Growth Mindset – A Must Have for Entrepreneurs

This article will show you how to design and grow a mindset to push your business in times of uncertainty. It will discuss how neuroscience and the way our brain operates affect our day to day thinking and decision making. It will explain how to identify blockers that stop you from achieving certain things and how to put all this information into use. 

During your entrepreneurship journey, you want to always achieve, persevere, and overcome all obstacles to grow your business. The people that achieve their business goals, despite uncertainty, are those that encounter and adapt to continuous change. Change is an opportunity for us to grow and we need to see challenges as an opportunity for growth and to come out stronger. An entrepreneur with a growth mindset can learn from mistakes and use them to grow their business. Whereas those with a fixed mindset might dwell on failures and setbacks and maybe have a reason to give up. If you don’t believe in yourself at the end of the day, how can anybody else?

What does Growth Mindset mean to you?

  • Forward-thinking 
  • To be open to new ideas from everyone around us.
  • The belief that you can improve and progress.
  • The ability to learn from your mistakes.
  • Positive thinking 
  • Adapt to change
  • To give growth the highest priority
  • To stretch beyond the comfortable and familiar to explore the unknown. 
  • To pivot 

A Growth Mindset Drives Motivation and Achievement

Over 30 years ago, Carol Dweck, a research professor and her colleagues came together to look into what people’s attitudes towards failure were. They noticed some people rebounded while others were completely devastated, even by the smallest setbacks. After studying the behaviour of thousands of people, Dr Dwaik coined the terms, fixed mindset and growth mindset. These describe the underlying belief that people have about their learning and intelligence. When it comes to change, we may not always be able to control the outcome, but we can always control our response to it. 

Think about any of your last entrepreneurship setbacks, as we all have them, what was your reaction to it? What led you into taking this setback and creating an opportunity out of this challenge? Or what led you to think positively and have you look at it as an opportunity to grow? Everyone reacts differently, and that’s the growth mindset of resilient people. It gives you the tools to bounce back from even the toughest situations. That is a growth mindset, the ability to improve, and our belief that we can improve. 

It always starts with you believing in yourself. When you believe you can get better, you know effort can make you stronger. Then you put in that necessary time and effort which leads to higher achievement. 

New research and advances in neuroscience have shown that our brains are far more malleable, meaning we can tailor our thinking towards our future more than we knew. A scan showed how our brain components started making new connections after a certain number of days and weeks when a person changes the way they think. A brain’s structure starts to change when you start adjusting your mindset. 

Our brain plasticity has shown that connectivity between neurons can change our experiences. With the practice of thinking or doing a certain thing, like a growth mindset, in this case, stronger connections grow in our brain and strengthen existing ones and essentially, that is how neuroplasticity works.

95% of our brain is kind of our subconscious. It is where we have routines, principles, things that our parents told us when we were children – it’s a storage of a lot of rules that anchor in our long term memory part of our brain. This is what defines the person that we are today. Things that people have told us, such as, “oh you’re not able to become an entrepreneur”, “oh you are not able to succeed” get stuck in our head and become anchors in our long term memories. It is possible to change that way of thinking, and that is where neuroplasticity comes into play. 

We are going to practice putting new information in your subconscious and creating a routine that will stay in your long term memory. 

What are the Principles of an Entrepreneur?

Being an entrepreneur follows certain processes. It is a search for a business model that is repetitive, scalable, and won’t burn all our resources. It is important to find a fast and cheap way between building an idea or assumption, measuring the results, and learning all that is needed to validate our assumption.

These principles are quite well known, there are many books around design thinking and lean startups. Can we use the same principles in our personal life to survive in our entrepreneurship?

Certain parts of the processes which are iterations of continuous validations are divided into three parts

  1. Define the problem: How do you realize that somebody needs your product? How do you validate that there is a problem to be solved?
  2. Define your solution: How do you solve the problem you defined? This certainly happens before you develop a product. You figure out the solution and follow the Agile methodology to start building a product.
  3. Follow the Agile methodology to start building a product and ensuring you follow the right principles so you do not run out of money or burn your resources. 

You have to answer the questions, will anyone care about my idea? And can I make this happen in a fast and cheap manner?

12 years ago, Zappos wanted to sell shoes online and they wanted to see if people would shop for shoes on the internet. To validate their idea, they created a landing page and uploaded pictures of shoes from the store in their building to see if anyone would be interested in purchasing them. This whole process cost them $200. Instead of them building a whole website and purchasing stock, they started small and simple to see if people would care about this idea. 

An employee in a corporation knows at the end of the month they will get their salary, however, an entrepreneur needs to validate their idea quickly and on a budget through small experimentations to ensure they don’t lose too much. 

Here we are still in the first phase of entrepreneurship. This is where you have an idea and want to understand the problem. Here are a few keywords you should keep in mind:

  • Empathise
  • Problem framing
  • Experimentations
  • Springs 
  • Pivot
  • Validation 

You may sit and develop various products, drop them and pivot from them before you create the one that solves the problem at hand. 

