“Entrepreneur” isn’t a title, it’s a mindset. It means you’re always on the lookout for opportunity, and you don’t shy away from taking a risk for a potential reward. Whether you’re an executive at a major company or you’re about to interview for your very first job, an entrepreneurial mindset will make you a more desirable employee, and whether you have an advanced degree or a GED, an entrepreneurial mindset will help get you where you want to go.
Despite what you may read in the headlines, you don’t have to live in Silicon Valley or regularly use the word “disrupt” to be considered an entrepreneur. Even if you work 9-to-5 for someone else, thinking like an entrepreneur will help you execute more effectively in a wide variety of contexts, ultimately improving your performance and enhancing your career. Do the following things to go from average at best to standout success:
Fortunately, there are ways to cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset without necessarily taking the risks associated with running your own business. “Entrepreneurship can be really lonely, but being part of a business that surrounds employees with supportive managers and intrapreneurial opportunities has value,” says Steve Robertson, CEO of Julian Krinsky Camps & Programs. Seize opportunities to take on intrapreneurial opportunities at work, whether these are tasks or projects that help you better understand your company’s goals, experiment with a new way of doing something, or practice servant leadership.
For example, Upworthy encourages team members to experiment with headlines on every piece of content the site publishes rather than relying on best practices that have produced good results in the past. Using best practices all the time could put your mind on autopilot rather than encouraging innovative, new ideas. To think entrepreneurially, you have to experiment to determine what moves will push you and your team’s efforts ahead. The skills you gain from these experiences will train your brain to think like an entrepreneur.
Being an entrepreneur means being your own boss, and it requires you to take the initiative to ensure that things get done. When entrepreneurs come across obstacles, there’s no manager to ask about how to proceed. Instead, an entrepreneur looks at the available information and makes the necessary decisions to keep the business moving forward. If you find yourself constantly looking to your manager to make decisions, stop and think about how you can solve problems on your own.
When you notice an issue that has potential to bottleneck production, for example, bring that information to your boss with suggestions to improve processes. Don’t just alert your team to problems; offer solutions. Remember, your company hired you for a reason. Show that you’re a capable problem solver, and you’ll likely be rewarded with even more exciting responsibilities.
Entrepreneurs running their own businesses must prove their worth to every client or customer. The best way to do that is with strong personal branding that communicates their unique value proposition. Employees can emulate this tactic by creating a brand around their particular talents. Specificity is the key here, according to Nolin LeChasseur, partner and CMO at Brainrider. “Many job seekers today are trying to project that they have a broad range of skills and abilities to fit any role or employer. That usually backfires and can come off as inexperienced or indecisive,” he says.
Instead, home in on one thing that you’re great at and build your personal brand around that. You could be the go-to on your team for editing, say, or maybe you’re the person who’s most on top of social media trends. When you’re known for one important skill, you’re more likely to be seen as critical to the company’s success. When you’re merely eager to learn, you’re indistinguishable from many other employees.
Entrepreneurs can’t do it all alone. Instead, they focus on their strengths and then assemble a team of talented individuals to run other parts of the business. You can bring the same approach to your own career by constantly moving in a direction that suits your abilities. Maybe you’re a marketer who’s charismatic and good at making friends. Then find ways to get out from behind the computer screen every once in a while to interact with customers at live marketing events.
Leveraging your strengths allows you to make a bigger impact, and a bigger impact helps you get noticed. Being aware of the strengths of others on your team can be helpful, too. You and your fellow employees can use that knowledge when deciding who should work on what aspect of a group project. There are numerous tools out there that help you and others on your team identify your strengths and weaknesses, such as Gallup’s popular strengths finder assessment. Even Adobe’s creative types online quiz can provide important insights for your team dynamic.
Entrepreneurs aren’t just founders of major tech startups. They’re the innovators all around us. By cultivating the mindset of an entrepreneur, you can make a bigger impact and achieve better results, regardless of your current position at work or in life.