What is an entrepreneurial mindset?
Good question. Entrepreneurs who succeed don’t just use a great business model or the right marketing strategies. They also work on shifting beliefs that are holding them back.
And today, you’ll get the 23 mindset traits of successful entrepreneurs so that you can get results like this:
Want to learn more? Let’s dive right in.
What is an entrepreneurial mindset?
In the corporate world, you need to get it all “perfect.”
That’s not how it works in the entrepreneurial world.
People don’t connect with or buy from you because you fit the mold.
As an entrepreneur, you need an entirely different approach to building beliefs, resilience, and motivation that make it possible for you to succeed.
And here’s how you can go from an employee to entrepreneur mindset.
Why is an entrepreneurial mindset important?
My guess is that you want to start a business to quit your 9-5, have a bigger impact than you currently have at your day job, and build a life YOU want.
The key to a successful business like this? Mindset.
You see, if you don’t believe in your success, work on your business when you don’t feel like it, or give up whenever things feel a bit more complicated, you won’t come far in building your business.
But if you…
…Have the confidence that any dream you want is within your reach
…Trust that everything you have to offer and share right now is good enough
…Drop the negative beliefs that are keeping you stuck
…Can bounce back from rejections and obstacles
….And trust that the successes you’ve seen others enjoy are possible for you as well, in whatever shape or form it looks like for YOU
That’s when you can grow a successful business.
Take it from a girl from a small town in Texas, who grew up in a typical middle-class family, and was considered “average” for most of her childhood.
True story: The year my business crossed $1.7M in annual sales, a stranger at a high-level mastermind asked me…”Are you making any sales yet?” That’s how far off I am from being a born entrepreneur.
The reason I was able to break out of the life that I was originally destined for — the good but unfulfilling job, and the OK but not great salary — was because I decided that I could be more than what had been planned for me.
In other words, I doubled down on my mindset.
Ultimately, this led me to replace my 9-to-5 in just 4 months, before I left my job. And my business continues to grow, year after year.
The best part? Everyone can cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset.
How do you develop an entrepreneur mindset?
Mindset is essentially the beliefs and thoughts that shape your thought habits.
Your mindset is affected by various factors — your background, upbringing, friends, family, partners, culture… But while you, like me, might not have a typical “entrepreneurial” background, you can change your mindset.
It’s true. As research shows, we all have a negativity bias.
This means that your brain focuses more on the negative than the positive. But you can shift that focus and instead see things in a more positive light. (And people who do it usually live happier lives.)
It just goes to show that your mindset is flexible. It’s not set in stone.
Science also shows that intelligence and how you approach intelligence (and that way, success) depends on your mindset. If you have a fixed mindset, you believe intelligence is fixed and can’t change.
But with a growth mindset, you see intelligence as expandable. Someone with a fixed mindset can change to a growth mindset — and this tends to improve their results in academia and beyond.
It comes down to shifting those beliefs that aren’t serving you and replacing them with good beliefs.
Here below, we’ll look at 23 such mindset shifts you can make to think like an entrepreneur.
23 successful entrepreneurial mindset strategies
How do you improve your mindset? These are 23 strategies I’ve used and/or I’ve helped my clients use. Time and time again, I see how they help people to go from employee to entrepreneur, get their first clients, and grow businesses that allow them the freedom and impact they’re working towards.
1. Shift from numbers to actions
Do you ever think things like “I need to make this much money” or “I need that many people in my audience to succeed”?
There’s a time and place for this type of thinking, but in the beginning it just serves to overwhelm you.
Instead, focus on getting one client at a time.
“Where can I connect with one person?” and “Who would get great value from working with me?”
This is what I did in my first online business and all the way to my first six figures. I networked, went into Facebook groups, and posted a bit on LinkedIn. I used whatever platform I thought my audience was on.
It was a much more doable and enjoyable process — and it ensured that I didn’t get frustrated and stop working on my business just because my goal would have felt so unattainable.
2. Stop comparing yourself to others
As a new entrepreneur, it’s easy to compare yourself to people who are further ahead.
How can you ever stand out when there are people in your industry with thousands of social media followers, email subscribers, and customers?
But what many don’t realize is this:
The more someone’s business grows, the harder it is to personally connect with them.
For example, getting Warren Buffet, the best investor in the world, as your financial consultant would be pretty great, right?
