Career

How To Think Like An Entrepreneur – Even If You Work In An Office

Entrepreneur. It’s a buzzword job title lighting up the workforce, and just about everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. But you don’t need to own your own startup to be considered one – all you need to do is embrace the mindset to set your desk job on fire (not literally).

Once considered only for disruptors, risk-takers and groundbreakers (think Sir Richard Branson), the term ‘Entrepreneur’ has become as broad as it is common. So common in fact that it’s even seeping into the traditional workplace.

Test the waters of being a risk-taker, within the security of regular employment and without putting your life’s savings on the line.

These days, job ads are full of requests for ‘an entrepreneurial mindset’ and ‘out of the box thinking’ as desired attributes – which is actually pretty cool. Employers no longer seek ‘doers’ (a hangover from the Industrial age) but rather encourage their employees to think for themselves.

Before you freak out that your job will be snatched by a Mark Zuckerberg wannabe, wait a second. It’s not about being an entrepreneur in its formal definition – a person who sets up a business, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit – instead, it’s all about the mindset. And you can apply it anywhere, just see.

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By adopting the mindset of an entrepreneur, you can take your current role from average to exceptional and challenge yourself daily. You can test the waters of being a risk-taker, within the security of regular employment and without putting your life’s savings on the line. And if you ever wanted to own your own business, being an entrepreneurial employee is the best way to test your abilities.

Here are some tips to flick the switch on a Branson state of mind.

Ditch the job description

Have you ever said ‘but that’s not in my job description’? Well, if you’re looking to let your inner disruptor shine, this mindset has to go.

A job description, while a great template for the core of your role, shouldn’t be setting up boundaries. An entrepreneur’s day doesn’t move in a straight line, instead they’re nimble, reactive and wear multiple hats.

Don’t try sticking to your lane, stick your hand up instead. When a project needs support, volunteer to assist, learn from your peers and pass on your knowledge. If there’s an issue, look for a solution. If the old way isn’t working, invent a new way. Not only will you impress the boss (hello, promotion), this attitude will give your resume scope, build confidence and open you up to bigger and better roles.

Get a life!

It’s been well documented that successful people understand the importance of balance. Arianna Huffington wrote that we need a third metric to measure ourselves by (wellbeing and personal success) to truly Thrive. Entrepreneurs work hard, but are not solely defined by their career achievements. They also know that extra-curricular is as important in adult life as it was in school.

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Working long days with no social life doesn’t foster an entrepreneurial spirit. Make time for family, additional learning, delicious food, exercise, philanthropic endeavours, music, reading, Game of Thrones-watching and sleeping. Richard Branson says, “entrepreneurs, more than most people, need to focus on their wellbeing in order to cut it in the workplace. The simple fact is, if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of business.”

Entrepreneurs find inspiration all around them, and if you’re permanently chained to your desk, there’s a good chance you won’t even notice (or be ready for) that next big opportunity.

Get used to hearing ‘no’

This is pretty obvious, but a great entrepreneur is OK with rejection. In fact, they embrace it. Nothing exciting ever came from playing it safe and risk-taking means you’ll hit a few walls along the way. It’s the ability to climb over those walls that make the entrepreneur.

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If you experience a set back, take on board any feedback that improves your idea and then move on. Likewise, own your mistakes and don’t point fingers if you’ve stuffed up. The blame game never helped anyone and a true entrepreneur sees mistakes as a badge of honour (and a damn good story for their future book!)

Get used to saying ‘no’

Entrepreneurs are selective in what they do, choosing only the tasks and projects that propel them forward. Netflix has flourished after shifting focus away from working hard, to working for results. Apply this approach for instant success.

Instead of pulling 12-hour days to prove your worth, choose your tasks wisely – what will drive this business (and me) forward? An employee focused on results and balance has no time for the small stuff. Sure, you still need to get your basic admin done, but do you need to participate in every all-office email? Nope. Delegate that role to the office gossip group and get on with the big stuff.

Take ownership

No, this doesn’t mean raising the capital for a takeover, it means treating the business like it’s your own and working to improve it at every opportunity. If it were your company, how would you change your approach?

This is about working towards the collective goal, rather than your individual purpose, and it requires generosity of spirit. Meet someone amazing at an event? Sell your company’s brand, even if you’re not in sales. A quality lead referred is as good as closing the deal – play a hand in growth and reap the rewards.

Surround yourself with experts

All entrepreneurs know their limitations, but also know it’s impossible to be an expert in everything – so they seek the expertise of others to fill their knowledge gaps. Instead, surround yourself with a network of people who can get stuff done, give great advice and are keen to be part of your A Team (even if its only metaphorical). The co-founder of startup Qwilr shares this advice, too.

To find your people, you might have to do what all entrepreneurs do and…

Network

It doesn’t need to be painful. Here’s how to do it without losing your mind.


Zoe Davis is a Sydney-based freelance writer, consultant and lecturer specialising in partnerships, marketing and music. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @agirlcalledzoe.