Many people are searching for a new way to make a living online and are looking to become online entrepreneurs. You may well be one of them, which is why you have arrived here. But do you have an entrepreneurial mindset to help you on your way?
In a previous article, I talked about the difference between being an employee and being an employer using Robert Kiyosaki’s cashflow quadrant. In this article, I will discuss 10 traits that you need to have or develop to develop an online entrepreneur mindset.
The Entrepreneur Mindset
Taking risks in business is important because if you cannot take a risk you will never do anything. Starting a business in the first place is risky – it may not work, you may lose money, you may end up back where you started. Chances are however, that if you are even considering becoming an entrepreneur, that these are the first questions that you will have thought of and worked through, which means that you are willing to take risks. If your first thoughts are that your business will all fall flat on its face, then you might not have the right, positive mindset in order to take things further. There is ALWAYS a risk in business. The trick as an entrepreneur is to investigate the risks and manage them to minimise them. That way, there will always be a backup plan or contingency for if things do go wrong, but you will be approaching things from a positive stand point rather than a worried or anxious one.
You need to be organised in order to manage both your time, your schedules and that of any employees that you have at the beginning or later on in your business. This means using your time well, avoiding procrastination and doing the urgent and important tasks first. Many people suffer from distractions, especially if they start to work for themselves so it might be as well to invest in a good time management system or project planning system if you have multiple projects to organise. It can be as simple as a pen and paper list, but you should approach everything from an organised point of view. There are many artists and creative people who are brilliant at what they do, but who struggle with the everyday management of their time or tasks. If this is you and you want to be an entrepreneur, then I suggest you get some help with the organisational aspects of your business such as a virtual or real P.A. and accountant or helper who can keep you on track.
3. Able to see the big picture
Most entrepreneurs are ‘big picture’ people. They have ideas, they can see gaps in the market and see ways to fill those gaps and bring things to the masses that they need or want. This ability is crucial in an entrepreneur because you will want to be on the leading edge of innovation and ideas rather than trailing behind your competitors. What is interesting here is that a lot of entrepreneurs find that they can only see the big picture, and that when the time comes to get down to the nitty gritty of building the bridge or creating the empire as you have seen it, then they need some help. This is where choosing the right team comes into play; you need to make sure that your team complements you and does not consist of ‘too many cooks”. You need to have people who are good at focusing on details and working through a project to its completion. And if you are not working as part of a team, then you will also need these detail skills along with the ability to see the big picture too.
4. An eye for the bottom line
An entrepreneur must always have an eye for the bottom line and how they are going to make a profit from their business. Having a business that turns over $5M is great, but if the costs of that business are $6M then you will be heading for disaster. It would be better to have a business that turned over $50 and had costs of only $40 because the latter will make you a profit.
There will be times in business when you may need a loss-leader or to plan to make a loss for a certain amount of time whilst your investment comes to fruition, but you should always plan for how and when this will come in the future. In terms of starting an internet business such as an affiliate marketing business, then a lot of the costs in terms of time and effort will be upfront, meaning that you may invest some time or money into your business without seeing a return for a time. That is often the nature of business though unless you are buying and selling vegetables on a market stall. One can give an instant return, the other is a longer term investment but has more potential in the long run. It is OK to invest in your business in fact it is vital, but just weigh-up each investment in terms of profit you are able to make eventually.
5. Thrive on challenges and see them as opportunities: growth mindset
There’s a buzz word around many aspects of educational and workplace psychology at the moment which refers to people having a ‘growth mindset’ as opposed to a ‘closed mindset’. People who are entrepreneurs must have a growth mindset or their ideas would be shut down by their own subconscience before it reared its ‘ugly’ head!
One aspect of having a growth mindset is that people see challenges as opportunities and find a way to turn them to their advantage. To be honest, I believe that everything in life can be seen this way and that if you have the right mindset, then anything that you do, even if you fail, is something that you can learn from and grow from. I wrote an article about how failing can be a good thing which illustrates just this point. When entrepreneurs see a challenge, they revel in searching for ways to either reduce its impact or overcome it completely.
Another aspect of having a growth mindset is that you consider that there is always room for improvement, so even when things are going well, you are always looking for ways to improve, rather than resting back and becoming complacent.
