The Benefits of an Entrepreneurial Mindset
Professionals with an entrepreneurial mindset are major players pushing industries, organizations and ideas forward. They possess unique, future-forward qualities that make them invaluable contributors to the workforce and give themselves, their teams and their businesses a competitive advantage.
Whether the economy is stable or uncertain, employees who can leverage their curiosity and creative problem-solving and are not afraid to dare have the potential to achieve professional and organizational success.
What Are the Qualities of an Entrepreneurial Mindset?
If you want to succeed as an entrepreneur, having good ideas is only part of the challenge. An entrepreneurial mindset is actually made up of several types of mindsets. To launch and sustain your career, you must embrace and develop each of them to gain the perspective and endurance needed to contribute to your business, “especially if one wants to be more than a one-time entrepreneur,” said Clare Ralph Greenlaw, Jr., an associate dean of MBA programs at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU).
Three types of mindsets that contribute to an entrepreneurial mindset include:
- Growth mindset
- Risk-endorsing mindset
- Creative mindset
Only after you explore how these qualities function together and complement one another can you exercise your entrepreneurial muscle in long-lasting ways.
Entrepreneurs are never done developing themselves or their ideas. If you understand that there is always an opportunity to grow more and learn more, you are well on your way to embracing a growth mindset. “Growth mindset is a necessary foundational disposition for entrepreneurial leaders,” said Dr. Kimberly Blanchette, executive director of online business programs at SNHU.
She supports the definition of a growth mindset put forth by “Mindset” author Dr. Carol S. Dweck. Dweck said a growth mindset is “the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts, your strategies and help from others.”
If you allow your growth mindset to lead the way, Blanchette said you are:
- Striving to grow and develop each day
- Focusing on improving how people do what they do
- Embracing challenges to reach higher levels of achievement
These actions can help you work smarter and establish an ongoing search for new opportunities and ventures. By nurturing your curiosity, you can tap into boundless ideas and perspectives. “The entrepreneurial spirit feeds off of a growth mindset, is oriented toward the future, and (is) about seeing possibilities,” Blanchette said.
Entrepreneurs are inherent risk-takers and understand that failure is part of the process – and that both failure and success can provide you with valuable knowledge, according to Greenlaw. You will need to get comfortable “failing-forward,” knowing that every idea, every approach, every strategy brings you closer to the positive outcomes you’re hoping to achieve. The ability to maintain this mindset despite the potential of continual failure takes a level of resilience.
The risk-endorsing quality is perhaps the most apparent of the three that contribute to the entrepreneurship mindset. Popular culture often exemplifies entrepreneurs as putting a lot of time, money and effort into their ideas. It can also be the most nerve-wracking quality, but if you opt to play it safe, you may find it difficult to make waves in a competitive landscape.
Risk-endorsers can also make quick decisions, Greenlaw said, identifying opportunities and acting on them. “They are also persistent, demonstrating high grit in the face of early failure, and innovative,” Greenlaw said. "Very change-oriented.”
Without creative ideas, entrepreneurship could not exist. “(Entrepreneurs) are ideators, creators and visionaries,” Blanchette said. They search for solutions to known and unrealized problems alike with both an in-depth understanding of business and a vast imagination.
“Inspiration and motivation are two drivers that ignite a creative process for solving challenges and moving our organizations and societies into the future,” Blanchette said. This mindset also factors in creative problem-solving skills and the ability to be resourceful, two additional skills beneficial to entrepreneurs, according to Blanchette.
When paired with the ability to take risks and a thirst for continual growth, your creative mindset can help you and your ideas stand out among the noise.
What are the Skills of an Entrepreneur?
In addition to nurturing your entrepreneurship mindset, it’s helpful to hone specific skills that can help you bring your ideas from concept to fruition.
“The key is to develop the mindsets that allow one to find new combinations of skills, abilities and resources that are profitable in a market space,” Greenlaw said.
