Years ago, when I made the decision to start a new business, I knew there would be significant challenges along the way. At the very least, I knew I could count on the support of my family. Well, most of them. My grandmother wasn’t so keen on the idea. In fact, at a family Christmas party, she cornered my wife and told her I was crazy to quit my comfortable job and risk starting a company. But with an entrepreneurship mindset, the belief I had in myself was high. It has to be—otherwise, you won’t succeed as a business owner.
I understand that many people want to start their own company, but they may not have the entrepreneurial mindset to do it. They don’t comprehend what it really takes or means. Most just crave the freedom they think comes with running their own business.
While it’s true that being an entrepreneur can be liberating, it can also be mentally, emotionally, and even physically taxing. If you’re not mentally strong and rooted in a deep foundation, this job has the power to crush you.
However, when you have an entrepreneurial mindset, success is doing the work—no matter how difficult it is. For me, I love helping smaller companies compete against the big guys. It’s exciting, rewarding, and makes me feel connected to my purpose. What success means for you might come in a different form, but it will always be available to you as long as you have the right mentality.
With an entrepreneurial mindset, you can benefit yourself, your employees, your clients, and your company as a whole. You’ll have the strength and resilience to get through the tough times and embrace the challenges. Most importantly, that mindset will help you pursue excellence, becoming better in the process.
In this article, you’ll learn about:
What Is an Entrepreneurial Mindset?
Someone with an entrepreneurial mindset is a person who sees challenges as unique opportunities to grow. They love to adapt to changing situations and can seize the moment as soon as they recognize it. This type of mindset lends itself well to developing new skills, as people with it understand the need to learn at all times.
You don’t always have to be an entrepreneur to develop an entrepreneurial mindset. As long as you have the drive to succeed and a willingness to learn and take on new challenges, you have the make-up of an entrepreneur, even if you’re not starting a new business. Employers love it when workers show the ability to learn and help others, so anyone with this mindset will likely find success in whatever job they have.
Why Leaders Need an Entrepreneurship Mindset
- Autonomy: This is one of the main reasons many entrepreneurs seek to start their own companies. Autonomy means you get to work for yourself. You set the standards and the rules, and you don’t have to answer to a boss.
- Passion: When you follow your passion as an entrepreneur, you get to do what you love every day. You don’t have to spend the day doing drudgery, but rather you can work for something you believe in and have a passion for.
- Transformation: Those with an entrepreneurial mindset usually want to change the world. They create massive transformations in people’s lives and make the Earth a better place in some way. You also get to transform employees’ lives with a great company that provides opportunities. Having this type of mindset means you become an expert problem-solver.
- Fulfillment: What do you believe you were put on this planet to do? With an entrepreneurial mindset, you can pursue your God-given purpose and feel a great deal of fulfillment in your life.
- Growth: Being an entrepreneur is a challenge. It’ll push you to grow as a person and a leader. That’s where having a growth mindset will come in handy. At the same time, you can also grow financially if you have a successful business. This allows you to do things you couldn’t if you were someone else’s employee.
7 Ways to Think More Like an Entrepreneur
1. Be Resourceful and Creative
When I founded my company, 97th Floor, I started out in my basement. In such a humble setting, I had to get resourceful and creative if I wanted to get more clients.
That all started with the name. So, I brainstormed with my wife. Since my company was all about getting other companies to the top of the search result, we started thinking about names like 100th Floor. Since we both really like odd numbers, we eventually settled on 97th Floor, and the name stuck.
I didn’t know at the time just how important the name would be from a brand standpoint. Many companies I talked to just assumed I was in Chicago, L.A., or New York, and thought I had this massive digital marketing agency with hundreds of employees. But it was just me in my basement.
When you have an entrepreneurial mindset, you won’t let a lack of resources hold you back. With hard work and creativity, you know you can overcome any problem. Successful entrepreneurs understand that they can be creative and competitive with what they do have, and through that, they can stand toe-to-toe with any company.
How to be creative and resourceful:
- Make note of all your resources and how to maximize their value.
- Get feedback from friends and family members on your ideas.
- Engage in regular brainstorming sessions.
