The Mindset of an Entrepreneur

Each year in the Institute for Transformational Leadership (ITL), we train hundreds of coaches (leadership & health and wellness), consultants (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion & Organizational Development) and facilitators.  Many are looking to leave their previous jobs behind to chart a new path on their own.  Academic Entrepreneur Jay Markiewicz, who has trained over 1000 global practitioners of entrepreneurship,  offers his perspective and personal story to help us navigate the journey.

What advice do you have for a new entrepreneur?

It all starts with the mindset that Entrepreneurs are first and foremost empathetic problem finders. Seeing challenges, unmet needs, and opportunities from the customer’s perspective is fundamental entrepreneurship. Once we hone in on customer problems then we shift into innovative and creative solution generators. The work of the entrepreneur then, playfully stated, is to “make it up and test it.” The process of finding problems and creating solutions (making it up) must be methodically tested through customer centric experiments in order to validate what we just created (made up!). The tests and experiments are iterated based on feedback in order to optimize our concept. Growth of our startup then comes down to “repeating experiments that work!”

What should practitioners keep in mind as they make this leap?

I too set out on my own to create startups in support of working as a coach, facilitator, and consultant. What I found was that the skills, behaviors, and most importantly mindsets that I had developed as a coach (facilitator, consultant) do not easily translate to those necessary for success as an entrepreneur. There are distinct capacities that I needed to learn and develop in order to be effective as an entrepreneur. At times, it led to frustration as I had to put on a beginner hat (seriously, why wasn’t this easy!). And now to you, you got this! Don’t let the notion of being a beginner hold you back as you can learn those capacities and live your entrepreneurial dream. The journey is very rewarding and brings with it many emotional roller coasters that simply remind us that we are alive and doing it!

How can internal leaders tap into the entrepreneurial spirit?

What I have found astounding is how translatable entrepreneurship skills and mindsets are to the world of leadership. Entrepreneurs are leaders, though leaders don’t necessarily think of themselves as entrepreneurs. There is an identity that has been created called “intrapreneur” to describe the internal leader that exhibits entrepreneurial capacity. Today more than ever we need those intrapreneurs because business is operating in an ambiguous environment where complex problems and challenges are ever present. Through the years, entrepreneurs have developed capacities to navigate these situations. So translating these entrepreneurial capacities and applying them in today’s business context as an intrapreneur leader makes total sense. Entrepreneurial approaches and skills like problem solving, creativity and innovation, customer centric solutions, and empathy will enhance any leader’s toolset.

Tell us about your entrepreneurial journey.

First and foremost, I have discovered my internal compass directs me on a career path that is dynamic. I love to discover new and exciting things in service to my insatiable curiosity on how things work. This results in a career that has shifted many times in the past; nuclear engineer, officer in the Navy, leader in a fortune 100 financial services company, entrepreneur, even an ‘amateur’ athlete, and now educator…curious what’s next! From the entrepreneur standpoint, I found my inner self just urging me to make the move. So around the age of 40 and after several years of building up the courage, I put in my 2-week notice from my cushy job to step into the unknown and start a business with two partners. It was one of the greatest decisions of my life, and the scariest one too!  Since then, I’ve engaged in several startups, some of which are successful and some of which are not. I keep my entrepreneurial skills honed as a consultant entrepreneur and am always on the lookout for the next thing… In the meantime, I have found a love for supporting those who desire to follow their entrepreneurial dreams and do that by creating workshops and courses that have been delivered around the world.
Learn more about Georgetown’s professional workshop Entrepreneurial Leadership Capacity led by Jay Markiewicz. 

One thought on “The Mindset of an Entrepreneur”

  1. Wise discussion and got some amazing advice through this posting! I have been pleased to read the entirety of the post as mentioned above in detail. I am going to share the post on my social media pages to see my friends and followers.

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