A business plan is usually the first thing people think about when talking about becoming an entrepreneur. If you are getting your business funded, then it is very important. But there is something even more important, regardless of funding. That is your mindset.

There is a HUGE difference between the employee mindset and the entrepreneur mindset. That difference is often a key factor in success or failure. OK, what does that mean?

1 – The employee believes that there is value in activity. Showing up matters! If he/she works hard and works late, that means success. And usually, for an employee, that is correct. If an employee shows up and does the job and works hard, steady paychecks come. In addition, (in a good economy) he/she will keep the job and may even be promoted and/or given a raise. This sounds great.

For the entrepreneur, activity matters ONLY if you are making sales. You can work hard 18 hours a day, 7 days a week and if you don’t make sales, you fail! Activity by itself means nothing. Success is directly tied to closing deals and creating more revenue. Being effective and efficient is critical. Showing up is just nice.

The entrepreneur believes that hard work is something to be avoided by generating enough revenue to make hard work unnecessary.

2 – The employee believes that job skill set is what matters. If he/she is a great “do-er” then success is coming. And usually, for an employee, this is correct. If an employee is a great accountant or graphic artist or analyst or technician, then steady paychecks will come. In addition, (in a good economy) he/she will keep the job and may even be promoted and/or given a raise. This sounds great.

For the entrepreneur, a great skill set matters ONLY if you have clients. You can be the best at X in the world, but if you have no clients, you fail! Skill set by itself means nothing. Success is directly tied to more clients and more revenue.

The second aspect is that if your production is the only form of revenue, then your company is severely limited. In fact, if you are just working on a per hour basis, then you aren’t really an entrepreneur. You are a contracted worker; still an employee.

The entrepreneur knows that success can no longer be judged by job skill set, but ONLY by business acumen. The ability to move a company forward with both sales and operations as a leader is the key to success as an entrepreneur. Skill at a specific task is often irrelevant.

3 – The employee sees the employee or company as the entity that “gives” him/her a job. The business owner/boss is higher and more powerful and deserving of reverence. And usually, for an employee, this is correct. If an employee shows reverence to the boss and makes his/her needs secondary, then steady paychecks will come. In addition, (in a good economy) he/she will keep the job and may even be promoted and/or given a raise. This sounds great.

For the entrepreneur, prospects and clients should be seen as equals. They are experts in their fields and the entrepreneur is an expert in his/her field. The entrepreneur provides value (as a product or and/or service) and the client provides revenue. It is a deal between two companies; two entities; two equals. Showing reverence for the client will almost always result in lost deals and lower revenue.

Why? As you place yourself on a lower pedestal, the client/prospect will lose confidence in you and therefore either negotiate your price down or go with another vendor that they believe in more. In the long run, most clients want experts, not servants.

If you see yourself not as expert, but a servant, you will act accordingly. You will simply ask what the client wants and give it to them directly. That sounds great, because that what an employee does. The boss is an expert, we follow his instruction.

The entrepreneur must understand that the clients are not experts in your field. They are often wrong and the project will fail to achieve what they really wanted if you just do what they say and not what YOU KNOW WILL WORK. Then, even though you followed the client’s direction, they will blame you and never use you again.

The entrepreneur knows that each deal is an agreement between two equals. You must know that the responsibility of an expert is to hear what prospects want, and then to show them how you can give them what they need to achieve exactly those goals.

I hope this will assist you with your decision to be, or not to be, an entrepreneur.

“Entrepreneurs are simply those who understand that there is little difference between obstacle and opportunity and are able to turn both to their advantage.”

-Niccolo Machiavelli

Good luck!

Larry Sharpe
Your Neo-Sage