An entrepreneurial mindset is the foundation of any existing or aspiring entrepreneur. Yet, it’s often limited to the sphere of business or considered superfluous by the established entrepreneur.
Defined as a way of thinking that identifies opportunities and has the belief to turn those opportunities into reality, an entrepreneurial mindset is becoming an increasingly important component of a skill set required for the twenty-first century.
It’s especially evident when considering that entrepreneurship is about more than narrow commercial gain. It’s actually about harnessing the fullness of human potential for the benefit of society.
Entrepreneurship is universal
Its universal applicability begs the question: can it be developed? And if so, how? Like any attempt to improve oneself, developing this kind of thinking requires practise, in particular how one thinks about the world and how one thinks about oneself.
Whether one sees problems and inefficiencies and how one responds to them colours the way one views the world. One either responds with ignorance and apathy or recognition and possible solutions.
The latter should become habitual for those looking to develop or expand their entrepreneurial mindset. And you can start wherever you are – in your business, at work or in your community. The more you engage problems and inefficiencies as hotbeds for opportunities, the more it becomes a normalised process.
Ask the right questions
Another way of practising this opportunity-seeking muscle is to read widely, pick up on emerging trends and ask second-order questions, e.g.: “If everybody’s in self-driving cars, what does that mean for parking?” Though it’s a silly example, it serves to illustrate that in terms of building a new mindset into a consistent habit, quantity is more important than quality.
Equally one should not be too quick to discard seemingly silly ideas. It’s actually often impossible to distinguish between a great idea and a terrible idea at the beginning.
Embrace the practice of experimenting
Research done by Babson College professors identifies five practices of entrepreneurship. Out of the five they identify, I’d like to highlight the practice of experimentation and the practice of reflection. The former links to how one views the world and offers greater room for flexing one’s opportunity-seeking muscle.
By definition an experiment can never fail; there is only an outcome. Since an outcome cannot be inherently good or bad, there can be no emotional attachment to it.
The beauty of experimentation is that it takes sting out of trying repeatedly. Or put differently, it takes the fear out of failing.
A fixed mindset and a growth mindset
How one thinks about oneself is practised through the art of reflection. At the core of reflection is self-awareness and a willingness to submit to feedback from others.
Worth referencing here is the work of Carol Dweck who distinguishes between two basic mindsets: A fixed mindset and a growth mindset. The fixed mindset engenders the belief that one is either good at something or not and no amount of effort can change this reality.
Conversely, the growth mindset is underpinned by the belief that improvement is possible through practice.
Poor performance or results finds someone with a fixed mindset saying, “Well, I’ll just keep learning and do better next time.”
It’s so easy to get locked in a fixed mindset in unnoticed areas of one’s life. Reflection becomes the light that exposes them. We can self-reflect up to an extent, but beyond that we need others to gain the full picture of our entrepreneurial capacity.
No person can realise their full potential without the coaching and the input of other people. Even feedback should be seen as a source of opportunity and a source of growth.