Mark Zuckerberg. Arianna Huffington. Richard Branson. These names all come to mind when you hear the word “entrepreneur.”
But the thing is, you don’t have to start a company to consider yourself an entrepreneur. In fact, simply thinking like an entrepreneur can open opportunities to you that you might have written off as Silicon Valley fantasies.
Having an entrepreneurial mindset means seeing and seeking out opportunities. It means innovating and overcoming obstacles in your path. These attributes can help you build your career and create value for your company, no matter whether you work in a traditional business environment or a completely unrelated field.
Not sure if you think like an entrepreneur? Consider the following traits — you may be more similar to Zuckerberg or Huffington than you thought.
1. Entrepreneurs constantly seek out opportunities.
If you’re entrepreneurially-minded, you’re never satisfied with just meeting the requirements of your job. You’re looking for ways to fill every minute of your day with tasks that go beyond your job description. That might mean helping co-workers with their assignments, creating new projects that will benefit the company or attending classes to improve your skills. If you’re always looking for the next best idea, chances are you’ll find it.
2. Entrepreneurs always work towards achieving a goal.
Are you the kind of person that sets New Year’s Resolutions — but actually keeps them? Research shows that when you write down goals for yourself, you’re more likely to actually achieve them. Entrepreneurs have this skill down to an art. Beyond just identifying a preferred outcome, entrepreneurs outline steps for how to get there and constantly check in on their progress. Want to earn a raise in the next year? Consider what skills you need and how you’re going to improve them. This may mean staying late at the office, enlisting the help of a mentor or furthering your education with a BCom degree.
3. Entrepreneurs take risks.
More concerned with improving the company than toeing the company line? Good. If you have a supportive boss, they’ll want you to challenge the status quo. You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs, just like you can’t become a leader in your industry without challenging how current players operate. Entrepreneurs constantly suggest new ways of doing things — be it a small or large change — especially at a young company. While their ideas might not always be accepted, it will identify them as innovators who are always up for a brainstorming session — and the person the boss will approach next time an opportunity arises.
4. Entrepreneurs understand and learn from failure.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. It can be hard to take and apply constructive criticism, but if you’re able to do so, you’ll be more successful in the long-term. More often than not, it’s your third or fourth idea — not your first idea — that’s your best. In the same way, entrepreneurs know that they may have to start multiple business ventures before one works. By understanding that failure is only temporary, you not only become a better team member, but a more talented and astute employee in the future.
You don’t need to be founding a company to start thinking like an entrepreneur. You just need to be interested in creating value and affecting positive change, whether it’s within your current organization, at a new venture or somewhere in between. The Bachelor of Commerce program at Royal Roads is geared towards those who have degrees in un-related areas, but realize they need business skills to complement their other areas of expertise.
Whether you decide to take their program or start emulating the above traits on your own, remember — it’s never too early or too late to begin furthering your career. All it takes is a little entrepreneurial spirit.