Lesson 2: Entrepreneurial Mindset

What is an Entrepreneurial Mindset?

An entrepreneurial mindset focuses on how people think, not just on how they act. In fact, while most people associate entrepreneurship with new business development, this isn’t necessarily the case. Some people can be entrepreneurial and still work in an established business or in a non-profit or a government agency. The output of your work, whether in a startup or established business owned by someone else, depends on how you think. Mindsets are what we use to explain how we think and are rooted in the way we view ourselves and our abilities.

An Entrepreneur has a growth mindset (Source)

The seminal works of Carol Dweck, a professor in the arena of psychological traits, argues that the most basic beliefs we carry about ourselves involve how we view and inhabit our personality or mindset. For the last two decades, Dweck has researched why some people succeed and why other, equally talented, people fail. Her conclusion? It all comes down to mindsets. Dweck calls these mindsets Fixed or Growth.

Fixed mindsets


According to research, a fixed mindset assumes a static stance towards intelligence, character and creative abilities. People with fixed mindsets view their talents and intelligence as fixed at birth and something they simply cannot improve upon. For example, someone might feel like they aren’t good at maths and decide that, because they’re not good at it, they don’t like it. A person with a fixed mindset won’t even attempt to get to grips with the subject or push themselves to try and understand it. 

Growth mindset


A growth mindset, on the other hand, is one where an individual believes that through effort, everyone can change and grow. A growth mindset thrives on challenges, is open to experimentation, uses failure as an opportunity to learn, and places a priority on learning. These attributes mean that entrepreneurs are more likely to have a growth than a fixed mindset.

The great news is that mindsets are not set in stone and, through concerted effort, you can shift from a fixed mindset to one that is more growth orientated.

Characteristics of Fixed and Growth Mindsets (Source)

If you think you have a fixed mindset, here are 10 actions you can take to start developing that into a growth mindset:

  1. Recognise and embrace your imperfections
  2. Stop constantly seeking approval
  3. Enjoy the process as opposed to focusing only on the end result
  4. Develop a sense of purpose
  5. Be open to both positive and negative feedback
  6. Find the lesson in failure
  7. Celebrate the achievements of others
  8. No matter how small, learn something new each day
  9. Acknowledge that you always have a choice.
  10. Choose to be positive, even if you have to fake it until you make it!

Click here to see some examples of famous entrepreneurs with a growth mindset. Or continue reading.

Examples of Good Entrepreneurs

Example 1 of 6

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey had a difficult childhood moving between her two parents’ homes. The poor urban lifestyle of her mother had a negative effect on the young teenager, and her problems were made worse by sexual abuse. Oprah’s father, on the other hand, was strict and provided her with a safe environment where she excelled as a student. Today she is the host and producer of The Oprah Winfrey Show, is chairman and CEO of Harpo Inc, and has launched O Magazine as well as her own TV network. She has won several awards, and despite being one of the wealthiest women in America, she remains a prominent speaker and philanthropist who has made many generous contributions to organisations all over the world.

Example 2 of 6


Rihanna was a normal island girl in Barbados until she entered a talent show and her life changed forever. At 16, she signed a record deal in New York and has since become one of the best selling artists of all time. She is an entrepreneur and a fashion icon. Her fashion choices have landed her on the cover of countless magazines, and she has a cosmetic company, her own underwear line, and her own fragrance.

Example 3 of 6

Robert Brozin and Fernando Duarte

Robert Brozin and Fernando Duarte were friends who went to a restaurant in Johannesburg called Chickenland. They loved the flame grilled chicken so much that they bought the restaurant and renamed it Nando – after Fernando. For years the franchise struggled until the idea of ordering at the till, sitting down and waiting for your food was born. The Nando’s franchise never looked back and today they have over 1,000 stores worldwide.

Example 4 of 6

Thandi Ndlovu

Africa has also seen a rise in the number of female-owned businesses. Female entrepreneurs are breaking gender stereotypes and showing that what a man can do, a woman can do just as well. Dr Thandi Ndlovu studied medicine at Fort Hare University and went to work in the Orange Farm area. She became alarmed that the health and wellbeing of the residents in the area was well below par and her clinic was filled daily with people in need. She took the bold decision to change her profession and has been shattering stereotypes since opening the doors of her construction business. She is the founder and CEO of Motheo Construction and is one of SA’s leading social housing developers with more than 80 000 units built.

Example 5 of 6

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu is the founder of soleRebels. She had the idea to hand-craft creative footwear by fusing Ethiopian artisan heritages with fantastic design. soleRebels began in a workshop on Bethlehem’s grandmother’s land in a small village near Addis Ababa. With big ambitions, Bethlehem aimed to create, grow and control a world-class footwear brand in her community. She has created opportunities and prosperity for workers by leveraging their artisanal skills and using natural resources. Unlike mass-produced footwear, soleRebels hand-craft everything that goes into their footwear, including hand-spinning and hand-looming all their own textiles.

Example 6 of 6

J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling’s road to success was a lengthy one, paved with obstacles. She never would have achieved what she did without massive determination.