The world is fascinated by modern entrepreneurs. Stories of successful start-ups bring to mind the California gold rush of the 1850s. If only I can be at the right place at the right time, I will discover the genius idea that will make me rich.
There is always a measure of luck involved with business success, but a growing body of research shows that entrepreneurs share several characteristics. The entrepreneurial mindset is what carries these business leaders through repeated failures. It is also the inspiration that keeps them thriving after they find a measure of success.
What is the mindset of entrepreneurship?
Entrepreneurs are often experts in their fields. However, it is a set of entrepreneurial mindset characteristics that set them apart from other leaders.
Growth and Goal-Oriented Attitude
Psychologists make a distinction between growth and fixed mindsets. A fixed mindset assumes that everything should continue as it is. A great deal of effort goes into maintaining the status quo.
A growth mindset assumes that things can always be better. Processes can be more streamlined, and products can be improved. To achieve this growth, entrepreneurs set actionable goals and work toward them without distraction.
Neuroscientists have noticed the fast pace of entrepreneurial decision-making. It turns out that such leaders do not make snap decisions, but they are more efficient at making informed decisions. They combine their knowledge and experience with a gut-level response to make choices that move them forward.
Decisions do not always pan out as expected, but successful entrepreneurs do not play the blame game. When they experience failure, they accept responsibility for their choices and try to learn from what happened. A growth mindset accepts personal responsibility for both success and failure.
Almost every well-known entrepreneur has as many stories of setbacks as positive outcomes. These individuals always know that failure is a possibility, and they work hard to prevent it. They also learn when to let go of a failed idea to start something new.
Improvisation and the Entrepreneurship Mindset
As a professional musician and business consultant, I see parallels between the mindset of entrepreneurship and playing in a jazz ensemble. Over the years, I have seen naturally-gifted musicians who make improvisation look easy. However, I have also played with instrumentalists who had to work hard to find their sound.
Taking in the Music
A big part of successful improvisation is paying attention and listening. What can you pull from the melody, and what can you add? How have the other musicians set up your solo?
Entrepreneurs must also pay attention to what is going on around them. They are problem solvers who figure out how to meet consumer needs. When they look at what is in front of them, they are always thinking about how to make it better.
Riding out Your Decision
Improvisation is about experimentation. Of course, you can stay in the safety of a familiar rhythm and melodic line, but the real fun is in searching for possibilities. A few sour notes will let you know that you may have gone too far. However, a real jazz musician does not put down the instrument and walk away. She will adapt the melody and bring the music back on track.
Business leaders will also make imperfect decisions. Their plans may fall apart due to forces beyond their control. A common sign of the entrepreneurial mindset is the ability to recover, adapt and grow.
Making It Look Easy
When a great jazz ensemble plays at a club, it feels like they are doing something easy. Most audiences do not recognize the amount of effort that goes into learning and perfecting an instrument. It is the hours in the practice room that make the performance look like its second nature.
Entrepreneurs have a reputation for taking advantage of unexpected opportunities. However, they can only do so because they have done the hard work that sets them up for success. There may be luck involved, but tenacity and diligence are also necessary.
How to Share the Mindset of Entrepreneurship in Your Business
To move from a start-up to a full-fledged business, you will want to cultivate the entrepreneurship mindset in your team members. Inspiring this kind of permission-giving culture will help you grow in unexpected ways. For your leadership, this transition will require humility. You are moving from being the main soloist to becoming an interdependent ensemble. For your team members, this change will require education and freedom.
Provide the Necessary Tools
To gain confidence, your need your team members to grow in expertise. Make education a priority. Expect that your team members will always be learning something new.
Let Them Play
It can be tempting for the most experienced musicians to take all the solos, but your team will never learn that way. Allow them to pursue new ideas and take risks.
Keep Things Light
Musicians who are afraid of making mistakes will never learn to improvise. If an honest effort results in a failed experiment, use it as a learning opportunity. When your employees are walking on eggshells around you, they will be too scared to take risks that lead to growth.
Growing the Entrepreneurial Spirit
You and your team can learn to adopt many entrepreneurial mindset characteristics. When you do, you will create a workplace that is innovative, exciting and fun. If you are looking for a partner on your entrepreneurial journey, I would be delighted to work with you.