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Entrepreneur Mindset

The Mindset Game: What to Do if You’re an Entrepreneur on the Outside and An Employee on the Inside

Have you watched the 1979 sci-fi horror classic, The Invasion of the Body Snatchers?

It’s about extra-terrestrial creatures taking over our planet by creating carbon copies of us, humans. In other words, these creatures look like human beings on the outside but they’re aliens on the inside.

I know countless entrepreneurs who suffer from what I like to call The Body Snatcher syndrome: They look like entrepreneurs on the outside but they’re really employees on the inside.

They may run their own business but they’re still thinking like they did when they spent their days stuck in a cubicle.

This is a condition that’s prevalent among business owners who’ve just traded their 9-to-5 life for the wild, wacky – ultimately rewarding – world of entrepreneurship. I’ve also seen it happen to entrepreneurs who’ve been at it for a lot longer. The ones who have years of experience under their belt.

Here’s something I tell my students again and again and it’s 100% relevant here:

Entrepreneurship is an inner game. It’s a mindset game.

Achieving success, satisfaction and sustainable profits as an entrepreneur is about embracing the entrepreneurial mindset. It’s not enough to act like an entrepreneur. You need to think like one.

You need to feel like one.

This isn’t some new age “mind over matter” philosophy. It’s an important, proven element of successful entrepreneurship that I’ve seen it play out again and again.

So, what do you do? How do you cure The Body Snatcher syndrome? How do you become a successful entrepreneur on the inside?

After years of working with remarkable men and women who’ve made the transition from employee to full-on entrepreneur, I’ve discovered 3 powerful mindset shifts or “switches” that significantly speed up the process.

Let’s start with the first one which I also happen to think is the biggest needle-mover: Positive action over perfectionism.

Most employees spend massive amounts of time, focusing on the minutiae. They worry about the smallest tasks and the tiniest details. They check and re-check their work, they change and tweak things 10, 20, 30 times until everything feels flawless – 100% perfect – before they submit or hit send.

Successful entrepreneurs want to do great work too but not if it keeps them running in place.

True entrepreneurs value positive action over perfectionism every day of the week. Their key objective is to get their products, services and content out the gate and into the hands of their customers – the people who need it. They value taking action, getting things done and moving forward.

The reason for this disparity between employees and entrepreneurs?  

Employees think about how their work reflects on them. They’re motivated by self-interest.  Entrepreneurs think about how their work affects and helps others. They’re motivated by service. That’s why done supersedes perfect. Always

The second mindset switch has to do with taking risks.

When it comes to making choices, no matter how big or small, employees choose the safe route. The path of little to no risk. The deeper reason behind this is that employees are looking to preserve what they already have because they fear loss over everything else.

They hold on tight to the status quo because they don’t want to lose their position, status, security or whatever else they believe comes with the job. They resist change. They avoid risk.

But successful entrepreneurs think differently. Very differently.

They welcome change and they’re constantly looking for ways to upgrade themselves and their business They go out and hire new team members and coaches, create new products and services, or experiment with unusual marketing methods despite the risks.

The know those new team members may let them down, their customers may dislike the new product and the unusual marketing method could end up a spectacular failure but they do it anyway.

They’re willing to take calculated risks to keep improving so they can achieve their ultimate goal, which is to serve their clients at the highest level. Giving their best every single day – this is an entrepreneur’s grand prize and they’re willing to take smart risks to get there.

On to the third and final mindset switch that will take you from employee to successful entrepreneur: Say no to opportunities more than you say yes.

I know this might seem strange but here’s what I mean…

Employees believe success is about saying yes to every opportunity that comes their way. They’re not clear on their goals and they don’t say no because they think, “What if I miss out on something big?”

More often than not, this leads to unsuitable partnerships, unfinished projects and unmet expectations.

On the other hand, successful entrepreneurs say yes only to the right opportunities.

They’re crystal clear about their goals and they aren’t afraid to make hard decisions to make sure they hit those goals.

A true entrepreneur commits only to that which moves her toward her purpose. All other opportunities –  no matter how attractive – are recognized for what they truly are: Distractions that steer her away from achieving what she wants.

