How an entrepreneurial mindset can boost your career
Article by Fanny Åberg
My parents started their own company 25 years ago. They were running a sales agency for packaging machinery and equipment, serving a lot of clients especially in the medical industry. They were successful because they worked hard every day and never gave up. My father was stubborn and firmly believed in himself. He was strong in sales and always had his next deal on the horizon.
I started working from an early age and was encouraged to do so. This way I learned that hard work pays off – which, to me, is at the very core of an entrepreneurial mindset: never stop working hard and never stop dreaming.
What is an entrepreneurial mindset?
Although research has acknowledged that an entrepreneurial mindset has various facets, a universal definition does not exist. But according to a US study from 2021, entrepreneurs are generally creative, autonomous, and persistent.
In my experience, an entrepreneurial mindset is a way of thinking that enables you to overcome challenges. It’s based on proactiveness and the willingness to make things happen, instead of waiting for opportunities to appear.
It is also tied to authenticity. Being the best version of yourself – being real. And most importantly, being honest with yourself. Especially when it concerns something that you rather wouldn’t like to face or acknowledge, which can be difficult sometimes. You should focus on things that work while avoiding ineffective actions.
However, it's equally important to be open to the help of others and to ask for support when needed. Collaboration is key in an entrepreneurial mindset. You can become even more successful and impactful if you clearly understand early on where your strengths and weaknesses lie. This also entails delegating and making room for others to take over where necessary and to complement your skillset. There’s no weakness in acknowledging weaknesses – quite the opposite.
How does this mindset help with your career?
Most people are afraid to start pursuing their dreams. Or if they do, they turn back at the first signs of struggle, convinced they don’t have what it takes. But endurance and resilience are crucial. It might be difficult, it might take time. That's why the right mindset is so important from the very beginning. Entrepreneurial thinking starts with firmly believing in yourself and having the right attitude. There’s not much room for excessive self-doubt. If you don’t believe that you can make it – who else will?
Additionally, you have to have a burning desire to achieve whatever you set your mind to. This is what drives you, your purpose. You have to wake up every day knowing that you’re here to do something meaningful. You have to be willing to do whatever it takes – even if it scares you or makes you uncomfortable. That’s how success, growth, and achievements happen. Otherwise, your dreams might remain just dreams.
This is consistent with what the American scientists write in their study: 'When individuals engage in the entrepreneurial process, their skills, mindset, and identity often evolve. An entrepreneurial mindset enables an individual to remain adaptable and resilient in the face of dynamic conditions and setbacks.‘
You don't have to be an entrepreneur or own your own company to have an entrepreneurial mindset. Evidently, endurance, confidence, and a sense of purpose are useful tools to achieve any goal to advance your career.
How does it improve leadership?
An entrepreneurial mindset is not just essential when it comes to individual accomplishments. It’s also an integral part of modern leadership.
On a broader level, it starts with self-awareness and the ability to delegate, to take the initiative as well as responsibility.
This is then expressed in actions: creating a vision and a trust-based culture; communicating effectively, selecting the right leaders and finding mentors, developing performance management, providing recognition, and implementing changes.
This can mean developing a mission statement and policies within your organization, coming up with goals and strategies, committing to a clearly defined purpose, implementing a clear structure as well as a system of rewards.
All of these steps help with creating a culture that fosters the entrepreneurial mindset in you and your team. If your team is engaged and motivated, you will shine, too. Good, entrepreneurial leaders don’t just think about their own success but help others to become their best version to contribute to the overall performance. Research says that shifting from a managerial mindset to an entrepreneurial mindset can provide a competitive advantage.
How can someone develop this mindset?
Of course, not everybody grows up with entrepreneurs. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t develop an entrepreneurial mindset!
My easiest tip would be to start by viewing your life and opportunities through the eyes of someone else – for example, a colleague, a customer, or a friend. This helps to give you a fresh perspective on your strengths, weaknesses, motivations, and career.
Entrepreneurs tend to look at their company, product, or service from their customer's point of view – how would they use this product or service, how could it be useful for them and what would they think about it? This helps with idea creation.
Ask yourself and others: what makes you unique, what do people pay for when they hire you, what do you have to offer?
Seeing yourself as a product or service for a change is a relatively easy first step towards developing an entrepreneurial mindset. Push your limits and try new things every day. Life is too short!
Fanny is a Founding Partner at Nordic Minds with more than a decade of experience working in business administration and Executive Search consulting. You can reach out to her via mail here .