What are the entrepreneurial mindset characteristics that set the most successful entrepreneurs apart from those who perpetually struggle?
The more I progress and develop as an entrepreneur and build my online business, the more I recognize exactly how important mindset is.
As I sit down to refresh this article (originally written in December 2018) with what I’ve learned over the past couple of years, 12 characteristics are most prominent.
A lot of early-stage entrepreneurs write mindset off as “woo woo crap” — myself included for much longer than I’d like to remember. As the years have rolled on, I’ve found time and time again that an entrepreneur’s mindset is one of the biggest “levers” in their business, and I’ve boiled my personal observations over the past many years to 12 characteristics.
I hope they help you on your journey.
If you believe in “The Secret,” manifestation, the Law of Attraction, etc. — more power to you. I will never criticize a person for what works for them. In fact, you’ll find me on the sidelines actively cheering you on.
For me, personally, they haven’t played a role in my path to building a multimillion-dollar online business. They’ve always been a bit too intangible for me to relate to or apply.
What has made a tremendous impact in my success as the years have gone by is optimism. Not blind optimism or pretending things that were bad didn’t exist — just making sure I consciously notice what’s going right as much as I diagnose and fix what’s going wrong. I’ve found focusing on the negatives without tempering them with the positives just spirals me into “doom & gloom” unfairly and unnecessarily, resulting in lost productivity.
Maintaining a positive attitude doesn’t mean being naïve; it means looking at challenges not as obstacles, but as opportunities to learn and improve.
When setbacks occur, it’s almost instinctive to react negatively. While it’s healthy to embrace your emotions, wallowing in negativity hinders your ability to move on from the setback.
Approaching an obstacle as a chance to develop new ideas is a much more productive way to spend your time, and noticing your successes just as much as you notice obstacles & challenges is imperative for forming an accurate assessment of your current situation, rather than an unfairly negative one that demotivates you and increases your odds of failure.
A run-of-the-mill “wantrepreneur” simply notices problems, whereas a successful entrepreneur finds new ways to solve them.
Several business owners I’ve encountered in the past, including business partners that I’ve worked with closely, simply apply the first solution that comes to mind. No regard for elegance, efficiency, or sustainability — just whatever quick “bandaid” comes to mind first.
This invariably results in preventable obstacles and inefficiency. A creative solution isn’t always complex — it just considers longer-term angles than simply the first solution that makes the problem go away as quickly as possible.
Any useful product or service started out as a mere idea. As an entrepreneur, you need to be able to come up with innovations to problems and turn them into real solutions for the audience you serve.
This creativity shouldn’t just be confined to thinking about what you’re going to sell. You’ll also need to be creative in handling obstacles related to your business.
It’s not enough that you truly believe in your solution; you have to be able to persuade other people, especially your target audience, to believe in your solution enough to buy it.
I often refer to this as the Field of Dreams fallacy. Entrepreneurs often believe that creating a great product is enough — it’s not.
You need to be able to establish trust and make a compelling case that your prospect buys into. That requires persuasion.
Of course, being a persuasive communicator can help you more than sales. It helps you create compelling content for your blog, negotiate with other bloggers for guest blogging opportunities and collaborations, effectively deal with freelancers and other companies, and so much more.
Overall, strengthening your entrepreneurial mindset with a focus on persuasion is likely to be the highest-ROI skill you’ll develop.
A successful entrepreneur is a highly driven one.
Being skilled isn’t enough. No matter how good you are as a blogger and a marketer, if you’re not motivated to do your tasks every single day, you won’t be able to do them. And believe me — many days you’ll have no desire to. Even if you’re the most introverted person, you’ll have to find ways to constantly recharge and keep motivated.
Working hard isn’t enough. All that heavy lifting will eventually wear you down if you’re not determined enough to keep at it.
All the great entrepreneurs hold themselves accountable and aren’t afraid to sacrifice time, money, energy, blood, sweat, and tears to get their business running smoothly. Even when you wake up and want nothing to do with the tasks that lie ahead, you have to find a way to force discipline, remain motivated, and push through.
Rest if you must, but don’t quit.
— Don’t Quit, John Greenleaf Whittier
During times of hardship, which there will be plenty of on the road to entrepreneurial success, you’ll need to be persistent to get through them. You’ll have to accept that you’ll be rejected and disappointed frequently over the course of your journey. Being able to whether these storms is essential to maintain your business.
Another thing you need to accept is that you’ll make mistakes. Everyone does. Whether you’re a beginner or a veteran entrepreneur, you’ll make errors. Knowing how to learn from your mistakes so that you ensure you only make each mistake ONE time is paramount to getting through these challenges.
Being tenacious doesn’t mean that you stop adapting. If your plans aren’t working, maybe it’s time to examine what you’re doing and change tactics. Changing how you do your tasks doesn’t mean that you stop what you’re doing.
