I’ve been visiting a small coffee shop in my town the other day to grab a small cup of coffee for the rest of my (working) day. It is a small coffee shop I like a lot for many reasons: excellent coffee, quality services, attention to individuals’ needs and continuing personal interest and connection.
What else someone would ask from a small local shop. Right? Right.
All the best things characterized an ambitious new entrepreneur wrapped up, packaged and delivered with utmost generosity and complement.
It happens to know the owner who is an excellent new entrepreneur influenced a lot by the continuing economic crisis and forced to change his professional plans and do something he could.
He cannot afford to wait for a new job to come, and having 2 kids, an unemployed wife and several elderly people in his family without a valuable pension he had to gather all his courage, abandon his former ambitions and plans and compelled to find some resources enough to open and sustain this small coffee shop.
I talk often with him about various things (when time permits, or as now waiting for my order to completed) and especially so for entrepreneurship and customer service. I often tell him that entrepreneurship is not a business and to become a successful one you need to think more, do more, provide more value.
Small business, especially in Greece of financial crisis need a different attitude, and a different mindset to help you survive and see “alive” the next day. And you need to implement specific strategies that would help you limit the friction and simplify your business.
Questions Posed Remains Sometimes Unanswered
The topic of our discussion was what makes a good entrepreneur and how you should think in order to sustain your business in the time of crisis and, if possible, make it grow.
I hadn’t a ready-made answer of course. What makes a good entrepreneur is not just a matter of science or hardcore data. Entrepreneurship is not exactly a science or an art and it is rather unpredictable when you try to define it.
The only think could answer at the time was a short list of characteristics I had compiled for an article I have written in the past, but that list wasn’t exactly what my friend was looking for.
My order come and I had to leave, but our discussion triggers me some more thoughts about what makes a good entrepreneur. I promise to return with a small different approach and a different set of attributes may help a small business owner in the crisis to survive an unfavorite business environment.
My answer is that a new entrepreneur in a bad spot needs to develop an out-of-the-box mindset cultivating a constant inquisitive attitude and business behavior.
Develop An Inquisitive Entrepreneurship Mindset
Let me explain my answer. “Business as usual” is a myth never applied in reality. Every business is different and every business person had to face different challenges every time.
The most effective persons in business are the people have authenticity, originality and present and “difference” in what they do, how they do it, how they connect to their audience, etc.
The most successful ones, though, are the one have stopped trading their time for getting money and start spending money on getting more free time.
This it was my first thought! And more free time means more time for the things matter most to you. Family, planning, dreaming, doing what makes you “great”.
Everybody says that works more to do more in his or her life but actually this is a huge excuse. A successful entrepreneur is the one can select how and where he or she spends his/her time and more importantly what are the things would permit to grab his/her attention. The human brain is much more flexible than it seems!
At the end of the day, though, entrepreneurship is a:
shift in perspective radically changes the use of objects and ideas. John Saddington
This kind of shift requires a completely different set of features, features are not usually taught in business schools. Are part of hard-earned lessons taken in everyday business life.
Are also lessons, make you develop a more inquisitive mindset that would be directed to find problems or pains in your niche market and find the proper solutions to these challenges by providing constant value to the people you have chosen to serve.
The Foundations of The New Mindset
The new business relies on a completely different set of skills and competencies from any previous ones. The demand today is to provide value in an acute competitive international business ecosystem.
To provide more value in a “different way” you need to examine carefully your surroundings and the needs of the people in your niche market and for this, you need to abandon old mental habits, abolish certainty and embrace the logic of the dynamic balances on every level of your business.
This logic dictates that you should work with a mentality of “Thriving on Chaos”, removing old ways from your business practice and developing new approaches to “doing things“. This is not easy because you should abandon the concept of a permanent balance and adopt the concept of the dynamic balances achieved ad hoc and aiming at the maximum impact in your niche market.
And this approach dictates a different kind of entrepreneurship and of the entrepreneurs.
These ideas make me think of attributes described in the classic book of Michael J. Gelb (one of my top books, by the way), “How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci” which describes the 7 principle used by a genius like DaVinci to overcome the challenges of his time and design a different and more creative lifestream for himself.
Leonardo da Vinci, literally designed himself, and Michael Gelb argues that the same principles used by him can help anybody today.