Competition is huge in the world, but we can start by understanding a process that will be able to make a change in behaviour stick. Some of the principles we use in our methodology of learning are based on Design Thinking, Lean Startup and Agile. Helping people to continuously run experiments and have validations on their assumptions.

If this works for startup growth, would it work for my personal growth? 

So many of the lessons learned on an entrepreneur journey can be applied in our personal lives, whether you want to write a book, create new habits, or get in shape. You can growth hack your career paths and personal lives. 

Words valid for building continuous routines to help you build a growth mindset:

  • Empathetic: To create new and better ways to do things, we need to understand who we are creating them for. Understand why certain things are more important to us. How do we react and feel with these things? The level of empathy we need to have with ourselves needs to be high to commit to the changes that are related to the world of innovation. 
  • Problem Finder: How to ask good questions. Most innovations start with a question, not from an answer. As an entrepreneur, this is a needed skill, which is to focus on the question. 
  • Risk Taker: This is a tough one, especially when you’re used to living the corporate life.
  • Networked: We need to create connections with people that are different from us and in different fields. When you have conversations with different people, these get stored in your subconscious, and your subconscious will start making connections you didn’t know were possible. Get out of your comfort zone and attend events you wouldn’t normally go to.
  • Observant: The capacity to look at the world outside our comfort zone and observing people. Being capable of taking notes of what you are observing. 
  • Creator: Not necessarily about having ideas but having the capability of executing the ideas and making them happen.
  • Resilient: On average, a person receives around 10 no’s a day when they are presenting their ideas. We have to keep building ourselves up and restoring our energy to keep moving forward. 
  • Reflective: To be able to say what worked and what didn’t. What could we do differently and so on. We need to measure and learn from our steps.

These 8 keywords belong to the growth mindset of an entrepreneur and are heavily related to living life as an experiment. Trying new things because what is written in books won’t completely work for you. Get inspired by books from leaders but you can’t just take the learning from others and expect them to work on you. It is important to be able to design your process that is more relevant to your conditions. 

The brain has a natural resistance to change, but not in one day. You can benefit from certain areas of how the brain works to move forward. 

Motivation is a small factor that contributes to change, but what mostly contributes to change is the ability to do mini efforts so that your brain doesn’t produce fear signals that then block your motivation. Remember, to drive change, do small consistent steps because consistency is key. You slowly get your brain used to this new routine that then becomes stored in the long term memory.  

Another important factor in how the brain works is the brain does not distinguish between reality and fiction. So driving emotions, being able to realize the present moment, and being happy about those small little steps that you do is something that contributes to the brain adopting new behaviours. If you don’t have any of these behaviours, it is possible to make them into micro habits that may or may not work for you. That is where you go into the loop of building an assumption, measuring and learning, and if it doesn’t work, you pivot. You try another habit but all with the same goal in mind. 

We have moved from the world of startups, connected to how we can self improve and use some of the principles and some of the processes into areas of development. The areas of development will not happen alone. 

How to convert areas of development into routines and actions?

  1. Clarify your goals and aspirations: Create an image of the person you want to be, don’t just say it to yourself. Understand and feel that person you are working towards because feelings get stored in your long term memory.
  2. Explore Behaviours Options: Looking at how you can crowdsource ideas for behaviours. If your goal is to get in shape, what are your options? Doing yoga in the morning? Walking the dog? Exercising before bed? Basically, it’s looking at options that are feasible for you. Behaviours are the actions you will take to reach your goal.
  3. Match with the current lifestyle: You have 5 to 10 different actions you can start implementing, but not all will match your lifestyle. You take the behaviour and ask yourself if you have the motivation to do it. Does it feel right? Is this a behaviour you want to do?
  4. Start small…Tiny!: Based on research, you have to have consistency and discipline to make things happen. That is why you have to take small steps to get into the routine to work towards your goal. Tiny actions will take you to the next step. 
  5. Find your triggers: Plan small efforts, but to put in the effort you need to have a reminder, or a trigger, that will remind you to do the action. The most used triggers are the ones you do day-to-day, like brushing your teeth, drinking coffee/tea in the morning, etc. How can we leverage the actions that we do every day to add new behaviours? Instead of just saying you’ll do something every day, you schedule it with a routine you already have, that way it triggers or reminds you to do it consistently. People have enough time to devout small actions.
  6. Celebrate – make your brain happy: It may look weird, but when you celebrate you give your brain signals that produce enzymes that say you are happy or being pleased. When this enzyme is produced it becomes addictive to the brain and the brain signals to do it again. Everyone should find small ways to celebrate.

Always acknowledge the days you miss a certain routine or not do something you wanted to. Recognize what was it that stopped you from achieving your little checkmark for that day and try not to let it happen again. Then, go ahead and get back on your routine track.

 

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