Regardless of your work or life goals, people want to be happy and successful. We pursue this objective in a number of ways through education, work experiences, mentorship and gaining knowledge by reading books on how to be successful. Part of the challenge is that we have to intrinsically believe we are capable of our own success. And a lot of our potential success is based on our mindset.
Psychologist Carol Dweck, from Stanford University, was the first researcher to explore the idea of fixed and growth mindsets. According to her and based on research from her studies, she defined a growth mindset to mean that you believe your intelligence and talents can be developed over time. A fixed mindset means that you believe intelligence is fixed at birth, so if you’re not good at something, you might believe you’ll never be good at it. Well, if that is true, then in addition to a growth mindset, what kind of mindset do people need to have to become a successful entrepreneur, whether in a startup or in corporate entrepreneurship?
You need an entrepreneurial mindset: a way of thinking that enables you to seek out problem’s others have not solved, create potential solutions, overcome challenges, be decisive, and accept responsibility for your outcomes. It is a constant drive to improve your skills, learn from your mistakes, and take continuous action on your ideas. Anyone willing to do the work can develop an entrepreneurial mindset.
Here are the key attributes of an entrepreneurial mindset.
Curiosity. Entrepreneurs are more curious and fully engaged with the world around them. They are observing the latest trends, noticing products or services that could disrupt an industry. When they notice things that don’t work well, entrepreneurs look to gain an understanding of how things actually work and then try to solve the problem. Finding solutions to problems requires even more curiosity, which then prompts them to study problems from multiple angles and inquire about how to get better results. It leads them to experts and to gather additional knowledge. Curiosity leads to even more questions, and questions lead to answers. Those answers lead to a deeper understanding of the world around you and the opportunity to solve problems you wouldn’t even think you could solve.
Opportunity recognition. Opportunity recognition is a process that’s found in the way that individuals with an entrepreneurial mindset approach life. In many ways, it is a constant awareness in which individuals look for ‘’new and improved ways’ of addressing problems by noticing them. Here is a simple example. It’s 2007, smartphones are everywhere and you find yourself in a taxi cab. The driver seems lost so you pull out your phone, bring up Google Maps and tell the driver where to go. Uber. But Uber was not founded until 2009. To fully embrace opportunity recognition, you just need to be aware of potential problems so that you ‘see’ them more often than others. Then hopefully curiosity will lead you to ask the right questions
Ability to pivot. Why is it that some people who find themselves in a no-win situation will still continue on a possible path to failure? For whatever reason, they lack the ability or desire to pivot. That is the ability to be attentive enough, fast enough, with the ability to re-evaluate a new approach when the factors out of their control change and shift. A synonym for “pivot” would be being nimble. You can rapidly recalculate an alternate approach as things shift. A smart pivot is not abandoning your overall vision for your startup. ‘All a pivot is, is a change in strategy without a change in vision.’ According to Eric Ries, author, The Lean Startup. If you think its unique or hard to pivot, it’s not. Here are some well-known companies that all had to pivot to be successful: Nintendo, Twitter, Starbucks, AirBnb, YouTube…the list is endless. Your ability to pivot in your startup will be critical to your overall success and happiness.
Perseverance. Sometimes as a startup founder, you can find yourself facing situations where it can be tough to keep going. Or even feel like you can keep going. Yet, if you want your business to be successful you must do just that… keep going when the going isn’t easy. This is called perseverance and many successful entrepreneurs, and even many personal development leaders and prominent psychologists, will tell you that it just might be the secret of business (and personal) success. As Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple once said, ‘Exceptional founders all have the ability to ‘keep on keepin’ on.’ I’m convinced that half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.’
Creating a business with a new product or service, often takes longer than you want and is tougher than you imagine. Yet, if you give up and give in when you face tough times, you will never get where you want to go. If you have perseverance, great. If you don’t, cultivate it by setting small goals, planning for failure and building a network of people who believe in you and have the expertise to help you.