Entrepreneurial Mindset

The Entrepreneurial Mindset: How to Think Like an Innovator

Anyone can be an entrepreneur. But, it takes a certain energy, passion, and commitment to get there. You must have an “entrepreneurial mindset,” ready to tackle any challenge, meet all obstacles, and constantly be on the lookout for solutions. Fortunately, you can learn this mindset by participating in programs like those at the University of Utah’s Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute and David Eccles School of Business.

Jake Peters is one of many students learning this mindset. “We talk about this in class all the time: Any person can be an entrepreneur,” said Peters, who is a junior majoring in entrepreneurship at the U. “There’s this myth that people are just born entrepreneurs, like the Zuckbergs of the world, that they’re different than everyone else. That’s not true.”

How do you know if you have an entrepreneurial mindset? And how can you develop one? Below is a list of key skills you need to have to think like an innovator.

Be Observant — and Recognize Opportunities

 “The entrepreneurial mindset is really the ability to observe and to recognize opportunities,” said Brad Williams, an assistant professor and program director for the Department of Entrepreneurship & Strategy at the University of Utah. “Approach problems from both a causal perspective, thinking in terms of results you’re trying to generate, and from an effectual perspective, which is more the mindset of say, an explorer. It’s a mix of both: a growth mindset; the ability to learn, do, pivot and grow.”

“They’re always looking to increase value,” Peters said. “Before starting my program, I accepted things as they were and didn’t put much thought into it. Now, I find myself constantly noticing things throughout the day about what can be improved.”

Be Willing to Take a Risk

For Alejandro Romero, an adjunct instructor of analytics in the Department of Entrepreneurship & Strategy, “You have to be willing to try things. Entrepreneurship is risk-taking. But someone with an entrepreneurial mindset will analyze and understand the risks they’re taking and minimize them. Confidence is extremely important.”

Be Independent

“The biggest barrier to entry for success in entrepreneurship is that we’re asking students to approach this resource set in a completely different way than they’ve been trained,” said Kathy Hajeb, director of operations at the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute, and an associate professor in the Department of Entrepreneurship & Strategy. “Students show up and expect someone to give them a list, a syllabus, and instructions. This, though, is self-directed work. Their biggest hurdle is just organizing and directing their own efforts.”

But Also Be a Team Player

Entrepreneurs, like Steve Jobs, have a vision of something,” Romero said. “But, they can’t do it alone: Jobs had to collaborate with multiple teams and share his vision with many different people. You have to know how to talk to others, how to pitch your idea and work in concert with a group.”

“To be successful, you have to be effective at working in a group and building teams,” Peters said. “Those with an entrepreneurial mindset are flexible, quick to make the right decisions and look to find those that can balance your skills.”

Be Comfortable Going Against the Grain

According to Hajeb, the entrepreneurial mindset isn’t always natural.

“I had a student who said he didn’t want to impose on people,” she said. “So many of these entrepreneurial skills go counter to our culture of don’t interrupt people, don’t ask for things. We’re not comfortable being told no and we don’t like rejection, but all of these build that grit muscle that helps us when the asks get harder.”

Want to strengthen your mindset, or start building it? Get involved with our entrepreneurship events, workshops, classes, and more on the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute website.

About the Author:

Jacqueline Mumford Jacqueline is a master of accounting graduate from the University of Utah. Specializing in tax, she works as an accountant studying the intersection of government and business. In her free time, she runs, plays Candy Crush, and reads novels. Twitter: @jacqmumford and LinkedIn here.

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