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How to Think Like an Entrepreneur

What does it take to be a successful entrepreneur? In this article, we look at some daily strategies and habits you can adopt to help you think like an entrepreneur.

The word entrepreneur comes from the Old French word 'entreprendre', which means to undertake or to do something. It dates back as far as 1730, when it was used by Irish-French economist Richard Cantillon.

But what does it mean, 300 years later, to be an entrepreneur? The world of business is always changing, and moving with the times requires a combination of creative thinking and adaptability. In this article, we take a look at some daily habits and strategies you can cultivate to think like a successful entrepreneur. Maybe your next Big Idea could be one that changes the world?

Are successful entrepreneurs born or made?

When Sir Richard Branson was asked this question in an interview, he answered: "Everyone is born an entrepreneur, and everyone has the potential to be an entrepreneur. It’s just that not everybody gets the opportunity."

Paul Hudson has a slightly different take. He believes: “The truth is no one is ever born an entrepreneur; no matter how genetically inclined you may be to become one, you still have to choose to become one. You still need to put in the work and choose the struggle as a lifestyle. Most importantly, you need to have the right character traits."

What both agree on is that entrepreneurship is a learned ability which requires certain character traits - as well as the right mindset.


What is an entrepreneurial mindset?

An entrepreneurial mindset comprises a set of skills, characteristics, attitudes, beliefs and behaviours. It enables people to overcome and learn from obstacles, identify and maximise opportunities, become more decisive and succeed in business.

An entrepreneurial mind sees opportunity gaps in the market and looks for innovative ways to fill these gaps and enhance people's lives. It is an essential 21st-century skill, invaluable in today's innovation economy. By cultivating an entrepreneurial attitude, you will:

  • learn to overcome challenges
  • take calculated risks to succeed
  • develop resilience
  • enhance your creativity and problem-solving skills

The top 5 characteristics of an entrepreneurial mindset

1.) Goal-oriented

"The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score." – Bill Copeland

Entrepreneurs do not engage in wishful thinking: they have goals and plans to achieve them. Entrepreneurs who set SMART goals are more likely to succeed as it allows them to measure progress and make changes if necessary.

2.) A growth mindset

Carol Dweck, psychologist and leading expert in the field of motivation, introduced the concept of growth and fixed mindsets in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

An entrepreneurial mind is a growth-oriented mind. People with a growth mindset believe intellect, abilities and aptitudes are learnable and can be improved with consistent effort.

3.) Innovating

Entrepreneurs are innovators. They think outside the box and constantly look for ways to improve existing systems, services or goods. A typical trait of an entrepreneurial mind is the ability to see what others cannot and conceive creative and novel solutions to close these gaps. These can then be used to create new businesses or business models.

4.) Taking calculated risks

“The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a rapidly changing world, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” – Mark Zuckerberg

There is an inherent risk factor that comes with entrepreneurship. The ability to not fear risks and failure is the mark of an inspiring entrepreneur. People with an entrepreneurial mindset are willing to experiment, take calculated risks and learn from failures.

5.) Problem-solving

Identifying and solving problems is intrinsic to entrepreneurship. An entrepreneurial mind thrives on challenges and tackles them head on to find innovative solutions that increase efficiency, improve customer satisfaction and achieve business goals.

Renowned British psychologist Michael Kirton described two problem-solving styles in his Adaptation-Innovation Theory. Adaptors desire to do things better, while innovators seek to do things differently.

happy woman working at desk

How to develop an entrepreneurial mindset

We’ve looked at some traits that successful entrepreneurs often share - but how can you cultivate these habits and ways of thinking in your day to day life? Here are 5 things you can do to think like an entrepreneur.

1.) Find your Ikigai

The nature of entrepreneurship is such that the personal and professional are deeply connected and intertwined, more than in any other form of employment. Many entrepreneurs have started their empires from their hobbies and passions. Victoria Beckham leveraged her passion for fashion to build an empire and top the list of Britain's top 100 entrepreneurs.

Looking for your ikigai could set you on the path to becoming an entrepreneur. This Japanese concept describes something which sits at the cross-section of what you love, what you’re good at, what the world needs and what you can be paid for. What is it that motivates you to get out of bed in the morning? Could one of your hobbies become a full-time career with the right amount of dedication and drive?

2.) Invest in learning

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” - Benjamin Franklin

Successful entrepreneurs prioritise learning and always look for self-improvement opportunities. To think like an entrepreneur, you must cultivate a growth mindset. You can do this by taking a class or listening to motivational podcasts - Entrepreneurs on Fire with John Lee Dumas is one we recommend on the business front. Learning a new hobby or seeking out mentors and coaches is another way to go about this.

3.) Set SMART goals

Not all goals are created equal, and successful entrepreneurs know this secret. Setting goals that have clearly defined objectives based on reality increases your chances of attaining them. For entrepreneurs, using this framework ensures their strategy has clarity and focus to make a meaningful impact.

SMART goals are goals that are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-sensitive

4.) Redefine failure

“Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” - Denis Waitley

The best entrepreneurs do not take failure personally and understand that it is just another stepping stone to success. Failing at something does not make you a failure. Redefining failure also overlaps with getting used to taking calculated risks. It does not come easy, but it is a quality you can learn.

A great place to start is by facing your fears and putting yourself in situations where you could be uncomfortable. For example, public speaking or taking up an adventure sport that will help you push your limits.

5.) Protect your energy

Most successful entrepreneurs know the importance of surrounding themselves with positive, like-minded and inspiring individuals who help them build a successful entrepreneurial mindset. Would you rather be surrounded by people who indulge in gossip and self-sabotaging behaviours or by successful entrepreneurs discussing ideas and visions?

You too can embrace the entrepreneurial mindset

Having an entrepreneurial mindset equates to lifelong growth. And the best part is that ANYONE can develop an entrepreneurial mind. Yes, as with all good things, it will take time to reframe your habits, thinking and behaviour, but the result will set you up for success in all areas of life.

If you think you're ready to start putting your entrepreneurial mindset to work - why not have a look at some businesses for sale in the UK?

Stuart Wood

About the author

Stuart is Editorial Manager at He has worked as Editor for a B2B publisher, Content Manager for a PR firm, and most recently as a Copywriter for Barclays.