Moving from the corporate world to entrepreneurship is a lot more than just moving from a large office to a soho environment and becoming your own boss.
Getting into the right mindset can be one of the major challenges of becoming an entrepreneur. Like all significant changes, it takes time. Even when you consciously adopt new ways of thinking and behaviors, time is still necessary to cement them and create adequate responses.
Don’t be surprised if at first you have corporate responses to entrepreneurial problems. It’s part of the transition. Shifting to an entrepreneurial mindset becomes a smoother and more enjoyable process when you make a few essential shifts.
Accept Responsibility for All Decisions, Big and Small
Decisions are the lifeblood of an entrepreneur, and a lot of your work as COE (Chief Operating Everything) consists in thinking through your decisions. Making decisions isn’t easy, and studies show that the more time the brain spends hesitating between alternatives, the quicker its willpower decreases, leading to poorer decisions later in the day. You need to implement decision-making as a natural process in your everyday schedule, so that you can focus your best hours on the big decisions.
Settle Comfortably Outside Your Comfort Zone
Employers sometimes have to step out of their comfort zone to complete an important project or get a promotion. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, are always out of their comfort zone. Managing your fears, trying to convince friends, family, partners and suppliers of the viability of your business, or doing things you never did before, can all push you out of your comfort zone. But it’s important to stay there and keep doing what you have to do.
I can still remember the time in my first business when I had my first problem. My heart was racing and I had to calm myself so I wouldn’t panic. After 15 minutes and a few deep breaths late, I could call back the supplier with a plan of action.
Embrace Continuous Learning
As an entrepreneur, your job description is more complicated than that of any employee, in that you can find yourself doing a variety of things which you never had to do before. Issues like making sense of business reports or coming up with personal responses to important customer support problems.
There’s no user manual that comes with being an entrepreneur. Rather, you must write your own manual, by learning whatever way you can, through hands-on experience, taking courses, attending seminars and conferences, coaching, and more. An added bonus for entrepreneurs practicing continuous education is the chance to interact with other like-minded business owners.
Trust the Numbers
Numbers are your measure of success as well as your compass. Whether you act as your own accountant and statistician or not, you need to trust and even come to like numbers. They help you minimize uncertainty, determine risks, and steer your company in the right direction, at the right time.
Enjoy What You Do
It takes perseverance and commitment to create a start-up and guide it through the ups and downs of the market to growth and success. It’s difficult to summon these qualities if your mission isn’t aligned to your passions, values, and beliefs. The late Steve Jobs mentions in one of his many interviews that you must have passion for what you do, otherwise you won’t stick it out during the challenging times. In fact, this, together with ill-timed launches, is one of the reasons some businesses fail.
Break Your Own Rules
As a business owner, you call the shots, you write the rules. However, in time, not all of them will prove viable. Changing other people’s rules is difficult enough, but changing your own rules, in which you once believed strongly, is quite a feat. But it has to be done. Leaving the door of possibility open and admitting to yourself that no rule is eternal can help you constantly reinvent your business rules and optimize them for your evolving business model.
Get Used to Having a Flexible Schedule
Depending on the corporate work you did, you may have had some amount of flexibility in your schedule. Nothing can prepare you for the late night calls or weekend incidents that are so frequent in the early years of a business, before the business grows. In time, more and more of your responsibilities can be passed on to managers and faithful employees.
Entrepreneurship is more than just the journey of moving from a corporate paycheck to a check you write yourself or a new work environment. It’s a journey of the mind that requires a new mindset. It’s not easy, but it’s a remarkable process, full of rich new experiences. Enjoy the journey.