To be an entrepreneur, you must think like one.
And a successful entrepreneur operates with a set of mindsets that separates them from the rest.
In this article, I’ll share common ways successful entrepreneurs approach their life and work.
This is what I have learned from dozens of books on the subject of business, marketing, entrepreneurship, and my own personal experience going from depressed and overwhelmed to making consistent progress in my business.
Let’s get straight into it.
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1. Always Know Where You’re Going
Successful entrepreneurs have a vision, and they actively remind themselves of it.
It’s easy to focus on what we haven’t yet achieved if we lose sight of where we’re going, so a clear vision is essential to keep us motivated and inspired.
If this isn’t second nature to you or you haven’t yet explored the idea of having a vision then you have a couple of options.
- You can either create your vision
- Or adopt one from someone else
To create your own, you must think about what sort of life you want to live in the future, regardless of your past or where you are right now.
Where do you see yourself in 6 months, 1 year, 3 years, 5 years, and even 10 years?
Some people dislike thinking too much about the future because it’s unknown and can seem scary.
But this is the point of having and owning a future that you believe in and commit to making your reality.
Your future vision should excite you with goals you’ve achieved along the way. Think of goals you’ve wanted to accomplish in the past and imagine what it would feel like now if you had already achieved them.
Just because you haven’t already achieved them doesn’t mean you can’t achieve them in the future.
Paint a picture and see yourself in your mind, already experiencing this desired reality.
Imagine what it would feel like and make a plan to think about this vision every day.
The more you remind yourself of how you want your life and business to be, the more motivated and inspired you’ll be to take action.
The less you focus on where you currently are, the more you’ll enjoy the journey.
What if you can’t imagine your own vision?
Simon Sinek expresses in this video that it’s okay not to have a vision of your own, but important to find a vision that you can follow and believe in.
He suggests you look at the visions of the ones who inspire you the most and use them as your own.
As long as you have an ideal future to work towards and that aligns with your own values, then this is just as good as having a vision of your own.
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2. Know Your Purpose
The word purpose gets thrown around a lot in the world of entrepreneurship.
Some people question its importance where others swear by it.
Personally, I don’t think you need a purpose to be a successful entrepreneur per se; I think you need a purpose to find true fulfillment in life.
This doesn’t mean you must find a purpose before you can be happy. And it also doesn’t mean your purpose has to be indefinite.
It means whatever you’re currently working on should align with your highest values and drive you towards your vision, and your vision fulfils your purpose.
I believe people fall into a few categories.
- Long term driven, motivated by purpose.
- Short term driven, motivated by intuition.
- Present driven, motivated by emotion.
Studies suggest that 95% of all human behaviour is subconscious. Meaning we’re almost entirely motivated by our beliefs and values, emotions, personality, habits, and cognitive biases which we have no awareness of.
We think we’re making our decisions consciously, but they are mostly habitual, unconscious thought patterns that happen in the background.
This lays groundwork for understanding why people don’t get what they want, they get their habitual thinking and react based on their emotions.
To show this as an example, let’s imagine three types of people.
Present driven people get influenced by their emotions and react to things in their environment. These people may also dwell on the past or suffer from unresolved traumatic events.
When negative emotions drive us, we often think we’re working towards a better life, but it’s usually a way of escaping the current pain we’re in.
Short term driven people can sometimes make miraculous things happen. They have an idea of where they’re going, but it’s mostly guesswork.
They use their intuition to guide them to the next task or to inspire them of what they could work on tomorrow.
Sometimes they’re motivated, sometimes they’re not. When they are, they usually create meaningful work, but it rarely lasts long enough to finish it.
When they’re not motivated, they’ll usually take time off or try to figure out why they’re not motivated.
Long term driven people are motivated by their purpose. They set goals and work towards them, holding their vision in mind to get motivated.
If they don’t feel motivated, they start anyway and build momentum as they go along. They focus on their purpose, which drives them to take action regardless of how they feel.
This is true for anyone who has a purpose, whether you’re an entrepreneur or a new father with the desire to be the best dad in the world.
Our purpose in life might be undefined, but it is everyone’s purpose to discover their true calling in life.
Maintain Beliefs That Serve You
We all have limiting beliefs that hold us back and as entrepreneurs, it’s our responsibility to uncover them and develop more empowering beliefs that serve us.
