Last week, over on Instagram
, I asked my entrepreneur followers a question: as an entrepreneur, what’s your biggest challenge? There were a number of responses, every single one of which I related to from personal experience. My biggest surprise in reading them, however, was the lightbulb that came to me in response to the questions: every single issue/challenge/obstacle came down to one thing: mindset.
Dictionary.com defines mindset as “A fixed mental attitude or disposition that predetermines a person’s responses to and interpretations of situations.” Mindset is a worldview, a choice we make about how to look at something. Is the glass half-full or half-empty? Are we looking at an opportunity or a problem? Mindset often determines our response to a situation, and our response to situations will always directly influence results and outcome. Research has shown that if you believe you can change (what experts call a “growth mindset”), that outcomes most often turn out more favorably, and that if you believe you cannot change (a “fixed mindset”), that outcomes are often less desirable.
Isn’t that crazy? What we believe about our ability to grow and change can directly affect the end result of where we end up in life? I don’t know about you, but hearing that simple statement makes me want to go all in on growth mindset.
An entrepreneur cannot underestimate the importance and value of the right mindset–a growth mindset. Let me repeat: mindset is the number one most important thing an entrepreneur needs to keep in check to make their business successful. Of course, under the umbrella of “mindset” there are a number of sub-topics, and I wanted to take some time to write up a series of blog posts, this being the first of the series.
And that leads me to my first post: entrepreneurs need to develop the mindset of a bias for action.
Have you ever felt like you don’t know what to do next? There are so many things swirling around in your head and you don’t know where to focus your time, money, and energy? I hear this from entrepreneurs all the time. But I’m going to lead this series with my best entrepreneur advice:
Just go. Get on a plane/train/automobile and go.
Go ugly early. Done is better than perfect.
Develop a bias for action. Stop overthinking it.
I can’t tell you what overthinking, over-analyzing, and over-talking things has cost me in my entrepreneurial career. But I can tell you that I believe it has cost me something. I’ve spent time making lists when I should have spent time stepping out in faith. I’ve spent time re-ordering lists when I should have been turning words into paragraphs. I’ve spent time making excuses instead of taking simple actions.
OK, allow me to break down my three tips for you.
Just go. What do I mean by this, and how does it look like when applied to life? What I’m about to tell you isn’t going to make sense. It’s going to seem so counter-intuitive, but it is the number one piece of advice I tell entrepreneurs: just get on a plane and go. Or, if you can’t afford to fly, drive. I don’t know what it is about being in a different environment that really moves the needle for entrepreneurs, but I feel like going to conferences, conventions, trade shows, as an attendee and an exhibitor, going to retreats and intentsives—has changed my life—and if I want my life to be changed, this is the first step I take. I find a workshop or conference and I go and meet new people and learn new things and allow my mindset to expand and change. I can rarely put my finger on a major lightbulb moment, but I always come back with what I call “nuggets” and a little bit of “network”. I never go to network—but it has organically happened in my life. Relationships have been built and I feel like “going” is a major step in the evolution of my entrepreneurial career.
Go ugly early. I’ve blogged about this before, probably several times. It falls into the same category of “going”, but is a different application. It’s all about launching. Finding the minimum viable product, and releasing it into the world. Creating progress through iteration, providing transparency to the process that creates a valuable trust for audiences and customers. It’s about not over-thinking and not-overanalyzing and stop waiting for perfect. It’s about done is better than perfect, the timing will never be just right, and you can’t plan the perfect moment. It’s better to take the risk and release something—transparently—early, than hold yourself and your business back (potentially, for years), but trying to strategize for the perfect moment.
Develop a bias for action. This is a phrase I’ve been focusing on intently for the past few weeks. It’s become a mantra in my head, a response to the excuses I’m making for myself. It comes from a list of principles Amazon has adopted for their employees. The heart of the phrase is this: very few decisions are permanently irreversible. It will cost you more to NOT DO something than it will to UNDO something. You will benefit more from taking action than you will by not acting at all. And added to this is the simple fact that calculated risk-taking will always yield more progress and results than not taking action. I look for this characteristic in hires: do they have good judgment, and will they choose action over inaction?
As a chronic over-thinking (analytical is ALWAYS on the results of my Strengths Finder test
), I find myself sitting on ideas for far too long. About two months ago, as I was looking at our family schedule for July, I realized I could carve out some free time and pick up a few more clients. After booking all the available time slots I had left, (as well as opening The Meeting House coffee shop and bed & breakfast), I realized I also had the capacity to host an intensive retreat. Neither one of these things would have happened if I had chosen to sit and dream and talk about them instead of taking action to offer them. Sure, neither offering has the perfect “launch” strategy to support it, but that’s only one aspect of launching things–many other elements are strongly in place for me to confidently offer both ongoing coaching and live intensive retreats.
Let me jump back to mindset for a minute, and leave you with a couple of questions: Would you say you have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset? How are you taking action and making progress? Where can you take action, if you are not? Leave a comment below–I’d love to hear from you!
This post is the first in a series on developing the mindset of an entrepreneur: