How to Be an Entrepreneur Without Starting a Business

Coming soon, to a job description near you: Wanted: Candidate must be creative, autonomous, and entrepreneurial.

Entrepreneurial, huh?

It’s one of the latest professional buzzwords. No one wants to be an employee anymore, following orders and answering to the man. They want to be independent, innovative entrepreneurs — making new things from thin air. Except, a lot of times they still want the security of working for someone else without all the risk, headaches, and failures of an entrepreneur.

Seems like a bit of a conundrum, when you consider that one of the main tenets of being an entrepreneur are those exact things: willingness to take risk, on-the-go evolution, and high openness to creativity (and its frequent byproduct, failure).

By nature, entrepreneurs also tend to highly value autonomy and creativity, with a touch of anti-establishment and adrenaline rushes thrown in.

As with any job, not everyone in the world is cut out to be an entrepreneur. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be entrepreneurial.

​Maybe you don’t like uncertainty, or numbers, or maybe it just plain doesn’t call your attention, as other priorities or values take precedence.

Maybe you like the fact that someone else runs the show. That’s ok, you know.

Just because you’re not gearing up to launch your own startup from your garage doesn’t mean that you can’t be entrepreneurial.

Ultimately, being entrepreneurial is a mindset that you can carry with you into any kind of job, no matter the industry (which often will mean you become an intrapreneur, but that’s a blog post for another day).

Using the following 4 strategies, you’ll be able to confidently list “entrepreneurial” on your next job application:

1. Analyze & Look for Ways to Improve

Sure, you could be one of those people who kind of just accepts the status quo because you’re told “that’s the way we’ve always done it”, or you can be the squeaky wheel who go gets her own grease.

What the hell do I mean by that?

It is so, so, overwhelmingly, incredibly easy to find problems and complain. (I mean, why do you think therapists will always have a job? I kid, I kid.)

It is so much harder to find those problems and propose new ways to solve them.

No matter what kind of a position you’re in, if you find yourself working in a system that just plain doesn’t work, and you take the initiative to not only notice it, but fix it?

You’ll be everyone’s hero. Not to mention…

That spirit goes right to the core of entrepreneurship: problem solving.

2. Dare to Fail

One of the big tenets of entrepreneurs and startups alike is their willingness to operate under high levels of uncertainty.

They are constantly creating, testing, tweaking, and crumpling up the plan and starting over. While the fail forward mindset of “learn as you create” certainly sounds good on paper, it is much harder to execute, especially when a jury of your peers is there to judge you at every step, or your crotchety boss is an innovation buzzkill.

They key here is failing early and cheaply. Don’t spend weeks, or even months developing something that could epically fail when you let it loose.

The best experiments include prototyping early on, gathering information, and tweaking as you go. No project should get to the final phase without ever having been tested.

Entrepreneurs don’t avoid failure; they embrace it as part of the process and go forward.

3. View Rejection as Only a Setback

From very early on in life, we are programmed to perceive the word “no” as an admonishment or refusal.

Upon hearing no, we are supposed to give up. And there are indeed times when we must.

But entrepreneurs learn to program a different response to “no”. They instead take it as a challenge — an opportunity to work around the parameters and do what they want to do anyways.

When working for someone else, you’ll often hear things like “That won’t work” or “We’ve already tried that”, or the ultimate bummer: “You can’t do that”.

Instead of immediately accepting this judgment as absolute, consider alternative ways that you could still reach the ultimate goal.

What changes could you make to the process, what other angles could you explore, what words could you use that might change the mind of the gatekeeper?

Entrepreneurs don’t just have a Plan A — they’ve got one for the whole damn alphabet.

4. Be Weirdly Passionate

Depending on the environment where you work, you likely have a wide variety of personalities: the lazy one, the perpetually chatty one, the micromanager, the big cheese, etc.

You? You want to be the one who is strangely passionate about what you’re up to. You wanna be the one that people like to be near because you give them energy.

They can literally feel your excitement over your work emanating from your person. I know, this sounds super hippie-dippie, but it’s true.

Many work environments have people who suck the life out of the room with their negativity, but if they’re lucky, they have someone who cares so deeply about the work, that they counterbalance it.

I’m not talking about morning people, either. Those people are just insane.

I mean the ones who come to work, not just because they get a pay check, but because they believe in the mission. That should be you.

Entrepreneurs have vision beyond the day-to-day, and it pushes them forward.

Quite possibly, you have never considered yourself an entrepreneur. Much like we erroneously associate “creativity” only with artists and writers, it’s one of those terms that we have partitioned off, believing that it is reserved for only certain elite members among us with some mythical skill set and genetic genius.

Luckily, that assumption is false.

Anyone can be entrepreneurial; it is so much less about how many businesses you’ve started, money you’ve made, or episodes of Shark Tank you’ve watched, and everything about the mindset that you bring to work with you every single day.

If you liked this, you might also like: Why Millenials Are Leading the Entrepreneur Revolution

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