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10 Ways Entrepreneurs Think Differently

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Entrepreneurs are a unique breed of people. While some people sit and fantasize about the glamor of being their own boss and creating their own business, those in the thick of business ownership understand that even considering all its rewards, entrepreneurship is a difficult and complicated path.

The world's most successful entrepreneurs aren’t the ones who impulsively quit their jobs to chase a get-rich-quick idea. They are the ones with an entrepreneurial mindset -- a set of perspectives and values that allow them to achieve greatness.

These 10 perspectives are differentiators you’ll need to have or develop if you’re going to be a successful business owner.

1. Challenges are opportunities. Setbacks, obstacles and challenges are painfully common elements of entrepreneurship. Most people react to these hurdles with stress and pessimism, with an attitude that obstacles are negative experiences that only hinder progress. As an entrepreneur, you encounter so many challenges you simply can’t afford to react this way.

Instead, successful entrepreneurs view challenges as opportunities. Each challenge or setback reveals a key opportunity to grow -- either to improve upon an existing weakness or take measures to avoid experiencing a similar setback in the future.

Related: 5 Stern Truths You Need to Know Before Becoming an Entrepreneur

2. Competitors are research subjects. Rather than viewing competitors as a threat, like most people would, entrepreneurs see competitors as enriching opportunities to learn more about their industry and target market. By looking at your competitors’ business models, you can learn what makes yours unique and embellish that uniqueness in your branding and marketing efforts. Studying your competitors’ emphasis on customer experience can teach you how to make yours better.

Your competitors are doing you a favor -- they’ve already gathered tons of valuable information. Entrepreneurs realize that it’s up to them to take advantage of it.

3. Everything requires effort. Entrepreneurship is multifaceted and constantly demanding, and there’s no shortage of pitfalls that could disrupt or destroy your business. Successful entrepreneurs are aware of this, and they’re aware that everything -- from product development, sales and marketing -- requires significant effort to achieve success. Instead of looking for shortcuts, they’re pouring effort into their business at every opportunity, and when they reach one goal, they’re already busy planning another.

4. Perfection is the enemy of progress. It’s a familiar aphorism that nobody understands better than entrepreneurs. Young or inexperienced entrepreneurs might get caught up in chasing their original vision, because original visions are almost invariably “perfect.” But perfection isn’t necessary to run a successful, profitable business. 

In fact, perfection is often what stalls progress. The time you spend trying to hammer down those last few details is likely going to end up as time wasted. Instead, spend your efforts on the big picture, and make sure it’s solid.

5. Big things are made from small components. This works for problems as well as solutions. For example, instead of seeing a content-marketing campaign as a quick way to get traffic and new business, entrepreneurs see content marketing in terms of its individual components (blogging, social-media marketing, link building, etc.), each of which has its own advantages and disadvantages. Successful entrepreneurs can break down massive projects, problems and campaigns into smaller, more manageable pieces.

6. Mistakes are healthy. The popular vision of massively successful entrepreneurs such as Steve Jobs or Jeff Bezos illustrates them as infallible leaders. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Successful entrepreneurs, even the rock stars among them, make mistakes often. Furthermore, they aren’t afraid to make mistakes, and they know how to learn from them.

Making mistakes is healthy and normal, and the sooner entrepreneurs realize that, the better. Don’t waste time doing everything you can to avoid mistakes or beat yourself up after making one. Acknowledge your mistakes, figure out what you can do to make up for them, and move on.

Related: 17 Traits That Entrepreneurs Possess

7. There is no magic. The super-rich entrepreneurs you read about in the news usually didn’t get there because they randomly stumbled upon a great idea. They got there because they poured years of effort and passion into a good idea, and eventually their efforts paid off.

You can’t become an entrepreneur expecting there to be a miracle, or some kind of instant, magical rise to the top because your idea was revolutionary. Even the best ideas in the world require patience, skill and endless effort to earn that level of success. The world's best entrepreneurs realize this. Waiting for your idea to do the work on its own, or waiting for some unseen element to carry you to success can only result in disaster.

8. Outside perspective is invaluable. Entrepreneurs need to be good communicators, and that means actively listening to those with different ideas and opinions. It’s easy for us to get trapped in one mode of thinking.

Many business owners keep their business models and directives too rigid, ultimately restricting their ability to grow and leading to failure. Successful entrepreneurs, on the other hand, are constantly searching for individuals and experiences that will challenge their way of thinking and lead them to see things from a new perspective.

9. Discipline is a prerequisite. To most people, discipline is something extra. It takes extra thought and effort to exercise, wake up on time or do anything other than spend leisure time. To successful entrepreneurs, discipline is normal. It’s a prerequisite that carries into all aspects of their lives.

You don’t have to be a regimented military-style leader to be disciplined, but you do have to know what you want and be prepared to do whatever it takes to get it.

10. Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle. Entrepreneurs wake up as entrepreneurs, go to work as entrepreneurs, come home as entrepreneurs and go to bed as entrepreneurs. There is no nine to five. There is no “work life” and “home life.”

The advantage of this is that you have total control over your business and your professional choices, including what you do for it. The (possible) disadvantage of this is that you carry your business with you everywhere you go. Entrepreneurship becomes your work and your life, and you need to be prepared for that if you’re going to survive the lifestyle.

Being a successful entrepreneur isn’t about being born with a specific mindset, it’s about being prepared for the challenges that await you.

Related: 10 Things That Set Entrepreneurs Apart From the 9-to-5 Crowd