At Root, I have the privilege of working on different projects with artists, film-makers, designers, programmers, and other consultants. At any given time, I can be working with 40 different people across 8 different projects and teams, with different timelines, stages of deliverable development and personalities. If your job has a similar job-description, you’ll agree with me that you really need a variety of traits and skills to be able to function in this amount of uncertainty or variability. Today though, I want to focus on a trait that I will call the “entrepreneurial mindset.”
The Entrepreneurial Mindset has three components:
- The ability to identify and understand what problem you are trying to solve
- The ability to assess what resources you have
- Being unafraid of imperfection
What’s the Problem?
Let’s say you run a lemonade stand. You decide to go on Yelp and notice that people are giving poor reviews of your lemonade stand. You see comments like:
“This lemonade stand is horrible.”
“There was too much sugar in my lemonade.”
“My lemonade tasted like water with lemons.”
“Sometimes I come and it is a great experience. Sometimes I come, and it is horrible. Be wary.”
Although these four statements are different in content, their message is the same. Your lemonade stand is inconsistent. You could say that different people have different tastes, but that is not something you can control. What you can control is making the same cup of lemonade each time. So all of your decisions and changes should be driven to solve that problem.
Switching over to my job, it’s very easy to get lost in word-smithing a deliverable, so it’s imperative to always look back and remember what problem you are trying to solve.
What do I have?
Let’s say you want to build a site. If you aren’t an entrepreneur, you will think like this:
- I need to build a site.
- I have to learn how to build a site or pay someone to build a site.
- What about branding? I need to think about branding in order to build the site.
- I probably need a business plan to use to pitch to the individual who will be building the site.
- In order to do my business plan, I need to think of my target audience and do some surveys.
And on and on.
If you are an entrepreneur, you will think like this:
- I need to build a site.
- My buddy Jordan knows how to build websites. Let’s go talk to him. He might be able to help me with this to get a site up and running.
Hopefully the example highlighted my point – as an entrepreneur, you focus on what you do have that you can leverage to solve a problem. You don’t think about the skills you don’t have and you don’t think about the things you need to do in order to do something. You use your network and resources to find the path of least resistance.
My job is an entrepreneur’s dream! So many skills, talents, and know-how to make anything come to life!
When 80% is perfect.
When you are working with other teammates and are collectively responsible for a deliverable, any time the ball (or deliverable) is in one person’s court, it is a bottleneck for the other teammates. When you’re moving on not-ideal timelines, you cannot be afraid of failure or imperfection. This may sound ironic, but let me explain.
As an entrepreneurial individual, you need to have a comfort with iteration and handing off at 80% (as long as you let the others know that it is at 80%).
This is somewhat anecdotal mixed with some basic economics, but based on my experience, you can get a draft of anything done in 1-2 hours. Every hour after that will give you marginal returns. It is better to take a break, and hand-off your draft to the next party with caveats. This is beneficial for a few reasons:
- Right now, the draft is all through your lens. Fresh eyes will add color and may shift both the deliverable’s progress as well as your view of the deliverable.
- Fresh eyes will “restart” the marginal returns as it is a new perspective.
- It will move the ball forward and allow your teammates to contribute with their talents, skills, and knowledge to take it to the next level sooner.
- It will allow you to turn your attention to other projects or endeavors that are inevitably piling up in your inbox.
In conclusion, if you want to work on your entrepreneurial mindset, try your best to:
- Identify and understand what problem you are trying to solve,
- Think about what you can do with what you have instead of what you can’t do, and
- Be unafraid of imperfection and excited to move the ball forward with “80% good”.