Starting Up? Have a Day One Growth Mindset.

Gautam Lohia
Apr 16, 2020 · 5 min read

You’ve got a great idea and want to start your own business. With so much competition these days, how do you make sure your company succeeds?

While I didn’t know my exact path when I started my latest venture about 4 years ago with my partner Chris Coghlan, adopting a ‘Day One Growth Mindset’ helped me and my company build the success we have today. Stanford professor Dr. Carol Dweck, in her pioneering psychology work, summarizes her findings on people with the growth mindset as:

“Individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others)…They tend to achieve more than those with a more fixed mindset (those who believe their talents are innate gifts).”

My goal from day one was to establish a digital product studio to produce globally-recognized work for international clients. In order to achieve that goal, we at Apply embraced the Day One Growth Mindset in three ways:

  1. We acknowledged we don’t know enough: We admitted we will never know enough as individuals, but through constant learning and collaboration with others, we’ve been able to nurture an infinite collective knowledge that enables our company to flourish.
  2. We vowed to always be ambitious: Growing and developing wasn’t enough to help our company succeed. We also needed a desire to grow. On the very first day of our new venture, Chris and I set some pretty lofty targets, and those are the targets that keep us moving forward.
  3. We resolved to be ultra-flexible: In an industry that is endlessly evolving, adaptability and swiftness are key. For the business to consistently deliver successful solutions, we must continuously try out new methods, test new technologies, and be responsive, elastic, and resilient.

I believe anyone — from our clients and team members to new business owners and young professionals — can adopt a Day One Growth Mindset using these simple yet effective business strategies:

Surround yourself with people who have a desire and capacity to learn. People you trust. People who enjoy the challenge of overcoming obstacles, who want to influence the industry. Seek out people who are synergistic thinkers and doers. I started by building a strong leadership team and then scaled up our roster of specialized talent.

Recognize employees who achieve their goals, and also recognize those who put in the effort. Emphasize learning, reflection, and progress just as much as success and achievement. Understand that failure is an essential part of growth and can be a positive learning opportunity for the whole company.

Photo by Chris Benson on Unsplash

Provide each team members with a learning budget to use at their discretion, and encourage them to share their learning with others. At Apply, we organize company-wide Days of Learning and hold a weekly platform where team members can share their knowledge.

Having a Day One Growth Mindset means investing in scalable systems. While the upfront cost of such systems might be high, the long-term benefits are immense. For example, our back-office is automated, efficient, and will allow us to easily scale for the next 3 years.

Growth, knowledge, and opportunity can come from anywhere. Your network is a goldmine of possibilities. Over the past three decades, both Chris and I have built up a wide network of friends and acquaintances. To support our growth mandate, we utilize these important relationships not only to target potential clients but also to identify potential partners and employees.

Photo by Anastasia Dulgier on Unsplash

Growth flourishes when you step outside your comfort zone. Establish two sets of goals: those you know you can achieve, and those you hope you can achieve. Then forget about the former and passionately pursue the latter with an ambitious attitude that inspires all of your decisions as you move your company forward.

Growth is an essential part of any company’s success. But it’s not just about doing good business, it’s about doing good for your people. People are a company’s key asset and if you grow with your people as the focus, they’ll stick with you every step of the way.

It can be hard to say ‘no’ when you’re first starting out, but knowing when to say it is instrumental to upholding a growth mindset. For example, at Apply we have said ‘no’ to things like:

  • Well-paying opportunities that don’t fit our service offerings
  • Well-qualified candidates who don’t share our values
  • Temporary solutions (because they often create more problems in the long term).
Photo by Zan on Unsplash

Knowing when to say “no” helps keep our company tracking in the right direction.

Just a seed of an idea in December 2015, Apply celebrated its fourth-year anniversary in March 2020. A successful venture employing 100+ people, our clients include brands like Disney, Freedom Mobile, and AGI. I credit it all to having a Day One Growth Mindset.

If you’re looking for ways to grow and energize your company, consider adopting a Day One Growth Mindset. It has inspired my business decisions well beyond my company’s initial years and will always be an integral part of my future planning strategies as we continue to grow.

To learn more about Apply reach out to us at

Apply Digital

We make and market smart digital products.

Apply Digital

Apply is a digital product studio with offices in Vancouver, Toronto, Los Angeles, and New York City. Informed by human insights and empirical data, Apply makes and markets apps, platforms, and brand experiences that are smart by nature and intuitive by design.

Gautam Lohia

Written by

Partner at Apply Digital, Yoga and Wine Enthusiast, Father of 4,

Apply Digital

Apply is a digital product studio with offices in Vancouver, Toronto, Los Angeles, and New York City. Informed by human insights and empirical data, Apply makes and markets apps, platforms, and brand experiences that are smart by nature and intuitive by design.

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