How to Cultivate an Entrepreneurial Mindset

by Tanja Bogumil

"Corporate intrapreneurship does not work - we just do not have the right mindset!" Really? No! You can establish and use an entrepreneurial mindset, not only in the startup scene. Read, learn and try it yourself. With these five principles, everybody can use the power of entrepreneurial thinking.

To me, entrepreneurship is the ultimate form of creativity. It’s spotting a problem, generating an idea to solve it and turning it into a tangible product or service. It’s building a community around a cause, centered on a set of core values. It’s about envisioning what the future can look like and then take decisive action to turn it into a reality.

Regardless of where we are in our career and in personal life, we can all leverage entrepreneurship to solve problems in a better way. Here are five principles that I have found useful in the past ten years as an entrepreneur.

#1 Embrace (and temper) optimism

Optimism is an entrepreneur’s best friend. Too often, we find ourselves surrounded by doubters and laggards. Thus, the belief in oneself as an entrepreneur, belief in one’s product or service, and the belief that you add value are all keys to success. However, a very positive attitude towards challenges clearly doesn’t replace thorough market intelligence and risk assessment. Sometimes, strict business case assessment resulting in negative going forward decision can be an equally big success.

#2 Develop a beginner’s mind

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”, Shunryu Suzuki, zen monk and teacher. Cultivating a beginner’s mindset when stuck has become a vital tactic to look at challenges with fresh eyes. When feeling stuck, try the 5 Whys, a common exercise in kaizen. Take something you are trying to understand and ask WHY about it 5 times. This usually leads to the root of a problem that wasn’t fully understood beforehand and will ultimately lead to creative solutions.

#3 Drive fast iterations

“Fail fast, fail often” has become a popular mantra. But this one is not the buzzword bingo. The real aim of “fail often, fail fast” is not to fail, but to be iterative. To succeed, we need to be open to failure, but the intention is to ensure that we are learning from our mistakes as we tweak, reset and then eventually redo in case it’s necessary. Procrastination is the enemy number one to a fast learning environment because it delays failure.

#4 Foster creativity

Entrepreneurs constantly operate under constraints – be it tight financial resources, incredible time pressure or lacking right people. Thus, creative problem solving is vital. And creativity is like a muscle that must be stretched, challenged and occasionally pushed beyond its comfort zone. Sometimes I keep it with Standford research and go for a quick walk to unwind the brain or watch a dedicated TED Talk as source for inspiration. Open exchange with peers, collaborating with and learning from others usually gives me the huge creativity boosts. Plus, I found that often the best inspiration comes from other industries rather than from a direct competitor.

Looking at how ideas that worked for other businesses outside my industry can be transferred and tailored to my own market is often a real game changer.

#5 Find your tribe

I deeply care about the entrepreneurship community. Entrepreneurship is a different way of thinking that can feel lonely from time to time. Finding a community of like-minded people opens a whole new world of opportunities where synergies align, Heureka moments happen and breakthroughs take place.

Chemovator organizes various events throughout the entire year to bring together like-minded people and create value on all different levels. Check out the upcoming Thought Leaders Series or join for the next Open-Mic @ Chemovator to pitch, win and enjoy an inspiring evening.

What is your biggest challenge to foster an entrepreneurial mindset?
In your experience, what does work best, what doesn’t at all?

Get in touch under info@chemovator.com. We love hearing from you!


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Tanja's Background

Serial tech entrepreneur B2B & B2C platforms, exit in fashion tech Lecturer & mentor in entrepreneurship.

Tanja works as an Entrepreneur in Residence for Chemovator. Currently, she coaches, mentors and accompanies two Venture Teams along the Chemovator Journey. Together with our internal and external experts, we share our insights and learnings on business buildup in Chemovator: for corporates and startups.