Investigating how things work and looking at the situation before you with fresh eyes isn’t possible without staying curious.
Maintaining your curiosity is key to solving problems your audience by providing solutions they’ve never seen before, or delivering solutions they’re familiar with in a better way..
Keep your mind active and strive to see things from fresh perspectives. Ask questions every chance you get about common struggles in your niche.
Nothing is predictable in business, as in life.
You need to prepare for unexpected events. These aren’t necessarily problems; just occurrences popping up out of the blue that throw your plans into disarray.
As an entrepreneur, you need to be able to roll with the punches and take everything that happens as it comes. Being able to adapt to changing environments, audience preferences, and even personal circumstances ensures your survival in the world of online business.
Yes, life can throw anything at you, but ultimately, it’s you who decides what to do.
There are plenty of things that you can’t control, but in the midst of them, there are still plenty of things that you can control.
Learning to take responsibility for a challenge you created and complete ownership of a task or project will have a direct influence on your overall success.
Ownership means not only taking possession of your business but also taking responsibility for your tasks, actions, and reactions to various events.
When you take full responsibility for your actions, you develop the power to steer your business toward success.
It’s tough having a vision for your business and your product that turns out to not be as popular or profitable as you expected it to be.
As an entrepreneur, you have to be ready to get feedback that you don’t want to get and read analytics that you don’t like.
The world’s best entrepreneurs are open to audience input, employee feedback (from team members at all levels), and to information that tells them if their business is thriving or failing. They’re driven by providing the best solution at all costs — not an ego that insists on being right.
There’s a business adage that goes something along the lines of:
A person’s financial worth is directly correlated to the value they’re delivering to the world
That value is determined by the audience you serve, NOT BY YOU OR HOW GOOD YOU THINK YOUR IDEAS ARE. Increase the value you’re delivering to your audience, increase your net worth.
Your ability to do this is directly correlated to your receptiveness.
As I’ve indicated a dozen times throughout this post, maintaining your business isn’t easy.
You have to have genuine desire for developing solutions within your niche.
As an entrepreneur, you have to want to help people and want to make a difference. Otherwise your business will eventually fail or, at the very least, be less successful than you want it to be.
You need to be able to think of the big picture when it comes to your business. Entrepreneurship is about focusing on what you need to do today just as much as it’s about clearly understanding the destination you’re striving for.
Both require vision.
This ensures you pursue YOUR goals and prevents you from falling for myths that other product publishers and “authorities” are perpetuating.
Entrepreneurs must stay focused on the long-term goals of the business while not getting overwhelmed by short-term hurdles. Understand what needs accomplished today. Understand where that puts you at the end of the day vs. where you started when the workday began. And most importantly, understand how day after day with this focus helps you arrive at your final destination.
Building up your online business from the ground-up can be stressful. Taking care of your physical and mental health should be part of your daily routine.
Having a healthy body and mind allows you to do your best work and come up with the best ideas.
The three most important aspects of self-care you need to consider are diet, exercise, and rest.
You don’t need to adhere to a complex diet to be healthy. Just do your best to eat nutritious food without any empty calories, and give yourself tasty treats from time to time (you’ll be earning them!). This will provide your brain with the mix of nutrients, hormones, and neurotransmitters it requires to maximize performance.
The same goes for exercise. You don’t have to train intensely if that’s not your style. Get a standing desk if you can, and find physical activities that you enjoy. Walk, run, swim, bike, skateboard, or dance. Do whatever physical activity you find pleasure in doing that you can incorporate into your day. Getting your heart rate up for as little as 20 minutes can improve your mood for the entire workday — you don’t have to transform into a hardcore cross-fitter to reap tremendous benefits from exercise.
Getting enough sleep is underrated. Entrepreneurs notoriously brag about how little sleep they can get by on while still functioning, but scientific research reveals that getting adequate, uninterrupted sleep can dramatically improve your mental acuity.
Being well-rested also requires taking breaks throughout your day. Trudging along hour after hour can take a toll on your mental health. Take five minutes out of every work hour to get up, stretch, and move around.
The more you coop yourself up while working, the more lonely and isolated you’ll feel, which isn’t good for your productivity. Schedule some time away from work every few weeks and plan an extended vacation time every year to reset and refresh yourself.
Running your own online business is one of the most rewarding things you’ll pursue in life, but it’s going to be rife with challenges. Developing an entrepreneurial mindset will help you face those challenges so you can build a successful, thriving business.
Here again are the 12 characteristics of an entrepreneurial mindset you should focus on developing over the coming months and years to best set yourself up for success:
Did I miss any characteristics that you think should be part of an entrepreneurial mindset? Weigh in using the comments section below!
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