Not so fast. Buffet has billions of dollars to invest. It was a long time since he was in your shoes. His financial advice is pretty irrelevant to you and a financial advisor who is closer to your situation would be much more helpful.
It’s the same with your audience.
People with huge audiences or thousands of customers tend to be more detached from their day-to-day business and customers can’t expect that much personal support.
When you’re just starting out, you’re able to give that support. And that’s how you stand out from the crowd, even when others seem to be much further ahead.
3. Set goals that you can believe in
A late 2013 excerpt from my journal:
“I want to make $30,000 by the end of this month.”
Now, there’s nothing wrong with this goal on its own. But here’s the context that does make it a little crazy…
I wrote this back when I hadn’t yet made a single dollar in my business. After two years of trying.
A few years later, I did reach my goal. In fact, I made $106,000 in four months.
But my 2013 goal was always doomed to fail.
The same applies to new entrepreneurs who haven’t made a single sale yet and who come to me and say, “I want to make six figures in four months, just like you did.”
Instead of focusing on a big goal, think of all the different variables you have to take into account. Your goal can be ambitious, but it shouldn’t be unattainable.
I eventually lowered my goal to $5,000/month, and then, when I had achieved that, $10,000/month and $20,000/month. That’s how I was able to grow so fast.
4. Stop saying “I should”
Before I started my first online business, a digital advertising consultancy, I worked in the digital advertising space as a manager with a 6-figure salary. I was directly advising chief marketing officers at various established corporations.
So I went looking for clients, thinking, “I know what I’m talking about. It’s going to be a steal to work with me. People are going to love it!”
But I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I didn’t have any social presence or “proof” that I could run a business doing what I did.
It was only after I had gotten my first clients and, this way, my first testimonials that I started seeing that momentum.
If you’re thinking…
“It should be easier for me…”
“I should be further ahead…”
“It shouldn’t be so hard…”
People aren’t going to trust you before you give them proof of how your services can help them.
Focus on getting that first, second, and third client to build up that online reputation.
5. See your business as an infinite process
The fifth entrepreneurial mindset shift is to stop feeling behind.
This is one of the most harmful ways of thinking and it WILL keep you stuck.
Everyone feels behind sometimes, no matter where you are in your business.
A specific situation that comes to my mind is when I was having a group coaching call a few years ago. I was saying, “I’m sorry I haven’t created this training I promised to create, I’m a bit behind.”
And this was at a time when I already had a 7-figure business and a team.
You see, your business is an infinite process.
Double down on the things that you can immediately focus on:
“Where am I right now in my business?”
“What do I need to focus on next?”
6. Always know what you’re working towards
Imagine your dream life and scenario.
Where do you wake up in the morning?
How do you feel?
What’s the first thing you do?
Where are you?
What does the rest of your day look like?
Where you are right now is a result of your past decisions. Where you’ll be in the future is a result of what you’re doing now.
By knowing what you’re working towards and being in control of your decisions, you get closer to your end goal.
7. Maintain beliefs that serve you
Early on in my business, I would look around at successful people in my industry and think, “What do they have that I don’t?”
First, I thought it was the strategies and tactics, so I learned all of them.
When they didn’t work as expected, I decided it must be their copywriting, sales funnels, or charisma.
So I practiced all of those. But when nothing seemed to work, I finally realized what was going on:
The real problem was that I was doing all the “work” while listening to that voice in my head doubting myself 24/7.
Well. Turns out it’s very hard to have something if you don’t actually believe you can have it.
And with that mindset, here’s what happens even as you do the “work” of building your business…
- In the back of your mind, you’re telling yourself, “It’s ok if it doesn’t work out. I still have my job to fall back on.”
- And the more you tell yourself that, the more you find yourself thinking that your business dream is just that…a nice dream. And that you should get back to the realities of your job and life and responsibilities
- And as you find yourself losing hope, you start consoling yourself: “So-and-so just had it easier. I’m just not cut out for this. It’s just not meant to be for me.”
Ultimately, what you believe is your reality.
And if you’re a business owner who doesn’t believe that you’re worth that much money or that you even deserve a business, you won’t get paid much and you won’t succeed in building a business.
It becomes a vicious circle because as a result, you’ll continue believing that you’re not worth the investment and that you’re not meant to be an entrepreneur.
That’s why this mindset shift is all about creating your own reality with new beliefs. A belief (“I can make $10,000 in my business every month”) might not seem realistic right now, but by building it up slowly (“I can get one client”), you create your new beliefs.
