May 17, 2022

How to keep an entrepreneurial mindset after the first 2 years of a business?

Competition is fierce nowadays, no matter the industry. With most companies focusing on innovating and adapting to an increasingly fickle consumer, many struggle to remain agile and dynamic. Over time, they evolved from an entrepreneurial go-getter to bureaucratic, risk-averse organisations.

If the decision-making process in your company is complex, if you can’t leverage technology, and if your company is slow to react to trends, it will become harder and harder for you to stay ahead of the competition. 

So, what is an entrepreneurship mindset, and how can it help an already-established company? 

If entrepreneurship is the practice of taking risks to kickstart a venture, then an entrepreneurial mindset is how you do it. While many existing organisations have long passed the phase of entrepreneurship, the benefits of maintaining a resourceful, agile, risk-taking attitude are appealing to companies looking to get ahead of their industries.  

What are the main characteristics of an entrepreneurial mindset?

Leaders with an entrepreneurial mindset are risk-takers, they have an optimistic attitude and an ability to adapt quickly to the ever-changing environment, but more importantly, they have the following characteristics:  

  • Embrace “trial and error”. Entrepreneurs are always willing to experiment with new products or problem-solving techniques. There’s no reason why an established organisation can’t redesign their product development process to a ‘fail fast and pivot’ approach.   
  • Accountability for actions, whether they bring success or failure. Even when outcomes are challenging to control, entrepreneurial thinking requires you to avoid making excuses and instead take action to resolve the issue. 
  • Confront and manage self-doubt or risk aversion. Changing long-standing production processes, for example, is a complex and expensive endeavour, so it’s easier to hide behind a “the timing isn’t right” mindset. An entrepreneurial way of thinking confronts these self-doubts and isn’t afraid to take action.

How can you develop an entrepreneurial mindset? 

It may seem difficult to develop an entrepreneurial mindset if you aren’t actively working in a startup environment, but the changes you make will put you on the path to creating a culture and processes that foster innovation, agility and dynamic ways of working.  

Here are some ways you can develop your entrepreneurial mindset right now:   

  1. Redefine “failure”. While failing is something we’re all taught to fear, the best entrepreneurs don’t allow failure to discourage them. In fact, they generally turn their failures into positives by extracting learnings, understanding what not to do, and how to do it better.  
  1. Always be curious. Curiosity is one of the most essential traits of an entrepreneurial mindset. Don’t ever stop learning, testing things out and dreaming big. It will sustain your competitive edge.  
  1. Embrace quick decision-making processes and empower your employees. Most entrepreneurs want to move fast because timing is everything. Suppose employees with initiatives are slowed down by lengthy decision-making processes; they’d feel discouraged and think twice before suggesting a change.   

How do you keep an entrepreneurial mindset even when your business is no longer a startup? 

At the outset, you have no choice; you work with a lean team where everyone wears several hats, ideas are shared constantly, and if something doesn’t work, everyone can step in to help because any significant bump can make or break the business.   

After a few years and, hopefully, several rounds of investment, the dynamic rhythm of a startup morphs into a well-oiled machine with established ways of working, automated processes, and technological solutions that minimise risks. This also means bureaucracy, long chains of command and complex decision-making processes.  

Here are a few simple ways to keep an entrepreneurial mindset even when your company has long progressed from a startup:   

1. Create open platforms and monthly forums where employees can collaborate and share ideas. It will maintain the connectivity through working side by side towards a common goal. By holding these gatherings, you will have employees that are invested in the company and what it is trying to achieve.  

2. Give your teams clarity over common objectives and the autonomy to achieve them. It will create empowered employees that are willing to put forward and test new ideas to help achieve those goals. And combining this with accountability will make sure they have a vested interest to make it work. If your employees don’t have clear goals or clarity over the end-goal, it’s impossible for them to remain motivated and give their best. 

3. Support functions that enable what you want to achieve. As company’s grow, functions such as Risk Management and Legal become important but these functions can easily become focused on finding problems or reasons to not do something – this is a typical starting point for complex bureaucracy. Make sure all functions are designed to enable the business mission, not block it. 

In today’s economic landscape, where competition is innovative, quick to react, and more diverse than ever, having an agile, entrepreneurial mindset is critical no matter the size of your company. In fact, while most entrepreneurs begin their ventures hoping they successfully overcome the startup status and build a steady-growing company, most don’t realise how valuable their entrepreneurial mindset is.  

Incorporate some of the positive traits into your own management style to help your business grow.

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