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If you ask the “average” person how famous business owners like Richard Branson, Elon Musk, and Larry Page got to where they are today, you’ll almost certainly hear some quip about how they were “destined for greatness” or “born entrepreneurs.”
To be sure, this isn’t entirely wrong; some people certainly are born with certain character traits that make them more apt to become successful entrepreneurs and trailblazers.
But, while these innate characteristics may give a person a head start in their entrepreneurial ventures, these traits alone won’t automatically cause them to be successful. Quite honestly, those who rely solely on said traits probably aren’t going to make it very far in their journey.
On the other hand, it’s absolutely possible for those who weren’t “born with it” to become insanely successful entrepreneurs — as long as they actively work on cultivating the right mindset. In fact, we’d be willing to bet that this individual has a much better chance of experiencing success than those who believe they can coast by on their natural talents.
With that in mind, we’re going to dig deep into eleven mindset habits that many — if not all — of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs have in common. Throughout this article, we’ll:
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- Discuss specific examples of entrepreneurs putting these mindset habits into practice
- Provide inspirational and actionable quotes from these individuals relating to said mindset habits
- Explain how you can use these examples and words of wisdom to help you forge your own successful entrepreneurial ventures
Let’s dig in.
11 Mindset Habits Used by the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs
As we said, becoming a successful entrepreneur requires more than being born with a certain je ne sais quoi.
It’s actually much more important to nurture a certain way of thinking — and a certain way of living — in order to succeed in the entrepreneurial world.
In this article, we’ll be discussing the importance of fostering the following mindset habits:
- Mold-breaking thinking
- Playing as a team
- Laser-focus and relentlessness
- Calculated risk-taking
- Doing vs. overthinking
- Being opportunistic
- Always providing value
- Lifelong learning
We’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s get started.
(Note: Looking for simple, practical advice that will help you develop an 8-figure mindset? If so, grab a free digital copy of my NEW book, “How To Get Anything You Want”.)
Perhaps the main reason the world’s most well-known entrepreneurs have achieved such breakout success is because they’ve:
- Introduced something new — and valuable — to the world
- Done something that hasn’t been done before — or hasn’t been done in a certain way before
- Pushed the boundaries of societal norms — often in a controversial manner
Elon Musk, who is perhaps one of the most famous mold-breaking thinkers of our time, spells it out for us:
“If you go back a few hundred years, what we take for granted today would seem like magic-being able to talk to people over long distances, to transmit images, flying, accessing vast amounts of data like an oracle. These are all things that would have been considered magic a few hundred years ago.”
This, perhaps, is the most important mindset habit to foster if you want to succeed as an entrepreneur: to see the realistic possibility of creating things that most people would think of as “magic.”
To be sure, Musk would have never tried to develop a working electric car, and definitelywouldn’t have sent a “Starman” into space, had he not adapted this way of magical, mold-breaking thinking. And he definitely wouldn’t be the household name he is today, either.
Now, if we’re being honest, the phrase “breaking the mold” is used so often that it’s become rather trite.
In fact, it’s not enough to simply “break the mold” if you want to become a successful entrepreneur; you have to do much more. As Grant Cardone says, “Don’t think outside the box. Blow the damn box out of this galaxy and dominate.”
It may sound a bit grandiose — but that’s the point. “Thinking outside the box” is table stakes at this point.
As an entrepreneur, your goal should be to do something completely revolutionary that people won’t be able to ignore. That’s how you’ll make your mark.
In order to make something out of nothing, entrepreneurs absolutely need to be resourceful.
Whether just getting a company up and running, or managing a multi-billion dollar company, successful entrepreneurs understand the importance of:
- Squeezing as much value out of their current resources as possible
- Not spending more money, or using more resources, than is absolutely necessary
- Keeping costs to a minimum, while simultaneously maximizing output
To be sure, many “wantrepreneurs” never take the first step toward greatness simply because they “don’t have the resources to get started.” Of course, these individuals are turning a blind eye to the many, many stories of companies that were founded in a garage or studio apartment that now own prime real estate in Silicon Valley.
As David Burkus says:
“This is a hard truth for some to accept: that a lack of resources may not be their true constraint, just a lack of resourcefulness.”
