I often wonder what makes successful entrepreneurs start out on this rocky journey. Were they dissatisfied with their life and profession? Did they have an epiphany moment or a flash of awareness? In the end, I figured out it’s something simpler – perhaps something ingrained in a person’s DNA, their way of thinking and living.
But I do believe that everyone can get into the right mindset of an entrepreneur and become successful. So, after carefully considering everything I’ve read and discussed about entrepreneurship with other entrepreneurs I know, I’ve come up with these 5 specific ways of thinking that turn a regular person into someone who wants to succeed on his or her own. These are certainly not exhaustive, but they’re a good starting point if you want to think and act like a successful entrepreneur:
1. Be Inspired By Mentors
If you want to achieve something, look for people who are successfully doing (or have successfully done) what you want to do, or something bloomin’ close to it. Don’t take advice from people who don’t know what they are talking about, because they will offer it! Even when I didn’t have a mentor personally, I read books by successful people. I read business and marketing books written by people who had actually used those techniques in their own businesses, and I listened to podcasts endlessly hosted by people who were just a little bit further down the road than me.
2. Take Action Against Inefficiency
If you are serving a niche or a market sector where you have noticed an inefficiency in even a single aspect of product delivery or customer service, or if you are unhappy with how things are done as a norm, then rebel against the norm. This is the true definition of an entrepreneur: someone who wants to change things, improve on the existing structure of products or services on the market, and make a difference. Even when I had jobs, I was constantly trying to make things better, set up better systems, improve things. My bosses loved me for it, and I never failed to get jobs and grow in those jobs. But, my biggest problem was following my own systems and making money for other people, not me!
3. Keep an Unbiased Eye on Your Business
Enthusiasm is great and can take you far, but you need to know the exact metrics which define the state of your business. You choose what those metrics are, but you must choose between 3-5 numbers to keep your eye on. Are you achieving all your goals in terms of revenue, ROI, customer acquisition, and brand awareness? Do not turn a blind eye to one critical metric that is below average, just because the others are fine. Running a business is like building a house of cards. If even one single card falls, the others might follow.
4. Accept Mistakes… But Correct Them Quickly
Mistakes happen, and if you think otherwise – if you are the tireless perfectionist who waits until everything falls perfectly into place before making a move – perhaps you should turn to professional chess playing, not business. Entrepreneurs are people dedicated to the active seeking of constant improvement, and this can be highlighted through mistakes.
However, a mistake is not something to brush under the carpet and move on as if it didn’t happen. As an entrepreneur, you should analyse every mistake until you understand why and how it happened and what you have to do to avoid making it again in the future.
One of my first Mentors, Thomas Leonard, (the founder of Coach U, the International Coach Federation etc.) coaching in general really, used to say “If something goes wrong, your job as a business leader is to not just react, but OVER-react, realise that things go wrong because it’s the system that’s failed and you need to create a better system so that thing can NEVER go wrong again.” He also used to say that “People do the best they can in the absence of a good system” and that’s a brilliant management tool I’ve used for years.
5. Never Stop Dreaming
Every entrepreneur starts with a dream. And every successful business is based on a vision. If you ever become too bored or too comfortable in your position as a business owner and stop dreaming and reaching out to fulfil that dream, your business is declining, slowly but surely, because it has lost its main engine propelling it forward.
This is how entrepreneurs are different from people who are happy as employees. If you are running a business and you want to make a difference and become successful, you should embrace this mindset.
Was it Woody Allen who said “Relationships are like sharks, they have to keep moving forward or they die”? Well, the same can be said about businesses!