What Is an Entrepreneurial Mindset & How Do You Develop One?

Look at any high-performing business and you’re likely to notice some patterns. More often than not, a successful business has a good product, provides great service and even has an incredible team.

But while there are many factors that influence the success of a business, success often comes down to a particular mindset and approach to business and life.

Having an entrepreneurial mindset can often be the difference between long-term success and struggling to turn your idea into reality.

In this guide, we’ll show you the keys to developing an entrepreneurial mindset, and more importantly, an entrepreneurial spirit, to increase your chances of success by learning from some of the best entrepreneurs.

What is the entrepreneurial mindset?

An entrepreneurial mindset is an attitude that allows you to think long term and to push through all the obstacles and challenges that come with starting a business. It means being open-minded, critical and resilient when times get tough. It means looking for solutions rather than problems. Best of all, you don’t need to go to Harvard Business School to develop it.

Starting a business is incredibly hard. Many businesses fail. Entrepreneurs need to be comfortable with failure and be able to overcome self-doubt. Not all the bold plans we make will turn out to be million-dollar ideas.

Why do people become entrepreneurs?

What type of entrepreneur are you? Every entrepreneur has a different starting story. But there are three common reasons why people leave a salaried job to start their own business.

Freedom and flexibility

What type of entrepreneur are you? Every entrepreneur has a different starting story. But there are three common reasons why people leave a salaried job to start their own business.

Many aspiring entrepreneurs see creating a business as freedom: their gateway to working their own hours, saying no to an annoying boss, and having the flexibility to work on projects they enjoy. You don’t always get that in a full-time job.

Goals and ambitions

Look at successful entrepreneurs and you’ll see they have a fire in their belly. Each person has goals and ambitions they want to achieve—anything from earning six figures a year to changing the world. Their business is often the vehicle that helps them get there. 

It’s this personal satisfaction (or lack thereof) that nudges people into entrepreneurship. Ash Read, founder of Living Cozy, says he became an entrepreneur “to prove to myself I could build something from zero. After working for established brands, I needed to show I could do it on my own.” Self education matters.

Welljourn’s founder Becky Brown says, “For years, I was completely fine working full-time and earning a steady paycheck, but eventually, I realized that I had to strive for more in order to achieve personal happiness and inner satisfaction. 

Inventions

Not all entrepreneurs respond with “I want to own a business!” when asked what they’d like to do in the future. In fact, some people think of themselves as the complete opposite—yet still end up creating successful businesses (or appearing on Shark Tank).

Take Kirby Kendall, the founder of SafetyChew, who kept an inventor’s notebook filled with crazy things as a child: “My goal was to invent something and have a company license it, and I just sit back and cash the checks.”

Nature vs. nurture: are we born entrepreneurs?

Not all business owners consider themselves to be entrepreneurs. Maybe they fell into it, creating something they wanted the world to see and a business was the only way to do that.

But some small business owners believe they’re born with entrepreneurial thinking, like Jodie Kieliszewski, founder of Bee Lovely Botanicals. Her family has a history of entrepreneurship, with both Jodie’s parents, grandparents, and sister starting businesses: “I believe that the entrepreneurial mindset is more the type of thing that someone is born with, but obviously it is a skill that can be sharpened or dulled with use.

“We were raised to spot opportunities and resources to make things better. For me, I feel like it’s just something in my DNA, but in order to be successful, I need to practice and sharpen it as a skill.”

Anyone can learn the art and skill of sales, marketing, and promotion—all of which are crucial to a business. Not everyone can succeed as an entrepreneur. People either have or do not have that innate desire to succeed and the mindset to sacrifice, be uncomfortable, and make tough decisions on a daily basis. The likelihood of success depends on the character and makeup of an individual versus someone who simply has skills but lacks intrinsic fire in their belly.Magda Khalifa, founder of Triangle Fragrance

Whether you’re on either side of the nature versus nurture debate, not everyone has an equal start in the entrepreneurship race. Many of us are given the upper hand by the circumstances we’re born into. People find it easier to become an entrepreneur if they have the background, upbringing, formal education, opportunities, and financial freedom to do so. 

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor also found certain elements “directly [influence] the existence of entrepreneurial opportunities.” The biggest driver? Cultural and social norms, indicating those who’ve grown up in a circle of other entrepreneurs are likely to become one themselves.

All of this isn’t to say you can’t develop an entrepreneurial mindset if you’re not coming from a background of privilege. It definitely is possible—it just takes a little more work.

