Managing Director of TRAINER’S BOX Limited, I help coaches find rich material, resources, and tools to grow and expand their business. 

Hinterhaus Productions 2016

Coming from a corporate background I had always seen the limitations that got me and the company stuck in making decisions that would serve the business objective. In some corporations, you will hardly get oriented on the business objective or the mission altogether. So the mission becomes “Pleasing my boss” or “Protecting my position and earning my salary.” It becomes a fight-for-survival game, and the mindsets of employees start developing based on this background. Some of the main characteristics for people with the corporate mindset can involve:

• Building internal and external allies to help them survive crises

• Thinking short-term; making quick wins

• Being addicted to a sense of safety in terms of having a definable consistent inflow of monthly income, yearly bonus, and so on

• Identifying themselves with their position in their company — their position comes before their name

• Being constrained by what is allowed and what is not allowed, as per the company policies

• Having limitations in terms of working hours. Work hours finish; they go home. Weekend starts; they switch off.

• Having a low tolerance for taking risks with anything that can threaten their position or role in the business

• Taking time to allow breakthroughs to happen; spending too much time on research and getting approvals to share responsibility

• Believing that failing is a problem that will backfire on someone

• Never investing from their personal funds in the business

• Resisting sharing information

After I became an entrepreneur in 2012, I instantly realized that this was a very different setup. You become liberated from the word “limitation.” On the other hand, the risk becomes incalculable. You can choose your tasks, your market, your product or service, your team, when to introduce innovation and how fast you grow. You will embrace risk or failure as a normal part of your growth. Since I started my entrepreneurship journey I have networked with many people, and I have realized some of the basic characteristics for people who have an entrepreneur mindset include:

• Flexible thinking based on the best interests of the client

• No limits with working hours

• Stamina to try and fail and get up faster

• Low tolerance for wasting time on getting an idea done, preferring fast fails and learning from hands-on experience

• Networking and sharing information with like-minded entrepreneurs and building direct, strong relationships with customers

• Thinking about long-term wins

• Accepting risk as a part of the process and having stamina with risk

• Not giving up until they reach their goals

• Often investing their own funds in the business

• Feeling responsible for any results they get

What happens if you have a corporate mindset and step into starting your own business? It’s usually very hard for people with a corporate mindset to step out of their comfort zone. In some cases, when they are put under some pressure to take this step, they may back out in the phase of preparation for the business or within the first year, sometimes as soon as they make losses for more than one month.

What happens if you have an entrepreneur mindset and still hang on to working in a corporation? You will be able to survive under very unique conditions: You feel ownership, work directly with the clients and operate in a culture that is set up for minimal resistance to growth. It’s generally easier for people with an entrepreneur mindset to break away from a corporate environment that is bureaucratic in nature or where it takes too much stress or effort to get things done.

Many people — especially since Covid-19 started — are seriously thinking of taking the step of starting their own business. This is because of the ever-changing circumstances that were introduced with hybrid and work-from-home environments. Also, the fear of losing their jobs due to the shrinking of their companies or even losing a part of their salaries has become so daunting that many people are not finding themselves in a comfort zone any longer.

Here’s my advice to coaches who want to transition from the corporate world to the entrepreneur world. For professionals who have already taken this step or are about to take this step, I would advise you to:

• Know yourself, because your default mindset will kick back. It will either accept, resist or reject this transition. Keep up with your positive self-talk. This won’t be easy. Stay focused until you reach your goals.

• If you are not 100% sold on accepting failure and dealing with insurmountable levels of risk, partner with an experienced and trusted entrepreneur or a group of people who are.

• Make small wins and don’t drain your budget by hiring too many people in the beginning. Test the market well and hire the minimum number of people needed until you start paying your team from your revenues — then take it from there.

• Be flexible to offer what the market needs and not what you prefer to sell. Make sure you offer your clients something they have never seen before.

• Hang out with successful entrepreneurs to get your feet on the ground and build more realistic ideas about the challenges ahead of you.

• Learn selling skills. I have not yet met a successful entrepreneur who doesn’t have great sales skills.

• Understand the basics of social media digital marketing, automated email marketing and project management.

• Become highly skilled in LinkedIn marketing.

• Build an attractive and informative website with clear calls to action.

Developing an entrepreneurial mindset is a huge asset. However, awareness of your strengths versus where you need to build muscle is so important. I personally consider being with the right people a crucial practice for people to adapt their mindset to this kind of transformation.

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