All beliefs are thinking patterns you have taken on over the years, which form a mental image of who you are and how you see the world.
The beliefs you hold are your truth, even if they’re false. And the collection of all our beliefs makes up our reality.
When we limit ourselves to what we can do, we are working from a false belief.
If it’s possible for someone else, then it is possible for us.
One new belief I am currently working on is being able to write 5000 words in three hours every day.
Sounds a lot right!
But I know it’s possible because some people can write 5000 words per hour.
When I would sit down to write, I used to tell myself how hard it was for me to even write 1000 words per day, let alone 5000 words per hours.
I would struggle to think I could write this amount because I had never done it before. I would doubt my ability and my performance would confirm my belief.
I was limiting myself and confirming this truth with stories that continued to limit me.
Then one day I wrote over 3000 words in about 5 hours. I didn’t do it in 1 hour or even 3 hours, but I still did it.
This confirmed a different story, and it got me thinking outside of what was previously possible for me.
Now, after doing a lot of work on myself, I recognise many other beliefs that held me back like this. I have overcome many of them and I have adopted many new beliefs that enable me to succeed in what I do.
It doesn’t end here though. I have to continue to work on the beliefs I’ve developed so I don’t fall behind or allow my old beliefs to creep back in.
How can you find out what beliefs you hold?
Look at where you’re struggling. Look at how you’re talking to yourself. Look at the stories you live by that limit what you are capable of.
When you raise your awareness of yourself and notice your excuses, you will uncover your limiting beliefs.
Then you can flip them round and create and maintain beliefs that serve you.
4. Be Passionate
They often become entrepreneurs so they can live a life of what they’re passionate about, instead of doing work that doesn’t fulfil them.
If you want to become a successful entrepreneur but you lack passion, you’ll find it difficult to get motivated.
Or you will typically go after superficial things that don’t sustain your growth.
Many people get into business because they think it’s cool to work for yourself or because they’re chasing something like fame or money.
There might be nothing wrong with these things, but if you’re driven by things to get validation, then you will end up shooting yourself in the foot.
Passion, purpose and vision is a much better place to work from because it takes away the focus from you and onto something bigger.
Yes, passion might fulfil one of your desires, but there is usually a selfless element to it.
Passion can also assist you in going after what you want without worrying what other people think.
People without passion don’t understand why we do the things we do. They see us as obsessive, needy, or that our intentions aren’t authentic.
But people with passion know better. We go after the life we want with passion because we know something they don’t.
It’s all about the journey. Yes, we have a vision and want to achieve things, but passion makes the process worth it.
5. Challenges are an Opportunity for Growth
Failure is a necessary means to to reach success. Successful entrepreneurs know this well because they embrace any challenges they come across.
If you struggle with this, it could be a fixed mindset that’s getting in your way.
When you’re working from a fixed mindset, there’s a good chance you’ll try to avoid failure at all costs to prevent the feeling of being judged by others or fearing you’ll be seen as inadequate.
With a fixed mindset, we want to be seen as if we know exactly what we’re doing and never get things wrong.
With a growth mindset, we understand that it’s impossible to be perfect and get things right 100% of the time.
With a growth mindset, you’ll do what you think is right at the time with the resources you currently have. If you hit a roadblock, it acts as an opportunity to learn where you went wrong, where you could have asked for help, and what you can improve to move forward.
Success isn’t a straight line. Failure is part of the process. If we avoid failure, we miss the opportunity to learn and grow.
We end up pushing success further away, never realising that we have to face challenges and accept that we don’t have all the answers.
Even a broken back can’t stop some entrepreneurs, regardless of what doctors tell them.
Sean Peak, a head coach of InSite Performance Coaching, asked his wife to bring his laptop to the hospital so he could continue committing to his role as an entrepreneur.
He made two promises to himself:
- I would turn this into an opportunity, an unfair advantage somehow.
- I wasn’t going to waste a “perfectly good broken back.”
This is the far end of the growth mindset in action. Albeit, one that you can and developed when you act with integrity and turn challenges into an advantage.
6. Don’t Let Fear Get in the Way
You know when fears are getting in the way when you make excuses.
If you’re in the habit of making excuses, then you might not even notice yourself doing it.
Someone with an entrepreneurial mindset is vigilant to the excuses and stories they tell themselves.