I think you definitely have to have a certain type of personality to be a good entrepreneur. You have to be highly self-motivated, driven, persistent, and a bit of an overachiever. However, there are several skills that you can develop that will help you, including learning the ins and outs of how to build a business, understanding opportunity costs, developing relationships, and keeping up with industry trends.Ashley Cummings, freelance writer

How to develop an entrepreneurial mindset?

Not everyone is born with the natural drive to run a business, but anyone can become a business owner with the right mindset.

Here’s how to develop the most important entrepreneurial skills.

Build resilience.

Not all business ideas will end up succeeding. Business failure is part of any entrepreneur’s life. There are tons of elements in both marketing and business plans that determine whether an idea becomes a successful venture. 

That’s why keeping the will and determination to make your new business venture a success is crucial. Resilience—the ability to recover from less-than-ideal situations—is the difference between people who have an entrepreneurial mindset and those who don’t. 

“Entrepreneurs see losing as not only a part of the process, but essential to it,” says Yuvi Alpert, founder and creative director at Noémie. “For them, the only way to streamline a business to make it as productive as possible is by understanding where the problems are, which requires experiencing loss.

“By having this mindset, a successful entrepreneur can get past the fear that holds many aspiring business people back, and opens their minds up to all possibilities.”

An entrepreneurial mindset is having the ability to make the most out of opportunities that come your way. You know how to overcome and learn from setbacks, as well as how to excel in a variety of settings.Jean Gregoire, CEO of Lovebox

Building resilience and adaptability as an entrepreneur is something you can only do with practice. Roll your sleeves up and follow your business plan. Produce the best version of a product. Do everything you can to spread the word. But know that plans aren’t foolproof; even the most watertight business plans can go wrong. That’s where your problem-solving skills are sharpened. 

Where others see problems and challenges and then complain, entrepreneurs see opportunities and think of solutions.Aaron Powell, founder and CEO of Bunch Bikes

​​Question everything.

People with an entrepreneurial mindset are curious. They don’t take things at face value; they question why things happen so they can set themselves up for entrepreneurial success.

“The entrepreneurial mindset is all about questioning the world around you and working creatively to improve that world,” says Ethan Goldstein, CEO of Curist. “Constantly asking questions about why things are done the way they are and then positing and executing on new ways to accomplish a goal.”

Ethan recommends developing this mindset by questioning the world around you:

  • Weigh the pros versus the cons. Say you’re looking for help to manufacture your new curling iron. Instead of getting quotes from one manufacturer, weigh the pros and cons of local versus international vendors. US manufacturers might be able to ship your product quicker than a European manufacturer, for example—but you’ll pay for that with higher production costs.
  • Know when to be aggressive versus restrained. This is especially true with marketing and advertising. The world is your oyster; social media platforms are ready to take your money in exchange for lending their audience. “Does our audience use this platform?” and “Could we get this advertising slot cheaper elsewhere?” are just two of the questions running through the brain of someone with an entrepreneurial mindset.
  • Learn when to go with your gut versus examining data. Business executives are more likely to rely on their intuition than the general public. Entrepreneurs who had a gut feeling that TikTok would become popular, for example, are winning today because they started using the platform early.

“I think some of the important internal skills include how to emotionally and mentally run a startup,” Ethan says. Most importantly, that includes “how to manage and plan for the constant uncertainty of running a startup and the potential for anxiety therein, balancing ongoing failure and success.”

Get out of your comfort zone.

Great things rarely happen in your comfort zone. When starting a new venture, it’s this drive to try new things that helps people to turn shower thoughts into successful brands. They have the confidence to try things others haven’t.

Take Rick Elmore, founder and CEO of Simply Noted, who started his career as a football player: “Throughout my sports and entrepreneurial career, I have always pushed myself outside of my comfort zone in order to become better at what I do. This includes learning about and building from scratch the technology that is the basis of my business.

“It can be an uncomfortable process,” Rick says, “but in the end, this strategy results in finding new perspectives, discovering new solutions, and meeting new people who can bring new opportunities.” 

No matter how uncomfortable it may feel, develop an entrepreneurial mindset by trying new things. A new social media platform on the market? Spend a few hours each week to see how things pan out. A hunch that your product could be made cheaper by using different materials? Have a small production run and see if quality suffers. 

The beauty of a comfort zone is that the more you push it, the wider it gets. Entrepreneurs often look back at big decisions that felt scary at the time, only to recognize they’re now doing things they could only dream of. Their comfort zone expanded as their business did.

