Many, many years ago I wrote an article about fostering an entrepreneurial mind when I was working my last Network Marketing venture. Reading it again, I’m reminded at how much I still needed to learn at the time. It was certainly a growing experience. That business failed not because it couldn’t work but because I couldn’t. I was operating from what I see as a more self-employed perspective, which is about being busy and finding clients on a consistent basis (like the bucket person in the Pipelines versus Buckets story).
What I wanted to be was more system-oriented, and spend more time building a system that can mostly sustain itself, and then selling or renting it to clients (like the pipeline person).
An entrepreneur identifies a problem or perceived problem, presents a viable solution, and asks for money in return. How that problem is solved will be different whether one is coming from a self-employed or system-oriented perspective. The latter is simply less labour intensive.
There may be a lot of time and effort involved in developing the solution and in the initial marketing. If the solution really does meet a valid need, the rest is virtually automatic. Of course, the system should be set up in such a way that this need is met, that sales can easily happen, and that customers are happy so that they return, and you’re able to reach more customers.
So, with that in mind, let me present my refined list of fostering an entrepreneurial mind.
It’s obvious but needs saying; Your work and product should provide value to others. Once you’ve determined what you are offering, and that it is needed and wanted, you can start formulating a way to provide it as cost effectively as possible and make your profit. A clear purpose and mission on what you want to accomplish will guide your decisions on creating your vision for your career and business. The vision is the how you will accomplish your mission, and extends as far as the relationship you want to foster with your audience. As your business evolves and you get feedback from your clients, naturally your mission and vision may require tweaking, but do your best to have a core idea of who you are and how you present yourself to your market from the get go. Your communication and marketing plans will extend from and amplify this vision.
As a freelancer, I had opted for the hit-and hope approach of getting business and connecting with my market. It showed in my engagement and while I’ve a great skill in building relationships, it was difficult to share what I was offering which left people confused. To be honest, this habit is still entrenched in my business approach but I’m more aware of it and every so often, my public image is adjusted accordingly 😛
Be vigilant with your business, constantly asking what the end result is. How do you, your partners and your employees contribute to these outcomes? Cultivate a mindset that is planning for the future, and being as crystal clear on what outcomes you want. Starting with the end in mind helps you make better choices to reach those outcomes.
Here’s the kicker however; be flexible. The business journey is not straight and while it’s important to focus on outcomes, be flexible on the process. Staying nimble and being vigilant will help you adapt and be focused on independent impact. Be flexible in your methods, and respond to the market and your customers feedback and needs as they change. Curiosity is as important a part of your mindset as being aware of the future. When you’re curious, you’re constantly researching, looking for new opportunities, asking questions, seeking feedback, learning, observing, and being aware of where you need to adapt your initial plans.
Nothing is set in stone. Sometimes a plan that seems great on paper backfires in application. And when you’re able to shift and flow with the waves, you can recover quicker and adjust to still suit your desired outcomes. There is never an end to learning. Reflect, read, analyse your approach and your plan constantly, consistently brainstorm with partners and mentors and coaches, be open to learning and to failing, in order to succeed.
This brings us to a very important point. Be not afraid to fail. Success is not a straight line, nor a clear path, nor a set of one-size-fits all tasks that everybody can apply. Understand the risks as best as you can, but also be open to the fact that you can’t see all the variables. Things are not always going to go to plan, and sometimes you do fall, need to pick yourself up, dust off, and try again.
I have always found the image of a toddler learning to walk useful. It takes tens, if not hundreds, of attempts to get that balance right before she is walking proficiently. It’s the same with everything in life. Nobody starts off as an ace soccer player, or piano player, or programmer. No matter how good your natural ability is, there is always a bit of trial and error, and failing and learning in the beginning. Some people take longer than others, and these are the people who show more perseverance at the end of the day.
You need only so a little bit of research to learn that most star entrepreneurs and business owners today had their fair share of failures in various guises.
Plan as best you can, and then go do it. Don’t avoid risks. On the other side of those risks lie great success. Take responsibility for what you do, for what works, and what doesn’t work. Own it, accept it, and move forward as best you can. Incidentally, fostering a leadership mentality, and being a person who doesn’t shirk responsibility makes for a great entrepreneur.
Nobody can be all things, and I know that as a freelancer with that attitude of doing it all myself, I’ve had far too many months crying myself to sleep from the sheer overwhelm of going it alone.
Build yourself a network of smart, creative people, and harness the power of this community. Having the right partners, mentors, and coaches, as well as employees and suppliers can make all the difference to a successful business. Know the talents of your team and network, and leverage what you can form them.
Learn to work better by using what is at your disposal instead of doing it all yourself, and being more busy than productive. In today’s age, you have a wealth of knowledge and people available to you for a very cost low and often for free. Network in the groups of people of similar mindset. Seek out people who know more than you do, and form partnerships that are productive on both a personal and professional level. As an entrepreneur, there is no clocking out time and the lines do blur significantly between personal and professional. Learn to manage this and the people who can support you on both sides of that line.
The biggest mindset change for me was to go from focusing on myself to focusing on others. Thinking about what I can get out of this business versus what can I give and do for others.
As an entrepreneur, it is an intrinsic part of your vision to transform the market with your innovations. You are providing solutions to existing problems, and the better you are at solving those problems, the more successful your business will be. There are many businesses and entrepreneurs that do look out for themselves over their customers, and they can be very successful. Those are not the people that I would pattern my path around. It wouldn’t work for me. I care too much about other people, and once I bring that care directly into my business, the opportunities open.
I find that when you are more focused on giving than getting, on creating value, and considering your audience on a more personal level, success comes easier.
Being an entrepreneur is not difficult. Simply think like one. Move out of the “self-employed” mentality of looking for work, and into the “system-creation” mentality of creating value and creating work, both for yourself and for others. And be curious, persist, be creative, collaborate, find and use resources, be passionate, and contribute.
The world is a playground, laden with opportunities to experience pretty much whatever we want to experience.
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