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The 7 Key Qualities That Define the Entrepreneur Mindset

Some salespeople are just built differently. They demonstrate exemplary tendencies and particularly productive tactics — reps that put another degree of effort and strategic thought into their day-to-day responsibilities.

These model reps’ approach to their work is shaped by something known as the entrepreneur mindset — a special frame of mind that separates certain salespeople from their peers.

Here, we’ll explore the concept a bit further and review some of the key traits that define it.

It’s worth noting that the entrepreneur mindset isn’t necessarily specific to entrepreneurs. Virtually anyone can demonstrate it in a professional context — not just ambitious budding-business owners.

Individuals with an entrepreneur mindset take initiative and make a point of elevating their colleagues. They embrace leadership opportunities and learn what they can at every possible turn. Those qualities — among others — set the entrepreneurially-minded apart from the employee-minded.

Here are some of the other key differences between the two thought processes.

1. Entrepreneurs zero in on individual tasks more than


Believe it or not, “multitasking” isn’t actually a thing. It’s just a buzzword that means rapidly jumping from individual task to individual task, sacrificing quality and thoughtfulness along the way. It’s a behavior that stunts focus and undermines productivity — a tendency that entrepreneurs avoid and employees fall into.

Entrepreneurs know how to focus. They understand that they’ll get more out of their work by locking in on individual tasks and moving on once they’re completed. Employees struggle with that concept. They put too many balls in the air and wind up dropping some in the process.

2. Entrepreneurs have an ‘on to the next one’ mentality

with failure and frustration.

Employees often get fixated on the mistakes they’ve made. They tend to ruminate on failure, letting it take a toll on their confidence. Frustration eats at them, and they catastrophize hiccups and hitches.

Entrepreneurs see the good in failure. They understand that every mistake is a learning experience. They understand that the world isn’t over with every screw-up. They give the situation some thought, determine how they can apply what they’ve learned as a result of it, and move “on to the next one.”

3. Entrepreneurs work smarter.

Employees generally apply themselves — which isn’t a problem in itself. Their issue comes from how they apply their time and energy. They often tear through all their work as it comes to them with consistently exhaustive, borderline-indiscriminate effort.

Their first instinct is to work as hard as possible, and while that’s admirable and sensible in its own right, it’s not always as effective as the road their entrepreneurially minded counterparts take — they make a point of working smarter.

They partition and prioritize their work more thoughtfully than employees, tiering their responsibilities by urgency and taking on their work accordingly. They know that time is the most important professional commodity, so they handle it with more tact and careful intention.

4. Entrepreneurs are smart about risks but don’t avoid them entirely.

Employees are risk-averse — reluctant to embrace failure, so they avoid any possible exposure to it. They value stability, sometimes to a fault. And while a steady paycheck and job security are valuable, they’re not an entrepreneur’s first priority.

Entrepreneurs understand that risk is an often-unfortunate reality that comes with ambition. They know that you can’t hack it in business without boldness, but that doesn’t mean they blindly embrace every last risky decision they’re faced with.

They take calculated risks, thoughtfully considering whether a leap of faith’s reward is worth its potential consequences. The key difference here is a matter of initiative. Entrepreneurs take it upon themselves to blaze the trail — employees generally follow behind.

5. Entrepreneurs emphasize and build on their strengths as opposed to their weaknesses.

Entrepreneurs spend more time building on what they do well than they do remedying their weaknesses. Employees spend more time putting a robust, jack-of-all-trades-esque body of skills together.

That’s not the worst thing in the world, but it lends itself to goodness as opposed to greatness. Entrepreneurs understand they need to stand out — and they know they can probably surround themselves with the right people to compensate for their shortcomings, down the line. That kind of faith in their strengths and future sets entrepreneurs apart from employees.

6. Entrepreneurs aren’t threatened by people smarter than them.

You’ve probably heard the old saying, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, leave that room.” That’s a tough concept for employee-minded individuals to reckon with. They resent people that might upstage them, so they avoid surrounding themselves with people smart enough to consistently challenge them.

Entrepreneurs value learning opportunities more than protecting their egos. They’re the ones that leave a room when they’re the smartest in it. That’s why they’re quick to tap and hire particularly bright people without getting too competitive. That good sense and humility help the entrepreneurially-minded realize their ambitions and bolster their professional skill sets.

7. Entrepreneurs own all their decisions — good and bad.

Entrepreneurs hold themselves accountable for poor decisions as much as they tout their accomplishments. They consider and analyze their mistakes without dwelling on them too much. They also don’t try to skirt blame or distance themselves from the less-than-ideal calls they make.

Employees often try to deflect responsibility for the consequences of their actions, or they get too caught up in justifying their blunders. As I mentioned, entrepreneurs view screw-ups as learning experiences that don’t define them or dictate their professional value. They take their shortcomings on the chin and keep moving forward — taking ownership of their mistakes is a big part of that process.

As I said, you don’t necessarily have to be an entrepreneur to exhibit the entrepreneur mindset. It might take extra thought, effort, and persistence, but any rep can embrace the patterns of behavior that define the frame of mind. And while going above and beyond like that can take a lot out of you, it might be the best way to reach that next level professionally.

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