In today’s ever-changing landscape, the conventional path of earning good grades, pursuing a university degree, and climbing the corporate ladder towards a secure retirement is still prevalent. However, as technology continues to reshape the way we live and work, entrepreneurship is emerging as an exciting alternative. Starting a business has never been more accessible than it is today.
Yet, while entrepreneurship is gaining popularity, it’s not a one-size-fits-all journey. Shifting from a predictable paycheck to the uncertainty of entrepreneurship requires more than just business skills; it demands a shift in mindset.
The importance of adapting to change
In today’s world, being able to adjust to new things is really important for success. Think about this: just ten years ago, if someone had told you that you could use your phone to summon a car that arrives in minutes, pay for it without cash, and reach your destination without saying a word, you might not have believed it. But now, apps like Uber have made this so common that we might get annoyed if our ride is a little late.
This shows how quickly technology is changing our everyday lives. It’s happening even faster, thanks to something called Moore’s law, which says that computer power doubles every 18 to 24 months. To understand how big this growth is, imagine taking one small step forward and then doubling the distance each day for a month. By the end of the month, you’d have taken over a billion steps!
This fast-paced change is bringing ideas like virtual reality, self-driving cars, and commercial space travel from movies into reality. At the same time, it’s shaking up how businesses work and how we do our jobs. Many big companies struggle to keep up because they have outdated ways of doing things.
But entrepreneurs, people who start their own businesses, are in a good position to thrive in this fast-changing world.
The main point here is that being able to adapt to change is not only crucial for entrepreneurs but for everyone who wants to succeed in a world that keeps changing faster and faster.
From fixed mindset to growth mindset
Have you ever tried something new and thought it wasn’t meant for you? Like attempting to learn a guitar but giving up after a few chords or struggling with a new language and concluding you’re just not good at it? This kind of thinking is called a “fixed mindset.” It means believing you’re born with a set level of skills and can’t change much.
On the other hand, a “growth mindset” sees things differently. It believes you can develop and improve any skill through practice and learning from mistakes. Psychologist Carol Dweck introduced these concepts.
When you embark on a new journey, like learning a language or starting a business, having a growth mindset is crucial. Learning new things can be uncomfortable and frustrating. You might need to repeat a task many times before getting it right. But if you don’t see these challenges as a natural part of the learning process, you might give up.
To overcome these challenges, you must rely on your belief in yourself rather than seeking external validation. Constructive criticism and feedback can be valuable tools for personal and business growth.
Cultivating a mindset that embraces failure takes practice but is essential on the entrepreneurial journey. It’s not a sprint but a marathon. Ultimately, having the right mindset and a strong purpose will help you persevere and succeed.
Knowing your entrepreneurial why
Before you start your journey as an entrepreneur, it’s important to understand why you’re doing it. Think of it this way: Imagine you and a friend go out to eat, and you promise not to have dessert. But when your friend’s delicious chocolate cake arrives, you really want a slice. However, you remember your doctor warning you about the risk of Type 2 diabetes, so you resist the temptation. You have a good reason to stick to your decision.
The main point is this: Knowing your reasons for becoming an entrepreneur is crucial.
Facing the challenges of entrepreneurship is easier when you have a clear purpose. Back in the 1970s, a psychologist named Edward Deci did an experiment that showed students who were paid to do a task were less interested in it than those who did it out of their own interest.
Intrinsic motivation, which means doing something because you genuinely want to, not just for money, not only makes you perform better but also acts as an anchor when things get tough. Most entrepreneurs go through difficult periods, and it’s your belief in your purpose that keeps you going.
To find your purpose, be honest about why you want to become an entrepreneur. Don’t just focus on the immediate benefits or the possibilities. Ask yourself if you really need to leave your current job, or if a part-time freelance gig would satisfy you.
To uncover your true motivations, try the “five Fs” method. Every few months, evaluate your life using five categories: freedom, financial independence, fulfillment, fitness, and friends and family. Rate yourself from 1 to 10 in each area. By doing this, you can decide if it’s time for a big change.
