This week, we are exploring some of the essential mindset attributes that contribute to the success of tech startup founders.
First, let me start by saying… Being a tech startup founder is not for everyone.
However, everyone, yes, EVERYONE, has the potential to become a wildly successful tech founder if they put their mind to it!
I hope this information will inspire you to discover how you can cultivate the mindset of an unstoppable tech founder.
So, why is our mindset important?
In her book “Mindset,” first published in 2006, Carol Dweck Ph.D delves into the concept of mindset, dividing it into two distinct types: Fixed and Growth.
A Fixed Mindset revolves around the belief that certain qualities are innate, unchangeable, and set in stone. This type of thinking perceives themselves as having a certain level of intelligence, a certain personality, and a certain moral character.
On the other hand, a Growth Mindset sees the hand dealt at birth as just a starting point, believing that with effort and dedication, they can cultivate and develop their basic qualities. Regardless of initial talent, aptitude, interests, or temperament, they have the power to grow and change through experience and application.
Interestingly, Dweck goes on to say that we can each exhibit a growth mindset in some aspects of our lives while holding a fixed mindset in others.
Moreover, regardless of our current thinking and the impact others’ influence may have had on our lives until now…
The overwhelming message is that – ‘we have the power to choose our mindset in all aspects of life, and we can change it whenever we want’.
This is good news, because…
Startup founders will thrive adopting a growth mindset!
To thrive as a startup founder, cultivating a Growth Mindset is imperative.
Let me share with you five essential attributes enabled by a growth mindset that are proven to help propel you towards startup success.
1 – Positive Expectation
The first and most daunting obstacle facing most first-time founders is the fear of failure.
Fear can be paralising and is the reason so many exceptional ideas end up as missed opportunities.
Whether it’s the fear of the unknown, self-doubt, or concern about what others will think, fear keeps a lot of individuals confined to their comfort zone and in a fixed mindset.
It’s crucial to recognize that this type of fear is merely our mind conjuring up everything that could potentially go wrong and making them seem larger than life.
Fear can be overpowered by cultivating a mindset of positive expectation.
If you completed the Action Steps from the last edition of this Newsletter… read it here, by now you’ve set a massive goal, created a clear timeline, and made a prioritised task list…
And, you’ve probably realized there’s a lot on your plate. But here’s the thing: A positive expectation will help you approach it all with structure. Instead of stressing over problems, your mind will naturally pivot to finding solutions.
- Expect to build success
- Expect you’ll find a way to meet your timeline
- Expect you’ll wow heaps of engaged users
- Expect to attract a great team, good PR and the right investors
- Expect you will achieve your goals
How will you do it? It doesn’t matter at this point. Expect it to happen and you’re on your way!
2 – Open to Change and Learning
Okay, this may be the truth: Right now, you might not believe you can build a massive $100 million tech startup. But guess what, you can!
To make it happen, you’ll become the person capable of achieving huge startup success.
Imagine it like a musician starting from scratch, picking up a guitar, and learning the basic chords and music theory. You’ll need to learn the fundamental strategies and systems that have proven to build success for other startup founders.
Unlike musicians however, you don’t have to wait until you become an expert at other people’s songs before you start innovating.
Once you see that a system or process you’ve put into action is actually working, go ahead and start to put your own spin on it. Foster a culture of experimentation for you and your team. Explore new ideas, test hypotheses, and take calculated risks.
This is the real magic of a mindset open to change and learning. You will build capability one step at a time.
3 – Focus and Discipline
Alright, let’s get real about the work load when building a startup. We’ve established you’re juggling a lot. So how are you going to tackle it all effectively?
You’re ability to develop a mindset of focus and discipline is key.
First, let’s bust the multitasking myth. Avoid tackling 20 or 30 tasks in a day? Not the way to go. Your priority task list is your best friend when it comes to efficiency and productivity.
Establish a daily process and include 2-4 hour blocks of undistracted deep work each day to focus on nailing your top-priority tasks.
If you finalise your schedule the night before, it’ll allow you to more easily focus and channel your energy efficiently each day. But limit yourself to a maximum of 3 important tasks daily.
A word of caution… As humans, we gravitate to the tasks we like the most.
For example, I love innovating and creating strategy & process. Also website design and crafting those behind-the-scenes ‘joineries’ that make digital magic happen. Landing pages, forms, links – that’s my zone, and I can get lost in these tasks for hours.
But reality check: there’s a mix of other key tasks… Like creating content & posting, building connections, sales follow ups and even paying the bills. These also have a high priority.
This is where discipline comes into play.
I find it incredibly helpful to organize my tasks using the these two simple systems:
- The Eisenhower Matrix
- The 80/20 Principle
The Eisenhower Matrix
Sort each of your tasks into one of the four quadrants depending on their level of Importance and Urgency.
The 80/20 Principle
According to Richard Koch in his book “The 80/20 Principle: The Secret of Achieving More with Less“, just 20% of activities bring about 80% of our results. So it follows, approximately 80% of what we do is mostly a waste of our time…
What 20% Tasks bring you 80% results?
This concept is super important for startup founders chasing a massive goal with a tight timeline because, if you pair your Eisenhower Matrix results with the 80/20 Principle, only tasks from quadrant 1 & 2 should be flagged as priority 20% tasks.
