Tips to Think Like an Entrepreneur and Grow Your Business

| 9 min read

Tips to Think Like an Entrepreneur and Grow Your Business

Do entrepreneurs really approach business so very differently from the average employee? The short answer is yes. And the most accomplished business owners are often the ones who have mastered the delicate balancing act between entrepreneurial and employee-like attributes.

As diverse as these two perspectives are, they both hold great value when it comes to running a business. By adopting an outlook that combines the best of innovative thinking with a growth-driven mindset, you can become a more well-rounded – and successful - entrepreneur.

Are You Ready for Entrepreneurship?

Not everyone is ready - or willing - to do what it takes to run and grow a successful company. If you’re wondering where you fall on the entrepreneurial spectrum, consider a few of the key elements that can help you determine whether or not you’re ready to launch that new venture:

Essential Tips to Help You Think Like an Entrepreneur and Grow Like an Employee

You’re passionate about the business you want to start.


It takes a lot more than drive and desire to build a business, but they’re certainly a good place to start. Researching and analyzing your business idea objectively may be essential before you get going, but it’s your sense of passion toward that idea that’s going to keep you plugging away at it, day after day.

You’re self-motivated.

As an entrepreneur, you not only have to be comfortable working alone when necessary, you have to be capable of directing yourself. It can be difficult to figure out which tasks to prioritize in order to move forward each day - and just how to gauge any progress you make. But the fact is that you alone will be responsible for deciding how your time gets spent, and which direction your business should take.

You’re prepared to deal with stress.

Running and growing a business can be stressful – especially if you start out alone. Not only will you bear the brunt of all decision-making duties, your financial situation may make it necessary to perform a wide range of unfamiliar tasks. Entrepreneurs are often forced out of their comfort zones as they deal with new skill sets, situations, and people. And trying to juggle personal and professional commitments can cause the keenest of business builders to wave the white flag.

You’ve done your research.

Many new business owners believe that their enthusiasm alone will carry them to success. But trying to start a company without a solid business plan is like trying to navigate a foreign country without a map. Be prepared to invest in your own knowledge, to spend time with other successful entrepreneurs, and to remain open to seeking professional advice.

You’re ready to fail.

Guidance and mentors aside, entrepreneurs must be willing to discover what works through a process of trial and error. This can take time, and is often a painful progression. Many business owners fail repeatedly on the way to achieving what they set out to do. But to find success, you’ll need to cultivate the ability to walk away from failure - and to change direction or tactics as a result.

What Growth-Driven Employees Can Teach Us

Most of us worked for somebody else long before we dreamed of working for ourselves. And that’s a good thing. Because thinking like – and succeeding as - an entrepreneur includes honing the growth mindset that the best employees model.

Great staff have always driven great companies. Because no matter how accomplished the leader, they need the right team to succeed. Some of the most talented trailblazers out there have gotten to where they are because they know how to relate to the people working with and for them.

When you make a point of incorporating constructive employee motivations (like the ones we explore below) into the development of your entrepreneurial mindset, chances are good you’ll become a better business leader - and a more profitable business owner.

Growth-driven employees …

Maintain high professional standards with little direction.

Growth-driven employees are the ones you trust to complete their duties efficiently without being pushed. They also tend to be people with a willingness and drive to learn more. Self-directed team members are invaluable for both their decision-making confidence, and their ability to carefully weigh risk against reward. They can be counted on for everything from suggesting and implementing new procedures and practices, to finding ways to remove tasks from their managers’ plates.

Leverage this quality to …

Learn how to delegate.

No entrepreneur – no matter how talented or energetic – is likely to pull off a win by themselves. Business owners who spread themselves too thin because of time constraints or a reluctance to relinquish control, achieve far less than those who learn to let go and leverage their team’s talents. The lesson here is to bring good people on board, then trust them to do what you hired them for.

Growth-driven employees …

View the company they work for as their own.

