As a young farm boy with the dream of becoming an entrepreneur I knew that I needed to learn to think like an entrepreneur to make up for my lack of experience and formal education. In this article I share the 35 ways of thinking that every young entrepreneur needs to adopt in order to be successful.
An entrepreneur doesn’t need a business degree in order to be successful but there is a certain mindset every entrepreneur must cultivate to be able to start, lead and grow their business successfully.
Mindset is the major determining factor of success in every walk of life. The thinking patterns you habitually adopt largely determine the actions you take every day and therefore ultimately the results you finally achieve.
Not all wantrepreneurs understand the dramatic mindset shifts that are needed to go from student or employee to becoming an entrepreneur. Without the right mindset, success in business is highly unlikely.
As an entrepreneur, you will face new challenges every day. You will find yourself on uncharted territory where there is very little research or data for you to make a sound decision. This is where your gut feeling will come in, and all entrepreneurs must learn to follow their gut instinct.
1. The buck stops with you. It goes without saying that your success as an entrepreneur is determined by the decisions you make. Entrepreneurs have the ability to create something from nothing in a way that can have a major impact on their community, industry or even the world. This means making a lot of big decisions about what must be done and how. The mindset of an entrepreneur accepts full responsibility for every decision they make.
2. Think short and long-term at the same time. When you work for an employer you are mainly responsible for ensuring that what needs to be done now, is done. As an entrepreneur, you have to project your mind forward, thinking about the potential opportunities and pitfalls that lie around the corner. Mainly, you must make decisions without having all the facts. The mindset of an entrepreneur is simultaneously dealing with the present and planning for the future.
3. Blow up the box. Employees spend their time thinking ‘inside the box’. As an entrepreneur, there is no box. In fact, if you do find a box, your first inclination is to destroy it. You see opportunities that others don’t, you try new ideas that others are afraid to, and you take risks that others wouldn't dare to. This requires courage, persistence and the determination to keep going despite criticism, rejection and skepticism.
4. Do what needs to be done. Employees have job descriptions that require a specific set of skills. New entrepreneurs must learn a host of new skills even if they have the funds to outsource certain things. Unless you know what needs to be done, you can easily be told what can't be done. What needs to be done, has to be done - there is no place for excuses. The mindset of an entrepreneur never wants to hear about what can't be done. 'Can't' only means that a solution needs to be found.
5. Focus on the numbers. Entrepreneurs know they'd better learn to keep an eye on the numbers at all times because their cash flow is what will keep them in business. Or, from going out of business. In the end, it’s your sales, costs, profit and loss that will either keep you awake at nights or allow you to live a lifestyle that others can only dream of.
6. Work on your business. As an entrepreneur, it is critical that you love your business because of the effort and long hours it's going to take to get it off the ground. However, don't fall into the trap of thinking and acting like an employee in your own company. Instead of working ‘in’ you must rather focus most of your efforts to working ‘on’ the business.
7. Break the rules. As an employee, breaking the rules could mean getting fired. Entrepreneurs on the other hand, aren’t interested in following rules – they’re always looking for ways to do things different and better. That means always peering over the horizon, or at least towards it, to where the next big thing is about to happen. The mindset of an entrepreneur doesn't like to be accused of being normal.
8. Your life and business are one. As an entrepreneur, while you may not be tied to a desk or computer at all times, you will always be thinking about your business. You will be thinking about what is working well and what could be working better. There will be no break– you will live and breathe your business. The mindset of an entrepreneur does not know if it is working or playing.
9. The sooner the better. It takes time to make the transition from student or employee to entrepreneur, so it makes sense to start shifting your mindset while you’re still employed or in school. The sooner you start the better, perhaps even setting up a business to run alongside your current activities. This can give you the opportunity to develop skills and build experience while still enjoying the safety-net of a salary or student loan.
10. Learn to delegate. It is important to hire great people to work along side you in the business so you have more time to work on the business. A great idea can turn into a great business only when you find and trust the right people to help you make it happen. Entrepreneurs need help to reach their goals. The mindset of an entrepreneur is always looking for superstars to add to the team.
