In a time when attitudes toward formal education are changing rapidly, more people are realizing that entrepreneurial thinking is a key to success in the modern age. As education costs continue to skyrocket, and as degrees mean less and less to the job market, it’s becoming apparent that the assumptions most of us have made about the importance of a college degree are worth revisiting. At the very least, college isn’t for everyone anymore. This is requiring people who are serious about forging a career to think differently about their future—to think less like a college student and more like an entrepreneur.
When we say “entrepreneurial thinking,” we aren’t talking about everyone becoming an entrepreneur or a business person. We’re actually talking about a way of thinking that puts you in the driver’s seat of your own career path. Let’s face it—we live in a day when we can no longer trust that when we spend (or borrow) $120,000 on a four-year college degree, there is going to be a job waiting for us. We can no longer entrust ourselves to the “system.” This is where entrepreneurial thinking comes in. We must realize that we alone have control of our destiny, and the choices we make will affect our future directly. This is precisely the mentality that has caused many entrepreneurs to become millionaires, some of whom have little or no formal education. An entrepreneur doesn’t wait for the system to hand him an opportunity—he goes out and creates the opportunity, whether that involves going to school, getting apprenticed on the job, or just getting “out there” with a money-making idea.
Whether or not you plan to be in business for yourself, the sooner you see yourself as taking charge of your own career, the better off you will be in this world, and the more likely you are to land a lucrative career in this ever-changing job market. That said, here are a few important keys to entrepreneurial thinking.
ENTREPRENEURS TRY NEW PATHWAYS
Entrepreneurs are “idea people.” They do not believe there is only one “right way” to get something done; in fact, they firmly believe that there are undiscovered ways to do something better. Thus, they are out-of-the-box thinkers, unafraid to try new pathways to accomplish similar goals. The reason this is an important principle to learn is that for many decades, we’ve been programmed that a college education and degree is the “right way” to have a career. Now that fewer college graduates than ever are landing jobs, it’s time to re-think this strategy. There is definitely more than one “right way” to become successful.
ENTREPRENEURS AREN’T AFRAID TO FAIL
Failure is a natural possibility when trying out new ideas. Entrepreneurs don’t let failure get them down; they just get up and try something else. If you knew how many millionaires and billionaires have gone bankrupt multiple times, you would be shocked. Failure is part of the game. Don’t be afraid of trying an alternative pathway that doesn’t work. It only takes one good idea to turn a failure into a smashing success, and entrepreneurs are willing to weed through dozens of bad ideas to find the one good one that no one else thought of.
ENTREPRENEURS ARE PERSISTENT
Hand in hand with being unafraid of failure is a sometimes-annoying level of persistence. Entrepreneurs don’t take no for an answer—not that they always turn “no” into “yes”, but if one door closes in their face, they’ll just knock on another one. They see success as a numbers game—each “no” gets them closer to a “yes.”
ENTREPRENEURS TAKE RESPONSIBILITY
You cannot have a victim mentality and be an entrepreneur. No one becomes a success by blaming someone else for their bad situation. Entrepreneurs don’t have time to waste on self-pity or being the victim; they take charge of their lives and their futures, cheerfully playing whatever hand they are dealt. If you can’t afford college, you don’t resign yourself to working at McDonald’s. You find another way to get into the career you want. That’s entrepreneurial thinking.
ENTREPRENEURS UNDERSTAND CONNECTIONS
Entrepreneurs understand better than anyone else that “who you know” is more important than “what you know.” They realize that almost everything in this world comes through connections, so they get out there and network, making as many connections as they can. A filmmaker who thinks like a student will waste away in film school, with piles of unread scripts in her dorm room. An filmmaker who thinks like an entrepreneur will hang out on film sets, meeting people, looking for any way she can to get her foot in the door and get her script read.
Many people are intimidated and frightened by the changing attitudes toward formal education these days. Entrepreneurial thinkers don’t have to be, because they are not bound by the system. If necessary, they’ll just create their own “system.” This is the kind of thinking that leads to success in today’s world, no matter what professional career you are pursuing.