This article was published on October 25, 2014

Do you think like an entrepreneur?

Do you think like an entrepreneur?
Ilya Pozin
Story by

Ilya Pozin

Ilya Pozin is a serial entrepreneur, writer, and investor. He is the founder of Internet TV platform Pluto TV, digital marketing agency Copl Ilya Pozin is a serial entrepreneur, writer, and investor. He is the founder of Internet TV platform Pluto TV, digital marketing agency Coplex, and social greeting card company Open Me (acquired by Rowl). Named one of Inc.’s ‘30 Under 30’ entrepreneurs, Ilya also has columns appearing on Forbes, Inc., and LinkedIn

Ilya Pozin is a serial entrepreneur, writer, and investor. He is the founder of online video entertainment platform Pluto.TV, social greeting card company Open Me, and digital marketing agency Ciplex.

Entrepreneurs are a breed of their own. While many people fantasize about breaking free from their 9-to-5 to be their own boss, few people actually follow through. This is because the entrepreneurial lifestyle might look great from the outside, but is filled with speedbumps, challenges, and plenty of stress.

The entrepreneurs who are successful on this rocky road, however, share a few traits in common. Thinking like an entrepreneur means leaving the beaten path and going off in new directions. It means leaving behind the fear of the unknown, because from now on, the unknown is where you’ll reside.

The entrepreneurial life isn’t for everyone. While you might dream about saying goodbye to your boss for good, the stresses of starting your own company solo might be worth a little annoyance to keep your day job.

A worker bee can kick back and relax, but entrepreneurs have to keep their eyes on the future at all times. Like a shark, they can never stop swimming or they’ll die.

Obviously, the lifestyle of an entrepreneur is different than a regular employee. But do they think differently as well? Here are five ways to think like an entrepreneur:

Be optimistic

To strike out on your own and imagine it’s all going to work out, despite odds to the contrary, entrepreneurs need a healthy dose of optimism. According to a 2012 survey by Gallup, entrepreneurs are indeed much more optimistic than their more traditionally employed peers.

Entrepreneurs believe in themselves, and therefore have a brighter picture of the future. They also report a higher level of enjoyment in their work and self-report having learned and grown more day-to-day.

Best of all, it looks like all this optimism can pay off financially. According to a study by the US Securities and Exchange Commission, loan applications were more likely to be approved when an entrepreneur was optimistic and enthusiastic. It looks like investors would rather go with Happy than Grumpy.

…But watch out for overconfidence

Unfortunately, all that optimism can often lead to a false sense of confidence. You have to have a lot of confidence to look at the odds of your business becoming a success, or even surviving, and imagine you’ll be the exception to the rule. Yet too much confidence can hold you back from being realistic about pitfalls and realizing when your organization needs a pivot.

Research has shown entrepreneurs have a tendency to be overconfident, especially those entrepreneurs who found their own companies. If you’re looking to walk down the entrepreneurial path, it’s important to work on striking a balance between a cheerful attitude and blind optimism.

Give up on perfection

Perfectionism is the enemy of success for an entrepreneur. If you want to get your company off the ground, you can’t spend an endless amount of time tinkering with your product or service until it is 100 percent perfect. Instead, you have to launch and work out the bugs along the way.

Many smart entrepreneurs have even had to completely pivot their ideas in a whole new direction along the way. In fact, micro-blogging giant Twitter started life as a podcasting service. You can’t be attached to the idea of perfection as an entrepreneur, because there’s no such thing at a fast-growing company.

Look at challenges as opportunities

For entrepreneurs, every speed bump or challenge along the way is an opportunity to improve and become better. Entrepreneurs are invigorated, not defeated, by challenges.

The business leaders who take their companies in bold and exciting new directions are the same people who don’t have time to be afraid of failure.

Make faster decisions

The speed of change in a startup can move as fast as the speed of light, which means decisions also need to be made quickly. Research has shown entrepreneurs, especially founder-entrepreneurs, have fast reaction times when it comes to making decisions.

These decisions can often be huge, make-or-break moments for a company. They take a lot of mental energy and a lot of processing in the brain. However, agonizing for long periods of time over decisions is not a luxury entrepreneurs enjoy. So quick decision making is crucial to ensure your company will make it to another day.

To be a successful entrepreneur, you need to cultivate a mindset unafraid of failure and excited by challenges. You have to beware of overconfidence, but have faith in your decision making abilities. You have to be able to envision a successful future, for yourself and for your company. Thinking like an entrepreneur can be the difference between a company taking off and one which never gets into the air.

What do you think? What ways do you think entrepreneurs think differently? Share in the comments!

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