Entrepreneurship, between skill and mindset

I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I remember being a kid and dreaming of having my own company. At that time, it meant being my own boss, having control over my schedule, it meant independence and freedom. I know, I was a naive kid as I later learned, but a kid with aspirations.

I put off starting a company year after year.

At first I stopped as I had read I should start with a business plan. And I started drafting a business plan … several times, but I lacked the skill. So I learned more.

The second stop was due to the ever changing legislation, which never felt supportive of an entrepreneur. Basically, it simply stated that no matter if you earn an income or not, you have to pay taxes for having a company. This also happened a few times. I see now my error here as well.

Third time, something had changed. I realized that it is not about feeling prepared, about the right moment, about the perfect business plan, about an investor giving you free money, it was about taking the first step, jumping and building your wings on the way down.

It was not about skill, cause no matter how much you develop your skills, how much you learn, how early you get an MBA, if you don’t have or grow an entrepreneurial mindset, you’ll never start.

So what do I mean by entrepreneurial mindset:

  1. just do it – there are no secret recipes and the best school is the fail first and use that advantage school.
  2. problems are solutions yet to be unfolded – too often when faced with a problem, we start thinking in terms of guilt or blame and this keeps us from seeing the solutions.
  3. take a step back – sometimes we are too much in the middle of the problem to be able to see a solution. Take a step back and look at the problem from all sides, like a 6 thinking hats exercise.
  4. put yourself in challenging situations – I’ve always done stuff like that to see if I can take it, to see my weaknesses, to find my strengths, to prove myself that I can move past any obstacle. It was always a deliberate choice to expose myself vulnerable when I was afraid, vulnerable in front of crowds, I broke the ice and volunteered first before I knew what had to be done, I went to events outside my comfort zone and shared rooms with strangers during my residential weekends in the MBA training.
  5. vision first – don’t get caught up in competition and selling. Try to build and learn from others and offer support. Try to focus on the HARD objectives instead of immediate sales, cause immediate sales will only make you do (almost) anything to sell on the spot and this will determine an involuntary shift in your course, until one day you will wake up and not recognize what you built.

After 20 years of being an employee, an entrepreneur, a manager working with entrepreneurs, developing entrepreneurial programs, after winning millions of euros for entrepreneurs and monitoring how entrepreneurs develop their business, I believe that the thing that kills most businesses is not failure, a bad idea, the crisis or the economy. It’s doubt – in ourselves, our surroundings, our abilities.

And the thing that makes the difference between a succesfull entrepreneur and a business fail is your mindset, knowing that you always have a choice. Even when you are stuck and feel that you cannot make a decision, you actually choose to stay.

The second you start choosing differently and working on your mindset, there will be no going back!

If you’re not gonna work for your dreams, you’re gonna work in somebody else’s dreams!

Without dismissing entrepreneurship programs, I do believe that they are not enough. They give you the tools and mechanics of a business but you need to be the fuel.

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