This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com on May 28, 2020.
Words like optimistic, determined, persistent and unwavering tend to define established entrepreneurs, but what about the resolve required to just get started?
It’s often the case that when one wants to start a business, they think it should begin with an idea and a business plan. But while these are necessary ingredients in entrepreneurship, they overlook the most necessary ingredient of all: their own mindset. There’s a quote from author and entrepreneur Idowu Koyenikan that says, “The mind has a powerful way of attracting things that are in harmony with it — good or bad.” And it’s true. If you hit one obstacle in building your business and believe it’s a sign that you should give up now, you likely will. But if your mindset is focused on perseverance and success, you’ll keep at it.
Now, many words come to mind in association with an entrepreneurial mindset: optimistic, determined, persistent, unwavering. But what about the mindset required to just get started? Entrepreneurship has a way of taking over our lives, colluding with our identities and forcing us to confront everything within us. That’s why a strong mindset is the most powerful building block for any successful company.
Do you believe everything happens for a reason?
Some of the very best companies began because the founder went through a setback, then realized something better was ahead. When Vera Wang was rejected for the editor in chief role at Vogue, she decided to create her own bridal design line. When Oprah was fired as a news anchor, she was put on a talk show, which sparked the rest of her wildly successful career.
Believing that even the setbacks serve a purpose is a valuable mindset tool. If you’re going into entrepreneurship to win right off the bat, it’s likely you’ll have a hard time rebounding after your first obstacle. Also note that in the above stories of resilience, the founders made the conscious choice to take control of their own story. Vera Wang wasn’t in control of the fact she didn’t land the editor in chief job, nor was Oprah in control of being fired and placed on a talk show. It’s what they did next that mattered most.
Practice this very important resilience mindset hack by going through all of the past memories and events of your own life story. Are you able to see how one setback propelled a new opportunity? The sooner you make peace with the fact that obstacles are inevitable but bouncing back is always required, you’ll have the resiliency mindset to conquer a successful entrepreneurial career. A flipside to this mindset would be feeling like “everything is rigged against you” or what you were attempting “wasn’t meant to be.” You get to choose what’s meant to be after each obstacle.
Do you believe that you have limitations?
Do you have limited beliefs or fears that keep you playing safe, or are you coping with something else that’s holding you back? While building your foundational mindset, it’s a good time to assess what could be hurting you. Balazs W. Kardos, founder of the Diamond Life Blueprint, recently shared with me that he considers the first act of greatness he ever completed to be “pulling himself out of the darkness of depression“.
As he told me, “It took a great deal of inner work, but I now believe I needed to prove resilience and endure my bout with depression to get to where I am today. I know I can win against anything, which was a powerful shift in mindset for me.”
It’s a personal undertaking to assess one’s own limitations, but since the journey of entrepreneurship often entails coming up against these limitations, it’s best to assess them before you begin a company. See if there’s a coach or counselor you can work with to help you bust through the limitations, or even a mastermind group that can hold you accountable to your real visions of the future.
Do you have thick skin?
Rejections are just another obstacle that you’ll inevitably run into, whether it be your 36th “no” from a potential investor, an “I’m not interested” from a potential retailer or even a failed process of designing a prototype. We often hear the story of how Thomas Edison tried more than 10,000 times to create the lightbulb, but rather than giving up after so many failed attempts, his mindset turned 10,000 “failures” into “10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Another story exemplifying the same persistence is the story of Sir James Dyson, the founder of Dyson vacuum cleaners. He tried in excess of 5,000 prototypes before perfecting his company’s core design — and Dyson is still a frontrunning company today.
Begin to think of “no” as just a word. Better yet, shoot for thousands of nos in the spirit of Edison and Dyson. If you go into business thinking it will be a long string of yeses or bust, you’re in for a tough haul. Ultimately, your mindset is the only thing you can always control in entrepreneurship. Even the best-laid business plans will come up against moments that test your resolve and determination. Build a resilient mindset first, and you’ll be successful no matter what.