When it comes to a company’s growth, the most valuable employees see themselves as part of the bigger picture. They’re ideal team players because they recognize that the work they do affects the quality of everyone else’s work in turn. These people are often driven by a desire to make things run better for the company as a whole. Their accomplishments become organizational successes, and they view the company’s achievements as their own.

Leverage this quality to …

Instill a sense of ownership in your personnel.

The most productive business teams are the ones that pull together because they’re fully invested in their company’s mission. Promoting that vision, and the values it inspires, always begins at the top. You may own your company on paper, but as your team’s leader and figurehead, it’s up to you to show your employees that they’re integral to its success – and to the success of each other. Encourage a collaborative approach in the workplace, and be sure to regularly reward your team’s efforts. After all, fostering a positive attitude in your personnel is a proven way to improve customer service and sales.

Growth-driven employees …

Are fully engaged.

Rather than hiding the fact when something goes wrong, engaged employees value transparency in the workplace. They tend to view problems as challenges, and understand that when everyone is on the same page, solutions are arrived at more quickly and easily. Employees like these do more than just put in time so they can collect a paycheck at the end of the week. They’re enthusiastic about coming to work every day because they’re proud of the difference their contribution makes.

Leverage this quality to …

Create a culture of open communication.

If you want to encourage proactivity and problem-solving in your staff, you have to create a framework of honesty. Two-way communication between team members and leaders is one of the keys to staying agile as a business. Nobody – yourself included - comes into an organization knowing everything there is to know about making it succeed. And employees who have little idea of what’s going on at the top feel disconnected from the results of all their hard work. Creating an environment where active listening, ongoing learning, and respect for the ideas of others is encouraged will reward your business with a more engaged and motivated workforce.

Growth-driven employees …

Encourage growth in others.

Motivated team members not only strive to be at their best every day, they inspire those around them to work harder. There may be a fine line between leading by example and stepping on toes to get ahead, but growth-driven individuals have a talent for bringing co-workers along on the journey to achieving their goals. Not only does their positive energy tend to offset stress and bring out the best in others, their advanced level of emotional intelligence helps to steer relationship dynamics in the workplace.

Leverage this quality to …

Help your employees become leaders.

Don’t fall for the mistaken belief that dishing out the title of “manager” will somehow endow an employee with leadership skills. Everybody possesses leadership qualities to a certain extent (and the ones that we’re lacking can often be learned), but the gap between managing people and leading them is as distinct as that between night and day. Many experts believe that the key to cultivating great leaders in the workplace lies in promoting and rewarding adaptability and resilience. All of which translates into a great reason for you to support the concept of mentorship at every level of your business.

Growth-driven employees …

Make you look good.

Great employees reflect positively on the companies they represent – and by extension, on you. This is hardly surprising since virtually every element of a successful business involves sales, customer service, or outside relations in some way. But because they’re keenly aware of their own self-worth, growth-driven personnel have a way of reminding others of their inherent value as well. It’s important to recognize that team members like these are not only motivated by caring and proactive leadership, they tend to inspire it in turn.

Leverage this quality to …

Become a better employer.

Feeding off the people you work with every day can raise the level of your personal and professional performance. Rather than feeling threatened by the up-and-coming self-starters in their midst, successful leaders stay open to learning from the members of their team. They regard their staff as highly competent, and never lose sight of their employees’ potential. Working to become a better employer includes taking steps to support a high-functioning crew where everyone feels they’re on equal footing. The pay-off is frequently an enthusiastic group of brand promoters who help boost your credibility, your visibility, and the achievement of company objectives.

Mastering the Entrepreneurial Mindset

According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), the United States is now home to some 27 million entrepreneurs. In fact, this trend toward running or starting a new business has been steadily gaining traction - and is paving the way toward more attractive career options and positive hiring practices.

At the most basic level, an entrepreneur is anyone who organizes and operates a business. But given the level of risk this involves, it’s easy to understand why there’s an enormous difference between being an entrepreneur and doing it well.