You’ll want to gain competencies such as industry awareness and an ability to visualize how people can benefit from your idea today and in the future, according to Greenlaw. You’ll also want to know a sound economic opportunity when you see it – “particularly being able to ‘profitize’ an idea or invention by identifying the unique value the innovation provides the user,” Greenlaw said.
Strong communication skills and the ability to network also complement an entrepreneurship mindset.
Why is Entrepreneurial Spirit Important?
An entrepreneurial spirit can drive positive changes for an organization and society. Knowing how each of your skills and qualities works together can help propel your business forward through challenges and competitive landscapes – whether you’re contributing as an entry-level employee or a senior leader.
“Organizations can’t afford to stand still,” Blanchette said. “Businesses fail from a focus on the past or simply (being) blind to the present. Entrepreneurs are productively paranoid about the future and how to ensure long-term relevancy and viability.”
Productive paranoia, a concept Jim Collins explores in his book “Great by Choice,” is an awareness that situations can change – and change quickly. The best way you and your business can prepare for the unexpected is to explore “what if” questions and plan around them, according to Collins. Yes, entrepreneurs must be risk-endorsers, but some level of safety should also be factored in to survive during difficult circumstances.
"Entrepreneurial leaders are in a continuous state of environmental scanning that is key for business sustainability,” Blanchette said.
Having an entrepreneurial spirit proves to be even more valuable in today's ever evolving and uncertain business world. “An entrepreneurial mindset is useful in capturing the benefits of uncertainty,” Greenlaw said. “Today’s global economy (involves) significant levels of uncertainty and dynamic technological change.”
If you’re focused on your personal and professional growth while taking risks and exhibiting creativity, you have what it takes to navigate and leverage challenges.
“An entrepreneurial mindset keeps aware of the factors driving these changes and agile enough to capitalize on them,” Greenlaw said.
How To Develop Your Entrepreneurial Mindset
An entrepreneurship mindset is achievable through intentional development. “In establishing a growth mindset, one can also commit to develop a skill set supportive of entrepreneurial practices regardless of whether you are the owner of a company or a leader within,” Blanchette said.
You might consider earning a bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship if you’re interested in learning to create and manage your own business. Some colleges offer business administration degrees that let you add an entrepreneurship concentration. Programs like this are designed to help you gain the foundational knowledge and skills needed to pursue a career in or related to entrepreneurship while also providing a well-rounded business education. Classes in accounting, finance, marketing, management, business law and more can help you understand all aspects of a business.
Down the road, you might consider advancing your education further with an MBA, which stands for Master of Business Administration. This industry-recognized credential also allows you to add a concentration in entrepreneurship to expand on your skill set and explore and test your reactions to scenarios you might encounter in the real world.
Greenlaw likens entrepreneurship to a practiced talent – one with in-depth industry awareness. “Developing your entrepreneurial talent, an individual or business requires you to understand that you are going to function within a broader industry and societal ecosystem, which has needs, physical resources and intellectual competencies,” Greenlaw said. Through an educational program, you can learn how all these factors contribute to business models that serve consumers.
In parallel with your growth mindset, you must commit to continual entrepreneurial development to become a serial entrepreneur.
“As companies serve their niche of the ecosystem through unique combinations of resources and competencies, they naturally start to become increasingly fixed and less adaptable over time,” Greenlaw said. By continually indulging your growth mindset, you can prevent your business from growing static and outdated.
With a sharp mind and awareness of what’s going on around you and industry-wide, you can stay on top of trends – and even create new ones. “Developing the ability to scan an industry ecosystem for new combinations of resources and competencies is what makes entrepreneurship sustainable as a personal or company competency,” Greenlaw said.
If you want to be a serial entrepreneur, you must be satisfied with being unsatisfied. You’re always on the lookout for consumers with unmet needs, Greenlaw said, searching for opportunities to present business models and benefit a market space in ways that other businesses have not.
Rebecca LeBoeuf is a writer at Southern New Hampshire University. Connect with her on LinkedIn.