January 14th, 2020 · 6 min read
Admittedly, a few take to it easily enough. They enjoy knowing it’s them against the world, and waking up every morning to the prospect of squeezing out some progress, whether it’s measured in sales, headway on a project, or just clocking another glorious day of workplace independence. This is a prime example of an entrepreneurial mindset.
Beyond being prepared to oversee basic business operations, running a business requires a different mindset than holding down a job. You have to think and act like a successful entrepreneur, which is harder for many than it sounds.
But for others, the transition from the supposed security of a W-2 job to the uncertainties of business ownership is daunting. If that’s you, and if you’re thinking seriously of going out on your own anyway, then it’s you I’m talking to right now.
Adopting a healthy entrepreneurial mindset calls for replacing your fears with confidence. Though the best way to gain confidence is through experience, it’s not advisable to dive headlong into the hard-knocks school of starting a business without setting aside time and bandwidth for some mental preparation.
“Mental preparation for what?” you might ask. Why, to try your best to be the sort of person who runs a personally fulfilling and, at least by your reckoning, successful business.
After all, you’re no longer exchanging tasks for wages. You’re putting your expertise, passion, drive and intelligence in the marketplace in hopes of realizing more of your potential than ever before.
The development I recommend starts with embodying your brightest and best self — with you as the only guardian of that standard. In practice, this prospect is enough to send most would-be entrepreneurs running to the security — make that supposed security — of a regular job.
So what are the biggest fears we face in adopting a successful, entrepreneurial mindset.
Facing the loneliness that comes with starting a business, calls for a sense of drive and purpose fierce enough to keep you swimming against a tide of frustration, disappointment and loneliness.
So it makes sense that the social implications of a drastic life change — as represented in starting a business - is one of the biggest fears of would-be entrepreneurs. With you focused on your grand project, it can be difficult to relate to friends and family.
After all, being an entrepreneur truly consumes you as the ever-growing list of responsibilities you have to meet chews through your so-called down time. The new business becomes who you are, what you eat, what you sleep and what you breathe. In those circumstances, you either learn to revel in and take inspiration from your own company, or you grow miserable.
Others have had success maintaining a sense of purpose in isolation with mental practices such as meditation or prayer to maintain focus and help set long-term goals. Still others turn to visualizing desired outcomes as a day-to-day motivator. Some are more adept at these practices than others, but professionals who use such techniques report feeling less isolated when starting down their own paths to workplace independence.
In addition to combating feelings of isolation and staying motivated through mental and spiritual exercises, it’s important to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle in other ways. If your physical health is out of whack, then the foundation of your entrepreneurship is out of whack. So fundamentals of well-being like maintaining a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and making time for exercise should be your priorities.
This stands to reason. As the fulcrum of your business, you must be operating at your best if you hope to manage the stress of starting a business while maintaining the requisite level of productivity. Some experts even recommend taking a “scientific” approach to health by gauging things such as cortisol levels and nutrition intake.
You can also use healthy habits to model the kind of business you want to build. In this framework, you don’t think “happy thoughts,” you treat yourself like the vital part of your business that you in fact are. If you’re not healthy, your business can’t be either — and you will inevitably fall prey to sensations of futility, regret and loneliness.
The fear of failure is natural. But in business, failure occurs only in the absence of insights derived from the experience.
if your first attempt to build a business is a dud, it’s not impossible to bounce back. In fact, as you know, many successful entrepreneurs have failed before they made good — from Thomas Edison to Bill Gates. (Ever hear of Traf-O-Data? Didn’t think so). Some observers even take a failure or two in one’s past as a measure of stick-to-it-ness and grit. Are you resilient enough to come surging back for more after failing? Can you learn from the hard lessons of failure?
We all know how Michael Jordan failed to make the varsity basketball team in high school — and how that failure fueled his passion for the game and a primal need to dominate the court for decades to come. “I have failed over and over and over again in my life, and that is why I succeed,” His Airness once remarked.
Author Robert Kiyosaki flunked out of high school altogether. Later he saw his first two companies go under. Then a book he was desperately shopping around got rejected by so many publishers he decided to print it — the eventual bestseller “Rich Dad Poor Dad” — on his own dime.
These examples remind us that “failure” isn’t failure when it imparts lessons that make the entrepreneur smarter and hungrier than ever.
Being undaunted by the prospect of set-backs means you have what it takes to face the unknown in the form of uncertain outcomes. And it means you can handle the risk of reputational damage that can come with business failure.
If you still feel shaky in the face of potential failure, seeking out fresh perspectives can help you tap into your innate resilience. Force yourself out of your bubble. Do things you never would have tried. Talk to people you might never have thought to approach. Read, hear and see new things. Volunteer and help people in need so you can grasp how lucky you are, with or without a few business worries.
The testimonials of those who have burst out of their comfort zones in like fashion tell of the profound benefits of initial discomfort. Challenge your assumptions, and tackle your prejudices, these Samaritans tell us, and you’ll emerge more receptive to valuable and lasting insights on your personal and business life.
Sometimes we need to blow out the cobwebs by doing something different, something exciting, something drastic even. When starting and running a business your mind must be clear and focused. If it’s not, consider the mind-expanding potential of deliberately seeking out positive new experiences.
And if you’re really in a funk, it may be worth mentioning to your doctor. You may suffer from depression or anxiety, and those are medically treatable conditions. Your business can only benefit from your having a stronger understanding of yourself.
It can be expensive to get a business up and running, especially at first. Breaking even is the first big goal, but it’s still going to be all about the numbers until you get that business to the level of success where the practice is (to some rough extent) self-sustaining.
To keep you focused, it can help to review your strategy frequently — and to do so pretty intensely.
You need 20 clients at $5000 a year to rake in $100,000. OK, bam: goal set.
Are you offering a broad range of services designed for mass appeal, or are you focusing on a narrow demographic? Then start to research the market or markets you plan to target because that will tell you how to go about acquiring your first customer. But then continue this process. Polish the initial blueprint of your business strategy until it feels like the parts of the puzzle are arranging themselves before your eyes.
Then run through your plans again. And again. And again, until its impurities are dissolved in the crucible of forethought and ready to be poured into the mold of confidence to become the sword you need for the battle that awaits you.