Develop an Entrepreneur’s Mindset
The road awaits, and the freelance world lies before you. Are you ready to immerse yourself in its culture? When traveling to other countries, we often prepare ourselves by learning the language and customs of the locals. The freelance world is no different. If you come from the corporate world, you’ll encounter a different mindset among freelancers. It’s called an “entrepreneur’s mindset,” and it governs how you interact and build relationships with colleagues and clients.
So, as you begin your journey, let’s determine your entrepreneurial readiness.
Here are eight areas you can assess in your quest to develop an entrepreneur’s mindset:
According to Carol S. Dweck, “The view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you live your life. It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value.”
As you assess your mindset, what is your level of confidence and optimism about starting your own freelance business? Think about how mentally and emotionally ready you are for this new “entrepreneurial journey.”
And consider whether you have a growth mindset. A fixed mindset is when people tell themselves, “Failure is the limit of my abilities.” But a growth mindset says, “Failure is an opportunity to grow.” Freelance entrepreneurs welcome challenges, feedback, and the ability to try new things as positive forces. The fixed mindset wants to stick with what it knows and easily feels discouraged.
2. Virtual Lifestyle
While the virtual lifestyle may sound desirable, now is the time to assess what your comfort level is working in a “location-independent” environment (not an office). Do you feel you can be productive and effective while working from home? Do you feel you will be able to strike a healthy balance between your business and your personal priorities?
What is your commitment level to setting up and launching your freelance business over the next month? It’s important to determine how much time you can commit to the development of your business right now. You also must decide what sacrifices you’re prepared to make to build your business over the next weeks and months.
4. Transferable Skills
Many of us begin the freelance journey after successful careers in other industries. And none of what you learned in other jobs is wasted. So, spend some time making a list of the unique skills, knowledge, and experience you bring to your role as a professional freelancer. Here are some examples:
- Technology skills
- Project Management skills
- Social Media skills
- Writing/Editing skills
- Financial Management skills
- Administrative skills
- Media & Graphic Design skills
- Marketing skills
- Event Planning skills
- Teaching skills
- Coaching skills
- Research skills
- Organizational skills
- Relationship skills
- Team-building skills
- Business Management skills
- Networking skills
5. Freelance Niche Selection
Determine whether you have an initial sense of the TYPE of freelance niche or work you would like to pursue? Do you have a target client audience in mind?
6. Vision and Goals
Do you have an emerging picture of what you would like your freelance business to look like in the next year? Think about some specific and measurable goals you would like to accomplish in the next 30, 60, or 90 days.
7. Support Network
Do you have a “Champion” in your corner to support you along this entrepreneurial journey? It’s important to avoid taking this journey alone. Also, be sure to connect with local business networking groups and online freelancer groups to get support and resources.
8. Potential Barriers
Much like the bad weather we encounter during a plane trip or road trip, the freelance journey can be hampered by potential barriers. These may include money, time, confidence, health issues, family, support, another job, or simply being unsure of where to start.
You can address these barriers by taking steps to overcome them. For example, if you have a full-time job that reduces your time to invest in building your business, review your week and create one-hour “focus blocks.” If you’re lacking a support network, research and join a LinkedIn or Facebook group for freelancers. If you’re lacking confidence, complete your training and focus on finishing one task per day.
Employee vs. Entrepreneurial Mindset
As we mentioned above, the entrepreneurial mindset is key to having healthy interactions with freelance clients and colleagues. It’s the key to truly embracing the life of a virtual entrepreneur with the freedom to wear what you want, work out whenever you want, go on your kids’ school field trips, go on afternoon hikes with your dog, and run errands while the rest of the world works.
As Christine Kane says, “The true test of entrepreneurial success is in your mindset. With freedom comes responsibility. So when you leave your job, you have to re-wire your brain.”
Here is a handy list you can refer to that illustrates the Employee vs Entrepreneurial Mindset:
- Follows the leader
- Focuses on job tasks
- Follows a job description
- Managed by others
- Schedule directed by others
- Has a short-term vision (working in a business)
- Company invests in you
- Takes minimal to no risks
- Marketing not required (except during the job interview)
- Inside the box thinking
- Directed to learn
- Performs specialized tasks (according to the job description)
- Waits on changes
- Shifts responsibility
- Follows nobody
- Focuses on results
- Delivers a service
- Leads or manages others
- Schedule directed by YOU
- Has a long-term vision (working on your business)
- You invest in you
- Takes calculated risks
- Marketing always required for long-term success
- The box is nowhere to be found
- Driven to learn
- Jack of all trades (especially at the beginning)
- Creates change
- Takes responsibility
Characteristics of the Entrepreneurial Mindset
Your final goal is to have the following characteristics of an entrepreneurial mindset. Don’t be surprised if over the years you need to revisit this list to make sure you’re maintaining this important way of thinking and behaving:
- Outside the box thinker
- Service provider
- Visionary and goal setter
- Relentless learner
- Change maker
- Accountable (for the good or bad)
And if you aren’t there yet, here are some practical things you can do to make the shift to an entrepreneurial mindset:
1. Define Your Big Why.
Determine the driving motivation for starting and growing your virtual business. What impact do you want to have on your current situation and the lives of others? We’ll discuss this more in Step Two: Discover Your Big Why.
2. Create a Plan and Stick to It.
Establish a 12-week plan. Set your goals and action tasks. At the end of each week, check in to evaluate your progress, and use a business journal or app to manage your tasks.
3. Schedule Your Core Business Activities.
One way to do this is to divide your tasks into four types: Admin, Client Work, Marketing, and Learning. For example, you could do admin tasks once a week from 1-3 p.m., do client work on morning blocks every day, do marketing three days a week from 4-5 p.m., and focus on learning once a week from 1-4 p.m.
4. Build Your Circles of Influence.
Find people in your life who can lead you toward great clients. Your personal circle includes friends, colleagues, and family members. Your professional circle includes former colleagues or former bosses, online freelance groups, and groups connected to your target audience. Your prospect circle includes all the people who fit into your target audience, those you’re connecting with online to build your business.
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