Entrepreneurs are creators, problem solvers, and innovators. They see possibilities where others see limitations. To be an entrepreneur, you must be willing to take risks and do what it takes to make your vision a reality.Darren Litt, co-founder of Hiya Health

Take responsibility for mistakes.

Unfortunately, not all of the business decisions you make will pay off. That won’t always be your fault. Vendors can fall through on their promises, shipping carriers lose parcels in transit, you name it. 

Alongside resilience and the drive to solve problems, taking responsibility for those mistakes is what sets entrepreneurs apart. 

“To me, the factor that truly defines an entrepreneurial mindset is the refusal to make or accept excuses,” says Mitchell H. Stern, founder of Side Hustle Tips. “Taking ultimate responsibility for everything that happens under the roof of a business is what separates real entrepreneurs from the amateurs, because it’s not an easy thing to do. It’s much easier to blame and castigate others when things go wrong, but it’s also a recipe for disaster.”

Mitchell says, “When I came to the realization that everything was my fault, I developed a new sense of empowerment that enabled me to apply a more proactive approach to all of my business operations. The results were immediate and lasting, and it’s a lesson I continue to preach to this day.”

Individuals with an entrepreneurial mindset are able to adjust quickly and adapt when circumstances change, are highly intuitive, and rarely shy away from following their gut instincts. They are also decisive, and hold themselves accountable for the outcomes of their actions.Patrick Crane, CEO of Love Sew

Strive for constant improvement.

Gymshark, Harper Wilde, Allbirds—they’re three huge businesses that got their success within the past decade. They have one thing in common: the desire to create the best quality products in their industry.

Take Gymshark, for example. Part of its success comes from its commitment to always produce the best quality apparel. One of its core values is progression: “To remain at the forefront of both, we need to be fearlessly progressive and consistently future-conscious.”

gymshark-website-screenshot-showing-core-brand-values

“Having an entrepreneurial mindset means that you have a natural [affinity] to learn and make your trade better,” says Marie Jones, the founder of Organic Aromas. 

“You can have many skills and lack the all-consuming passion to break the barriers. Today, the company makes seven figures worldwide, and I believe it’s because of the relentless mindset that always seeks to do more and to do better.”

Surround yourself with other entrepreneurs.

Earlier, we mentioned that research shows people are more likely to become entrepreneurs if they’re surrounded by them. It’s easier to spot business opportunities when you’ve been raised by other people who do. 

Put this into practice by surrounding yourself with other people with the entrepreneurial mindset. This doesn’t have to be your circle of friends. You can make friends with other business owners through:

  • Local business events. The US Chamber of Commerce hosts regular networking events for small business owners. You’ll also find independent events on sites like Meetup and Eventbrite.
  • Conferences. Scan the Conference Index to find events and tradeshows happening in your industry. Make an effort to network with people while you’re there.
  • Online forums. Connect with global entrepreneurs through Slack communities, Facebook groups, and Reddit’s /r/entrepreneur forum.

Not found your million-dollar idea yet but want to get first-hand experience? Find an entrepreneur you admire and ask to shadow them. Having them as your mentor will help you understand their mindset and thought processes. When inspiration does strike, you’ll have the new skills to turn it into a successful business.

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is a motto many entrepreneurs credit their success to. Not only will the entrepreneurial mindset of others rub off onto you, but you’ll have a network of friends willing to help you out when things get tough.

Aligning with like-minded peers allows you to share tricks, tips, and even leads. If that’s not enough, leveraging the influence of other reputable businesses will boost your clout and can help position you as an expert.Sigute Zitikyte, Personal Branding Coach, and former Senior Partnerships Manager at Shopify

The first step to developing the right mindset is deciding to become an entrepreneur.

Some people find the foray into entrepreneurship easier than others. Privilege, your upbringing, and being surrounded by entrepreneurs from a young age all influence your likelihood of business success.

Don’t use that as an excuse to wipe “Become an entrepreneur” off your bucket list. You can develop the same entrepreneurial mindset some people say they’re born with by second-guessing everything, getting out of your comfort zone, and always striving for improvement. 

“The entrepreneurial mindset is first and foremost about self-belief and confidence,” ViscoSoft’s CEO Gabriel Dungan summarizes. “No matter what industry your business falls under, having confidence in both yourself and your company is integral to success and overall longevity.”

Don’t let your excuses and fears stop you from giving entrepreneurship a try.

Wrapping up

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This article partly refers to:  https://www.shopify.com/uk/blog/entrepreneurial-mindset