Believe it or not, entrepreneurship isn’t all about salesmanship, negotiations, or marketing. Being skilled in these fields would be great, of course, but here’s one of the most vital must-haves if you want to succeed as a business owner: an entrepreneurial mindset.
Keep reading if you’re ready to upgrade your thinking patterns, cultivate healthy traits, and possess the kind of outlook and attitude that can set you up for success.
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Why Mindset Matters
Your mindset affects your behavior, how you make decisions, and how you process (or fail to process) your positive and negative experiences.
This is why mindset is an often discussed matter, not only in motivational or self-help books, but also in workplaces, educational institutions, and business trainings and workshops.
Although there are still debates about some of the most widely accepted concepts under this topic, such as the idea of growth and fixed mindsets, what’s clearly established is that psychological factors do affect people’s success.
What is an Entrepreneurial Mindset?
An entrepreneurial mindset may be defined as the “inclination to discover, evaluate and exploit opportunities.” With this, you can see that it involves curiosity as well as the drive to explore or pursue that which captures the mindset holder’s interest.
On the other hand, some people also say that this mindset isn’t just about how people see opportunities. Rather, it entails how one can overcome obstacles, persist even through difficulties, and take responsibility for their actions and decisions.
10 Key Traits of an Entrepreneurial Mindset
The best way to understand the entrepreneurial mentality is to familiarize yourself with the traits that could manifest in someone with this mindset.
If you’ve been wondering how to think like an entrepreneur, the list below will help you out. Try to do an honest self-assessment as you read, and take note of the traits that you’ve already honed, as well as those you’ll need to cultivate further.
Are you enthusiastic about setting and pursuing goals? Or do you always need an external push to pressure you into action?
Entrepreneurs have intrinsic motivations to turn their plans into reality. They understand that ideas and knowledge aren’t enough, no matter how impressive they sound.
And that’s why they aren’t content with simply having ideas—they need to plan, they need to act, and they have the motivation to do so.
Focus is vital in thinking, reasoning, problem-solving, and other mental processes important in business and in everyday life.
In the eCommerce world, being focused is necessary to avoid getting dragged by short-term problems and failures. It’s also crucial when it comes to prioritizing, especially if you tend to get swayed by Shiny Object Syndrome.
Decisiveness rarely comes naturally, especially if you’ve had serious problems caused by bad decisions in the past.
However, decisiveness is a necessity for entrepreneurs, and the lack of it could lead to huge losses in terms of opportunities, profits, and other valuable resources.
Being decisive doesn’t mean jumping into decisions as rapidly as you can. Rather, it means having the ability to think clearly, consider one’s options and the potential results of each, and make decisions quickly and with confidence.
It’s challenging to be decisive if you’re always fearful of making mistakes. And this brings us to the value of embracing failures and being tenacious even through difficulties.
Words associated with being tenacious include being persistent, firm, and determined. To manifest these qualities, a prerequisite is a certain challenge or obstacle—something you won’t ever run out of if you’re running a business.
Tenacity is often one of the differentiators between those who attain success and those who don’t. In fact, some people even say that tenacity is more valuable than brilliance when it comes to entrepreneurship.
If you want to develop an entrepreneurial mindset, it’s crucial that you learn to handle setbacks, not just in terms of coming up with solutions but also in terms of processing them mentally and in constructive ways.
An entrepreneur’s life is filled with risks and uncertainties, which is why it isn’t an ideal life for everyone.
However, with the right level of optimism, entrepreneurs can maintain a positive outlook about themselves, their goals, and the future.
Optimism in itself doesn’t guarantee success, but it could be a powerful driving force for entrepreneurs to keep testing different ideas until something works.
In an article published by Psychology Today, Utpal Dholakia Ph.D., a professor of marketing at Rice University in Houston, Texas, enumerated several ways on how optimism can help entrepreneurs succeed. According to him, optimism creates a drive or tendency to act, which then makes progress and success more likely.
Confidence follows optimism. In fact, you can’t really be confident if you aren’t optimistic.
This trait has a lot to do with having a strong sense of self-worth and an understanding of the value you offer. Plus, with confidence, you can become more assertive, decisive, and even powerful at negotiating with partners, investors, and other stakeholders of your business.
Creativity is crucial in entrepreneurship. It’s this trait that enables business ideation, especially in the face of tough competition or seeing too many entrepreneurs offering the same solution to a single problem.
Where most people see no other way, a person with an entrepreneurial mindset could come up with innovative courses of action. Where business opportunities seem scarce, a creative entrepreneur could consider different situations, connect the dots, and think up fresh ideas.
How else can you delve into a situation without being curious? How else can you find answers if you don’t ask the right questions first?
Curiosity—which is the desire and eagerness to learn and seek answers—is what feeds creativity. And this is why it’s a crucial part of being entrepreneurial-minded.
Chandra Clarke, a successful business founder, discussed the value of curiosity in a piece published by Women on Business. As she explained in her piece, curiosity is what pushes entrepreneurs to ask questions, find answers, and develop solutions.
Furthermore, curiosity can also keep people passionate about their work, making them more likely to keep working and not settle for mediocrity or complacency.
Entrepreneurs aren’t failure-proof. In fact, about 50% of startups fail within their first four years. And because entrepreneurs face adversity after adversity, resilience is a trait essential to reaching their goals.
Resilience in the context of entrepreneurship is about reprogramming the way you see challenges: instead of seeing them as threats that need to be avoided at all costs, they should be viewed as catalysts for growth and even greater innovation.
