I have been working with entrepreneurs - as an entrepreneur coach, a podcast host interviewing entrepreneurs, as well as running companies on behalf of other business owners - for more than two decades.
Over the years, I have learned three critical things about entrepreneurship.
1. Being an entrepreneur is a calling
Entrepreneurs are people who feel a strong urge to be who they are.
They don’t see an alternative.
In other words, you are, or you aren’t an entrepreneur, there is no in-between.
2. The biggest risk you face as an entrepreneur is becoming the bottleneck in your business
There are many ways you can be a bottleneck.
For instance, when you make all the decisions by yourself instead of delegating authority to the right people within your business.
Or when you have lost grit: you fall and can’t find a way to step back up again.
3. Entrepreneurship is a mindset
Here is how a client described his situation the first time we talked:
“I'd like my blood pressure down again. I'd like to regain the confidence that I used to have… that my company will survive through Covid, turnover, and everything else. Peace of mind about the future of the company is what I miss.”
Most entrepreneurs worry a lot. It comes with the job.
Usually, it starts with stories in your head. About what, how, and why things will go wrong. And you know as well as I do you will never find the answers that give you the reassurance you need… so you end up creating more stories and adding a heap more worry on top of your worry!
It is a nasty vicious circle.
Anyway, my client was struggling because he, like many entrepreneurs the world over, was creating stories in his head. And so, despite knowing exactly what he needed to do he was paralyzed.
Can you relate?
If so, I need to tell you that the longer you remain in this state, the more impact it will have on your business.
I believe entrepreneurship is the toughest job there is. It requires being a generalist in many areas like financial management, marketing, sales, legal, production, etc.
But you need to realize that being an entrepreneur starts in your head.
That is why entrepreneurship is all about mindset. Yet, we think it is first about technical skills.
Mindset vs. Technical Skills
Let me be clear: Your technical skills are important but they are nowhere near as important as your mental game!
Why? Because there is no difference between you and your business.
You ARE your business. Your business IS you.
So, when you are thriving, your business is thriving.
When you are resilient, your business is resilient.
But when you are struggling, your business is struggling.
And when you are stuck in your head, your business is stuck.
That is when you have become a bottleneck.
Listen to Brian Mac Mahon, the Founder of Expert Dojo, an international Accelerator that has invested in more than 150 companies since 2018 (Inter:views, Cracking The Entrepreneurship Code, episode 28):
“You have to start with the main criteria of your journey that everything possible will go wrong. The first thing you need to sort out is your fortitude. You have to make sure that your mindset is in a place where you’re ready.”
Of course, you do need business skills to run a company (e.g. sales, marketing, financial management, leadership), but those skills can be taught, and some of them outsourced or delegated to people better than you at them.
But as I mentioned above, business skills are not as critical as having the right mindset (e.g. resilience, discipline, empathy, endurance, strength).
Unfortunately, you can’t just “learn” a mindset, and it is impossible to outsource.
Learn From Profesional Athletes
Consider the best professional athletes. Like them, the most successful entrepreneurs are always mentally prepared to tackle the challenges they will face.
In addition, like the best professional athletes, those entrepreneurs also understand that to reach excellence they must dedicate specific time to both mental and physical recovery.
They know the importance of taking care of themselves, and they understand their bodies and minds are connected.
Unfortunately, most entrepreneurs don't see it this way.
As a result, many of them aren’t healthy and are on the edge of physical and mental exhaustion.
But it doesn’t have to be like that...
5 Practical Tips To Build The Right Mindset
If you want to change, and start taking care of your mental game, let me give you some advice:
Build your emotional intelligence – Listen to The Entrepreneur Alphabet, episode 5, E for Emotional Intelligence, where I talk about it in more detail
Start from ground zero: work on your breathing. Just as the best athletes pay attention to the way they breathe, you must learn to do the same as an entrepreneur. When you do, you’ll quiet your mind, deal with pressure better, become more efficient, and be healthier overall.
Develop your grit. I dedicated episode 7 of The Entrepreneur Alphabet, G for Grit to this topic.
Hire an entrepreneur coach, like myself, because nobody says you have to do it by yourself. Read this page if you want to understand how I can help.