How To Think Like An Entrepreneur

[Totally digging this post by Entrepreneur.com! I hope you take the time to read it. -Chels]

Think Like an Entrepreneur
Here are five ways to revive and nurture your entrepreneurial spirit.
By Joan Marques

We’re all entrepreneurs at heart. It’s just that many of us have forgotten how to think that way. The main reason is that the current structure of our civilization doesn’t really encourage the entrepreneurial mind-set. And that is easily explained: If we all decided to be entrepreneurs, who would work for large organizations? Who would serve us in stores? Who would fulfill the administrative chores for established business and nonprofit entities?

So that’s why entrepreneurship is not the most endorsed career path. Besides, being an entrepreneur is riskier than just accepting a job somewhere, because you never know whether your venture is going to take off and how long it will take. Those of us who have embarked on entrepreneurial journeys know how much patience, perseverance and inner strength it requires to stick with your initiative, even when your loved ones tell you to give up and find a “normal” job.

Yet it’s now more important than ever to think like an entrepreneur, regardless of the setting in which we are employed. I teach MBA courses at a university in Los Angeles, and on the first day of every workshop I present my students the concept of “Me, Inc.” I picked this up many years ago from Tom Peters’ book The Brand You 50: Or: Fifty Ways to Transform Yourself from an ‘Employee’ into a Brand That Shouts Distinction, Commitment, and Passion!

I think it’s a powerful concept. If you see yourself as a supplier of services for your employer, you mentally and emotionally emerge from victimized employee to full-fledged, equal partner. Nothing changes physically, but psychologically the world has made a 180-degree spin. And no, your employer will probably not encourage you to think that way, because it’s not very advantageous to her if you start realizing that you have the same choice as she has to discontinue the relationship and pursue a more rewarding partnership. But no one has to know about this paradigm shift. It doesn’t matter how others look at you. What matters is how you look at yourself.

I perceive the institution where I facilitate courses as a preferred partner. I deliver my best product, for which I receive a pre-arranged compensation. Could it get more entrepreneurial than that? Thanks to this mind-set, I find myself engaging with much pleasure in a number of additional projects: I write books and articles, edit and publish scholarly and business journals, organize workshops for businesspeople, present a radio show in Europe, write a newspaper column in South America, and so on. The only limits for me are the length of a day and my restricted human energy.

Life can be beautiful or dull, depending on how you look at it. Two people can look at exactly the same situation and have entirely opposite opinions about it. That’s because of our personal baggage and the mind-set we choose to nurture. Entrepreneurs nurture a mind-set that entails an immense internal locus of control: They first seek fault within themselves when things go wrong. Yet when things go right, they usually realize that there were many links involved in the chain of performance, and they give credit to those as well.

This is where leadership steps into the picture. Entrepreneurs are leaders–not necessarily of other people, but definitely of their own lives. I disagree with all those sources that claim leadership is only possible when there are followers involved. Leadership starts with the relationship you have with yourself. A real leader carries herself in a way that inspires others to be the best they can be. This definition eliminates those who sit at the helm of large corporations but mismanage them. So you can be a president or CEO of a company and not be a leader. Similarly, you can be a janitor, office assistant or entrepreneur and be a great leader. When people approach you for advice and admire you for your attitude in life, you are a leader.

I think there’s an important link between being a leader and seeing yourself as an entrepreneur. And if you are attracted to this idea, here are five ways to revive and nurture your entrepreneurial spirit:

  1. Shift your perspective from victimized to victorious. You can do this by continuously looking for the positive side of anything you experience. Difficult people on your path? They are there to teach you an important lesson. Lost a contract? There’s another big project coming your way. Times slow? Your creativity is being tested. And so on.
  2. Don’t just accept everything as a given. The problem with most people is that they don’t consider alternatives. They are so well-trained to accept rules, regulations and especially limitations that they allow their sleepwalking state to turn into a nightmare. Entrepreneurs are people who wanted to make a wrong right, and decided to do it.
  3. Talk to different people, read different books and visit different places. Nothing triggers the creative mind as much as exposure to something different. Dullness is a product of repetition. If you always do the same thing in the same place with the same people, you will not easily think of anything new.
  4. Accept responsibility. Everything that happens to you is an ultimate result of the choices you make. So in the end, you are responsible. That being said, you can change it. How? By making different choices from now on. You could upgrade your education, discontinue relationships or change your attitude, for instance.
  5. Dare to dream and follow up on it. We easily discard our dreams because many people around us tell us they won’t fly. Ignore them. Just dream realistically, and then think of all those people who made things happen when others were satisfied with the status quo.

However, a point of caution here: While dreaming and working at realizing that dream, you should also focus on alternatives. For example, ask yourself what else is possible within the scope of my dream? What other directions can I go with my skills and ideas if my first option doesn’t work out? What other people or places could I approach if my currently targeted associates, suppliers or market don’t buy into my dream?

Keep in mind that when you obsess over something in one particular, inflexible setting, it usually doesn’t materialize. It is therefore better to create two or three options for yourself. Then life will present its surprise.

No day is better to start adopting an entrepreneurial mind-set than today. Why wait?

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