Successfully quitting your job and becoming a thriving business owner requires more than merely executing a series of sequential business-building steps. If that was the case, you would be singing on the rooftop because it would guarantee success for anyone who was willing to follow the path to greatness. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Success is a mindset.
Becoming a successful entrepreneur isn’t just about choosing the perfect business idea and calculating projected revenue. Plus, it’s more than having a great website and a killer marketing strategy. All that is just surface stuff and it won’t take you the distance if you’re in this for the long-haul.
A successful entrepreneur has the right mindset. He or she thinks and acts in a certain way. It’s what I call an “Entrepreneur Mindset”.
Internally becoming an entrepreneur is just as important as taking the physical actions steps to grow your business. Both of these are major parts of building your business and you need both to be successful.
Here are 3 tips for cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset that will ensure you set yourself up for lasting success…
#1: Listen more than you talk & learn to ask the right questions
Have you ever been on a first date where the other person talked non-stop the entire time? You finished your dinner in less than five minutes because the food went in into your mouth and not a single word came out. All the while, the other person just pushed food around their plate with their fork while jabbering on. You thought it would just be a quick dinner date, but it seemed to last a lifetime.
After the date, you’ll notice that your talkative companion had a really great time. Actually, he or she probably had a blast. Yet, you—the silent partner in this date—have no plans on booking a second one.
In this example, there are two main take-aways. First, you don’t want to be the person who is solely focused on themselves. That’s not an endearing characteristic. The result is typically that the people you encounter won’t want to do business with you. Second, you’ll notice that the ratio between the percentage of time a person talks in a conversation is directly related to the enjoyment they’re getting out of it. More talking, more enjoyment. Most people are dying to have anyone listen to them. If you will be that person who adds value to the world by listening and being genuinely (that’s the key word) interested in other people, you will find that this is your ticket to success.
To cultivate an Entrepreneur Mindset, you want to be the person who listens more than you talk and learns to ask the right questions. You will find that when you are trying to sell your product or service, listening and asking the right questions are the two major components that will seal the deal every time. Check out my article How to Sell Your Product or Service Like a Boss to learn more about asking the right questions to take yourself to the next level.
Practice this skill next time you’re around other people—your partner, co-workers, family or friends. Do an experiment to see how long you can keep the conversation focus on the other person (you might not need much help in certain cases). Every time there’s a pause, ask them the next right question instead of switching the conversation back to yourself. See how much information you can extract from them just by being curious. You’ll be amazed what you find. People will be magnetically drawn to you, which is exactly what you need as a successful entrepreneur.
#2: Focus on the positive in all areas of your life & boot out the negatives
You might not realize how much negativity is surrounding you. Every time you turn on the news you hear about deaths, natural disasters, the crashing stock market, kidnappings, bad weather, and the list goes on. When you go to work, you hear people complaining about their lives. When you meet up with your friends, you tune into the latest gossip. As a society, we are bombarded with bad news coming from every corner. Whether you realize it or not, this will negatively impact you AND your small business unless you do something about it.
Let me give you an example. Say for instance that there is a civilization of island people who thrive by fishing in the ocean. For centuries, they’ve been wading out into the waters to fish every day and have taught each generation to carry on the tradition. About once every one hundred years or so, there is a shark attack. It’s scary and tragic when it happens, but because it occurs so rarely, they haven’t cultivated a huge fear of sharks. Now say that their village updates to live in the modern era—they now have TVs, newspapers and the Internet reporting all of the shark attacks around the entire world. There’s a shark attack presented to them every hour, instead of every hundred years. Do you think they would start to be terrified of sharks? No doubt. I would! I’m not keen on having Jaws attack me while I’m minding my own business in the water. Chances are high that this civilization would slowly stop their fishing tradition out of fear and they would eventually die out. Even though that fear wasn’t based in reality, it would still destroy them.
Don’t let a similar situation happen to you. You can’t be bombarded with negative news in one area of your life and not let it affect the others. That means you can’t watch the stock markets crash, businesses go under, and good people struggling and feel chipper and positive about growing your small business. Instead, this will cause to become more fearful, more intimidated and lose faith that you can achieve your long-term goals (ultimately causing you to give up).
Up until now, all the negativity around you might not have been something that (1) you noticed, or (2) you thought you could manage. Either way, it’s time to take control and start to focus on the positives in all areas of your life. Awareness is the key here. You have to become aware of the negative sources of information that are being fed to you—a.k.a the “Shark News” before you can do anything about it.
To effectively cultivate an Entrepreneurial Mindset, you have to cut yourself off from the “shark news”. That means turning off the news on TV, not reading the papers, not clicking on one disaster story after another on the Internet–or stopping any other activity that feeds more unhappy news into your life. Also, you might want to rethink joining the group of complaining co-workers at the water cooler every day. Or hanging out with friends who never have anything nice to say about anyone. None of these things are helping you in the long run.
In addition to letting go of the negatives, focus on the positive areas in your life. Sometimes adding more positives in is all you need to push the negatives out. The best way I’ve found to do this is to start a gratitude practice. Every day, write down 5-10 things that you are grateful for. This has the power to change your whole perspective on life, and in turn, help you reach your business goals even faster.
#3: No Rejection, Only Selection
Over the years, I’ve been on my far share of dates. Some good, some bad, some completely ugly. At the end of each one comes the time for both parties to decide if they want to see each other again. This can quickly turn into a sticky situation if one person really likes other and their feelings aren’t returned. If you’ve been single for any length of time, you’ve probably experienced this. When you put yourself “out there” to go on a date and someone doesn’t like you in the same way you like them, it can feel like you’ve been rejected (probably for reasons you’re not quite clear on) and this can be disappointing and even a small blow to your ego.
The truth is that there is no rejection, there is only selection. If your date doesn’t want to see you again, it means he/she is not a good fit for you. That’s it. You don’t want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with you, so it’s better to learn now that something isn’t working than later on when you have 3 kids and a mortgage. That means that the “rejection” you receive is just pointing you towards “selecting” something better for yourself.
This happens in business as well. When you quit your regular job and you put yourself on the line as a small business owner and you get rejected, it can be painful. And you know what it feels like to be rejected if you’ve experienced the following…
When a client doesn’t want to sign up for your program
When people buy a competitor’s product over yours
When a company rejects your presentation proposal
When an art gallery won’t show your work
When you get a bad review
When practically no one buys your new book
All of these rejections are just part of the selection process. This means that any “no”, “not now”, “I’ll think about it”, “sorry, but…” responses you receive are pointing you in the direction you need to go.
Just like you don’t want to date anyone who isn’t as excited about you as you are of them, you also don’t want to work with anyone who doesn’t whole-heartedly want to work with you. If a client doesn’t want to sign up for your program, then he/she is not the right client for you (this took me a long time to learn). If people are buying your competitor’s product, you have an opportunity to figure out how to make yours better. If a company doesn’t want you to come speak to their employees, you can find another company to work with. If a gallery rejects your artwork, you can find a gallery that’s a better fit for what you do.
You don’t urgently need a certain client/company/gallery/venue/customer because there are plenty more out there. You are not desperate. Even though it might feel like it at times, you are not. You have time to “select” exactly what you want for your life and your business.
To create an entrepreneurial mindset, always look at situations with this attitude. While the business owner next to you is knocked down by a deal gone sour or a client who left, you are continuously going strong in your business because you are selecting what you want from the opportunities around you and not getting caught up in the “what if’s”.