The Mindset of an Entrepreneur – Part 2

In The Mindset of an Entrepreneur – Part 1, I discussed how important it is for an athlete, when contemplating his or her transition from sport to the rest of their lives, to make the fundamental decision – do I want to be an employee or do I want to be an entrepreneur/business owner? I also presented the definition of an entrepreneur and what I feel are the foundational characteristics for success as an entrepreneur and explored the first two. In this article, we’ll dive deeper into the third and fourth characteristics. But first, let’s review:

Definition of an Entrepreneur

“A person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.”

Characteristics of an Entrepreneur

  • Courage and Perseverance
  • 100% Responsibility
  • Leadership
  • A Vision and a Plan
  • The Ability to Organize

The first two qualities have to do with who you are as in individual. The last three are more about how you engage in your role as an entrepreneur with your team, your board and your customers/clients.

“The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.”
-Dwight D. Eisenhower

“A star wants to see himself rise to the top. A leader wants to see those around him rise to the top.”
-Simon Sinek

Leadership

There a lot of different ideas and definitions of Leadership. When I began as a coach, working with leaders, I thought I knew what leadership was, but had trouble putting into words. There is a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ element of Leadership – it defies words.

Leaders have a certain charisma that is evident and attracts people to them. However, charisma and the ability to get people to listen to you is only one dimension of what makes a leader. Leadership is the ability within yourself – the confidence and trust in yourself that allows you to bring a team together that complements each other. And in turn, inspire that team to create something bigger than the sum of the team’s individual talents and skills.

Are you someone who brings out the best in others?

Do you help them see the greater vision of success?

If this is something that you do naturally, then you may have the innate qualities of a leader. And Leadership in Action requires skills beyond those innate qualities. The role of entrepreneur will demand that you go beyond what comes naturally and learn the skills necessary to:

  • Inspire others to work hard, possibly harder than they’ve ever done before;
  • Communicate your vision clearly so that others make your vision their own;
  • Build a team that works well together (which requires understanding people and interrelationships);
  • Put your ego aside in service of the greater vision and allow others to shine, sometimes even brighter than you do;
  • The ability to think outside of the box and see solutions to problems in new and creative ways and a willingness to take the risk to pursue those solutions; and,
  • The willingness to seek out help, support, and resources and then listen to them – because a leader doesn’t exist in a vacuum. A leader is often only as good as the people they surround themselves with.

You can learn and practice these skills and become a better leader. There are books and programs to help you expand and develop these skills and characteristics. However, if you read the above bullet-points and said, “Oh, heck NO! That’s not me!” Then you may be better suited to a career as an employee in a larger organization. If you will be resisting and resenting the necessity to act as a leader the whole way – you will not be happy as an entrepreneur.

However, if your response is “maybe” and the “no” has more to do with your own self-esteem and confidence in a leadership role, and when you really think about it, you have enjoyed inspiring others to find their own courage and creativity. If you’ve been able to bring out the best in those around you, then I encourage you to work through your uncertainty – because many of the best leaders overcame those same fears in order to flourish. With the help of a coach, you can too.

“To do things you’ve never done before, you have to do things you’ve never done before.”
-Sean Payton

“Champions aren’t made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them — a desire, a dream, a vision.”
-Muhammad Ali

“Treat a person as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat him as he could be, and he will become what he should be.”
-Jimmy Johnson

A Vision and a Plan

The number one job of the CEO in any organization is to hold the vision for the entire organization, and a vision for each of the key members of the team.

What is a vision?

Definition of Vision:
“Your vision of a future situation or society is what you imagine or hope it would be like, if things were very different from the way they are now.”

In essence, a vision is a detailed and specific conceptualization of your intended future for yourself. It is the experience of how the world will be when you’ve accomplished what you’ve set out to do. For an Entrepreneur – your vision must encompass not only your future, but the future of your company and its place in the world, your team, employees and customers. It is not enough to envision your own personal success. You must hold a higher and broader view of how it will all work together.

But it’s not enough to have a vision – you must be able to communicate that vision in a way that motivates your team into action towards bringing that dream into reality.

In a conversation with a former NFL offensive lineman, I explained that as an entrepreneur it’s not enough to be the best at your position as a team player. You have to have the mindset of the owner, general manager and head coach!

As an entrepreneur you must be able to see your company in the larger picture of the market and business environment, and be able to understand how your team works together to overcome the adversities and competition it will face every day.

As an entrepreneur – you will need the courage to create an ambitious vision and plan and the leadership to convince others to join you on this journey. As well as the leadership to create a team that works together to bring your vision into reality.

In the final segment of this series, we will look at the least romantic and most vital aspect of Entrepreneurship, the ability to organize, systematize and leverage your capital to create a prosperous and sustainable business.

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