Five Key Mindset Elements For Success in My Entrepreneurial Journey
I love the Entrepreneurial process. I have been in the “start-up” world of some type for about the last 13 years or so. It is not easy—sometimes even discouraging, but it sure is rewarding.
I really kind of started down this path when I moved into outside sales. That took a whole lot more energy and start-up creativity to go out and build a successful sales territory. I think it was some of my most valuable experience for my personal entrepreneurial journey. It forced me out into the public in a new way, to start from scratch, and generate business.
My first real foray into what we might call the “start-up” space was launching a new Church in Providence Rhode Island. You might wonder—‘what does a church have to do with entrepreneurship…’ but it really is exactly the same. It required a vision, a mission, a business plan, networking, leadership, all the same legal entity formation, and capital raising. And even a Church has a “customer” to whom it communicates a product—a spiritual message that people, even if they really don’t buy it, they are at least called to “buy into it.”
Most recently is the launch of this brand, UNDERWARE USA, where we wrapped up a very successful Kickstarter capital raise of 25K On Nov. 17th. We are still fulfilling some of 260 plus pledge orders.
Through these experiences, I have learned some valuable lessons that I have had to integrate into my mindset. I am going to call them mindset elements. None of them are a complete mindset in any of themselves, but they help make up one.
What kind of mindset does an entrepreneur need to have? There are five key elements for me.
1. Adaptability: There is more than one way to do things
There is more than one way to do things. The entrepreneur needs to look at the horizon of his endeavor and sift the many methods and approaches offered and discern what is most immediately effective for him. In other word—what gets you profitable and able to do business another day as soon as possible.
"Consistent execution on an imperfect plan coupled with adaptability and teachability are far more critical to success than getting things perfect."
When he does, he needs to mover forward with both confidence and adaptability. There is not one way to do things, and therefore not a single way to be successful.
2. Things do not have to be perfect
You do not have to get it perfect to be successful. In fact, perfection is often the enemy of success. Perfectionism often stands in the way of action & progress. It more often than not, can lead to rigidity and freezing up. You always have to balance your commitment to a high quality product, service, or endeavor, with the practical commitment to actual production. In ministry, this was positively impacting peoples lives. In business, this is generating profit so you can operate another day. A great product is meaningless if it is not making you money. Think about it it, if you business is not churning a profit, it is not rewarding you with more capital to improve your product.
Many entrepreneurs today talk about the so-called ‘MVP’ or ‘Minimum Viable Product.” If you want to succeed, you have to put in excellence, or at least as much as you can, while getting your product to market as quickly as possible. Even though I knew this, I am guilty of waffling at times when execution on something would have been more profitable. But when you make the wrong choice, you cannot beat yourself up. Our briefs at UNDERWARE USA should have been to market much more quickly. But still by coming back to this concept, it still drove me to get it out there. Every business with have setbacks, including entrepreneur induced setbacks. You have to accept this, dust yourself off, and move on.
Consistent execution on an imperfect plan coupled with adaptability and teachability are far more critical to success than getting things perfect. Improvements are best made along the journey rather than all “up front,” which just stalls you from going to market. Be tenacious. This naturally brings us to our next point.
3. Failure is not final
If you falter in the process of your endeavor, you have merely just ruled out “how not to do it,” and it is not a failure until you quit. I like to distinguish between faltering and failing. Faltering is any natural mistake, loss, or setback in your endeavor. These are absolutely expected, normal, and unavoidable. Failure on the other hand is when you give up and walk away.
Damon Johns is known for having to step back and restart FUBU several times. Damon faltered, adapted, and persevered. He did not fail because he would not tap out. This brings us to endurance.
4. Endurance: Keep going in the face of difficulty with tenacious focus
What keeps your failure from becoming final? It is your commitment to endure. It is the attribute of endurance or perseverance. Jesus says at one point, “he who perseveres to the end shall be saved.” There is much more to that than space allows for here. But if we paraphrased the idea just for business we could say, “He who perseveres to the end shall be successful.”
The personal attribute of endurance is the outcome of endurance as a mindset choice first. You have to choose to endure in face of set-backs, obstacles, and difficulty. This is an entirely rational and cognitive decision making process that is rooted in vision and commitment—a choice to move forward against mounting obstacles even when it may feel impossible.
If your future is based upon how you feel, which comes and goes like the wind, then you will definitely fail. You cannot rely on your emotions to pull you through.
There are many good tactics and techniques to help this. First Having both a clear vision and basic business plan that you keep coming back to and reviewing daily is essential. These are your intentions as Trevor Blake calls them. What you endeavor to do and accomplish. Second, a running list of actionable items in your business is another highly effective tactic and one of my favorites. It is simple and easy to apply. Mary Kay, the brilliant Entrepreneur in women’s cosmetics swore by her “lists” to keep her on track and executing.
"Detractors are subtractors! They want to subtract and siphon off your mindset and success."
Another thing that has really helped me was the simple practice of picking a couple small items each day that moved the ball down the field closer to my goal. Even if I was really busy with other things, picking the next most important thing to execute on, even if it was small, has helped me immensely. In this third tactic, the key is to pick the top 1-2 next action items that moves the ball the most with the time you have available.
Launching a company like UNDERWARE is no small task, even though we are still a small company struggling to get our legs under us. It is easy to lose sight of the bigger goal amidst the details, especially when your biz is not at a money producing stage, or at least not producing big money. It its easy to let other things eclipse it and letting procrastination take over. This has gotten the best of me more than once. Stay focused, execute, and follow through.
Ignore your critics!
They are always there, and they are always out for your emotional and mental blood. Detractors are subtractors! They want to subtract and siphon off your mindset and success. They do not want you to win because winning is not part of their story.
Critics have no credibility simply because they are just that—critics! Anyone who roots for your failure, your fallout, or to say "I told you so" have already embraced mediocrity and failure as a way of life. It this their story, but not yours! Graciously pray for them and leave them out of the voices that you allow to speak into your life.
Write these down. Keep them handy and memorize them. They will help you in whatever endeavor you are pursuing.
At the beginning, I asked, “what kind of mindset does the entrepreneur have?” In summary, I will say this: The entrepreneur, whatever she or he is pursuing, needs to have a commitment mindset. They are committed to the endeavor, to do whatever it takes.
The mindset elements that we outlined here are the tools and grease that help propel us toward that goal in mind. Adaptability, endurance, a certain level of pragmatism, and ultimately, the ability to block out distractions and detractors that siphon off your energy are all key. Go do it!
I would love to hear your comments!