For anyone who’s thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, whether you’re just out of school or fed up with corporate America and are inspired to “go for it”, this blog is for you. Remember, mindset first, then skill set. Having the right mindset will get you further than simply checking the boxes of certain skills. So, how do you cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset? Here are 5 lessons I’ve learned over the course of my own journey.
- Be a life-long learner.
Laid off at 54, I had to learn how to become an entrepreneur (risk-taker) from being a banker (no-risk-taker). I had 32 years of banking experience and training that I was able to launch a business with, but the learning didn’t stop there. I read “The E-Myth” by Michael Gerber and other books like “Duct Tape Marketing”, “Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play” (a consultative selling system), “Clients for Life” (how to go from an expert for hire to a client advisor), and many more. Learning and an entrepreneurial mindset go hand in hand, and not just for starting your business. The companies I see grow the most are the ones that have leaders who are life-long learners, always looking for ways to improve.
- Set goals and make steady progress.
When I was laid off, my first goal was to replace my income. From there, I wanted to be able to expand my product offerings and increase revenue. A little-known fact in finance is that a 1% increase in your top line (revenue) equates to an 8-10% increase in your bottom line (profit). “Revenue is vanity, profit is sanity, but cash flow is reality.” It’s important to make steady progress towards having a consistent cash flow and maximizing profit. Being a life-long learner and reading books recommended by friends and clients was one way I did this. Continuing to learn helped me continue to set goals and consistently improve my business.
- Stay in your “stretch” zone.
A wise person once told me that the number of people you are willing to see will be a limiting factor in your business. When I was launching my business, I would see 5 people a day. Even 13 years later, I still see 3 people every day. As humans, we have our comfort zone, stretch zone, and panic zone. I try hard to be comfortable at being uncomfortable. I try to play in my stretch zone and stay away from the comfort or panic zones, if possible. It’s natural to fall into both of these at times, but it’s important to be aware so that you can pull yourself back towards your stretch zone.
- Embrace risk.
This one was hard, especially for a banker like me who loaned money. Lending money is one of the most risk-averse professions because a bank can only afford to lose about 1% of the loans they make. They must be 99% right, 100% of the time. Starting off, it was hard not seeing that direct deposit paycheck twice a month. But, soon the risk of not having a steady paycheck and seeing 5 people a day paid off. My business continued to grow and I found I was providing a very nice income for my family, higher than I ever had before and taking more time off as well.
- Spend time with other entrepreneurs.
I found many entrepreneurs were willing to share their experiences and expertise just by hanging out together. There are too many entrepreneurs to name who made an impact on my life personally and professionally. But, you know who you are and I’m grateful. Now when others want some of my time, I’m happy to pay it forward like others did for me.
So, how do you get started? Taking a page out of another favorite book, “Good to Great” by Jim Collins, answer these three questions:
- What are you passionate about?
- What are you best in the world at?
- What drives your economic engine?
Where those 3 questions intersect could be the starting place for your business.