8. Consistently exercise your mindset
Your mindset is like a muscle. And just like muscles, it needs some exercise.
That’s why you should exercise it with a daily mindset routine.
It doesn’t have to be a time-consuming routine, 30 minutes/day is plenty of time.
I keep a morning mindset routine, which involves things like journaling.
You can watch this quick video to learn more about what it looks like:
9. Set intentions for every day
Something else to incorporate into your daily morning routine is to decide what you want to accomplish that day.
It helps you to zero in on those things without getting distracted.
But I’m not talking about some vague goals. Instead, be specific about your daily intentions.
What do I mean?
Well, for years, I tried to make it a habit to go to the gym. But even on the days I got it together enough to get myself there physically, I didn’t know what to do.
So I’d walk for a while on the treadmill, maybe try a workout I’d looked up online, maybe do a few squats, and then call it a day.
I had no clue how to even have a good workout. So it didn’t matter how motivated I was! (Not to mention how un-motivating it was not knowing what to do.)
Same thing for my business. It wasn’t until I literally broke it down into…
Monday: Spend 15 minutes on A. Spend 15 minutes on B.
Tuesday: Spend 15 minutes on B. Spend 15 minutes on C.
Saturday: Spend 1 hour on X.
…that I started seeing results.
That’s the level of detail you should use for your daily intentions.
10. Cultivate a success mindset
Success feeds success. Set yourself up for small wins to cultivate a success mindset.
You see, thinking “I’m building a 6-figure business” or “I’m going to have the freedom to travel wherever I want” when you’re just starting out feels way too far off.
But small wins seem much more attainable.
Goals like talking to one potential client who might be interested in working with you or getting one comment/like/response to your social media post.
For example, when I was starting my business, I had a huge fear of being on video.
It took me six months before I published anything online. And when I did, it was a very quick introductory video.
I just published it and didn’t even watch it — because I knew that if I did, I would have been too embarrassed to ever do another video again.
But that was a huge win for me. And it was a small step for me to build my success mindset.
11. Focus on the things you can control
Something I hear so often is new entrepreneurs who say things like:
“I’ve tried this and that, but I haven’t gotten any clients yet. I feel so discouraged.”
My answer? Yes, you will feel discouraged if you base your motivation on things you can’t control because you can’t control how other people are going to respond and react to you.
Instead, focus on the actions you’re taking now (how many times have you shared your offer, connected with people, shared a social media post…).
If you focus on actions, you will, in the process, troubleshoot what you’re doing and inevitably, this will lead to you getting clients.
12. Keep it simple
Maybe you’ve heard this advice before:
If you want to motivate yourself to work out in the morning, you should lay out your clothes the night before you go to sleep. All you have to do when you wake up is get out of bed, put on your workout clothes, and go workout.
Apply the same to your business.
Do a little bit (not too much) every day so that it becomes a habit for you.
And do it in a way that works for you. For me, when I started my business, I tried waking up early in the morning but that just made me sleepy and I didn’t get any work done.
Because I’m a night owl, I decided to work in the evenings instead. I came home, relaxed for a bit, ate dinner, and then made myself comfortable on my cozy, grey couch and worked for at least 30 minutes every day.
Your business doesn’t have to take up hours of your time every day. This helps to build up your habit so that you can look back a few weeks from now and think, “Wow, this is how far I’ve come!”
13. Stop doing things out of fear
Early on in my business, I made hiring mistakes because I was driven by fear.
For example, I spent a lot of money on copywriters. Why? I thought I had to hire professional writers to write my website and marketing content if I wanted to sell anything.
After spending all this money, I realized that I could do it myself — and often even better than the copywriters because no one knows my business like I do.
Nothing ever worked out when I did it out of fear.
And I see many of my clients do this as well. They hire Facebook ads managers or funnel experts to help them.
While there’s a time and place for those things, your motivation to hire someone shouldn’t be based on fear.
14. Work on your money mindset
I grew up in a very standard, middle-class family. My father supported all four of us on his salary (which wasn’t that high). As a result, my parents were really frugal.
So, when I started my business, I didn’t know how to handle my money. In my first year of this business, I crossed seven figures in sales in my first year. And let’s just say… I had a party.
I threw money at designer clothes, an expensive apartment in New York (New York is pricey to begin with), and I even trained at the same celebrity gym as JLo.