After this reflection, you might realize your situation isn’t so bad. However, if you’re lacking in three or more of these five areas, you’ll have a clear reason to make a significant change in your life.
Collecting and connecting ideas
Entrepreneurship begins with gathering and linking ideas. Think of it like a game: imagine you have a skateboard, a bicycle, and a motorbike. Break them down into their basic parts. The skateboard has a deck, wheels, and trucks. The bicycle has handlebars, a seat, spokes, and a chain. The motorbike has an engine, oil tank, clutch, and brakes. Now, consider how you could put these parts together to create something new. For instance, you might combine the skateboard’s deck, the bicycle’s seat, and the motorbike’s engine and tank to make a jet ski.
This process is called first principles thinking, and successful entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos use it. The main idea here is that collecting and connecting ideas is the heart of entrepreneurship.
First principles thinking transforms existing ideas into fresh, innovative ones rather than just making small improvements. Many entrepreneurs find inspiration by observing everyday life and connecting the dots.
But to connect the dots, you first need to collect them. The best way to do this is by dedicating a few hours each week to learning. Gather valuable content and make time to consume it, whether during your commute or at the gym. Your ability to take in information from books and podcasts is powerful.
Collecting these “dots” provides you with sources to draw inspiration from, helping you discover your entrepreneurial purpose. The more dots you collect, the more opportunities you’ll find to solve real-world problems. Enhancing your understanding of the world enables you to connect those dots effectively.
The importance of testing your business idea
Before you dive into turning your idea into a business, it’s smart to check if people really want what you’re offering. Let’s say you had a great idea to create a subscription service for fresh fruit boxes because you thought people needed it. Instead of rushing in, you should first test the idea with potential customers.
Here’s why it’s important: Many new entrepreneurs make the mistake of believing their idea is perfect and don’t ask anyone for their thoughts. Others get stuck in endless thinking without taking action. Unfortunately, these habits often lead to business failures.
The good news is, you can avoid these pitfalls without spending a lot of money. The key is to test your idea with the people you think will use it. Find out what’s most important to your business by figuring out which assumptions are riskiest.
For example, Uber’s founders assumed that people had smartphones and would use them to pay for rides, which was a pretty safe bet. But they didn’t assume people would trust getting into a stranger’s car. By talking to potential customers about this trust issue, they made sure their business had a chance to succeed.
To truly understand your customers, ask them open-ended questions like “why?” This helps you dig deep and figure out the real reasons behind their desires. That way, you can find out if your idea is valuable and worth pursuing. So, remember, always test your idea before taking the big leap.
Prioritizing what matters most
Your time is valuable. Focus on what matters and avoid distractions.
Every day, we make choices, some small like whether to floss, and others more significant. Even the small choices, when repeated over time, can have a big impact. For instance, not flossing daily can lead to tooth decay over time.
Similarly, checking your email frequently may seem unimportant, but it adds up. On average, people touch their phones thousands of times a day, and it takes time to refocus after interruptions. So, poor screen-time habits can waste a lot of your precious time.
In both your personal life and business, you need to prioritize tasks. Focus on things that truly matter and provide value. For instance, if you spend hours on low-value tasks, it can accumulate into a significant loss over time.
To stay on track, consider outsourcing tasks that don’t add much value. For automated tasks, use services that are cost-effective. For human-driven tasks, consider hiring virtual assistants from platforms like Fiverr or Upwork. You might need to train them, but it allows you to concentrate on tasks that bring real value.
In the end, limiting your focus and eliminating distractions is crucial for staying productive without getting overwhelmed. To succeed as an entrepreneur and enjoy a fulfilling life, work smarter, not longer.
In conclusion, making the shift from being an employee to becoming an entrepreneur might seem scary at first. It’s not the perfect route for everyone, but embracing the entrepreneurial mindset can bring a profound sense of purpose to your life and work. Learning to think like an entrepreneur will push you to welcome uncertainty, exploration, and even failure as valuable stepping stones on your personal growth journey. To thrive through the highs and lows of entrepreneurship and truly relish the experience, it’s essential to focus on working smarter, not just harder.
Inspired by a book “Employee to Entrepreneur”; Steve Glaveski”