So you want to become an entrepreneur? That is great. The question then becomes, how do I set my mind to accomplish this goal? What are the key components of a successful entrepreneurial mindset? In essence, how do I think like an entrepreneur? Well, there are several factors that most entrepreneurs possess that set them apart from the typical 9-5 employee. In today’s article, I’m going to take you on a tour of those factors and try to provide you with the secret sauce that makes for a successful entrepreneurial career.
Ability to face the unknown day in and day out
The ability to face uncertainty every day isn’t for the faint-hearted. Don’t be fooled, uncertainty can ruin your productivity. It can make you question your motives and stop you cold in your tracks. It is uncertainty that can frequently poke at you with questions like, will this even work? How do I know if I’m working on the right things? Am I wasting my time? Thoughts like these can destroy your motivation and prevent you from making progress.
Especially when starting out, the uncertainty can be quite daunting. There is so much to learn and to do. The key is to keep at it despite your fears. A tip for diminishing uncertainty is to focus a lot of your time initially on validating your business idea. However, this isn’t necessarily the cure-all. Even when you obtain validation, uncertainty can still be everpresent and it’s your job not to let it become overwhelming.
Ability to recognize and take advantage of opportunity
In learning to think like an entrepreneur, you must be keen on finding the golden nuggets in your day-to-day dealings. By this, I mean you need to be attuned to leveraging opportunities to progress quicker. Opportunity is around you all the time, it’s your job to find it. This concept ties into an entrepreneur’s ability to stay positive despite setbacks, which I’ll discuss in an upcoming section. With a positive mindset, you’re more open and receptive to recognizing opportunity when it knocks.
Maintaining a negative outlook will obscure opportunity. Jim Collins, in his book Good to Great, introduced the concept of the flywheel. This is essentially a momentum-building device. Keep feeding it and your momentum will continue to increase. Envision a ball rolling down a hill. The ball gradually picks up speed the further it rolls down the hill. In much the same way, take action every day on your business and seize opportunities to effectively build momentum. From there, taking action becomes easier and progress is continual.
An entrepreneur has laser focus that fosters consistency
Focus comes from clarity of mind. How do you achieve clarity? Well, I believe that creating and sticking to a routine is the best thing you can do for yourself. As Aristotle said, “know thyself.” Determine when you are most productive during the day. Maybe it’s in the evenings or early in the morning. Determine when and then aim to get your most important work done in that timeframe. Focus plays a big part in maintaining consistency, but it isn’t the only factor. Motivation also plays a big part. In the section below, I’ll discuss creating a vision for yourself that will act as your Northstar when your energy to keep up with the work starts to dwindle.
Vision and perseverance
I prefer to use the word vision instead of passion when talking about starting a business. In speaking with friends and other entrepreneurs, I’ve learned that passion can seem grandiose. By that I mean, it seems like passion is glorified and you must have it to succeed. However, some people mention they just aren’t that passionate about anything. If you feel the same, I proffer a different way of thinking about this topic. I believe that a better starting point is to cultivate an exciting vision for your business. An entrepreneur can think long-term and that’s the best timeframe when developing your vision.
What can you see yourself sustainably doing over the next 5-10 years? What interests you and that you already have some level of skill in? These two components are critical when first deciding on your business idea. From there, visualize what your work would look like in the next 5-10 years. The point of this exercise is to begin with the end in mind. This allows you to get a sense of if you will be able to maintain enough excitement and energy to keep doing the work.
Circling back to passion, I believe that it forms from a dedication to service in helping others. The timeline for this varies. When you see that your work is genuinely helping others, it makes you feel good about yourself and what you’re doing. This feeling, over time, compounds and develops passion.
How to think like an entrepreneur? Be a non-conformist
For me, the defining characteristic of being a non-conformist lies in your relationship to authority. I don’t mean getting in trouble with the law, but pushing against the standard way of doing things – challenging the status quo if you like. There is an underlying feeling that you have what it takes to run the show, that you can be your own boss. If you’re in a 9-5, you’re itching to get out in some way.
The thought of working under someone else for the rest of your life sounds dreadful. In some cases, you may be miserable and are looking for an opportunity to go out on your own. It’s about forging your own path and pursuing something greater than yourself. You know deep down you have the ability and now it’s a matter of taking a leap of faith.
An entrepreneur is resilient
The life of an entrepreneur is laden with constant setbacks and failures of various sizes. You must be able to effectively manage yourself for the emotional rollercoaster that this career creates. If you’re not careful, self-doubt can creep up and take over. It can ruin your motivation and prevent you from taking consistent action towards your goals.
You must have a strong vision for your business. It can be easy to get overwhelmed, but you must be able to persevere emotionally. Imagine playing a game of dodgeball. Pretend the dodgeballs being thrown at you are problems and negative thoughts. Your goal is to dodge every one.
Through honing your self-management skills, you remain agile and your ability to dodge these setbacks will increase. You know the saying “it’s not about how many times you get knocked down, but how many times you get back up that count”. This is so true and a testament to your resilience.
There you have it, a guide on how to think like an entrepreneur. if you have questions or would like to share your thoughts, I’d love to hear from you. Comment below and I’ll be sure to respond to you.