- Spend part of your day looking for new ideas.
- Read books about subjects related to your business.
- Take the time to meditate and clear your mind.
- Surround yourself with natural beauty.
- Understand that everything doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be effective.
2. Be Quick to Innovate
Today, the internet is a common part of our lives, but it wasn’t always that way. Back in 2002, it was anything but a sure thing. But I knew the internet was going to explode and become a viable tool for companies of all sizes. I just knew it was a trend waiting to happen. It was a feeling, like a gut instinct. Everything would one day go in that direction.
I could have waited until the rest of the world was sure about it, but I chose not to. Instead, I was quick to innovate and avoid hopping on the bandwagon years later. By exploring this new world, I came up with a blue ocean strategy, which is where you have an entire field to yourself instead of facing intense competition in a saturated red ocean.
Innovation is where you can gain an advantage against much bigger competitors, but you have to act quickly. Seize the moment when it arrives, or better yet, go out and take it.
How to find a blue ocean:
- Look at where your products and services are within your industry.
- List out the key attributes those products provide.
- Focus on your customers and what they want or need.
- Identify where other companies are coming up short in those areas of need.
- Provide something new and innovative that no one else has.
3. Look for Ways to Succeed Against All Odds
For any entrepreneur, it can feel like the odds are stacked against you, but if you embrace the challenge, you can find it rewarding. In many ways, the internet has leveled the playing field. That’s how I thrive. I’ve always loved the David vs. Goliath aspect of the web. The internet was a way to get smaller companies on the same level as much bigger corporations. Not only could they compete—they could also win.
Becoming a problem-solver is how you succeed against all odds. That’s part of the entrepreneur mindset. You need to find solutions to the big problems out there. For me, it was the nature of the internet and how it could help smaller companies. For you, it might be something different. It could mean problem-solving for something in the industry you’re already a part of.
Ultimately, you have to be willing to fight against the Goliaths of the world. And even more than that, you need to be excited to do it. Tackle the challenge with positivity and enthusiasm. If you can get up every morning excited about solving problems and overcoming the odds, you’ll go far.
How to problem-solve creatively:
- Always keep your ultimate goals in mind.
- Refine your strategies as time passes.
- Identify what the real cause of a problem is.
- Look for multiple possible solutions.
- Decide on a course of action and follow through on it.
- Be willing to change up your action plan if you’re not achieving the results you want.
4. Take Ownership of Everything
Being an entrepreneur can be rewarding, but it’s also a double-edged sword. While you have increased autonomy, you also have to own everything. All the responsibility falls on you. You’re the business owner. It’s up to you to do your due diligence in all business matters.
It’s easy to point the finger at other people or outside factors when things go wrong, but that would be admitting you’ve lost control of your company, something someone with an entrepreneurship mindset wouldn’t do. Taking ownership means every single thing comes down to you. You must be one hundred percent accountable for everything. This is important because once you start hiring employees, they need to feel confident that you’re giving it your all. On top of that, they will hold themselves accountable, too.
I look at a book like Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin as an excellent blueprint for taking ownership. As they explain, “Leaders must own everything in their world. There is no one else to blame.” They also write, “Implementing Extreme Ownership requires checking your ego and operating with a high degree of humility. Admitting mistakes, taking ownership, and developing a plan to overcome challenges are integral to any successful team.”
How to take Extreme Ownership:
- Understand a team’s success comes down to the leader.
- Believe in the mission you’re pursuing.
- Check your ego at the door.
- Keep objectives and directions simple.
- Execute as a team.
- Know what the plan is and what course of action will get results.
- Be decisive and disciplined.
- Accept the consequences of your actions.
5. Focus on Results, Not on How Many Hours You Work
An entrepreneurial mindset isn’t the mindset of a taskmaster. It’s more about driving results and less about how much time you worked. That goes for your employees as well.
I realized while running my business that as much as I cherished the autonomy of my job, my employees wanted that, too. While I was out enjoying activities like snowboarding and surfing, my employees were still stuck in the 9 to 5 schedule. I knew I could manage my time well, so why couldn’t my employees? What would be wrong with treating them like adults and allowing them to set their own hours?
