My Life System #74: Entrepreneurial Mindset – 1

I was recently giving a talk to colleagues at work, and I talked about some of my experiences as an  entrepreneur. In the Q&A, I was asked, “What is the entrepreneurial mindset? Can each of us be an entrepreneur while working in a company?” It was a good question; on most previous occasions, I have spoken to fellow entrepreneurs and so the answer was obvious. While I did give an answer then to my colleague, the question stayed with me and I realised it deserved a better response.

According to me, the entrepreneurial mindset has three elements: problem solving, not fearing failure, and passion. Let’s dig deeper into each of them.

First and foremost, an entrepreneur solves problems. There is little in the world that cannot be made better. An entrepreneur sees the friction, asks the questions, and comes up with a solution. As Uri Levine writes: “Start by thinking of a problem—a BIG problem—something that is worth solving, a problem that, if solved, will make the world a better place. Then ask yourself, who has this problem? Now, if the answer is just you, don’t even bother. It is not worth it. If you are the only person on the planet with this issue, it would be better to consult a shrink. It would be much cheaper (and probably faster) than building a start-up. If many people have this problem, however, then go and speak to them to understand their perception of the problem. Only afterwards, build the solution. If you follow this path, and your solution eventually works, you will be creating value, which is the essence of your journey.”

The entrepreneurial mindset is about bringing this same approach to the work that one does – what is it that’s not working well, why is that so, how can it be improved. An entrepreneurial mindset can thus be applied to any situation. There is no process which cannot be made better, there is no product that cannot be improved. Even as we go through daily life at work, we tend to become mechanical about our tasks, doing something today in the same way it was done yesterday and the day before. If we can just push ourselves to stop for a moment and think about a better way to do things, we can make productivity enhancements which can benefit many others. So, don’t just look for problems at work and complain; come up with solutions and solve them.

The second characteristic of an entrepreneurial mindset is to not fear failure. Too often, we stay away from the risky path because we are afraid of the outcomes and their consequences. Most of our life we are taught to eschew risk-taking, so it is not surprising that when given an option, we choose the path of caution. I tell my colleagues, “When you are working in a big company like Netcore, you have an opportunity to think differently and innovate – and you have a safety net. So, don’t let the fear that the idea will not work hold you back.” A mindset change is needed – where leaders and managers need to encourage their staff and teams to be bold, innovative and dynamic. Some ideas will fail, but a few will succeed. A culture of experimentation is a must for success. For those working, failures and setbacks must be seen as possible stepping stones to success. As Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.

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