Entrepreneurship doesn’t begin with the success of your business—it starts with you and a shift in your mindset.
The right mindset gives you a huge advantage when starting a business. To succeed you need to be creative, persistent, and resilient to keep moving towards your goals.
The good news is, you’re not stuck with the mindset you were born with. You can change your thoughts and attitudes to become more like successful entrepreneurs.
What is an entrepreneurial mindset, then? First, let’s talk about what it’s not.
The entrepreneurial mindset is not a certain type of personality or style. You can be an introvert and build an empire from your keyboard. You can be a bombastic performer and thrive in the spotlight. You can be serious or playful. You can be weird and wonderful in any number of ways.
Developing the mindset of a successful entrepreneur starts with paying attention to your thoughts, habits, and default behaviors. Use these mindset hacks to eliminate the limiting beliefs and habitual patterns that can keep you stuck.
1. Accept your limitations — but don’t let them stop you
Entrepreneurs are created, not born. And they re-make themselves constantly. So if you don’t think you have what it takes, that doesn’t mean you have to give up.
Everyone has limitations, some more serious than others. For example, you may be the absolute worst at time management. You could be a chronic procrastinator. You could have physical disabilities, mental health challenges, or four kids to look after.
If you want to be an entrepreneur, you have to acknowledge those limitations. Instead of saying, “I can’t,” entrepreneurs look for solutions.
They seek out tools and resources to compensate for what they are fundamentally incapable of doing. For example, disorganized people can use project management software like Asana to keep track of details. Poor focus can be improved by blocking out distractions and working in short bursts.
Instead of saying, “I don’t know how,” entrepreneurs learn new skills. They hire freelancers and experts when they hit a wall.
There’s nothing you can do about where you’re starting from, but usually lots you can do to move forward.
2. Be confident — even when it doesn’t feel easy
That’s right. I’m telling you to fake it till you make it.
What’s the less cheesy version of this? It’s confidence. Entrepreneurs need to have confidence in themselves, their products, and their vision.
Of course, it’s impossible to have confidence all the time. Life is full of uncertainty, and so is business. You won’t always know what you’re doing, or if you’re making the right decisions. You still have to act confidently, even when you don’t feel confident. That’s the essence of this mindset hack, and it’s the only way to keep moving forward.
Not only will a confident mindset spur you forward, but the attitude will be contagious! The more hyped, fearless, hopeful, and genuine you appear, the more people will be drawn to you.
Just remember that too much confidence can be off-putting to investors or future supporters. Keep your confidence quiet and powerful.
3. Imagine the worst-case scenario
At first glance, this advice seems to contradict the previous point about confidence. And yes, imagining the worst-case scenario could make you more afraid to take a risk in your business.
But entrepreneurship does require a measure of realism.
Why? Isn’t that just depressing? No, it’s quite the opposite. By predicting potential pitfalls, you’ll be better equipped to avoid them. That’s where the second part of this hack comes in. Not only should you learn to play devil’s advocate, but you should take the necessary actions to deal with these pitfalls before they happen. Stay several steps ahead!
Most importantly, understand that failure is normal. Train yourself to move forward when things don’t work out the first time.
4. Be honest about your abilities — and passions
Entrepreneurs are notorious for trying to do it all. That might work in the beginning, but it’s just not sustainable. To grow your business, you’ll have to be honest about where you need to improve your skills, outsource, or just stop doing.
In the long run, you’ll be more successful and fulfilled if you’re pursuing opportunities you feel strongly about. Even if your idea for a business is in a small niche, it’s better to embrace a project you care about than a lucrative idea that doesn’t light your fire.
Not lucrative? Not influential? Why would you pursue anything like that?
The answer is simple—the entrepreneurial spirit is not all about money. In the long run, you’re going to feel much better about fully embracing a project you care about. That happiness will bring further satisfaction, motivation, growth, and success for your business.
5. Self-evaluate and foster a growth mindset
A growth mindset means you believe that you can change for the better. Learn to strike a healthy balance between self-criticism and pushing yourself to improve. If what you’re doing isn’t working, you have to believe you can learn to do it better, or try a different approach.
There’s no better way to guarantee self-improvement than regularly evaluating your current state. It’s okay to be self-critical, as long as you keep a growth mindset.
For some, keeping a journal of your own insights and goals can be helpful. You may try taking a step back and evaluating yourself as if you were providing feedback to an employee during a review.
Then, look at ways to improve. Form better habits, learn new skills, and practice doing things that don’t come easily.
By training your mind and your body to maintain momentum, it will eventually become easier for you to set aside regular periods of time for not only brainstorming but also acting on the results of that brainstorming.
6. Take small steps, every day
Work a little bit each day, even at your worst. This is especially important when you fear you won’t get anything done. As long as you do one thing that moves you towards your goals, no matter how small it seems, you are making progress.
By training your mind and your body to maintain momentum, it will eventually become easier. In fact, a study from Oxford’s Journal of Consumer Research determined that even the perception of a busy life led to a feeling of greater self-importance and therefore greater self-discipline.
Remember the very first hack we discussed? That’s right—this is scientific proof that adjusting your mindset can result in drastic behavioral change. Pretty amazing, right?
7. Learn to “zoom in and out” at will
Throughout your career, there will be times when you need to prioritize the bigger picture over the details. Entrepreneurs who can quickly switch from one perspective to another are more flexible and effective as leaders.
Plus, those who learn to successfully see overarching themes and trends in the market are much more likely to develop killer ideas. The wider you expand your sight, the more people, organizations, and investors you’ll appeal to with your business goals.
Change your mindset as you grow your business
Focus on one or two of these hacks at a time, and stick with them as you build the mindset that will help you grow a successful business. Remember to focus on small steps and build habits slowly over time to make lasting change.