamed it would be?
If you’re looking for more support and confidence in running your business and help to stay aligned on the path of success, a certified business coach might be exactly what you need.