Think Like an Entrepreneur

UC Berkeley Extension
4 min readOct 27, 2021

An entrepreneurial mindset leads to growth — for yourself and the organization

Young black woman professional talking to colleagues

There is an assumption that thinking like an entrepreneur means that you’ve got a new business or service that you want to bring to market. It’s the mindset that has been driving the successes of Silicon Valley businesses. But this type of thinking isn’t just for those who have a “million-dollar idea.”

In fact, it’s a way of thinking that everyone should incorporate. Why? An entrepreneurial mindset can help identify new growth paths-for both your own trajectory and that of the organization as a whole. An essential life skill is to think like an entrepreneur. A key part of an entrepreneurial mindset is abundance: know that you can improve a situation, ultimately make more money and create new opportunities.

So What Is an Entrepreneurial Mindset?

There are some key beliefs, knowledge and thought processes that drive entrepreneurial behavior. According to the Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative, this way of thinking involves seven key elements:

  1. “Belief in your ability to succeed and influence your own outcomes, empowering you to take ownership of your life.
  2. “Have compelling goals that will keep you focused and intrinsically motivated so that you can be self-directed, action-oriented and highly engaged.
  3. “Have an optimistic interpretation of adverse events and see problems as potential opportunities in order to become highly resilient, resourceful and solution-oriented, even within highly uncertain, resource-constrained environments.
  4. “Be lifelong knowledge seekers. Find small learning opportunities to test ideas and cultivate your curiosity.
  5. “Display a high level of reliability, understanding that following through on simple solutions can lead to unforeseen opportunities.
  6. “Have a humanistic outlook, being other-focused and understanding that one creates value by looking to solve problems for others.
  7. “Surround yourself with an intentional community of positive influence and critical guidance.”

So how can the collective we-both ourselves as professionals and organizations as a whole-incorporate this into our day-to-day activities? Read on.

Entrepreneurial Mindset in the Organization

While the system as a whole still needs a lot of work to make equity into normal working operations, there are things organizations can do today to get us closer to that new normal.

A recent article from Essence.com shows that women are contributing more to the workforce and yet are often less recognized.

“This critical work is largely going unrecognized and unrewarded,” the article shares. “Despite companies signaling a high commitment to DEI and employee wellbeing, only 25 percent say that their formal performance review process recognizes this type of work to a substantial degree. This has serious implications. Companies risk losing the very leaders they need right now.”

The same holds true in a recent report by McKinsey & Company on women in the workplace and that was posted on LeanIn.org “Companies risk losing the very leaders they need right now, and it’s hard to imagine organizations navigating the pandemic and building inclusive workplaces if this work isn’t truly prioritized,” the report says.

So how can organizations take an entrepreneurial mindset?

Implementing initiatives to use entrepreneurial methods for hiring will ultimately disrupt how organizations approach diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Organizations everywhere understand DEI to be a vital aspect of the modern workplace. But despite the positive strides toward change, underrepresented team members still face challenges at work that can affect everything from an organization’s overall productivity to the health and wellbeing of individual employees.

Recruiting for diverse talent is a positive step in the right direction, but businesses must also address how to better develop and support their team members long after they have been hired and onboarded. This is crucial.

If you want innovation, look at the thinking patterns of your employees and encourage them to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset. This can help identify new growth paths within the organization, allowing employees to decide how their career progresses. This can go a long way in reducing attrition while also positively affecting the bottom line.

“Company culture plays an essential role in attracting and retaining these talented workers,” according to a recent article from Factorial, an HR service company. “Organizations with a flexible and entrepreneurial mindset have a competitive advantage over other companies.” Check out tips in the article on how to start implementing an entrepreneurial mindset in your organization’s culture.

Entrepreneurial Mindset for the Individual

Most employees of a company wait to be told what to do and often struggle when roadblocks are presented. But by adopting an entrepreneurial mindset, they’ll look to tackle those problems head-on and solve the problems creatively.

You read those top seven items that comprise an entrepreneurial mindset. In fact, some ideas may already be jumping out at you. But if you want some additional self-reflection, Forbes offers these interesting thought-starters on adopting an entrepreneurial outlook.

Talking about entrepreneurial mindset, I had the opportunity to speak with Samele Mayfield, owner and pastry chef of SugahB Confections. When asked what drives her success, she stated, “I am creative, skilled and I can make money with what I do. My creativity and skilled mindset caused my desire to succeed because I challenge myself to achieve.”

Very few people want the risk to be completely on their own-companies are looking for ways to spark massive action among their teams and at the individual level, too. They want their employees to go beyond just “checking the box” of the work; they want innovation and value creation that is usually only seen from founders of startups, such as Samele.

Encouraging the entrepreneurial mindset is not about helping your colleagues start a business; it is about encouraging the thinking patterns of entrepreneurs within your organization that will boost morale and productivity.

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UC Berkeley Extension

UC Berkeley Extension is the continuing education branch of the University of California, Berkeley. We empower learners to meet educational and career goals.