As an entrepreneur, you’re always on the learning path, figuring out how different parts of your business operate, from finances to marketing to sales. You can either stick to your strengths or strive to improve your knowledge in all areas — the difference between a growth vs. fixed mindset.
38% of entrepreneurs credit their success to self-discipline, and a growth mindset can help you stick to your guns while reaching for your goals. You learn to accept constructive criticism, embrace failures as opportunities, and challenge yourself to grow everyday.
Table of contents:
- What is the difference between a growth and fixed mindset?
- What is a growth mindset?
- What is a fixed mindset?
- Benefits of a growth mindset
- How to develop a growth mindset
- Growth mindset examples
What is the difference between a growth and fixed mindset?
A growth mindset means viewing intelligence as a constant work in progress. A fixed mindset, on the other hand, regards intelligence as stable and unchangeable. An entrepreneur with a growth mindset strives to improve their areas of weaknesses, while one with a fixed mindset sticks with what they know.
What is a growth mindset?
A growth mindset is the belief that you can improve upon your abilities and talents with effort and time. Entrepreneurs with a growth mindset think they can better themselves in areas they struggle in by learning. This can look like:
- Taking classes
- Watching video tutorials
- Reading educational articles
- Finding a mentor
- Scheduling time for learning
As an entrepreneur, you likely know your strengths and weaknesses — and adopting a growth mindset means approaching your weaker areas with confidence. This might mean watching videos on accounting if you struggle with finances, or figuring out how to work with Canva if you often avoid marketing.
What is a fixed mindset?
A fixed mindset is the belief that your set of skills and traits are fixed and cannot change. Those with a fixed mindset view their weaknesses as unchangeable, and that they cannot improve themselves in those areas. This could result in someone:
- Sticking with what they know
- Refusing to try new things
- Dismissing attempts to learn as useless
- Leaning into their strengths
- Feeling intimidated by others’ success
A fixed mindset can set up an entrepreneur for failure. Maybe collecting and understanding data isn’t your strong suit, for example. But viewing your skill set as unmalleable stunts your learning and prevents you from developing new strengths.
Benefits of a growth mindset
1. You embrace failure as a learning opportunity
Most startups fail — but even when your company is doing well, you might fail to attract a big investor, meet revenue targets, or hire the right people. In other words, failure follows entrepreneurs everywhere.
“Setbacks, mistakes, constructive criticism, perceived flaws, or challenges are seen as learning opportunities and not permanent negative characteristics of oneself,” says career coach Dr. Christin Roberson.
2. You feel more comfortable receiving feedback
A growth mindset can help you feel comfortable receiving constructive criticism from your peers and workers. Rather than taking a fixed mindset approach — which regards feedback as unhelpful — you take it as a challenge to improve yourself.
3. You increase your business acumen
Only 9% of entrepreneurs have earned a bachelor’s degree in business, meaning they learn most of their business knowledge from working. This means entrepreneurs must take time to learn critical skills such as accounting or marketing, without a formal education.
A growth mindset drives you to learn complex new skills, increasing your overall business acumen.
4. You feel more positive
A positive mindset and a growth mindset go hand in hand. A growth mindset means looking at more negative aspects of entrepreneurship, such as failure, in a positive light. You feel empowered to tackle challenges rather than dreading having to overcome them.
5. You improve your self-esteem
A fixed mindset entails doubting your ability to learn, which can impact your self-esteem. A growth mindset improves your self-esteem as it encourages you to view yourself as a sponge ready to absorb information.
6. You attract better colleagues and friends
Those with a fixed mindset tend to keep friends and professionals with similar beliefs, which stifles their ability to grow. By adopting a growth mindset, you can attract people with different viewpoints who can challenge you.
7. You reduce your risk of depression
One in four entrepreneurs will experience some kind of mental disorder in their lifetime. Research shows that a growth mindset often shields against anxiety, stress, and depression. Those with a fixed mindset tend to regard mental health issues as part of their identity and therefore permanent.
However, those with a growth mindset recognize symptoms as temporary and take steps to address them.
8. You improve your resilience
By maintaining a growth mindset, you foster resilient thinking. Your attitude protects you from caving to negativity, as your mindset views all setbacks as temporary.
9. You improve your business culture
As an entrepreneur, your mindset reflects in your business. When you adopt a growth mindset, you embed those values into your workplace. You might create more learning opportunities for workers or develop a culture that emphasizes learning from mistakes.
How to develop a growth mindset
Evaluate your current mindset
To develop a growth mindset, you need to evaluate your current state of mind. Ask yourself:
- How do you deal with failure?
- What do you do when faced with a challenge?
- Who do you turn to when dealing with setbacks?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses? How do you feel about them?
Jot down your initial thoughts and feelings. Then, take stock and figure out your current mindset. As an example, you might realize you lean into negativity when something goes wrong, or you look for the easy way out of a challenge. You can use this information as a starting point to identify what you need to work on.
Seek constructive feedback
Over nine in 10 employees view constructive feedback as critical to growth. So, ask your employees, investors, and partners what you can do better in areas such as leadership or project management. You can even create a formal process to collect feedback by sending out quarterly surveys.
Take on new challenges
Make time to try new things in your professional life, which could include:
- Launching a side project
- Writing and publishing articles in your space
- Getting featured on a podcast
Find a community of learners
“As important as it is to possess a growth mindset,” says Roberson, “it is equally important to surround yourself with others who have them as well.”
When developing a growth mindset, surround yourself with like-minded people. They influence how you act, which values you adopt, and how you view life. Outside of finding them in your organization or in your network, you can join the following learning communities on LinkedIn and Reddit:
Accept mistakes and move on
Mistakes can trigger negative emotions, making you feel insecure or incapable. But rejecting mistakes to protect yourself prevents learning. Instead, try out the following to practice accepting mistakes:
- Acknowledge the mistake happened
- Permit yourself to feel upset
- Be kind to yourself
- Speak with someone who can give you a new perspective
- Create distance between yourself and the mistake
- Look at the mistake objectively and ask how you can learn from it
Try out new ways of learning
You likely know which learning styles you enjoy best. But developing a growth mindset also means opening yourself up to new ways of learning. Rather than stick to what you know when trying to learn, try out different methods. This could include:
- Watching videos
- Attending a class
- Reading articles or books
- Working on a project
Growth mindset examples
A growth mindset means changing how you think about yourself and learning, and it can show itself in different ways.
Consider an entrepreneur who thrives in marketing, but has always struggled to wrap their head around finances. Because of their growth mindset, they feel confident knowing they can change that. So, they decide to sign up for a class — immersing themselves with other learners while trying out a more intimate way of learning.
A growth mindset also modifies how one reacts to failure. For example, consider a business that experienced a huge drop in sales due to economic troubles. Instead of dwelling on the losses, the business owner brings the team together for a meeting. The owner thanks them for their hard work, acknowledges the problem, and lays out ways they can improve their sales processes. They move on from failure fast, but make time to extract takeaways from it.