Few things are more exciting than embarking on an entrepreneurial journey. It certainly was for me. Nothing ignited my fire like the idea of taking an idea and turning it into a product that people would fall in love with — and becoming truly independent in the process.
It seems like everybody these days is an entrepreneur. Studies have suggested there are about in the world — almost one out of every 10 people on the planet. People who wouldn’t have participated in the business world decades ago are getting involved. For example, while the business world remains male-dominated, women entrepreneurs are a growing part of all industries.
But it’s not for everyone. You learn a lot of things about what it takes to be an entrepreneur, and it’s all about your mindset. Success as an entrepreneur involves changing how you approach things mentally.
Whether you want to become a solopreneur, infopreneur, independent contractor, or someone who succeeds in everything you put your hand to, having the right mindset is key to becoming an entrepreneur. Here’s what that means.
Overview: What is an entrepreneurial mindset?
The entrepreneurial mindset refers to the mental skills a person has that make them more likely to establish and run a successful business. A person with this mindset is able to identify good business opportunities, capitalize on those opportunities, overcome adversity, learn and grow from failure, and excel in all sorts of arenas.
A big part of the entrepreneurial mindset is having a fierce determination to succeed, being undaunted by setbacks, and willing to do just about anything to achieve success.
10 ways to develop an entrepreneurial mindset
Being a successful entrepreneur requires a long list of skills, but these 10 tips will help you shift into that business mindset.
1. Embrace your individuality
As an entrepreneur, the number one thing you’re going to be selling is yourself. You’ve got to convince everyone, from your investors to your customers, that you’re someone worth being involved with. Use whatever unique set of talents and skills you have to set yourself apart from the pack. Don’t compare yourself to others — focus on what gives you an advantage in the business world.
Understand what makes you different. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Stand out and be different. That’s the only way to gain traction in a crowded business world.
2. Shun negativity
Avoid negativity like the plague. When you work for yourself, all sorts of doubts can creep into your mind if you let them. Maintain a positive mindset at all times, and surround yourself with encouraging people. Instead of seeing problems as negatives, look at them as opportunities to grow and find solutions that your customers will appreciate. Encourage others and seek the silver lining in every situation.
3. Embrace fear
Many people run from fear, but it can be a powerful motivating factor for an entrepreneur. Use fear as a tool of recognition and gain mastery over it. Fear signals a new opportunity to engage, or a bold new direction to go in where there’s risk but also great reward.
While fear may also signal a bad deal, sometimes it just means that you’re doing something different and exciting with an uncertain future, but that’s what you’re going for. Evaluate your fear and determine whether it’s a practical concern or an indication that you’re on the right track.
4. Be grateful
Always be thankful for the blessings and achievements you have, which will keep you positive and grounded as you engage in your entrepreneurial endeavor. Don’t take anything for granted and demonstrate gratitude to those who help you. This approach will pay you back exponentially in the long term.
It’s particularly important with your clients because, by being grateful for their business, you make sure your customer service is excellent, which keeps them coming back and recommending you to their friends and colleagues.
5. Become a creator
It is not enough to simply have an idea. Tons of people have great ideas, but they never act on them. This is one of the most important entrepreneurial traits — you must bring the thing you dreamed of into reality. Harness your vision and seek to overcome the obstacles to making it a reality. Have patience as you build on your idea, but work relentlessly to make it happen.
6. Listen to your body
You are not superhuman, so listen when your body tells you it’s time to slow down. Your body will never lie to you, so pay attention when it signals that you’re stressed and exhausted. Don’t overwork yourself because ultimately you’ll get diminishing returns from any work you do once you cross a certain line. Focus on improving the quality of work that you do, not increasing the quantity.
7. Risk failure
Entrepreneurship comes with failure. Even the most successful entrepreneurs in history had many failures before finding success. Failures are learning opportunities, and while it’s good to avoid failure, a setback is just a stepping stone on the path to success.
Move on quickly when you make a mistake, and use failure to improve your approach. Seek help from a mentor or friend to understand why you experienced a setback and just keep trying.
8. Be a relentless learner
One of the top entrepreneurial characteristics is a willingness to learn. You will never reach a point where you can stop learning, so be a sponge and absorb every bit of knowledge you can. Read books by successful business leaders. Open your mind. Develop your brain like a muscle. Embrace change and be open to new ideas, and set aside time each day to absorb this information.
9. Ask for help
Don’t be prideful — everyone needs a second pair of eyes sometimes. Find a mentor and ask for help with getting over the hump. This can be the difference between spinning your wheels and getting that boost that takes you to success. But don’t stop there. Learn how to delegate tasks to others as well.
You can’t do everything alone, so don’t try. Hire people to help you manage the day-to-day administrative and other aspects of the business so you can focus on more important tasks.
10. Regularly self-assess
Be honest with yourself and assess your own performance on a regular basis. What could be improved? Do you have any blind spots? What should your next steps be? Don’t be afraid of criticism, and be objective. Don’t sulk when you experience a setback — use it as another opportunity for reevaluation and growth. Make some improvements, set them in motion, and then reexamine to see if they’re having the desired effect.
Be cautious before you embark on an entrepreneurial career
Let’s say you’re ready to start an online business today. You’re planning on operating as a sole proprietorship because you don’t have the money to spend on employees. You think you've got a great idea, and while you haven't done much research, everyone you've talked to thinks it's an awesome idea. As a result, you've decided to quit your job and go for it.
That's a dangerous way to go. Take it from me: Entrepreneurial motivation isn’t enough to make you successful. While books by successful entrepreneurs will make you think that all it takes is an idea and the fire to make it happen, that’s not the case for the rest of us.
The majority of businesses fail early on, mostly due to undercapitalization. Overnight success stories happen, but they’re rare, and usually they’re achieved by people who started with quite a bit of money. It’s like winning millions of dollars in the lottery. Yes, it happens to some people, but the odds are it will never happen to you no matter how many times you play.
Instead, plan for slow, gradual success. Keep your day job and build your idea on the side. Keep growing and learning over days, weeks, months, or even years. Be ready to shift and go a completely different direction if you’re getting nowhere. Be optimistic, but be smart, too.
After all, building a successful business isn’t like winning the lottery, it’s like developing any skill. You wouldn’t expect to learn Chinese in a few weeks. It takes years to become fluent. Similarly, the key to long-term success is to focus on becoming fluent in the language of business. And that comes only with diligent practice and immersion through smart, cautious entrepreneurship.