Elance Blog

Shaping Your Entrepreneurial Mind for Success

Do you find yourself full of ideas but get weak in the knees at the thought of launching your own business? Being a successful entrepreneur isn't as farfetched as it may seem. Christine Ferguson, co-author of The Power of the Platform: Speakers on Life, gives insight on shaping your mind for entrepreneurial success.

As an entrepreneur, you may already be equipped with How-To books for business plans, marketing plans, and sales strategies to propel your business forward. There is no question this type of information is essential to the growth and success of your business. However, your biggest asset and your most important resource is the stuff between your ears.

In book The Power of the Platform: Speakers on Life, an anthology designed to help you develop your own greatness, I recap how an Oprah Winfrey audience member asked business tycoon Russell Simmons how to become a successful entrepreneur. Simmons replied that the man already had everything he needed because he had a brain.

For entrepreneurs like Simmons, how they use their minds can mean the difference between remarkable success and never realizing a dream. They believe in their vision despite obstacles and those who say it can’t be done. While you will undoubtedly receive some very sound advice, there are those whose advice stem from fear or those who sit on the sidelines of life never knowing what it is like to take calculated risks. Years ago when I was faced with major business and personal decisions, I listened to naysayers and then lay in bed at night gripped with fear that I may be making some terrible mistake. Ultimately, I proceeded with my decisions because that was the only way I would know what my outcomes would be. Sometimes the outcomes were successful, other times they were not. When you knock down the wall-of-naysayers, you will discover for yourself what is on the other side.

As you set out to achieve your goals and dreams, one way to exercise your mind is to ask yourself why your dream is important to you and why would it matter to others. Examining your why is something I often speak on. Knowing your why and keeping it in the forefront of your mind drives you and helps you stay focused—losing focus can quickly take you off track.

A strong why (one that leads to great long-term success) is not built on greed, hubris, or selfishness. As Jim Collins author of the best-seller Good to Great puts it, “Leaders of great enduring companies possess a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will, more like Lincoln than Patton; they’re intent on building, contributing, and creating something that will endure rather than furthering their own interests in fame, fortune or power.” When you determine your why as something that is meaningful and unselfish, not only does this strengthen your mind, it also strengthens your character.

Another question to ask, one that also strengthens your character and shapes your mind for success is, “Who do I need to become in order to get from where I am to where I want to be?” Who you are is not a matter of whether you are a writer, marketer, or IT professional. Rather, it is a matter of who you are on the inside. No matter how good you are at what you do, if you allow negative thoughts and behaviors to permeate your mind, you will be ill-equipped to move beyond setbacks.

From the time they were children through the years of building their multi-million dollar wine business, Ernest and Julio Gallo faced great business difficulties and several personal tragedies. Yet, they continued to push forward never giving up on themselves or their business. Pushing past challenges requires strength and resilience over paralyzing fear and worry. What’s more, overcoming each challenge strengthens you for the next.

Some entrepreneurs prepare to recover from potential challenges by surrounding themselves with books, coaches, and mentors. However, you must also ask yourself, “Who do I need to become in order to manage success?” Those who manage success well are not complacent about their achievements. They know it is normal to be proud of successes and to celebrate them. Yet, they also know that the more time they spend basking in their triumphs, the more time their competitors spend bringing new products to market or devising tactics to steal away their customers. So, with diligence and integrity, they plan and execute strategies for remaining competitive and becoming innovative.

Those who are met with success do not allow themselves to become greedy and arrogant. Greed and arrogance are surefire ways to ruin your business and your reputation. There is no shortage of empirical evidence against companies who, at their own hands, toppled their empires in the nefarious pursuit of more. For a comprehensive guide to managing business growth and sustainability read How the Mighty Fall, another terrific book by Jim Collins. In the meantime, ask yourself who you need to become to get from where you are to where you want to be and write down your responses and action steps.

As you traverse the sometimes unpredictable world of entrepreneurship, be patience as results may take time. Continue to shape and sharpen your mind for success by learning from others and from your mistakes. And when your critics are quick to point out how you stumbled, remember the inspiring words of Theodore Roosevelt, "It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood…so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

Post a comment below and share some of your tools for entrepreneurial success – books, courses, mentors, or philosophies you have developed through your own experiences.

About the Author:
Christine Ferguson is a published author and speaker on leadership and personal development. She is a co-author of the book The Power of the Platform: Speakers on Life with Jack Canfield, Brian Tracy, and Les Brown. Christine has been an entrepreneur, director, and leadership team member working with companies of all sizes – from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies. She is a Master Graduate of Rapport Leadership International, a former Certified Professional Résumé Writer, and a New York University, and University of Phoenix alumni. To contact Christine visit www.ChristineNFerguson.com.