Whether you’re building your startup or pursuing “intrapreneurial” ventures within an established company, the journey of an innovator can be a rollercoaster of thrilling highs – and challenging lows. That’s why success isn’t just about having an entrepreneurial skillset – it’s about having the right mindset to carry you through the inevitable tough times.
You don’t have to take our word for it. Here’s a list of 5 essential ingredients of the entrepreneurial mindset, as explained by some of the most successful innovators of all time. And if you want to hone your mindset and your skillset at the same time, the online MSc in Innovation and Entrepreneurship (MSIE) degree from a top ranked business school is an opportunity to learn from anywhere in the world.
1. Total Commitment
“It’s not about money or connections. It’s the willingness to outwork and outlearn everyone when it comes to your business.” – Mark Cuban
One of the reasons why the path of entrepreneurship can be so inspiring is because of where it often starts: from zero. Whether it’s Bill Gates and Paul Allen starting Microsoft in a garage or Sergey Brin and Larry Page funding Google on their own credit cards, some of the biggest companies in the world started with little more than a dream – and a lot of work.
Mark Cuban is another famous self-made entrepreneur that knows how hard work can pay off. He moved to Dallas as a bartender, with no money and no connections, and got fired after less than a year into his first job as a software salesman. However, he used that experience to learn more about the industry and form his own software company, MicroSolutions, which he sold for $6 million – the first of his many successful exits.
That’s why he touts “the willingness to outwork and outlearn everyone” as the most important ingredient of an entrepreneurial mindset. And speaking of learning…
“My biggest motivation? Just to keep challenging myself. I see life almost like one long University education that I never had — everyday I’m learning something new.” – Richard Branson
Whether seeking inspiration for a new startup or an existing venture’s pivot, an entrepreneur always has to be looking for their next big idea. That’s why many of the most successful entrepreneurs have an omnivorous curiosity and desire to learn about new things. Just ask Richard Branson, who started off selling records and, several ventures later, is now selling trips to outer space!
One reason we’re in a golden age of entrepreneurship is that online learning has made a great education in virtually any subject more accessible than ever. Coursera is the world’s leading online learning platform, with over 35 million learners across over 2,700 different courses. And the MSIE will develop the specific entrepreneurial skills and mindset you need to develop your idea, no matter where your interests lie.
“Leadership is the expectation that you can use your voice for good. That you can make the world a better place.” – Sheryl Sandberg
“Doing well while doing good” has never been more important to your success as an entrepreneur. Today’s consumers want to buy products they feel are genuine, and they want to buy them from companies they perceive as authentic and empathetic. That’s why many entrepreneurs spend nearly as much time talking about their values as their business strategies.
Sheryl Sandberg is one example of how business success and strong values can go hand in hand. While heading up Google’s online sales division, she also played a leading role in guiding the tech giant’s philanthropic initiatives, including the launch of Google.org. She has since become a powerful advocate for women in the business world, writing the 2013 best-seller Lean In and empowering women as a focus for her philanthropic efforts with LeanIn.org.
Every entrepreneur can find ways to use their voice effectively, and the MSIE program includes courses to help students connect their own values to positive business outcomes, including “Marketing through Social Media” and “Social Entrepreneurship and Changemaking.”
4. Willingness to Fail
“It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” – Bill Gates
Entrepreneurship is all about a willingness to take risks – and thus a willingness to fail. Successful entrepreneurs wear their failures proudly, like well-earned battle scars that taught them the lessons they needed to launch their next, wildly-profitable product, or make their incredibly creative, company-saving pivot.
Bill Gates knows a thing or two about learning through failure. Microsoft is one of the most successful companies in the world, recently valued at over $1 trillion, but it has also suffered through some of the most notorious product flops in tech history. Remember Windows Vista, Internet Explorer 6, or Zune? After every misstep, Gates and Microsoft learned from their mistakes, applied lessons to new products, and kept growing.
The MSIE curriculum puts you in position to succeed – but it also teaches entrepreneurs how to navigate challenges or even failures. HEC Paris faculty, Laurence Lehmann Ortega and Hélène Musikas, have developed an original approach called Odyssey 3.14 to help reinvent business models that are failing or losing momentum, and this approach is taught as part of the MSIE’s project-based coursework.
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” – Steve Jobs
Finally, perhaps the most important ingredient of an entrepreneurial mindset is self-confidence. Because the possibility of failure is an inherent part of risk-taking and innovation – see above – a deep-seated belief in your vision is essential to getting through inevitable setbacks and shutting down the insidious voices of doubt (and self-doubt) you’ll encounter along the way.
Steve Jobs, the legendary founder of Apple, was famous for his uncompromising belief in his vision for the company as a maker of high-end, distinctive electronics. He was forced out of the company in 1985 as Apple struggled against the onslaught of low-cost PC clones, only to return in the mid-1990s to lead the company to unprecedented heights with blockbuster signature products like the iMac, iPod, and iPhone.
By staying true to his vision in the face of considerable headwinds, Jobs built Apple into one of the most valuable companies of all time and changed computing history. And every MSIE student has a chance to prove their Jobsian conviction with a degree-concluding startup pitch before a jury of HEC professors and seasoned entrepreneurs!