The reason I splurged so much was that I didn’t have the money mindset to hold on to my money. I made a lot of mistakes — and I learned an invaluable lesson.
To build a business, you need to be ready to keep your money. And you need to have the mindset to make more money.
If you’re struggling with getting clients or building a consistent business, your money mindset might be a huge part of it.
15. Show up consistently
My best students (who build their businesses the fastest and keep growing) share a few traits in common.
And one of them is this:
They show up and do the work every day. Even if they’re tired or don’t feel like it.
That’s because they see their business as a job, not a hobby.
When I started my business, I worked in a tech startup in New York. My six-figure role was highly stressful and I was managing a team and millions of dollars in advertising budgets.
I would come home tired every day. All I felt like doing was watching Netflix and sleeping.
But every night, I sat down to do the work.
This consistency led me to grow a six-figure business.
The thing is:
Consistency is the only way you will be able to start a business.
So start adopting this entrepreneurial mindset right away.
16. Reframe failure
Let’s talk about failure because this mindset is what keeps so many new entrepreneurs stuck.
The problem is that people see failure as an end destination. They think, “I failed, so this will never work.”
But failure is just a bump in the road.
As Arianna Huffington puts it:
“Failure is the stepping stone to success.” BTW: Every successful entrepreneur has said some version of this.
And the most successful entrepreneurs have probably failed more than anyone else. Think of Elon Musk, who was kicked out of his startup PayPal. Tesla almost went bankrupt and it took years for SpaceX to launch a rocket that didn’t blow up.
(A few of my own “stepping stones:” tens of thousands of dollars waste and many many many posts where I got zero likes and comments.)
Instead of wallowing in failure and letting it keep you stuck, prepare for it.
What will you do when you fail (and you will fail)? Find an answer to that and move on.
17. Shift your fear of success
This seems a bit counterintuitive, but the fear of success is real.
I’ve had countless clients say things like, “I’m afraid of getting a client, because what if I get too many clients to handle while working my job?”
That’s when I tell them:
“Everyone has these fears. But focus on what’s ahead of you right now. Because once you’ve worked with a number of clients you’ll be much faster at working with them, you’ll have processes, maybe you’ve even quit your job at this point.”
Or people will be afraid of who they will be or what their life will look like once they’re successful.
I used to have this fear too. I grew up in a home that taught me, “Money is evil.” So of course I thought that people who have money are bad people (and not someone I wanted to be like). I had to reframe this belief to keep it from blocking my progress.
If you identify these types of fears in yourself, write them down.
Let’s take the first example: “I’m afraid of getting more clients because I can’t handle them.”
Write down the answer to this question: “How many clients can I handle while in my job?”
Maybe it’s 5, maybe it’s 10. Focus first on the first step (getting ONE client) and worry about the rest later. Because once you get there, you have so many options. You might leave your job. You might not take on more clients. Or you shift into a part-time position or become a contractor for your company. Or maybe you transition into a more scalable course offer instead of a coaching offer.
18. Detach yourself from rejection
The fear of rejection is such a common fear. But as an entrepreneur, you need to get over this fear.
Here’s the thing:
When someone rejects you, it’s not about you.
If someone says they don’t want to work with you, it might be that they’re not ready. Or they have their own things to work through.
Rejection is just part of the process.
For example, many years ago, I started a mobile tech startup that catered to publishers.
At the time, I had no marketing or sales experience. But we needed to get clients.
So I called up over 100 people to pitch them our partnerships.
Guess how many “no’s” I got?
More than 100.
Every single person said no. Some of them were nice about it, some just hung up, and some screamed on the phone.
And in my first online business, I got 30 “no’s” in a row. People even told me they couldn’t work with me because I looked like I was 12… That’s how bad it was.
But instead of getting discouraged, I analyzed how I could improve.
And soon enough, I had my first “yes” — my first client who paid me $5,000.
Don’t get stuck in rejection because you WILL get rejected. You need to go through those “no’s” to get to your “yes.”
19. Trust yourself
This one is hard to hear, but as an entrepreneur, people will judge you.
Your co-workers, family, friends…
Like my parents when I made my first sale. I was so excited that I had hit this huge milestone and I called my dad to tell him all about it.
“How did you scam them into paying you?”
I still get judgment to this day. People comment on my ads, emails, YouTube videos, blog posts… And those comments aren’t always that nice.