11. Never stop learning. Entrepreneurs who are successful have an insatiable thirst for knowledge and love to learn. That is what makes and keeps these entrepreneurs effective and efficient. The smallest lesson or skill learned can make a huge difference in your life or business. The mindset of an entrepreneur believes that when we stop learning it's time to die.
12. Don't take it easy - take a risk. The mindset of an entrepreneur chooses faith over fear every time. Almost all company founders say the willingness to take risks is the usual stepping stone to entrepreneurial success. Without taking calculated risks there is seldom much of a reward to look forward to. When given the choice, a successful entrepreneur always chooses taking a risk over taking it easy.
13. Clearly define your purpose. Successful business people care about their lives more than the average person. They take the time to reflect back on their lives, they think in detail about their vision and their purpose in life. They take the time to build mental images that guide them on a path that will lead them to their destiny. They review and refine those images in their mind, they clearly define their vision and then they go to work to create that exact outcome that they have envisioned.
14. Your time is your life. Successful entrepreneurs know that they must protect and manage their time at all cost. They plan their day and week before it begins! The most valuable asset you have is your time. Plan your days, weeks, months, and years. The mindset of an entrepreneur knows that you can always get more money if you lose financially, but you can never get more time. When it's gone...it's gone!
15. Focus on the outcome. Entrepreneurs have extraordinary clarity on the outcome they wish to accomplish. They take the time to clearly define what it is that they want to do. This gives them the drive to see tasks all the way to their outcome.
16. Just give me the facts. Most people make their decisions about their life and careers from emotion and assumptions. Successful entrepreneurs base their decisions from fact-based thinking. The mindset of an entrepreneur is more interested in making decisions based on actual facts, than the opinions, trends and emotions of the rest of the population.
17. Exist to add value. Successful entrepreneurs are constantly seeking to make themselves valuable and know that value must be given. They practice the Law of the Harvest. They know for sure that what they give out they shall receive. Successful entrepreneurs do not expect anything for nothing.
18. Transformation by renewal of the mind. The mindset of successful entrepreneurs is always improving, growing and changing. They are constantly educating themselves and gaining experience that will lead them to the goals they have set for themselves. They are always ‘renewing their minds’. Entrepreneurs know this is the key to their transformation and growth of themselves and their companies.
19. One rabbit at a time. The mindset of undeterred focus is the characteristic which is probably the most important one when it comes to entrepreneurial success. Once you have awakened to the possibilities of success, you also realize the many opportunities that exist all around you. It is very easy to chase many rabbits and don't catch any. Successful entrepreneurs develop the ability to focus and concentrate to maximize their efforts, resources and forces.
20. First seek to understand. The best tool I have found to discover myself is the DISC profile. It helps you to develop a greater understanding and belief in yourself, while at the same time helping you understand others. This understanding of yourself and others enables you to communicate much more effectively. The mindset of an entrepreneur is constantly seeking to understand and value themselves in order to have a greater ability to understand and value others.
21. Ignore your critics. The mindset of successful entrepreneurs is only open to the criticism of those they respect. If someone doubts your business, or belittles it, take stock of where the criticism is coming from. Jealousy is born from an inability to imitate; others desire what you possess, but cannot attain it. Envy is usually manifested in insults. Some people will want to rain on your parade simply because they don't have a parade of their own.
22. Look for inspiration and correction. The successful entrepreneur knows that the "right" mindset for success is a combination of wisdom AND a delivery system that works for them. Look for those mentors who have done what you want to do, whose business is where you want yours to go, and who have worked in your specific field. Life is too short to make all the mistakes ourselves. It's always better to learn from the mistakes of others.
23. Create the right mindset. Reading the biographies of successful entrepreneurs or listening to entrepreneur podcasts online that interview other successful entrepreneurs are a great way to get yourself into the correct mindset to succeed within your business. Entrepreneurs know that mindset is not set in stone. Mindset can be learned from the experiences of others who are willing to share their wisdom.
