The Entrepreneur Mindset
By: Kelle Sparta
Anytime I go out into the world, there’s one thing I notice consistently. It’s the difference between the way that I look at the world and the way the average person on the street looks at the world. You see, I have what I term “The Entrepreneur Mindset”.
What Is It?
The Entrepreneur Mindset is actually three thought processes in one. The first is a business owner’s approach to the world. The second is an out-of-the-box, creative innovation approach to life. And the third is an unwillingness to settle for good when you could have great.
The Business Owner’s Approach
I used to have a training center that was up two flights of stairs. Each time I started a six-week class for new real estate agents, I would bring in 10 gallons of water in gallon jugs. Not being a total masochist, I would place them on the stairs and bring a couple of jugs up with me each time I went up the stairs – usually right in front of the students who were coming in the door and who would see the other jugs of water on the stairs waiting to go up. Not once did a student offer to bring one of the jugs up the stairs. If I asked, they would happily oblige, but they never offered.
Then one day a broker decided to audit the class to determine if he wanted to send his agents to it. When I grabbed two jugs on my way back up from lunch, he grabbed two as well – without even thinking about it. And it was then that I realized that it wasn’t that the new agents were lazy or insensitive, it’s that they were unconscious. They were still in the employee mindset. They happily did what they were told, they just didn’t know how to see the environment from an owner’s perspective and assign themselves tasks based on that ownership.
The Employee Mindset vs. The Business Owner Mindset
This is the biggest challenge that new entrepreneurs face is that mindset shift. There’s no one to tell you what to do when you start. Just like those new agents, you have to learn how to see the world from the perspective of someone responsible for it. A business owner looks at the huge sheet of plastic on the side of the street and thinks “that could blow into the street, blind a driver and kill someone” and they take the plastic and put it into a garbage can where it can’t do damage. An employee walks by the same piece of plastic and, if they even notice that it’s there, the most they will think is “wow, it’s terrible how people litter”. There’s no ownership, no stewardship, no sense of personal responsibility that drives them to do something about it.
Mindset Shift – Employee to Business Owner
It is both simple and terribly hard to make the shift from employee to business owner. It’s simple because it’s just a matter of paying attention, thinking about it as though it IS your responsibility and then doing something about it. It’s terribly hard because it requires constant vigilance on your part to make the shift in your mindset. It’s so easy to slip back into your old way of doing things that before you know it, you’ve gone unconscious again. Then you have to have the presence of mind to get back to paying attention rather than getting stuck in being angry at yourself for losing focus (which, but the way, will keep you unfocused for longer). Don’t beat yourself up, just get back to it. It’s kind of like meditating while you’re awake. Stay focused, pay attention, and take action. That’s a business owner’s mindset.
The next two steps: creative innovation and not settling for good but always striving for great, are often both accomplished in the same manner. When you are willing to constantly innovate, then you are not settling and you’re always making things better (hopefully – not all innovation is progress). But how do you learn to be a creative thinker?
Becoming a Creative Thinker
Thinking outside of the box is harder than you would imagine. You see, we learn how to think according to the parameters of the box. For example, if I asked you to make me a sandwich you would probably pick some form of protein like turkey, add lettuce and tomato and perhaps something to wet the bread like mayo or mustard. A creative thinker, however might question whether I necessarily wanted lunch food and might hand me a couple of pancakes with a fried egg in the center. Or they might wonder whether the sandwich even needed to be edible and then they might give me two books with a hat in the middle. Or, they might go with the idea that what defines a sandwich is that it is portable and edible with the hands which is probably where the idea of the wrap came from.
The fact is that creative thinkers always question their assumptions. This is precisely what gets them out of their box. One of the assumptions that we make is that our perspective is the right one or the only one. So creative thinkers also tend to look for new and different perspectives. In our example, that was the moment when the person assumed that the sandwich didn’t have to be edible. That’s a major perspective shift. It’s not just a matter of creating a variation on a theme, but instead it’s a matter of looking at the issue from a totally different angle.
The Benefits of The Entrepreneur Mindset
If this all seems like a lot of work, well it is. If it were easy, then everyone would be doing it. But you’re already doing a lot of work in owning your own business. Why not take on this one additional piece and find out how much more effective you become? Once you put these two processes (the business owner’s mindset and creative innovation) together, you’ve got it made. You are now in the perfect position to be able to grow your business in new and creative ways, to differentiate yourself from the competition and to be a better business person than 90% of the rest of the population of business owners. And wouldn’t that be just lovely?
Kelle Sparta is a small business coach, consultant and shaman. She helps business owners grow their businesses from the inside out – starting with the owner. Kelle provides tools, coaching, and training to empower business owners to create lives and businesses they can love. For more information, visit her website at www.kellesparta.com. © 2008, Kelle Sparta. Used by permission.