Instead of believing their criticism, think: If you come from a place of integrity, that’s on them.
20. Become obsessed
One of my best clients is a fully-booked coach.
A while back, I noticed her doing something very smart.
She was liking my responses to every question I answered in my mastermind group, as well as her responses to every livestream, Instagram post, and email I’ve shared over the last few months.
In other words, she’s obsessively studying everything I have to teach and absorbing it to make her own. (Not copying, but understanding the underlying concept and using that for her own business, which is in a completely different industry.)
I do it, too, when I’m learning something new.
Like when I made the decision to commit to Instagram.
…I studied what accounts that I enjoyed were doing (like Kim Kardashian’s, Anastasia Brow Bar’s, and JLo’s).
…I Googled different Instagram palettes and themes. And played with my own filters and colors.
…I studied influencers who’d gone viral on Instagram to learn their tips for growing an audience.
And I started testing everything I learned for myself.
This kind of obsession is what helped me cross 7-figures in revenue so quickly.
I was obsessed with growing my own coaching skills, my products, overdelivering, my clients, my systems…every part of my business.
That’s the type of mindset shift you should have if you want to grow your business fast.
21. Look backwards
There’s this story about two rock climbers who are climbing the same mountain.
When they’re halfway up the mountain, one of them looks up and thinks, “I can’t do it. The top is still too far away.” He feels exhausted and overwhelmed and stops climbing.
The other one looks down. He thinks, “Wow, I’ve come so far!” Energized, he climbs to the top.
It’s the same for entrepreneurs who want to reach their goals.
Successful entrepreneurs celebrate their wins based on where they are right now.
Someone who signs a $1,500 client might think, “Why am I not at $10k already?”
But successful entrepreneurs celebrate what they achieve now and think, “Look how far I’ve come!”
22. Take fast action
Something I see in my online groups is this:
Someone might ask, “I haven’t gotten any clients yet. What should I do?”
Our community supports them and gives them the advice they need.
If we check in on them a few weeks later, they still won’t have implemented the advice.
But our most successful students?
They will get back to us in a few days and by that time, they’ve implemented all our advice.
Too often, people think, “Is this the best use of my time?” or “What if I look stupid?”
Instead of dwelling on those beliefs, successful entrepreneurs take immediate action.
Ultimately, confidence is earned, not given. And taking action is the only way to build that confidence (and grow your business).
23. Think: How can I make this work for me?
Last, but not least:
You might keep yourself stuck by thinking, “Will this work for me?”
Instead, think: “How can I make this work for me?”
For example, I’ll often see new entrepreneurs say things like, “I haven’t gotten any sales yet. Building a business feels impossible!”
But if they made it work for them, they could take alternative steps, like asking their network for referrals, writing a guest post, or pitching a podcast.
By troubleshooting and tailoring advice you get to your situation, you’ll succeed no matter what.
These are my top 23 entrepreneur mindset shifts. But as a bonus to you, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite books for an entrepreneur mindset.
Bonus: The best books for an entrepreneurial mindset
These are books that have been a huge help for me when I started building my business. And I keep recommending them to my students — that’s how much I love them.
1. Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz*
“Psycho-Cybernetics” helps you shift your mindset to a success mindset by redefining your self-image. Maxwell Maltz was a plastic surgeon who noticed that often, people who wanted his help didn’t feel better after they altered their appearances. Instead, the problem was with their self-image. Thanks to his findings, Maltz wrote this book.
2. The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday*
Remember what we talked about when it comes to fears? If you feel that you need to work through those blocks a bit more, this is the book for you.
3. Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth by T. Harv Eker*
Not believing that you can have a thriving business? This classic is a great way to get started and shift your money mindset beliefs.
4. Tapping Into Wealth: How Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) Can Help You Clear the Path to Making More Money by Margaret M. Lynch*
Finally, “Tapping Into Wealth” is one of the most helpful books I read early on in my business. EFT might be a new tactic for you and feel a bit “woo-woo,” but I encourage you to try it. (And this is coming from a former Space Station engineer!)
Over to you!
There you have it.
Now you know what it takes to shift into an entrepreneurial mindset.
I’d love to know:
What’s the #1 entrepreneur mindset you want to work on?
Let me know in the comments below.
*Zhou Ventures, Inc. is a proud affiliate of these books. If you use these links, we may earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you).