6 Tips to Turn Your Mindset From Employee to Entrepreneur
in Management by Jessica Day
“Success is not what you have, but who you are”. So said Dr. Bo Bennet, author and entrepreneurship expert. Others agree - entrepreneurial success doesn’t come from what you do, but from who you are.
In order to make it as an entrepreneur, you need to cultivate the entrepreneur mindset. A good place to start is understanding the difference between employee vs entrepreneur mindset.
Whether you’re selling virtual office phone services or trying to revolutionize the entire system, your mindset makes all the difference.
Here, we’ll teach you a bit about how the employee vs the entrepreneurial mindset, before passing on our six top tips for developing your own entrepreneur mindset.
Employee vs Entrepreneur Mindset
There is nothing wrong with having an employee mindset. Many people like to have a clearly delineated role. They use their jobs to gain money to improve other areas of their life, and their goals are not career-oriented. They’re not trying to build or to scale anything outside their private lives.
However, if you want to become a successful entrepreneur, you need to think differently.
Here are some key differences between the two, so you can identify which you currently have, and which you need to develop:
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That last point is important. As Winston Churchill said, “Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm”. A good entrepreneur must learn not only to face failure full-on, but to live in it, and embrace the lesson from every knockback.
For example, back in the early 00s, Samsung and Apple were working hard on touchscreen technology. However, the new touchscreen tech kept either failing or being rejected by a dubious public, while Nokia rode high on the strength of its durable phones and text messaging service.
Fast forward twenty years, and look where we are now. Everything is a touchscreen, and Nokia is no longer the household name it once was. When you’re an entrepreneur, it’s vital to keep on trying despite, and sometimes because of, frequent failure.
If you’re aiming for success, this can be hard. But it’s part of the process. If you can learn to view each failure as learning opportunity, as steps on the road to success, you’re well on your way to an entrepreneurial mindset.
Of course, there’s a lot more to it than just learning to love failure! To transform your mindset from that of an employee to that of an entrepreneur, here are six further steps to take:
1. Think goals, not money
When you are an employee, you’re likely to spend a lot of time filling your allotted work hours with ‘busywork’.
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And that’s fine, because the goal, ultimately, is to get paid. When you’re an entrepreneur, however, your attitude to time and tasks has to shift.
Rather than filling time with tasks in order to get paid, you must use your time productively in order to achieve your goals.
This may involve working 100 hours on R&D one week, and 20 on conference calls the next, depending on how your time is most productively and efficiently spent.
What’s more, the payoff won’t always be a literal payoff. The end goal of an intense working week could be an innovative breakthrough rather than money.
This is often difficult. However, if you dedicate enough time and focus to your goals rather than to the goals of your employer, you will eventually see results.
2. Take risks…but don’t be stupid!
As you develop your entrepreneurial mindset, you will start to see opportunities everywhere. All kinds of events, people, and places that you never spared a thought for before will suddenly seem full of potential.
It’s exciting - and it can be intoxicating! But before you plunge into every new opportunity that comes your way, do some research. Taking risks is all well and good - but there’s no need to be stupid about it. There’s a big difference between risk and educated risk.
For example, you might be tempted by free proposal management software. It could help you to raise your game and get some great proposals out without much outlay. But could these proposals be better if you invested more into your software?
It’s always worth weighing up the pros and cons.
To educate yourself about any given opportunity, first do some calculations. What will you have to put into this opportunity, and what could you get out of it? If the two don’t add up, this risk might not be worth it.
Of course, it’s hard to do exact calculations when you’re dealing with potential. But looking honestly at the situation, adding up the variables that could and could not work for you, and coming up with a ballpark calculation will be helpful.
If your calculations aren’t coming out how you’d like, but you still feel that the potential is there, do a bit more research. The more educated you are about any opportunity, the more likely it is to work for you.
3. Do what you love
When you’re an entrepreneur, you have to dedicate a lot of time (and a huge amount of mental space) to what you do. If you don’t have a genuine passion for it, you’ll quickly burn out.
Let’s say you have a phone system business. You may sell the best multi line phone system for small business in the country, but if you aren’t enthused about phone comms, you won’t make a go of it.
You need to be happy to live and breathe multi-phone systems in order to keep going. It needs to be your passion.
Let’s be honest, entrepreneurship is very difficult at times. Especially when you’re just starting out. Looking through those early income statements can be pretty depressing.
If you don’t love what you do, however, it’s more than depressing. You need a passion for what you do, in order to carry you through the slog of those early years.
4. Embrace insecurity
We’ve spoken above about the importance of being educated when it comes to taking risks. However, perhaps the biggest risk you take when you dive into entrepreneurship is the loss of job security. When you start working for yourself, that reliable salary at the end of the month goes away. You have to generate your own income and that can be daunting.
However successful you are as an entrepreneur, you will always have that kind of insecurity. As an entrepreneur, you are fully responsible for your own life and (down the line) those of your employees.
You have to deal with every negative review, and every business downturn. All of the negatives fall on your shoulders. On the plus side, you get to enjoy all the benefits when things go well!
It’s a huge responsibility, and that responsibility only grows as you get more successful. So, to get a proper entrepreneur mindset, you need to embrace responsibility and insecurity.
If it helps, invert that Spiderman thing: With great responsibility comes great power (or, in this case, great success).
5. Work for clients, not bosses
An employee mindset seeks instruction and direction. An entrepreneurial mindset instructs and directs.
If you’re a freelancer, it can be hard to make the distinction between client and boss. After all, you want to please your clients and it’s important to make reasonable accommodations for them.
Remember, when you are an entrepreneur, the buck stops with you. If you’ve been in an employee mindset for a long time, it’s hard (and even scary!) to realize that you can set your own terms and conditions. But you can.
If you’re struggling to draw the line between clients and bosses, think of it like this: You work for a boss. You work with a client. If you feel like a client is treating you badly or taking advantage of you, assert your autonomy.
It’s usually best to do this as politely as possible - but ‘polite’ is not synonymous with ‘pushover’. You can be firm with your politeness.
6. Take responsibility
We’ve spoken a bit above about responsibility. When you become an entrepreneur, you have to take on responsibility in spades. From the smallest online startup to the biggest new brick and mortar, going into business for and by yourself is a big responsibility.
It’s not easy, but you have to lean into it. Responsibility means autonomy - but it also means accountability. You need to step up and be responsible and accountable wherever it counts.
If it helps, treat every business-related transaction and interaction like ACID: Atomic - important in and of itself; Consistent - accurate and honest at all points; Isolated - with its own integrity, regardless of all external context; and Durable - designed to last.
Some acid transactions examples include the transfer of funds from one bank account to another and the process of transferring property between owners. In both cases, the transaction involves many different variables, but must still be treated as a single unit (Atomicity). The data involved has to be accurate and incorruptible (Consistency). Elements of the transaction must be separate in order to keep the data from being confused (Isolation), and changes must be successfully logged and recorded (Durability).
This kind of responsible mindset will help you to treat both your business and your clients with the respect they deserve. Which will in turn build your reputation and set you up for success.
Ditch the employee mindset and become an entrepreneur
Changing an entire mindset isn’t easy, but it’s worth it!
Becoming an entrepreneur isn’t easy either - but the potential rewards of being your own boss, working on something that makes you happy, and (of course!) making the big bucks are a big draw.
If you’ve got the right mindset for success, these rewards could all be yours. Good luck!