Best part… by having the focus and discipline to fill your daily process almost exclusively with these 20% tasks, you’ll acomplish way more than the average person in way less time.
4 – Courage and Commitment
So far we’ve covered:
- Embracing a Positive Expectation to overwhelm fear.
- Staying Open to Change and Learning to build capability, and
- Mastering Focus and Discipline to accomplish more of what truly matters.
Now, let’s talk about a mindset of courage and commitment, the crucial elements that bind everything together.
As you continue to build, you’ll encounter an increasing number of 20% tasks that will challenge you beyond your current experience and expertise… And way outside your comfort zone.
This is where your courage and commitment are key. First, by committing wholeheartedly to your goal/s and your daily process… And then, mustering the courage to show up and continue to make progress every single day.
I love The 4C’s Formula by Dan Sullivan, founder of Strategic Coach:
Having the courage to make a commitment to a new standard will ultimately lead to mastery of a new capability and a whole new level of confidence.
Expanding on this… When you fully commit to a process and outcome beyond what you believe you’re capable of, it takes courage. It pushes you out of your knowledge and comfort zone, but that’s where the real growth happens.
You’ll gain experience, valuable feedback and learning. By adapting and applying what you learn, you’ll develop a raft of new skills and capabilities along with new level of confidence, ready for the next challenge.
5 – Persistence
Being a tech startup founder is a journey filled with excitement, challenges, and a whole lot of uncertainty. You’ve got to develop a viable product, gain market traction, secure funding and then scale it all up.
And let’s not forget the importance of networking and building relationships to get the support and resources you need to grow.
Predictively, there will be times when things won’t always go your way. Maybe you’ll have a major setback and wonder why you bother. And, you may struggle to lean on your other growth mindset attributes.
At these moments, dogged persistence will be your saving grace.
You’ll turn up and keep working… Then, encourage your team. You’ll refine your product, strategy or business model one more time. And, you’ll start moving forward again.
And, think of this… When potential investors or partners witness your unwavering commitment and persistence, they’ll be more likely to believe in you and your startup’s potential and align themselves with your vision.
In this way, your persistence is not only a key attribute of your founder’s growth mindset, but also a tool for inspiring confidence and rallying others around your startup’s mission.
- To thrive as a startup founder, cultivating the key attributes of Growth Mindset is imperative.
- These include:
- Embrace Positive Expectation to overwhelm fear.
- Be open to Change and Learning to build capability
- Develop Focus and Discipline to accomplish more of what truly matters
- Have the Courage to Commit to build a new level of mastery and confidence, and
- Display dogged Persistence when all else fails, because it’s inspirational.
- I also suggest adding a dash of Obsession into the mix to fuel your thinking. A little obsessiveness can work wonders in speeding up discovery of solutions to you key problems.
Get ready for a slight shift in focus next week! I’ll be diving into how an existing ‘conventional’ business can harness the power of a startup mentality to rapidly build a successful tech product… If you haven’t yet, subscribe here so you don’t miss out.
This week’s Action Steps:
No matter where your startup is on the journey – just an idea, in development, or already live in the market – recognising how your mindset impacts your path to success can be a total game-changer!
This week’s Action Steps are like a smorgasbord of possibilities, offering a variety of tactics for you to experiment with and discover the combination that suits you best.
Step 1: How does your current Mindset rate?
Rate your current level of Mindset for each Attribute using a simple scale between 1 and 10.
1 = I never exibit this attribute… 10 = I always exibit this attribute (It’s part of me).
- Positive Expectation
- Open to Change & Learning
- Focus & Discipline
- Courage and Commitment
Your objective now, is to build your Growth Mindset. Bring each score as close to 10 over the coming months and years… Awareness is the starting point.
Step 2: Cultivate/Nurture your Growth Mindset
Create your own process to cultivate and nurture your Growth Mindset! It’s a journey that will be unique to you, influenced by how you learn, your expectations, and your existing processes.
Here are some ideas, most of which work well for me… (In no particular order):
- Set a goal to cultivate your Growth Mindset
- Draft a short affirmation for each mindset attribute you’d like to enhance
- Draft several affirmations detailing your Positive Expectations (What you’d most like to attract)
- Make reading these affirmations part of your morning ritual
- Set specific learning goals (What you intend to learn and by when)
- Allocate regular time blocks in your calendar dedicated to learning new skills
- Schedule a daily 2-4 hour time block at your most productive time for deep-work (For your 20% tasks)
- Eliminate all distractions in this deep-work time block
- Mindfully schedule each day the night before
- Keep a journal and update it each evening
- Include at least 20 minutes of exercise and/or stretching in your daily schedule
- Develop a simple rating system for your day to include with your journal entry
- eg: Did I complete my 1-3 core tasks / Did I improve by 1% / How will I improve tomorrow
- Shoot for a minimum of seven hours of sleep each night
Remember, it’s all about incremental change rather than going for a complete overhaul.
If these ideas are new to you, start with up to 3 and watch to see that they transform your process. As you integrate, adapt and master these, add a few more to continuously level up your game!
In coming weeks and months I’ll be covering how to choose the best battle-tested strategies for your project and implement efficient processes to fast-track results.
Be sure to subscribe here so you don’t miss out.