Cultivating the right approach and conviction plays a big role in running a successful business. So, what does this empire-building attitude look like? Here are some of the features that describe those individuals who have mastered the entrepreneurial mindset:

Entrepreneurs are Leaders

Thriving business owners not only leverage a growth-driven, employee-like approach toward achieving their objectives, they’re also fully aware of the distinction between leading and managing. In fact, there are some who would argue that the key difference between running your business, and growing a successful enterprise, is the ability to lead others effectively.

Entrepreneurs are Dedicated

Accomplished entrepreneurs accept the fact that work-life balance is ultimately an illusion – at least in the earliest stages of building a business. Instead, they strive for excellence in one particular area of their lives, devoting the majority of their time and energy to it. Unfortunately, it often happens that while you’re working on - or thinking about - your business 24/7, the more personal aspects of your life end up taking a back seat. And that can be one of the biggest hurdles for new business owners to tackle.

Entrepreneurs are Pioneers

The best entrepreneurs are innovators at heart, which means they’re always looking for ways to do things better. To achieve an entrepreneurial mindset, you have to be willing to break some rules. And transforming a business model can require summoning up the courage to try new ideas and take on new challenges - despite the financial and emotional risks involved. Directing energy away from the status quo may not come naturally to everybody, but it’s often necessary to gain - and maintain - an advantage over your competitors.

Entrepreneurs are Focused

Mono-tasking and delegation play a key role in mastering the entrepreneurial mindset, whereas attempting to multi-task is a common trap for new business owners. While multi-tasking is still encouraged by many employers, research has revealed it to be both an impossible and detrimental endeavor. Our brains simply aren’t hard-wired to focus effectively on more than one activity at a time. In fact, the more we try to switch our mental attention back and forth between tasks, the less productive and more mistake-prone we become. 

Entrepreneurs are Visionaries

Master entrepreneurs understand that to run a successful business, it’s not enough to simply concentrate on what needs to get done today. You have to be constantly thinking about – and planning for – what needs to be accomplished tomorrow. Learning to manage both short-term and long-term plans and goals can be tough. But it’s important to reach a level of comfort with the notion that the decisions you make each day have the potential to impact your business one month, one year, even five years from now.

Entrepreneurs are Financially Aware

Smart entrepreneurs ignore numbers and other business data at their peril. While accounting and forecasting might not be every business owner’s greatest strength, your success relies on understanding and applying the information you glean from your financial accounts. The flow of cash in and out of your business is the fuel that keeps its pistons firing. And while you can hire someone to manage your numbers for you, learning to wield those figures proactively is the only way to make them work for you in accomplishing your financial goals.

Entrepreneurs are Instinct-Driven

To the entrepreneurial mind, there’s great power in trusting your gut because our instincts tend to be right more often than not. Do you have a habit of relying on facts when it comes to making important decisions - then still find it difficult to make the right choice? Many of us are afraid to incorporate intuition into the business-building process because it strikes us as a risky and unproven concept. Meanwhile, there’s a perceived sense of safety in trusting research and data over our own experience-driven – but often subconscious – sense of what’s right. Especially since hard facts give us something to point at when things don’t turn out as we’d hoped. But entrepreneurs are nothing if not risk-takers. And learning to listen to yourself – and to recover from wrong turns - is a huge part of advancing the entrepreneurial mindset.

Entrepreneurs are Life-Long Learners

Successful entrepreneurs embrace learning. Not only does running a prosperous business often require that you absorb and apply new knowledge and experiences on-the-go, it also means carving out time to further your skill set. There is no set job description for the average business owner. So remaining flexible and agile enough to take on whatever comes your way in the course of growing your company is vital. Although hectic and irregular schedules make it challenging for entrepreneurs to enhance their own education, making the effort to do just that can expand your thinking, your network, and your employee relations – and will ultimately benefit your business.

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