Simply put, resourcefulness is a prerequisite to becoming a successful entrepreneur. In fact, Jeff Bezos credits his childhood experiences on his grandfather’s ranch — during which he watched his grandfather build and fix equipment using whatever tools he could find — for his ability to grow his company from this:
While the saying “you gotta spend money to make money” gets tossed around all the time in the business world, it isn’t necessarily true. While you certainly will have to invest in your business, it’s more important to use that which you do invest wisely than to simply throw money and other resources around and hope for the best.
On this same token, you also shouldn’t allow a lack of resources to hold you back from achieving greatness. While it will definitely take more effort to go from “rags to riches” than if you were to start out with a stockpile of money and other resources, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
Again, attaining success as an entrepreneur is all about finding a way to make magic happen — and this definitely pertains to building something huge with as few resources as possible.
Playing as a Team
Speaking of resources, successful entrepreneurs understand that their most valuable resources are the talented people around them.
Reid Hoffman says it best:
“No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team.”
While entrepreneurs do need to “wear many different hats,” they also need to know when a specific task is best left to someone else. In fact, the most successful entrepreneurs typically aren’t the smartest or most talented people in the room; rather, they’re the ones who know where to find the people who are.
In addition to being able to pinpoint talent from a mile away, successful entrepreneurs understand the importance of facilitating the use of this talent, and are able to provide these individuals with exactly what they need to work to their highest potential.
Building on this, David Cancel speaks about his drive to find talented individuals who have something to teach him:
“I’m trying to find people who are passionate, and I can learn something from them. Whether you’re an intern or an executive, I need to feel like I can learn something from you.”
Founder and CEO of Basecamp, Jason Fried, goes deep into a discussion on the importance of teamwork, and of fostering trust and a sense of autonomy among the members of his team. In a way, Fried wants all of his employees to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset, in that he wants them to be free to try new things, make mistakes, and do whatever it takes to succeed.
As an entrepreneur, you don’t have to go it alone — and you shouldn’t. Rather, one of your main goals should be to find the people who will be able to help you achieve your wildest dreams.
At the beginning of this article, we spoke about the common misconception that certain people are “destined for success.”
Once again, this is merely an excuse made by those who have tried to do something big, fallen short of their goals, and immediately given up on their journey.
The reality is, no successful entrepreneur has had a smooth ride getting to where they are today. Co-founder of Twitter Biz Stone echoes this sentiment:
“Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.”
Even the so-called “unicorns” that exist today (e.g., Twitter, Amazon, Microsoft, etc.) weren’t built without a fair share of struggle and hardship on the part of their founders.
As Stone alludes to, it only seems like these companies hit the bigtime overnight because the end-user doesn’t see all the blood, sweat, and tears that went into building said company from the ground up.
What the end-user sees — a massively successful, billion-dollar company — is actually the culmination of years and years of dedicated hard work, during which time the people behind the company made a ton of sacrifices while building something amazing.
To be sure, there’s no shortage of stories of now-famous entrepreneurs who founded ventures that quickly folded up. What’s more, even currently successful companies have taken up initiatives that ended up going nowhere.
However, the individuals behind these shortcomings are, of course, anything but failures. The main reason: they persevered.
Ellen Degeneres — an entrepreneur in her own right — explains how she’s built an empire that’s currently worth over $400 million:
“You just have to keep driving down the road. It’s going to bend and curve and you’ll speed up and slow down, but the road keeps going.”
Or, to use a more well-known quote from Ms. Degeneres: “Just keep swimming.” It’s the only way to eventually reach your goal.
Laser-focus and Relentlessness
Piggybacking off of the previous point, true entrepreneurs are almost always doing something to improve their business, their vision, or their life as a whole.
In fact, the reason these individuals are able to persevere is because of their relentless drive to reach their goals by any means necessary. They live with passion and conviction, and make sure that every action they take is deliberately calculated and will help them grow in some way or another.
As Jack Welch says:
“Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.”
How do they keep up this relentlessness?
Gary Vaynerchuk has a pretty blunt answer:
“You’re gonna die.”
Rather than being morose or depressing, though, Vaynerchuk means for this statement to be inspirational. Essentially, coming to terms with your own mortality should drive you to take advantage of every second of every day you have on this Earth.
The only reason we can say that some people are “destined for greatness” is because they’ve created their own destiny. The successful entrepreneur knows that they can pretty much do anything they dream of — as long as they remain laser-focused on their goals, and work relentlessly to reach them.
Part of being relentless and laser-focused in your pursuits, of course, is about taking risks — and being confident that these risks will pay off in the long run.
Every entrepreneurial venture, by nature, is a risky one. As we’ve said, such ventures require investing a lot of time, money, and energy into something that doesn’t exist yet or has never been done before. Since the entrepreneur is bringing something brand new into the world, they can’t possibly predict with 100% certainty how things will pan out.
But that doesn’t mean they don’t move forward with their idea. In fact, successful entrepreneurs understand that not taking a risk can actually cause more problems than taking a risk and falling short.
As Mark Zuckerberg explains,
“The biggest risk is not taking any risk…In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”
Now, there’s a huge difference between taking a risk and straight-up gambling. The gambling entrepreneurs are the ones who sink everything into what they believe to be a “sure thing.”
More often than not, these individuals lose everything simply because they were reckless in their risk-taking; they’re also usually the people who assume those who have succeeded were simply “lucky.”
On the other hand, those who take calculated risks do so only after they’ve done diligent research into their field of choice, and have concrete data backing up their belief that their investment will pay off.
Also, as we said earlier, these individuals invest only that which is necessary to get moving; they always leave themselves with an “out” in case they fall short of their goals.
Okay…sometimes they’ll take a bit of an extra risk, and invest more than they’d be comfortable losing if they were to fail.
But, again, because they’ve done the research, they can be confident that it isn’t going to happen. As Elon Musk says:
“It’s OK to have your eggs in one basket as long as you control what happens to that basket.”
Your entrepreneurial venture — especially your maiden voyage — will most likely be the riskiest venture of your life. More accurately, it will probably be the biggest investment of your life; as long as you have a concrete plan for how to succeed — backed up by hard data supporting this plan — the bigger risk will be not making the investment in the first place.
Doing vs. Overthinking
Perhaps main difference between an entrepreneur and a “wantrepreneur” is the latter spends most of their time thinking and talking about their ideas, while true entrepreneurs get moving in some way almost immediately.
Again, this doesn’t necessarily mean diving into a venture head-first without thinking about how to proceed. But it does mean making some sort of forward movement as soon as you’ve formed an initial plan.
And it definitely means you shouldn’t waste time waiting for the “perfect moment” before you get the ball rolling. Things will never be perfect, so if you wait for this moment, you’ll never even take the first steps toward greatness.
The truth is, things don’t have to be perfect for you to succeed. I mean, remember how Amazon’s homepage looked when it was just getting started?
That’s a far cry from what it looks like today, isn’t it? But if Bezos simply said to himself, “Eh, this looks awful. I’ll wait until we can get a better designer before I open up shop,” well…he would have never been able to find that designer, and would have never been able to open up shop.
Yes, thinking about and planning out your business venture is an important first step in your entrepreneurial journey — but just thinking about it isn’t going to accomplish anything. As we said earlier, it’s important to take action — and to do so intentionally — if you want to have any hope of succeeding.
If you’re just getting started, you’re bound to have a ton of “what if” questions running through your head:
- “What if I try and fail?”
- “What if I can’t do it?”
- “What if things don’t go as planned?”
(Note: These questions were taken from my new book “How To Get Anything You Want”. You can get a FREE digital copy here)
Needless to say, these thoughts can easily paralyze you — and cause you to never even get your venture off the ground.
It’s in your best interest to flip the script on these negative thoughts:
- “What if I try and succeed?”
- “What if I can do it?”
- “What if things do go as planned?”
The answers to these questions should be enough to get you to stop thinking — and to start doing.
As we alluded to in the last section, things might not always go according to your plan (which is why you shouldn’t obsess over perfecting your plan in the first place).
That said, it’s important to remain flexible at all times, reacting to situations and changes that are out of your hands in a way that keeps your company on track — and allows you to continue providing value to your target audience.
In today’s fast-paced world, flexibility isn’t just a “nice to have” quality — it’s a necessity. Pretty much everything in this world — technology, consumer needs and expectations, to name a few — is evolving on a constant basis. If you’re not evolving with these changes, you’re going to fall way behind your competition. You need to adopt the mantra, “Be stubborn about your goals, and flexible about your methods.”
As Tory Burch explains:
“Entrepreneurs have a great ability to create change, be flexible, build companies and cultivate the kind of work environment in which they want to work.”