That’s how our fear typically shows up in our lives. Excuses and stories about why we can’t do something.
If there’s something we fear doing, we’ll know exactly why we avoid it with the things we tell ourself.
And we need to recognise this behaviour so we’re able to face our fears and push past them.
Fear is the number one dream killer. If you want to run a successful business, then you have to recognise when fear is playing its role to stop you from moving forward.
A successful entrepreneur feels the fear and does it, anyway.
If you happen to be fear averse, know that it’s only our mind resisting uncertainty.
Becoming an author, blogger, YouTuber, or coach will involve things you have never done before, which will seem scary at first.
But the good thing is that once we have done what’s necessary for our business to grow, the fear gradually goes away and we can move onto eliminating the next one.
7. Surround Yourself with Successful People
You are the sum of the top five people you hand around with.
We hold standards for ourselves based on our upbringing, who we look up to, and what sort of life we want for ourselves.
The problem is that it’s hard to think bigger when our own perspective is all we have to go by.
And even if our vision is huge, we will often get overwhelmed by it or struggle to hold ourselves accountable.
Therefore, it’s important to surround yourself with successful people who are always looking to push themselves further.
Having friends who have big goals will motivate us to raise our own standards and want to keep up with those around us who are doing really well.
If most of the people you hang round with want a simple life and spend most of their time in front of the TV or having fun with their friends, then you’ll end up doing the same.
There is nothing wrong with this life. Sometimes I fantasise about living a simple life where I’m guaranteed a monthly salary and get to chill out all the time.
But when you’re a true entrepreneur, your calling to serve and impact the world is too strong to ignore.
And of the five people you hang out with the most, remember, you’re one of those people the other four hang around with and get inspire by.
8. Think Like a Marketer
Successful entrepreneurs think like a marketer. All entrepreneurs know this truth well.
If you run a business but you have know clue what marketing is or how marketing works, then you’re being a business owner and not an entrepreneur.
Business owners treat their business like a job. Entrepreneurs think differently.
When you run a business as an entrepreneur, you treat it as an individual entity. A living and breathing entity that runs and grows by itself.
This is what an entrepreneur sets out to do when they start a business.
“Here’s a problem within a market and I have the solution. How can I turn this solution into a product or service people will buy?”
They are also thinking above all else, how will this business run itself.
Who are my audience? What will my team look like? How will it drive traffic, leads and sales? How can I scale it? What’s the exit strategy?
All these questions and more are going on inside the entrepreneur’s mind, but the one that anyone can adopt revolves around marketing.
Without marketing, all you have is word of mouth or ads to drive sales.
Both can work well in many businesses, but word-of-mouth needs reputation which can crumble overnight and ads cost money.
Marketing attracts customers through content, engagement, and trust. Marketing can turn a stranger into a loyal customer, an advocate and an ambassador.
Marketing tells your brand’s story and connects people. Marketing reaches the right people and evokes emotion.
And marketing is scalable. Marketing is repeatable and cost effective. Marketing turns little unknown businesses into global brands that people love.
9. Become a Content Creator
We are living in the information age where content is more valuable than ever.
People who desire to improve their lives turn to the internet to get answers, and those who commit to change will pay good money for it.
If you run an online business, then content is required. Whether you engage your audience using content on social media, video content on YouTube, or articles on your blog, content that helps your audience builds trust and influences them to take action.
Any internet business today is a content business. There are examples everywhere.
Gary Vee popularised the creation of content on social media after he turned his father’s liquor business into a 60 million dollar company and went onto create VaynerMedia.
Bloggers and niche marketers have adopted the “Content Inc. model” where they use content to drive traffic and collect data on what their market audience wants and needs. I am following this model on this very blog.
Other companies, such as eCommerce brand Blendtec, create content on YouTube with their “Will It Blend” series.
No matter what type of company you are running, content will attract your target audience powerfully and turn your customers into raving fans.
Being an entrepreneur takes a certain mindset.
If you’re lucky enough to have adopted these principles from a young age, then this way of thinking might be second nature to you.
For the rest of us, it is our responsibility to adopt the mind of an entrepreneur to make our lives easier and our businesses a success.
I believe we can learn to have an entrepreneurial mindset when we put these practices in place and develop ourselves every day.