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25 January 2022

How to Make the Switch from a Corporate Mindset to an Entrepreneur Mindset

Jairek Robbins

As any seasoned entrepreneur will tell you, one of the biggest obstacles that people who wish to start their own businesses face is making the switch from the mindset of an employee to that of an entrepreneur. Money, time or commitment isn’t the issue. Mindset is, because an employee is wired differently (mentally) from the way an entrepreneur is wired.

For example, employees enjoy the security of getting a paycheck at the end of every month while an entrepreneur can go for months or even years without earning a penny from all the hard work they have put into their small business. This difference alone makes many people abandon the idea of starting their own business and they settle for remaining employees.

However, recent events, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, have shaken the world as people know it, and thousands, if not millions, are now toying with the idea of starting their own businesses either because they lost their “secure” jobs or the need to make ends meet has pushed them to venture out on their own/start a side business.

The world of business can be a tough one, and statistics indicate that about 65% of all new businesses don’t live to see their tenth birthday. One way to stand a chance of beating those odds is by making the mental switch necessary from the mindset of a corporate employee to the mindset of an entrepreneur. We discuss some of those mental shifts you need to make.

Learn How to Sell

If there is one crucial common factor that successful entrepreneurs share, it is their ability to sell. Think about it for a moment, how will you convince people to join you if you can’t convince them to believe in your dream? How will your intended customers pay for your products if you can’t sell them on the value of what those products offer? Or, how will you convince investors to back your startup if you aren’t good at selling?

As you can see, entrepreneurship heavily relies on one’s ability to sell. If you previously worked in marketing or sales, good for you because you aren’t starting from scratch. If you were in another role outside sales or marketing, no problem! Learn and hone your ability to sell so that a deficiency in this crucial aspect doesn’t torpedo your business.

Learn to Be Flexible

The world of business has its own rules, and you may not have been aware of them while you were an employee. One of those rules is that the market knows what it wants. This may seem obvious, but the reality is that many people who haven’t made the mindset switch from corporate employee to entrepreneur make the mistake of being so taken up by their product or service that they never pause to ask whether there is a market for that product or service.

To succeed as an entrepreneur, you need to have a keen sense that allows you to read what the market wants and then deliver a product or service that addresses that need. For this to happen, you need to be flexible and tweak your idea into a product/service that can be bought. Don’t stubbornly hang onto your creation as “the best” when there are no buyers for it.

In the corporate world, flexibility isn’t often required as each employee has a defined role to play as a cog on the wheel. In the world of business ownership, flexibility is key.

Expand Your Skill Set

A long time ago, I read somewhere that most struggling businesses are just one skill away from success. Transitioning from a corporate mindset to an entrepreneurial mindset requires that you conduct an honest assessment of your strengths, weaknesses and competences.

Once you identify any gaps, take steps to fill them so that you can increase the odds of succeeding as a business owner. For example, if you are good at coming up with innovative products but you aren’t good at sales, find a way to learn how to sell. Online courses, jobs in that role and internships are some of the ways through which you can expand your skill set.

The more you expand your skill set, the more ready you will be to cross from employee to being an entrepreneur.

Prepare to Wear Many Hats

We’ve hinted at this before, but it is worth focusing on this necessary mindset switch for those who want to transition from being employees to being entrepreneurs. As an employee, you are hardly expected to do anything outside your docket, say, as a sales representative.

However, entrepreneurs by necessity have to wear many hats, especially at the beginning. They are purchasing officer, do the books of accounts, conduct marketing and sales, and even participate in making the products of the business. And before you forget, the business owner is the PR person for the firm!

Juggling so many roles is alien in the employment world, and it comes as a shock to realize so much is expected of you as the business owner. With time, you can hire specialized help as and when resources permit, but that doesn’t take away the need to wear many hats when you are a business owner.

Start Embracing Discomfort

The corporate mindset is characterized by a lot of routine and this creates comfort zones that employees are used to and depend on. For example, you report to work at 9 and leave at 5, you get a paycheck at the end of the month, and you receive targets from your superiors and you deliver on those targets.

No such comforts exist for entrepreneurs. They can work long hours for weeks on end and there is no guarantee that the business owner will have any money as a reward for their input that month. More often than not, the entrepreneur pays his or her team and there is nothing left for the business owner to take home.

Getting comfortable with uncomfortable situations, events or activities is therefore a big part of an entrepreneur’s journey. Get used to this and your mindset will be on the right track to setting you up for success in the world of entrepreneurship.

Hang Out with and Learn from Successful Entrepreneurs

Another powerful way to switch from the mindset of an employee to that of an entrepreneur is to hang out with successful entrepreneurs and learn from them. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel or make your own mistakes in order to learn valuable lessons.

The learning curve can be less steep when you join a circle of successful entrepreneurs and drink from their wisdom acquired over the years. For example, as an employee, you may think that you have to do everything yourself but once you interact with entrepreneurs, you will learn that success comes from putting together a team of people who are smarter than you are and believe in your vision.

As you can see, the biggest change you need to make before you start your own business is the change from the mindset of an employee to that of an entrepreneur. This switch alone could account for half of your journey to success, and other factors will build onto this first but decisive step. What other changes does one need to make mentally in order to transition from employee to business owner? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!


To Your Success,

Jairek Robbins

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