Three Key Traits Found in the Entrepreneurial Mindset

By Stephen Reynolds

How important is it for you to develop the mindset of an entrepreneur? It’s advantageous enough that Michigan State University now offers a minor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation to compliment any field of study.

The truth is that the whole paradigm of employment is changing. According to a recent article in Forbes, more than fifty percent of the workforce in the U.S. will be freelance in the next ten years.

If that holds true, no matter what career path you’re engaged in, developing an entrepreneurial mindset can help you.

The Difference Between an Entrepreneur and an Employee

Some studies suggest that people are born with the entrepreneurial mindset — it’s an inherited disposition that helps them excel at a wide variety of skills.

The real difference between an employee and an entrepreneur is that the employee specializes in certain functions. Employees train and become proficient in their own area of business. They work well within set structures and can master their individual training to contribute to the whole.

An entrepreneur develops numerous skills across different disciplines. They tend to see the whole picture. Entrepreneurs are creative — they develop ideas and launch new enterprises. They’re not only contributing. They’re building.

You’re not born one or the other, though you may have inherited skills that makes entrepreneurship a more natural fit for you. The mindset is something you can learn and master to your benefit if you understand the traits essential to building success in this capacity.

When you study entrepreneurial models to determine how they succeeded, there doesn’t seem to be a direct correlation in how each achieved their outcome. Some appear to be great innovation, some just seem to be good timing combined with luck.

While any of those factors might play into the success of a venture, there are some key traits that every successful entrepreneur shares.

No Substitute for Work Ethic and Perseverance

One key trait you’ll find across the board with successful entrepreneurs is strong work ethic and perseverance. Building something out of nothing is a pretty tall order. You have to be able to put in the hours of work that take your business from an idea to a reality. And you have to persevere until your vision becomes a reality.

A lot of people are intelligent and driven. But the work ethic of an entrepreneur is a bit beyond the talents you may have naturally. An entrepreneur will put in time and effort to obtain their goal, even while everyone else is having fun or sleeping. For an entrepreneur, the start of a business is speculative — you’re hoping your work and innovation pays off. Where an employee is going to be paid for their hours, the entrepreneur is taking a bit of a gamble on if their idea will pan out.

It is challenging for a person to persevere with these conditions, though entrepreneurs persevere regardless of the conditions, even when other people tell them to quit and give up. I sat down with Brandon Lewis, President of Win More Patients, who explained that when he first started his company, he went months without generating a penny. “When we first launched our company, it was an uphill battle to get customers because we had no track record and no credibility,” said Lewis.

“For months we had zero sales and a lot of resistance from initial prospects, but we continued to persevere,” said Lewis. “I refused to give up. Month after month we worked long hours, whether it was reaching out to prospects, following up with leads, improving our sales strategy, redesigning our website, improving our offer — whatever it took. Finally, revenue started rolling in and we haven’t looked back since.”

Entrepreneurs never give up. They keep working and keep pushing until they are successful.

Cultivating Humility and Humbleness

You’re probably a little shocked to see humility among the key traits for the entrepreneurial mindset. The image of an entrepreneur is of a successful, self-assured, leader. While they are all those things, they also tend to be humble. You have to know that you can’t possibly be the best at everything.

While entrepreneurs take initiative to learn where their experience is lacking, they are smart enough to delegate responsibilities to the most talented people they can find for any skill. I sat down with James Fowler, Co-Founder at Fowler Law Group, about delegating responsibilities to his team. “I don’t feel the need to micromanage my team, which frees my time up to concentrate on being the best lawyer I can be for my clients,” says Fowler. “Great leaders surround themselves with great people and empower them with responsibility.”

Fowler has worked diligently to create systems and processes to help with delegating responsibility. “By having systems and processes in place for the things that regularly occur in our law practice, I am able to delegate work to my team with the confidence that it will be handled correctly,” says Fowler.

Most successful entrepreneurs have failed at something at least a few times. They learn from these experiences to develop a more well-rounded and humble disposition that allows them to appreciate other people’s contributions.

This mindset allows entrepreneurs to free up their time and focus on what they do best.

The Successful Nature of Lifelong Learning

Another trait you’ll find with great entrepreneurs is a love of learning. You probably read the term “lifelong learner” often. It’s become somewhat of a buzzword for online bios and resume cover letters. The skill itself is less cultivated among the masses.

Here’s where entrepreneurs differ from many professionals. They constantly strive to learn new things. In some cases, entrepreneurs are just naturally inquisitive but the trait marries well with building new enterprises. Entrepreneurs have their hands in every area of their business, so they need to constantly strive to stay on trend with new developments in different disciplines.

I had a chance to sit down with Dr. Billy Cheong DC, Founder/Director of Elite Spine and Health Center. “Choosing to be in the healthcare field as an entrepreneur is an avenue one should only take if they are willing to put in the work as a lifelong learner. As a medical provider, you have the responsibility and obligation to always keep up with the latest medical news and to constantly work on your craft to be the best doctor. In business, you must do the same as a businessman and a marketer/promoter. Whether you delegate a lot of these tasks or you do it yourself, you must constantly learn the new wave of reaching out to your audience, capturing your audience with new, fresh, and innovative ideas instead of the old stagnant messages. You can’t ever get complacent or your brand will suffer. Our brand strives to be different so I take it upon myself to keep learning as a clinician and an entrepreneur. “

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Stephen Reynolds

Stephen Reynolds writes about business, entrepreneurship, and management.