The Entrepreneur’s Mindset

Do you call yourself an entrepreneur?

Do you call yourself an entrepreneur?

I don’t — even if I’ve started stuff and got things going on my own.

I don’t brand myself as an entrepreneur just because I’m building my own dreams. I don’t go around calling myself one. People tell me I am. They gush and they compliment and their eyes widen with delight when I share with them the kind of lifestyle I’m living.

Honestly, it doesn’t matter to me whether or not what I’m doing is considered “entrepreneurial” — it’s not important. I haven’t perfected the right mindset of one. Perhaps I’m hard on myself, and maybe I am. I believe it’s better this way, so I continue striving to improve myself, perfect my craft, pursue my goal with endless energy and passion.

(I’m also known to have exceedingly high expectations for myself that seems to climb higher each time I think I’ve reached it)

We may be very ambitious and passionate about our business or idea, and probably have busted our butts working towards achieving goals, only to find that it comes to nothing and leaves us with a feeling unfulfilled and empty.

As much as having a purpose, passion, inspiration, and perspiration (grit) are critical to being successful in any endeavor, having the right frame of mind is just as important.

Owning up to our failures and taking responsibility for them is something a lot of humans shun from, and entrepreneurs are guilty of this too.

Entrepreneur’s mindset 1: Always take accountability and responsibility seriously

As entrepreneurs, we have to be really honest with ourselves.

If we’re not finding any reward with what we’re doing — emotionally, physically, or financially — it’s our fault.

You have full responsibility and accountability for your life. You’re the captain of your ship. If you want to call yourself an entrepreneur, you have to own up to your actions. If you’ve failed at something, be it achieving your financial goals, securing the deal, or finding happiness with what you’re doing, it’s okay to admit that — accept it, learn from it, and move on.

Entrepreneur’s mindset 2: Seeks to define success and constantly finding ways to improve the strategy and steps to get there

Entrepreneurs don’t run blindly and exert their full effort without first knowing where exactly they’re heading towards. The right frame of mind demands for you to know where you want to get to in the next couple of years, and what you need to do to get there.

Define your own map, mark out where your success lies. It’s good to know and understand the journey and maps other entrepreneurs have planned for themselves, but their maps will not work for you. They’re great as references and great for you to learn from costly mistakes they’ve made.

It’s important to know that someone else’s journey is not yours, and you have to carve your own, especially if you’re gong off the beaten path.

Entrepreneur’s mindset 3: Always finding the best way to spend time and energy

Are you helping others — way, way too much?

We often hear how important it is to be there for others — and I don’t deny this. If someone hosting an even is short-handed, we should lend our help — if we can spare it.

Whether you can or cannot spare the time and effort is entirely up to you to evaluate. But, please,

Put the oxygen mask on yourself before others.

Don’t offer to help because you want to please others and their community or circle of friends.
 Don’t offer to help when you know you have too much on your plate from your full-time job, your family, and your side hustle.
 Don’t offer to help if you can’t even find time for yourself.

Putting yourself before others is not a sign of arrogance — it tells everyone else how much you believe in your dreams and how much effort you’re putting in to achieving it. It shows others that you value yourself just as much as you value them. It speaks loudly about you taking charge of your life.

Of course, there will be people who disagree with this.

I used to attend every single event I could find on Eventbrite or Peatix. I used to jump at the opportunity to participate in an event I’ve been invited to. Then, I took a huge break from it. In retrospect, I realized how little value most of these events have brought to me.

I’ve been chided for missing out on one too many tech events and meetups. I don’t see myself spending three hours of my time in the evening sitting listening to some two people’s conversation with a highly distracting crowd (Fireside chats).

I don’t see myself sitting through a panel discussion for four hours of uncurated content, and messy networking “timeouts” that take place before and after the panel talks.

I don’t attend 3-4 hour long events to have mindless, purposeless conversations I could have over a phone call or any other day over lunch or dinner.

What they see: a crowd engaging in conversations among themselves, laughter, pizza boxes being emptied of its contents too quickly;

What I see: a bunch of people happily talking among themselves.
What I hear: the same questions being asked — so what do you do? How long have you been at it? — and discussions that are fun to join, but go outside of the theme and purpose of the meetup, because the event organizers failed to reinforce the purpose of the event and failed at steering everyone in that direction during the event.

I have work I need to be doing.
I need time to myself to reflect and strategize the next steps I will make.
I want time for myself and my loved ones because I choose to value myself and my loved ones very highly.

I don’t need to time to myself and my work every single evening, but I don’t need to be attending events every other night, either.

Of these three mindsets I’ve written, I’ve yet to perfect any of them, but I know I want to and I will.

I’m constantly reminding myself each day not to be a “Yes Woman” to every single request to “meet for coffee” or “help me with X, Y, Z event/workshop/work”.

I’m constantly biting my tongue before I let the words “but he/she/that incident happened, therefore I’m unable to..”

I find myself distracted or procrastinating on defining success and re-looking at my plans for myself from time-to-time (Interestingly, I’m aware that this only happens on days where my self-esteem falls below the average level — I smell fear of failure!)

Being an entrepreneur demands a lot of energy and time and effort spent working on your goals. It’s not an easy path, and it is not meant for everyone (no shame in that). Media glamorizes entrepreneurship and the courage to take the leap into this world way too much, often leaving those who are comfortable working a full-time job feeling purposeless and doubtful of their situation.

Here’s a word of advice: don’t “try entrepreneurship” if you’re not ready to work towards having the right frame of mind. It’s a path that requires a lot of discipline, emotional and physical energy and effort, and a strong will to be able to endure the countless of failures and setbacks that will be thrown in your way.