So that’s what I gave them.
Some of my good friends who ran other companies thought I was crazy for not tracking my employees’ time, but I saw that as a waste of energy. And I have to say, giving them autonomy has gotten great results. When employees are at work, they’re one hundred percent focused on it. And when they’re with their families, all their attention is on them.
We can do this because we’re focused on results. On that note, it’s important to know what results you’re trying to get, like what data to track or what analytics to measure. But once you know that, you can devote your attention to getting those results, despite the hours put in to reach them.
How to manage your time to get results:
- Note when your most productive times are and work during those periods.
- Prioritize the most important tasks first.
- Plan out each of your days in advance.
- When needed, give yourself time off to rest and recharge.
- Learn to say “no” to unimportant tasks and projects.
6. Foster Your Passion
Many people have the idea that you have to follow your passion to be happy in life. But I don’t believe that to be true. My passion is surfing, but I know I’m not good enough to make a living as a professional surfer. However, I can create a business that gives me the freedom to go surf when I want. For me, that’s what matters. That’s why you should foster your passion, even if it isn’t what you do for a living.
I look at my brother-in-law as a good example. He runs a pest control business, and he’s been very successful at it. But pest control isn’t a passion. So why does my brother-in-law do it? Because he’s passionate about being his own boss. He’s passionate about closing deals and gaining more accounts. In short, he’s passionate about what entrepreneurship allows him to do.
Yes, you can always try to start a business that revolves around something you’re passionate about, but it doesn’t have to follow that pattern. Many people become entrepreneurs because it gives them the time and freedom for their real passions. Finding what you’re passionate about is crucial for the entrepreneurial mindset.
How to make more time for your passion:
- Build a career around it.
- Pursue a career that gives you more freedom and time.
- Schedule out your workday, week, month, and even year to set aside time for your passion.
- Understand that your life needs to have a balance between work and pleasure.
- Keep your professional and personal lives separate.
- Devote your full attention to whatever you’re doing at the moment.
- Turn your passion into a side hustle.
7. Don’t Celebrate the Grind
If there’s one thing wrong with entrepreneurial culture, it’s business owners bragging about how much they work. Someone with an entrepreneurial mindset shouldn’t celebrate the grind and burning out. Work burnout is a serious issue and shouldn’t be praised.
There’s nothing cool or admirable about the grind. You need to make sure your job isn’t sucking the energy out of your personal life and relationships. Find a happy medium where you can be hyper-focused on your business, then step away and focus on your family, friends, and hobbies.
Disconnecting from work can be challenging in a time when we always have a cell phone in our pockets. To do so requires discipline and managing your time wisely. If you can’t disconnect from your job, you’re going to burn yourself out quickly. Yes, you’ve probably heard stories of successful business leaders who practically never sleep and are always “on the job,” but they are the exception. Very few people can sustain that schedule and still have a fulfilling life.
As you grow your business, you don’t want your employees to think that the grind is justified. Don’t reward behavior that leads to burnout. Most importantly, set the example by keeping a steady schedule and making time for yourself regularly. Your employees will notice.
How to avoid burnout:
- Delegate tasks and responsibilities to those who can handle them.
- Don’t isolate yourself from your coworkers, family, and friends.
- Practice stress management techniques such as yoga and breathing exercises.
- Set hours during the day where you disconnect completely from the internet.
- Establish boundaries, such as certain hours where you can’t be bothered.
The Mindset for Overcoming Challenges as an Entrepreneur
An entrepreneur will face many challenges along the way. Some might have difficulty finding the right people for their teams. Others can run into financial challenges as they struggle to get a company off the ground. Still, others may face rejection or doubts and have trouble keeping up their enthusiasm. An entrepreneurial mindset can help you overcome these and many more challenges.
Here are just a few ways it can do that:
- More decisive problem-solving.
- Pursuing a higher purpose, not just money.
- Seeing challenges as valuable growth opportunities.
- Creating detailed plans for tackling challenges.
- Knowing you’re changing the world.
To find out more about what it’s like to be an entrepreneur, you can read the following articles.
How to Fuel Your Entrepreneurial Spirit