This thought led me to a different one and to another favorite of mine book: Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas R. Hofstadter. Some people would argue what the interlinks between formal systems have to do with entrepreneurship, but if they think a little bit more they would realize that “formal” system (like technology systems, operations, innovations, ideas, etc.) because:
according to Hofstadter, the formal system that underlies all mental activity transcends the system that supports it. If life can grow out of the formal chemical substrate of the cell, if consciousness can emerge out of a formal system of firing neurons, then so too will computers attain human intelligence. Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
As entrepreneurship is! A cross-cultural fertilization of ideas, approaches, systems, and tools directed to provide value and respond adequately to existing challenges.
But ideas are not enough. You need to act to achieve what you envision for, and to do so you need the support of value provided and trustworthy systems.
Every small business owner knows that it is not enough to find a “pain point” in his/her niche market. You need to have the resources and the infrastructure to do something about it.
The employment of the right systems would provide you the necessary leverage to achieve whatever you need to achieve.
And second, the proper systems would help you systematize your business in a way that it can run without your presence. An operation run without you, it means a business leaving you more time to focus on what matters to you.
So this approach is a win-win situation for both parties. You as an entrepreneur and the people your business serve. You gain freedom (in the form of money, time, etc.) and your “clients” enhanced value embedded within the systems you have designed and operate in your business.
These were my ideas about entrepreneurship and that it was I’d like to convey to my friend in the coffee shop.
That at the end of the day entrepreneurship is not just for making money. It is or should be, something more, aiming at providing more value to the whole of society. But in order to do that, an entrepreneur should develop and keep on cultivating an inquisitive mindset!
11 Strategies To Become A Better Entrepreneur
How though a person deep involved to his/her own problems and daily challenges (either personal or business ones) can develop an inquisitive mindset?
Besides that, to develop an inquisitive mindset today you need some basic directions to help you shift your existing mindset towards a more open one embracing all the different contradictory elements of reality to balance within unique and readily applicable solutions for everyone.
To start growing such mindset you need to:
- Stay Hungry. Staying hungry is an expression coined up by Steve Jobs trying to exemplify that a young entrepreneur should never be satisfied with what he/she is or have. A content entrepreneur is someone would soon stop doing business due to the lack of ambition and fresh ideas.
- Stay Curious. You need to be always curious about what’s happening around in order to find out what’s wrong and how you can correct it. You need to embrace a hacker-like mindset trying to learn more, test the reality against your beliefs and trying to make the systems to do more than the things they designed for.
- Develop a growth mindset. A new entrepreneur needs to have a growth mindset that will lead him/her to higher achievements. At the end of the day, you do business with people not with companies. And people with a growth mindset are usually the best candidates for long and prospect business relationships. You should always keep on learning and adjust your behavior based on what you have learned (you can find more information here for the differences between fixed vs. growth mindset).
- Ideas. The main fuel of new business are ideas and innovation and these elements can leverage your assets towards new heights. As an entrepreneur, you should be able to find, brainstorm, develop, validate, reject and implement the best ideas possible to the service of the people you have chosen to serve.
- Find Problems and check on the possible solutions. As an entrepreneur, you need to develop a strategy to find out the problems concerns your niche market and develop appropriate answers to that.
- Check on how new things may solve old problems. You should be constable aware of the new advances and trends can be used for solving old problems in your market. And you should find ways to implement them transparently, and without a friction for the final users.
- Be Proactive. You should remove your old responsive business reflexes and start embracing a proactive life attitude towards all things around you.
- Think in systems and in patterns within the chaos. Embrace uncertainty as the main constant in your business life and try to find the best dynamic balances and the recurring patterns in the systems, the approaches, and the solutions your sponsored that would support your work and provide more value to your clients.
- Exercise free will and independent thinking and find innovative responses and solutions to problems seemingly unsolved. Your originality and authenticity will provide you the boost you need to surpass the ordinary and address to the people you really need to speak about your services and products.
- Use Science and Leverage Experience. Try to leverage every insight science can provide you and embed its propositions and suggestions to your services and your products in your niche market. With science, you will also need to leverage your experience in developing better and more effective services and products.
- Embrace testing and verification as basic principles of your life. You should never be content with what is given or acquired effortlessly. You should always contact your own verification processes against your reality and verify your ideas to the benchmark of realism all the time.
These 11 strategies even though are the only ones may be able to provide you a solid new mindset that would help you succeed in your business.
In no way, though, are enough, and you should always search for more mental patterns, trends, procedures, technologies or tools that would mutually help your business and provide additional value to your clients.