24. Learn selective listening. The mindset of a successful entrepreneur knows that it must be careful who it listens to. Free advice can sometimes be worth every penny you pay for it. Surround yourself with advisers who will "give it to you straight" but at the same time learn how to tune out the pessimists. They always seem to have a problem for every solution.
25. Success is a journey. The best way to create the mindset required for success as an entrepreneur is to re-frame success from being a destination to being the progressive improvement of an ongoing process. You set goals, run trials, and then you review the outcome. Many things will not go planned. You simply decide to be happy and enjoy every day, not only the days that go as had hoped for. You never know which will be your last.
26. Embrace your failures. Rarely do entrepreneurs “get it right” the first time. Accepting and embracing failure allows business owners to think more creatively about their product or service. Failure forces entrepreneurs to develop more innovative ways to penetrate their markets and encourages them to think outside the box. The mindset of an entrepreneur doesn't fear failure, only fear itself. The only failure is not learning from your experiences.
27. Keep me-time sacred. It's a challenge for entrepreneurs to deal with the ups and downs of business because their company is their baby and can very quickly become an extension of themselves and their identity. It's important keep your me-time as sacred, your holy hour if you will. As well, it is important to have a hobby that helps you relax and clear your mind. The mindset of a successful entrepreneur doesn't connect net-worth to self-worth.
28. Positive attitude. An entrepreneur's mindset is convinced that attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. A positive attitude allows a person to be more objective, encourage others to perform more effectively, and stay focused during tough times. A positive attitude in itself won't help you do everything, but it will help you do everything better than a negative one. Tough times don't last, but tough entrepreneurs do!
29. You are on a mission. Entrepreneurs must have the mindset that they are on a mission and trying to achieve something new, despite their lack of experience. This makes them vulnerable to failure and criticism but they have the humility and openness to get a try. They know their vision and their mission must be linked to a cause. They know that their purpose is to eliminate a certain pain in someone else's life. Everything else is a distraction.
30. Finding balance. The mindset of a successful entrepreneur understands that when you are starting a business it's difficult to immediately find a life/work balance. To get momentum is harder than maintaining it. Even an airplane needs a lot more energy to get off the ground than it does to maintain level flight. This additional effort takes a toll on your body and therefore it needs to be maintained that much more carefully.
31. Don't fake it. In business it is very easy to get caught up doing 'busy' work. If your efforts and actions are not leading to any real results, begin doing something that will. Delegate the less-important tasks that you are personally doing, so you can focus on what will generate revenue and build the company. The mindset of an entrepreneur prefers to be productive rather than faking busyness.
32. Release it. Forgiveness is a mindset practice that will skyrocket the success of any entrepreneur. When we hold on to the past wrongs we have all suffered in business and life we imprison ourselves for somebody else's wrongdoing. It is important to let go of the past so that we can start each day with a clean slate. This holds true concerning customer, associate and business partner relationships. This mindset chooses to forgive and move on.
33. Hang on to it. Successful entrepreneurs know the importance of persistence, perseverance and tenacity. This mindset refuses to give up no matter what. It knows that success could be just around the next corner. Giving up now could mean giving up on the brink of a miracle. The mindset of a successful entrepreneur doesn't know the meaning of giving up.
34. Be nice. It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice. Being in business is about relationships -- with clients, with vendors, or even just within your own office. The one thing to remember is to always be nice. That doesn't mean that you need to be a push over. It means to be appreciative of the people that you do life and business with. Maintain a nice mindset and you will see how far that will get you in business and in life.
35. Surround yourself with people on the same mission. Surround yourself with people who are on the same mission as you are. People who have the same motivation for success will help keep you focused and support you when you face challenges in business. These people will inspire and motivate you in down times. They will also help you create and maintain the mindset of a successful entrepreneur.
Decide now that you need to embrace the mindset of an entrepreneur if you want to be successful in business. Mindset determines actions, and actions determine results. Success always begins in the mind!
Ben Kubassek is an international expert on social entrepreneurship, author, and speaker. He’s on a mission to help young people in developing countries launch their own businesses in order to create jobs and bring transformation to their communities.
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