Embracing the life of an entrepreneur means cultivating the ability to “roll with the punches,” to react positively to adversity, and to create the changes that will benefit your life, and the world around you.
It’s also worth mentioning that adopting a flexible approach to running your business is also beneficial in a more practical way.
Essentially, by maintaining flexibility, and strengthening your ability to “change with the tides,” you’ll inherently have less trouble scaling and making improvements over time.
Because flexibility has become a part of who you are, you’ll always be prepared to pivot should the need to do so arise.
Referring back to calculated risk-taking and getting started, successful entrepreneurs:
- Actively look for the most opportune moments to make a move
- Recognize opportunities for what they are (and recognize opportunities where most people would overlook them)
- Understand that these windows of opportunity don’t stay open very long
Victor Kiam echoes this sentiment:
“Entrepreneurs are simply those who understand that there is little difference between obstacle and opportunity, and are able to turn both to their advantage.”
This notion is evident in pretty much every single entrepreneurial success story. Take the story of how Jen Rubio and Steph Korey founded Away — and quickly disrupted the luggage and travel industry:
“This luggage concept was one of the things I’d (Jen) been thinking about, and I was coming home from Davos and my luggage broke. I had the most terrible luggage shopping experience at Zurich Airport.
I was like, ‘This is unreal.’ I had never experienced a place where you could buy a $500 or a $40 bag and they’d be sold next to each other with no discernible difference. That was one of the eye-opening things about this industry that made me really want to investigate it more.”
99.9% of people would simply get frustrated at their now-broken luggage, grumble as they shelled out $500 for a new hard-case, eat the loss, and go about their business. Rubio, instead, saw this less-than-optimum situation as a blessing in disguise, leading to the “aha moment” that would, in turn, lead her and her partner to create a multi-million dollar empire.
The lesson, here, is that opportunities are quite literally all around us — but they’re usually not all that obvious. With that in mind, you need to always be “on” as an entrepreneur, and not only recognize opportunities when they arise — but be prepared to capitalize on them when they do.
Always Providing Value
Earlier on, we alluded to the fact that entrepreneurs, when just getting a company up and running, will need to work tirelessly to do so — without seeing much in the form of monetary returns.
Taking this a step further, making money should never be an entrepreneur’s main motivation for founding a company. In fact, the entrepreneur whose sole focus is on striking it rich will almost certainly falter.
On the other hand, the entrepreneur who puts their own gains on the backburner, and focuses mainly on providing value to others, will all but definitely reap major rewards in the future. As James Altucher says, “The only way to create value for yourself is to create value for others.”
Here’s the deal: The more you focus on making money, the less you’ll be able to focus on providing value to others. If you’re not able to provide value to others, they’re not going to pay you. It’s that simple.
Taking this a bit further, focusing solely on making money can cause a person to run every underhanded play in the book, essentially tricking others into opening their wallets. While this might allow you to make a quick buck here and there, the people you fleeced are going to wise up immediately — and never do business with you again.
On the other hand, focusing on providing value to your target audience will lead them to be able to trust you wholeheartedly. In turn, you’ll cultivate a huge and loyal following of individuals who are more than happy to open their wallets to you — knowing full well they’ll receive a ton of value in return.
The final mindset habit we’ll discuss is essential for success in any venture — be it entrepreneurial or otherwise.
A large part of being an entrepreneur is knowing just how much there is to learn in this world — to the point that it’s truly impossible to know everything. This curiosity is often what brings about innovation; those who aren’t driven by a will to continue learning about the world around them can’t possibly come up with the “next big thing” to offer this world.
Richard Branson lays it out plainly:
“My biggest motivation? Just to keep challenging myself. I see life almost like one long university education…Every day I’m learning something new.”
In a world driven by the constant exchange of information, there’s absolutely no excuse to stop learning. In fact, we’d argue that you’d have to actively avoid learning in order to do so.
That being said, learning certainly isn’t a passive activity. As we said earlier, in order to be successful as an entrepreneur, you need to always be “on.” This means internalizing everyaspect of the world around you at all times, and working to understand what it all means — and how it pertains to the services you provide.
The more you know about the world and everything in it, the better you’ll be able to serve your customers — and the more successful you’ll be, both as an entrepreneur, and as a person.
Looking for simple, practical advice that will help you develop an 8-figure mindset? If so, grab a FREE digital copy of my new book, “How To Get Anything You Want”.