6. Take responsibility
Entrepreneurs take responsibility for their own actions and that of their teams. It is definitely a case of ‘the buck stops here’ when you are an entrepreneur. However, this is often a great place of power because if you have the mindset that everything is always someone else’s responsibility of someone else’s fault if things go awry, then you will never give yourself the power to change anything and you will be wandering round in a mire of blame forever.
Taking responsibility means that if you are unhappy with something, and you realise that you have the power to change it you will more likely succeed in your mission. So if you are currently unhappy with your current working situation but are not willing to take responsibility for it, changes are you will be stuck there for a long time.
7. Be a people person
Steven Covey in his self-help book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” stressed the importance of people in all aspects of being an effective leader. He advocated creating ‘win-win’ situations in which both sides in any situation came out with a win scenario for them. He also talked about seeking first to understand and then be understood. These traits all relate to valuing other members of your team as people and not just as resources. There used to be ‘personnel’ departments in many multinational and smaller companies. These departments dealt with many personal issues related to the employees within the company. In the 1990s, many of these departments became “Human Resources” departments and I remember thinking at the time that it had taken the ‘person’ out of the role. Luckily many HR departments embraced the name change but kept the focus on people which is good. Being an entrepreneur, even if you work on your own, will mean engaging with people from your bank manager to your spouse. It you take an interest in them, listen first and are willing to work for win-win scenarios, then you will do well.
8. Under promise and over deliver: add value for customers
Nowadays, being an entrepreneur means that you need to deliver things that your customers want, and with such a lot of competition for different goods and services out there, as an entrepreneur, you need to be willing to offer excellent value to your customers or they will take their business elsewhere. Gone are the days of there being only one shop in town – people can buy anything from the comfort of their armchair so they are looking for value for money, and something extra.
As an entrepreneur though, this should excite rather than terrify you as it gives you the opportunity to put your customer first, stand above the crowd and feel good that you are truly helping your customers and giving them the resources, products or services they want. For an online entrepreneur this may mean writing or creating a free ebook for visitors to your site, or uploading informative free videos to YouTube. The benefit of doing this as an entrepreneur is that you will gain their trust first, and then you will find it much easier to convert visitors to customers later if they value your opinion or advice.
9. Network and leverage to succeed
Hot on the trail of being a people person, the entrepreneur looks to leverage both money and teams to help them succeed. To me, this is a bit like the old adage “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” and refers directly to the fact that there are some things you just cannot do alone; you need a team of people behind you. Starting an online business as an entrepreneur is easy and you can do this on your own forever if you want too. However, it is much better to have friends that you can relate to, ask questions of and get help from if you need it. In this way, you can leverage your network to help catapult you to success.
As time goes on, and online business may take off and eventually be too much for one person. You may be running several sites and need more articles than you can physically write yourself; you may venture into creating promotional videos or you may need some technical assistance on building or designing a new site. An entrepreneurial mindset will see this not as a weakness, but as a way to improve and grow their business in an exponential way.
Online businesses can also encompass the globe and you can have customers, friends, followers or be following people from every corner of the world. This is one of the best things about being an online entrepreneur; you have friends in many countries. A good network is crucial to online entrepreneurs because that is often how information about your site spreads, through social media channels and people that follow you. But the same things apply here as with face-to-face contacts; you need to nurture your network and give something back.
10. Positive outlook: Resilient interior
You can be an entrepreneur and be negative, you can. But it is unlikely that you will be a successful one. Think of Scrooge! Having a positive outlook on life and your business is imperative because it not only allows you to be optimistic about your ideas and the future, but it also helps when you are dealing with people, and people ARE your business. It doesn’t matter if you are selling nuts and bolts for a factory machine, PEOPLE are involved. And luckily still in the most part, it is people who make decisions about buying things. It is much easier to buy from a positive person than from someone who is always focusing on negative things. That doesn’t mean you need to put on a pair of rose-tinted spectacles and pretend everything is rosy even if it isn’t but it does mean that you have to lead by example and you will have a better chance of bringing any negative people along with you.
That said, if things do go wrong (and they sometimes may not always go to plan), an entrepreneur will also have a strong and resilient nature. They will see the situation for what it is; an opportunity – and get back up as soon as possible with a solution.
The internet is a great place to make money if you know how. There are many benefits to using the internet as your chosen career mode that make it very attractive for would-be-entrepreneurs and there are also opportunities for would-be-online employees too, just make sure that if you are going to be an online entrepreneur, that you have the right mindset.