According to author Roy T. Bennet, “Happiness depends on your mindset.” I would argue that success in business does too. When we study business in school, the focus is on profit and loss accounts, SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats analysis), and market research. In all of my years studying business, I don’t remember ever hearing the word mindset mentioned. And yet, in my experience as an entrepreneur, it has been the single most crucial element of my business.
Unfortunately, like many entrepreneurs, I started my business without understanding how crucial having the right mindset can be. It took months of struggle and hard work to realize that I needed to stop worrying about the competitor analysis and spend more time focusing on my mindset. Things became infinitely easier when I changed my focus. And my business began to take off for the first time.
The following are four areas that not having the right mindset has impacted many on their entrepreneurial journey. I’m sharing these, hoping that other business owners will find inspiration to start working toward changing their own mindsets.
Having a Growth Mindset Instead of a Fixed Mindset
Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, but there are some habits that may make you struggle more in a business world that is full of unknowns and daily obstacles. One of those things is maintaining a fixed mindset. A fixed mindset is when a person believes their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. A person with this mindset limits their growth because they feel as though they cannot change themselves or circumstances. Living with a fixed mindset really limits your views and can cut you short of dreams before you even give them a chance.
Having a growth mindset, however expands your potential. A growth mindset means that a person believes that their success depends on time and effort. A person with a growth mindset may feel their skills and intelligence can be improved with effort and persistence. This mindset is something that will not only help you advance in business, but it may also help you move your life forward. However, a fixed mindset will likely make your goals harder to reach.
Developing a growth mindset isn’t easy. However, it is worth it. For many, the problem with their business is not the business itself. But the fixed mindset they maintain. Check out our article on how to build a growth mindset for ways to change your mindset from fixed to growth.
Having a persistently strong level of focus is vital to a successful business. Whether it’s a revenue target, marketing milestone, or a particular number of sales, focusing on a goal ensures that you’re moving in the right direction. Without goals to focus on, it’s easy to lose motivation and momentum in your business.
It’s not always easy to maintain focus, especially for solo entrepreneurs because they have to wear many different hats at once. When you’re the only person in the business, you have to be the director of sales, production manager, research and development manager, marketing executive, accountant, branding consultant, and so much more.
Most entrepreneurs have no training or expertise in the vast majority of these areas only makes matters worse. They are not only attempting to get all of these multiple tasks completed, but they’re also trying to learn how to perform these different activities on the fly.
For many business owners, this can be a shock. Having their attention pulled in so many directions makes it challenging to remain focused on the essential items. It makes sense that learning to intentionally strengthen your focus will have long-term benefits for your business.
There are several methods for improving your ability to focus. One popular method is to listen to guided meditations specifically designed to improve focus. You can also try different goal-setting exercises that help you develop clear, realistic goals. And create actionable, step-by-step plans to follow. You could also try journaling. Today, many journals have goal-setting and progress features that make it easier for you to stick to your plans even when you’re trying to balance everything else.
Whatever method you try, the important thing is that you’re intentional about staying focused on particular goals. This is so that, even amongst the chaos of running a business, you’re always moving forward.
How Isolation Effects Mindset
Anyone who runs a business on their own knows that it can be a lonely situation. As a self-employed person, I’ve frequently experienced this since I started my own business. And it’s come up in a couple of different ways.
First of all, when you’re an employee, you inevitably have work friends that you spend five days a week with. Sometimes for years. Close friendships are formed in this way. Making your experience as an employee significantly more enjoyable. In some businesses, the culture of family is significant, furthering the ties of friendship.
When running your business, nobody is sitting at the desk beside you with whom you can chat and laugh. You can’t send hilarious memes to your colleagues via Slack or other in-house messaging systems during boring meetings. There’s nobody to discuss your weekend plans with over lunch or coffee breaks.
Beyond the simple companionship that you get out of the typical work environment, there is also a level of teamwork that can be invaluable to overall productivity. As an employee, there’s a group of you (big or small) all invested in the same outcome. The workload is shared, as is the responsibility of hitting targets and achieving goals.
When running your own business, the sole responsibility for everything lies with you. There’s no team. It’s just you. And according to researchers, this inevitably takes its toll on your mental health.
Thankfully, many online groups and associations offer what entrepreneurs are missing. Which may be community, solidarity, support, and networking. Many have regular virtual or in-person meet-ups and emphasize their mission of combating the isolation that can come from self-employment. Joining a group like this can be an excellent way to combat the isolation of being self-employed. And make the experience more enjoyable and even more productive.
Imposter syndrome is a term that describes the feeling that you’re just not good enough. A person with this syndrome may also feel like they are not skilled enough, experienced enough, or just not good enough in some other way. This feeling is one we’ve all encountered at some time or another. Whether in our school days, a new relationship, or in our family dynamics. Imposter syndrome in the business world is prevalent. It can be genuinely crippling for business owners who don’t find a way to overcome it.
Imposter syndrome makes business owners feel like they’re frauds. It is as though they’re just pretending to be experts in their fields and that others could learn the truth about them at any time. Often, imposter syndrome causes us to compare ourselves to our competitors and fall short in that comparison. We imagine that other business owners know what they’re doing 100 percent of the time and that running a business is easy for them.
Of course, this is seldom true. In the same way, as the grass is never greener on the other side of the fence, our competitors are not necessarily better at running their businesses. But allowing your imposter syndrome to go unchecked will eventually lead you to give up to avoid what you see as an inevitable failure.
When it comes to tackling imposter syndrome, there are so many options available to you. There are also countless books, courses, and workshops available to help tackle these issues. Therapy can be beneficial for many people and can make an enormous difference to your business in the long run.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned since starting my own business has been that my mindset is everything in my business’s success. Running a business is super challenging at the best of times. Just because you’re the boss doesn’t necessarily make things any easier. Mindset affects everything.
It impacts motivation, drive, focus, energy, productivity, consistency, commitment, and more. So, running a business without paying due attention to your mindset is a fool’s errand. Learning this lesson has been truly transformative for my business. Hopefully, it’ll be just as helpful for yours.
This article was first published in August 2021 but has been updated and expanded