Although challenges are normal for business, not all challenges have to reach the point of being full-blown issues.
If you can already see the potential of a problem occurring, you can choose to be proactive about it and then start doing ways to prevent the problem or at least prepare for it and minimize the possible negative impacts.
Proactiveness, especially in the face of erratic economies, can be game-changers in the world of business.
How to Develop an Entrepreneurial Mindset
No one is born an entrepreneur. Likewise, developing an entrepreneurial mindset takes intentional effort, practice, and discipline.
If you went through the traits listed above and saw that you’re still weak on most of them, you’d be glad to know that it’s not too late.
The human brain can learn and be better at developing desirable character traits. That’s why there are so many character training programs out there.
So how can you start training your brain for entrepreneurial success? Here are some actionable tips:
1. Define what success means for you
Success means different things to different people. Also, there are short-term successes and there are long-term ones—both of them important to define.
Why so? Well, your definition of success acts like gasoline and a road map. It fuels your drive to learn and hustle. At the same time, it provides the “why” and the “where to” for all of your efforts.
It would be difficult to stay focused, tenacious, and resilient if you have no idea why you’re doing what you’re doing. So go ahead and write down the kind of success you’re after, and let that fuel your drive to be better and have a better life.
What kind of life do you want to lead? What achievements would make you genuinely happy? What influence or legacy do you want to leave behind?
These are just some questions that could help you dig deep and define success in personal terms instead of basing it off other people’s expectations or opinions.
2. Set realistic goals
Entrepreneurs are optimistic, yes. But they also know that some goals could be too big or too idealistic.
Big, idealistic goals are fine to have, but you’ll have to learn to balance your expectations and know when you’re being over-optimistic.
In a review of the psychology of entrepreneurship, the authors wrote positive and negative implications of over-optimism. They discussed that this trait is often a crucial driving force for budding entrepreneurs to initiate business ventures, especially in the face of uncertainties and the possibility of low returns.
However, it could also be detrimental when it results in a poor perception of risks, overestimation of demand, uninformed decisions, or over-optimistic strategies.
With that, you’d want to think more like those entrepreneurs who can be optimistic while staying aware of risks and other factors that could negatively impact their business.
3. Practice confident decision-making
Entrepreneurs are decision-makers, which is why confident decision-making should be one of the things that you constantly practice.
If you’re the type of person who likes to feel validated by others before making a decision, then it’s about time that you try doing more things by yourself. It could be something as harmless as buying a cheap item you like, enrolling in that free course you’ve been looking at for months, or volunteering to arrange your next family dinner.
You won’t feel 100% confident all the time. But as you embrace the role of making decisions, you’ll become more comfortable with calling the shots, taking risks, and assuming responsibility.
4. Expect setbacks
As cliché as it sounds, setbacks are, and always will be, a part of entrepreneurship. All entrepreneurs know this. But instead of taking it negatively, they understand that there’s no real reward without taking risks and bouncing back from difficulties.
Have the expectation that not all things will work out according to plan. But also know that challenges and detours can teach you valuable lessons if you allow them to.
5. Take accountability
Every action has its results. You can’t just be decisive without taking responsibility for
your decisions, and you can’t just offer innovations without considering their possible negative results.
If you want to think and act like an entrepreneur, you’ll have to learn to take accountability for all that you do and decide on.
In the process, you’ll get better at certain aspects of your character, like being confident, resilient, and proactive.
6. Catch your triggers
You won’t always feel good about yourself. You won’t always feel optimistic either—and there will be situations where you’ll doubt yourself, your goals, and the worth of what you’re doing.
Every person has their triggers, and you’ll have to get to know yours intimately so you can process and respond to them in constructive ways.
When a sudden bout of doubt overtakes you, take it as an opportunity to assess what triggers negative thoughts or emotions in you.
When you feel unconfident or incompetent, review the events that just happened and then try to see what could’ve affected how you feel about yourself.
7. Reframe old patterns
You’ll have to intentionally process and reframe your thoughts every time you catch anything that triggers you.
Something made you feel like a failure? Maybe a decision you made led to a failure, but you aren’t the one who’s a failure.
Something didn’t work out? Maybe your plan wasn’t as flawless as you thought, but you could choose to learn from it and then try again.
Even seasoned, successful entrepreneurs have unhealthy thinking patterns that could disrupt their momentum. With that, don’t be afraid to confront developed patterns that no longer serve you.
You might not be able to remove them completely, but you can always choose whether or not you’ll allow yourself to stay under their control.
8. Continue to experiment
Part of developing an entrepreneurial mindset is strengthening it, which you can only do by practicing and continuous learning.
Seek out new challenges to keep your brain wired for critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision making.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should immediately start one business venture after another. Oftentimes, the wisest thing to do before starting another venture is to keep analyzing what you’re currently doing and then find ways to optimize your system and increase your profits.
Recommended Reading: 10 Steps to Financial Freedom This Year
From Entrepreneurial Minded to Action Taker
Having the right mindset sets you up for making the right decisions. With that, it follows that you shouldn’t only develop the traits of an entrepreneur, but you should also take action, keep learning, and strengthen both your entrepreneurial mind and skill set.
As behavioral scientist Steve Maraboli once said, “Take action! An inch of movement will bring you closer to your goals than a mile of intention.”
What lesson from this guide can you act on today?