What's An Entrepreneur Mindset And Why Do I Need One?
There’s a lot of buzz out there around the importance of an entrepreneur mindset. Why?
Whether you are running a family or a business or even working for someone else, there are critical skills and benefits that can be harnessed from this mindset: creative thinking, seeing possibilities instead of problems, risk taking, perseverance, developing trust and confidence in oneself, listening and teamwork, and delegating to name a few.
So you might be wondering, what exactly is an entrepreneur mindset? And how do I get one?
According to the Journal of Entrepreneurship, researchers from the Indian School of Business found three main themes in the mindsets of successful entrepreneurs: they are people-oriented, purpose-oriented, and learning-oriented.
Let’s go through each one of those, explore what they mean, and learn how you can apply them to your life and business.
Entrepreneur mindsets are people-oriented.
- Understand that the customer is always right. You may think you’re right, but if you want to sell your products, make people happy, and gain the trust and loyalty of customers, it’s necessary to listen to them. This requires side-stepping the ego, and being open to ideas that might not have been part of your original vision. It also requires the willingness to pivot and adapt.
- Know that it really does take a village to succeed. Nobody succeeds alone. Every great entrepreneur is surrounded by people who helped them get there, from teachers and mentors to their employees. My husband always says he’ll take an idea from anyone - and he does; he’s named shows based on something an intern said. (And he always gives them credit!) So stay open - good ideas are everywhere! And remember to appreciate the help you get. People who feel appreciated will go the extra mile for you.
- Maintain a high standard for accountability. It’s so important to get the job done when you say you will. Yet that’s easier said than done, right? When you’re the boss, you’re creating the schedule - and you’re creating the level of success. Everyone else is depending on you for you to do your part. You have to find a way to be accountable, whether that’s getting an advisor or mentor, or finding it within yourself.
- Seek feedback, not validation. We all want to hear that we’re great, that things are perfect, that everyone loves us. That’s natural. But we need to be open to all feedback, not just the good stuff - and the key to doing that is reframing. Just as failure can be reframed as “successful learning,” we can reframe criticism or an unhappy customer to “constructive feedback” - which can in turn make our business better. That’s the only way to really grow. So don’t surround yourself with “yes” people. Be open to what your clients and customers say, and encourage them to be truthful and open.
Entrepreneur mindsets are purpose-oriented.
- Have a strong vision. Vision is everything. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re not going to get there. Visions can shift, it can change direction. But it’s really important to create a vision, get clear on it, and stick with it. Then do what it takes to get there. Do you need a coach? A board of advisors? Once you have a clear vision, you can work backwards and figure out what you need to get there.
- Practice being decisive. The most successful entrepreneurs have the ability to decide quickly, to make the best decision they can in the moment. Don’t linger in No Man’s Land. You’ll slow processes down and get in your own way. Practice making firm, fast decisions in little things, like choosing food or exercise or weekend plans. Listen to your body - it always knows the answer.
- Play the long game. Be resilient. Every entrepreneur faces setbacks at some point in their career - probably way more than they expected! If you’re not in it for the long game, you’re liable to give up after a setback, because it will feel permanent. So keep your bigger vision in mind - it will help give you resilience. And again, reframing failure will help with this, so practice your self-talk. It’s not “I failed, I suck” - it’s “Well, that didn’t go as expected. What did I learn? What can I do better next time?”
- Be goal- and action-oriented. You can’t succeed as an entrepreneur if you’re not taking consistent action in the direction of your vision. One of my favorite questions for this is, What must happen in order to move forward? That’s a powerful way to come up with effective action items that will actually work, instead of just keeping you spinning your wheels.
Entrepreneur mindsets are learning-oriented.
- Cultivate a growth mindset, not a fixed one. You can do hard things! Always, always look for ways to grow and expand your knowledge base, creativity, and skillset. Neither life nor business stands still - it’s always changing, and you must be willing to change with it.
- Be a risk taker. You have to be willing to consistently stretch outside your comfort zone. It’s scary to take risks, but the old saying is true - no guts, no glory. That doesn’t mean be reckless, but bold action is generally rewarded.
- Be flexible. Course-correct as needed. Assess your results after taking action. What’s working, what’s not? Where can you pivot if something’s not working? There’s not a straight line to success, so having some flexibility in how you get there is key. As long as the vision is clear, the “how” can change.
- Grow with technology rather than fight against it. These days, it’s virtually impossible to be an entrepreneur without embracing some tech. As much as you might hate social media, or feel overwhelmed by what’s available, know that it’s here to stay, and it can help you. How might you find a workaround to the parts that don’t come easily to you? You don’t have to be great at everything, but you do have to understand that it’s a critical piece of the puzzle. Find ways to view it as a privilege, a learning opportunity, a chance to reach people in new ways.
- Reframe failure. Notice how this one has come up a few times now? That’s because it’s so, so important. Remember that an experience is a win, or it’s a growth opportunity. Most entrepreneurs have probably failed more than they’ve succeeded, but their successes are greater than their failures. Everybody faces failures. The difference is, successful people get back up, every. Single Time.
So let’s turn to you. Which of these bullet points surprised you?
Which ones come easily to you? Celebrate that! Chances are, there’s someone who’s working really freaking hard to get good at what comes naturally to you.
Which one or ones gave you a little nagging feeling, like maybe that’s something you need to work on?
What’s one thing that you can do today or this week to put one of these into action?
Go out, tap that entrepreneur mindset, and shine.
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