Here’s an important, unvarnished truth about the entrepreneurial mindset that almost no one talks about…

When you have the right mindset and average skills, you can find it in yourself to learn what you need to know to become an entrepreneur with a successful business.

But when your mindset isn’t where it should be, no amount of talent, strategy, expert coaching or multimillion-dollar funding will help you get where you want to go.

If you recognize that the employee in you is still running the show, consciously start to apply these 3 mindset shifts so you can step into your full power and potential as an entrepreneur.

I’m not going to lie.

This isn’t like going gluten-free (and if I’m being perfectly honest, that can be challenging too!)

It won’t be easy to replace an employee mindset for full-power entrepreneurial thinking and it certainly won’t happen overnight.

But I promise that when you make the effort to shift into thinking and feeling like an entrepreneur, you’ll begin to notice a significant increase in your creative flow, and clarity.

You’ll enjoy higher levels of satisfaction and you’ll even begin to see more profits in your business because potential clients will sense your authentic, confident energy and respond positively.

But even more important than all that, you’ll start to see that you have what it takes to navigate the ups and downs of entrepreneurship, to overcome obstacles and challenges, and achieve extraordinary levels of success because you’re not just an entrepreneur on the outside…

You’re a true-blue entrepreneur on the inside.

In the comments below, I’d love for you to pick your favorite mindset shift and share how you plan to implement it in your business.

Here’s to becoming a no-holds-barred, take-no-prisoners, outrageously successful entrepreneur!

Love it? Hate it? Let me know...

  1. Juliet Le Breton

    Such a great article, thanks Marisa! I love your take on no 1: stop perfecting your product/service to death and focus on serving more: service trumps self-interest. This helps me a lot. Thank you! #RecoveringPerfectionist

    Reply ·
    1. Marisa Murgatroyd

      Thanks Juliet! Totally — a lot of time perfectionism is more about our ego than our customer’s needs.

      Reply ·
  2. Joy Taylor

    Over the last month, I’ve been practicing NO more often. Carefully evaluating the many opportunities that come my way to see if they match my stretch goals and long-term visions. And, YES, I have said NO to more options than I have said YES too! And it feels great – I’m creating space for the bigger play. All these mindsets ring true to me. Pushing SEND before my email is perfect – I just did that yesterday, and it felt great. I said to myself, “this is good enough.” I want to practice that more. less second-guessing, and more momentum!

    Reply ·
    1. Marisa Murgatroyd

      Sounds like you’re already doing this Joy! It makes a HUGE difference. I love that you’re making space for the bigger play. I’m curious what that looks like for you!

      Reply ·
  3. Richard Zultner

    Positive action above perfection is my biggest challenge currently. As an employee, you are assigned the work, and given a date to finish by. As an entrepreneur, you assign yourself the work, and the date… or not. SET THE DATE. Launch! Then do your best. And then comes the big advantage of being an entrepreneur— regardless of how well it went — YOU can decide to do it AGAIN (and do it better). And again (even better). And successively refine your way to awesome…

    Reply ·
    1. Marisa Murgatroyd

      I hear you Richard. I believe in keeping dates to yourself as firmly as you keep dates with other people… so the action happens on a timetable that brings you results and success. You already know how I feel about iterating your way to awesome… xo

      Reply ·
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About the Author Marisa Murgatroyd

Marisa is the founder of Live Your Message, where she turns entrepreneurs into Online Superheroes, and the creator of Start With You where she helps people just like you to discover the business they're meant to build, not just the business they can build. At 4’11 and a quarter, she’s called the shortest woman in marketing — and that doesn’t stop her from having huge ideas. She’s the “go to” brand builder for industry luminaries and heavyweights such as Justin Livingston, Callan Rush, Danny Iny, Alexis Neely and Susan Peirce Thompson. Marisa helps entrepreneurs create a business that is authentic and aligned with who they are, to empower them to turn up the dial on their “inner superhero”, so they can be the superhero to their tribe, as well as in their own lives.

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