What sets apart a successful entrepreneur from people who are not successful, whether in their own small business, or in a job? Looking externally, the entrepreneur is a normal, everyday person just like everyone else – they need to eat, have a roof over their head, they have obligations, to themselves, their families, their communities.
They have their own idiosyncrasies, fears and challenges too, just like everyone. Yet, somehow they have taken their energy, resources and talents and produced something extraordinary – a business which adds value to society, is profitable, and with those businesses and their lives are leading a life of purpose, profits and passion.
Putting a regular person next to the successful entrepreneur, at first glance, you would not be able to tell them apart. Yet these two proverbial examples would be doing drastically different things which lead them to significantly different results. To find the reason, we will have to look at the root cause of their actions, which is the mindset.
The mindset of a person encompasses several different things – how he views and defines this life of ours on Earth, his purpose, his self, his beliefs and his values. It is this mindset of the person which defines how he views or interprets what is going on around him, and how he gives them meaning. It is the meaning of these events and his situations that will determine his emotional state and thus the decisions he makes. These decisions will in turn determine his actions, and his results.
It is because the results of the successful entrepreneur and the ordinary man are so different, that we can attribute the root cause of it to be the difference in mindset. So what makes the mindset of the successful entrepreneur different?
- Owning Your Own Destiny
First and foremost, the successful entrepreneur does not attribute the reason for his success or failure on luck, other people, the government, the economy. He may or may not believe in the presence of a divine being, or the one-ness of the universe, but regardless lives by the saying ‘If it is to be, it is up to me.’
In other words, the first step to being successful is that of owning your own life and fate. Know what is within your control, such as your emotions, your actions, the people that you associate with, and your attitude. Successful people bulldoze past bad luck, obstacles, naysayers, fears and risks through believing that whatever they envision, they can make happen with the right approach and perseverance.
One common trait found in successful people is that they have a strong vision for what they want to achieve. For example, Bill Gates’ vision when he started Microsoft was that every household would have a personal computer. He believed in the positive life-changing force that computers represented and developed a strong and motivating personal vision for it. It is described that this big vision pulls the entrepreneur towards it, rather than him having to push tiresomely.
- Doing Whatever It Takes
The successful entrepreneur also commits to doing whatever it takes to making his vision come true. This is the definition of commitment and truly what makes them succeed, for most people run at the first sight of blood. The moment something goes wrong, they say, “That’s it, this is not the right thing for me. I knew that it wouldn’t work anyway.” Successful entrepreneurs know that their success, or at least their next level of success, lies behind the obstacle that lies just behind them.
How many stories of successful entrepreneurs have you heard, where the entrepreneur loses his house, his car, his relationships, in order to see through his business? The lessons from these stories are not proverbial. In your journey as an entrepreneur you will be challenged, and there will be times where you will have to make very difficult choices, to either push on to do whatever it takes, or to give up. In order to succeed, you have to see things through, and that requires doing whatever it takes.
- Being Decisive and Taking Action
Richard Branson famously said “I can make any decision within 60 seconds.” Being an entrepreneur, time is never on your side. Technology, consumer tastes, competition move fast and if you don’t keep up, you may face being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and failing in your venture. In order to move fast and stay ahead of the market, you will have to not only have a keen eye for trends and what is to come, but you will have to be decisive.
Most people balk at the idea of the heavy responsibility of making an important decision. The weight of peoples’ expectations – partners, clients, employees, family and friends, can be unnerving. Successful entrepreneurs take decisions in their stride, one at a time, and do what is best, even if it is difficult.
- Continuous Improvement and Humility
One key question entrepreneurs ask themselves all the time is “How can I make this better?” They constantly ask this about the world around them, the systems they interact with, the products and services they use, and most of all, their own being, when it comes to work and life. Many people might think that being successful, wealthy and famous, a successful entrepreneur would be allowed to say “Well, that’s it. I’ve learnt all I need to learn.”
Counter-intuitively, it is really the nature of humility and continuous improvement that drives successful entrepreneurs to where they are. When Jack Welch, the renown ex-CEO of General Electric, was asked what he looked for in any candidate, he said “The first thing I look for is candor.” Candor is the attribute of being frank, in giving opinions, feedback, and going about work. This is what the successful entrepreneur looks for, people who surround him that continually give frank and constructive feedback, always challenging him to make things better.
Last but not least, the successful entrepreneur is driven by a sense of contribution. They understand that they exist as part of a larger community and as a inhabitant of the world we live in. In order to make life better for everyone, each one of us has to play a part and contribute. It is with this understanding that successful entrepreneurs examine the world as it is, and identify what problems exist and how they can make things better.
It is with this drive that these entrepreneurs are able to get out of bed with energy to do the extraordinary things that they do. If you are driven solely by a selfish reason of financial reward or the image of drinking cocktails on a beach, then it is likely that one day, when you’re feeling challenged, tired or demotivated, you would tell yourself “I don’t need this money. I don’t need these challenges. I don’t need the cocktails.” and simply stop. Think about what your contribution, your legacy, in this life is.
There are many things which you cannot control in business; the market environment, your competitors, financial markets; realise that in just a moment, you can change your mindset to one that supports you towards your success. Adopt a successful entrepreneur mindset and see the change in your business and your life.