I’ve seen all sides. I’ve lived in big companies. I’ve been a technology entrepreneur. I’ve also lived inside dozens of startups as a proxy entrepreneur, aka an angel investor. And I’ve seen hundreds of software product startups as a grass-roots ecosystem builder in the past eight years. My conclusion is that in the end it comes down to just two things: Mindset and Conduct.
Entrepreneurship is a state of mind
Entrepreneurship is not just about having the greatest of ideas, knowing the best sales pitch, crafting the best marketing strategy, building the coolest products, or any of that sort of things.
Entrepreneurship is, in its unalloyed form, a state of mind. It is how you think, the way you think, and how you act. It is a state of mind that needs to be cultivated. It needs personal mastery.
Four mindset elements that really matter
Are you comfortable being the underdog? It’s only by seeing yourself as an outsider can you change the rules of the game.
Can you hold a contrarian point of view? This is what gives you a big spirit even when you are small in size.
Can you step outside your comfort zone? Having an internal, not external, driver for excellence is necessary to be world’s best at what you do.
Can you influence without control? Unless you can motivate an army of knowledge workers through empathy, storytelling and meaning-making, there is no revolution that’ll take place.
Personal code of conduct matters more than skills
Entrepreneurship is a team sport. Your rules of engagement with others matter. They determine if people will stick with you when things don’t work out.
Believe me, in the long run a personal code of conduct matters more than skills. Here is quick checklist:
Do you make things up, and make them happen? It’s all about outcome and action. It’s about producing results, not reasons. Do you keep your promises? Saying what you mean, and doing what you say is surprisingly uncommon. So making clear commitments – I’ll do my best effort or I’ll do what it takes – is often enough to stand out.
Do you give more than you get? Paying forward creates trust. Trust delivers speed and amplifies the power of collaboration. In today’s world, it’s a gamechanger.
Do you set people for success even though their definition of success is not yours? This is how you get loyalty.
You’ll find hundreds of books and websites telling you how to think, act and invest like Warren Buffett. Many people try out his investment formula but very few succeed. Why is this the case? Because, while the blueprint is pretty easy to understand, it’s really difficult to implement. Entrepreneurship is like investing and dieting–at its core it is simple, but not easy!
This blog post was written for The Economic Times.