Starting a business is a leap of faith, in some ways. You can never be fully prepared for the reality of being an entrepreneur, so you just have to jump in and learn some hard lessons along the way. Entrepreneurs who don’t have the right mindset typically struggle to find their footing and often give up when things get tough.
It’s important to be aware of this when you’re starting out so that you understand what you need to be successful. Maintaining a level head is extremely important when you’re just starting out. Letting your emotions take the lead can cloud your judgment and harm your business, especially in the early stages.
So, what do you need to set your business up for success? Aside from a solid business plan, funding, and a great product or service, you need the right mindset and approach to being an entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurs are dreamers. Without a dream, you’d never have the motivation to get your business off the ground. But if you let yourself dream unchecked, then you might be setting yourself up for a big disappointment that can zap your motivation.
Be realistic about your business goals. Most “overnight” success stories don’t show the whole picture. Many entrepreneurs work for many years on their projects or even multiple projects before their business really started to take off. The people who “make it” are determined and willing to overcome hardship to realize their dreams.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t dream or set ambitious goals. But it does mean that you need to remember that success takes time and a lot of hard work.
Develop a Growth Mindset
You’ll have to learn a lot of new skills as an entrepreneur. While you might be tempted to put off starting a business so you can fill in any skill gaps, it’s usually better to learn as you go. You won’t know what specific skills you need until you jump in.
For this kind of active learning, you’ll need a level head and a growth mindset. A growth mindset, which was identified by researcher Carol Dweck, is the belief that you can get better at skills and abilities with hard work and determination, rather than believing that you have to be talented or gifted at something to succeed.
With a growth mindset, you’re more likely to approach mistakes and setbacks with curiosity instead of frustration. You’ll be able to learn from your experiments instead of feeling like a failure. This is absolutely critical for entrepreneurs because the only way to practice and improve certain skills is by doing.
A growth mindset will also help you set better goals and stay accountable, which helps you maintain a level head. Focusing on what you can control (the effort you put in) is much more productive than focusing on what you can’t control (the outcome). Goals that help you grow should focus on consistent effort and improvement!
Take Time Away from Your Business
It’s important to make space for yourself to rest and relax. Starting a business can be all-consuming, and you can easily end up burning out if you never take a pause.
Self-care is absolutely critical for entrepreneurs. You will not be able to maintain a level head and make good, logical business decisions if you’re running on 4 hours of sleep and eating Taco Bell for every meal.
Getting enough sleep, taking some time for yourself, and prioritizing your health will be critical for maintaining your mental focus, motivation, and ability to make good business decisions. So don’t skimp on self-care!
Minimize Your Decisions
Entrepreneurs have to make thousands of small decisions and it can easily become overwhelming and exhausting. The more decisions you have to make in your business, the more you’ll struggle with maintaining a level head. This can escalate into “decision fatigue,” which can lead to impulsive decisions, procrastination, and overwhelm. You’re likely to feel stressed about your business, rather than energized.
If you find that you’re having to make too many decisions on a daily basis, figure out where you can simplify. It might be as easy as making a standard schedule you stick to, or even eating the same breakfast every day. Some decisions are unavoidable; others are optional!
Realize There Will Be Setbacks
Starting a business is not for the faint of heart. You need to understand that there will be setbacks at every stage that you will need to overcome. Realizing this at the beginning of your journey will help you stay grounded and prepare you to tackle the inevitable challenges that will come up.
It’s also important to realize that your setbacks might not be what you expect. Starting a business is a roller coaster, and you will quickly learn that problems come up in ways you never anticipated. Developing the mental fortitude to deal with these setbacks is critical.
Listen to Your Gut, But Seek Out Data
Modern entrepreneurs have some huge advantages in launching a business. In addition to having more funding and marketing options than ever before, we have access to a huge amount of data that can be used to help make business decisions.
Listening to your gut is good advice. But it’s also important to learn how to leverage and analyze data so you can check your gut and make sure it’s steering you in the right direction. Leveraging data objectively is a skill every modern entrepreneur needs to develop.
Don’t Give Up; Learn When to Pivot
The old advice to never give up is well-intended but doesn’t always apply. If something clearly isn’t working in your business, it’s important to take a good, hard look at why.
If the problem is due to something you can easily control, like a lack of consistency in your marketing, then changing strategies probably isn’t the best idea. If the problem isn’t going to be fixed by working harder, however, like if you find that you’re targeting the wrong audience, then it’s time to pivot.
Be honest with yourself about what’s working and what isn’t. In the end, your pride doesn’t matter. You can’t take things personally in business. You have to be willing to look at the data, make tough decisions, and figure out what’s best for your business.
The first few years of starting a business are tough, no matter who you are. Don’t make things harder on yourself by losing your head!