All Successful Entrepreneurs Have this One Trait

IDEAS at SJSU | Cameron Dalton Lutz

There’s no shortage of people who dream of becoming their own boss.

But being an entrepreneur is not for the faint-hearted. Working for someone else can come with plenty of benefits – health insurance, 401k, paid time off to name a few.

But if you’re passionate about your freedom and willing to grow, you should seriously consider entrepreneurship.

Despite how glamorous entrepreneurship appears in media, stories like Musk's, Zuckerberg's, and Jobs' are extremely uncommon – they're called 'unicorns' for a reason.

A unicorn is a private company with a upwards of a $1 billion valuation. But you don’t have to be to be a unicorn to be an entrepreneur.

Your uncle who owns a gas station isn’t building the next big social network, but he’s his own boss and makes his own money.

Anyone can be an entrepreneur.

What separates unicorns from everyday entrepreneurs is mentality.

Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford University, details in her book, Mindset, that what separates the haves from the have-nots is their capacity to learn – their neuroplasticity.

Neuroplasticity is the idea that your skills and knowledge are grown, nurtured and strengthened rather than an endowment of talent and ability.

What separates your uncle and the unicorns is mindset.

Here's a brief example of how mindset can make the difference.

Last year, I started The Mafigo Project to resolve the issue with water scarcity in places that lacked water infrastructure.

The project was compelling because it was a simple and innovative solution to a problem that affects 900 million people worldwide.

We won 2nd place at IDEAthon, winning a cash prize and access to TechShop, where we could rapidly prototype our project.

With the gungho momentum from IDEAthon, we had no shortage of optimism and enthusiasm.

We quickly created iterations of our product: a simple water drum with a mechanically driven filtration system that helps transport, filter and store water.

We took the project to the final stage of Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge and were finalists at the elevator pitch competition.

The Mafigo Project at Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge 2017

The Mafigo Project at Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge 2017

But we hit a roadblock.

The place where we planned to construct our prototype, TechShop, permanently closed just weeks before SVIC.  

Eventually, I ended The Mafigo Project because we couldn’t secure the funding for the project and, at the time, had no means of manufacturing a prototype.

Had I approached with a growth mindset, we could have found a way to produce a prototype, bootstrapped, and potentially sold the plans and proof of concept to a disaster relief agency.

I failed when I fixated on what I couldn't do.

But the opposite is true.

When I realized that there was no need to be “good enough,” but to have the mindset to be willing to learn and adapt to new responsibilities. Startups are all about learning on the job.

I joined the IDEAS marketing team this semester because I am willing to make mistakes and grow from them.

Putting myself out there takes courage, but if I hadn't then I wouldn't find myself marketing manager at IDEAS.

I’d still be wondering what it’d be like to be a marketing manager, rather than doing it.

People with growth mindsets focus on what they can change.

And they do it.

Entrepreneurship is not for everyone.

But anyone can be an entrepreneur.

It all depends on your mindset.

If you’re an entrepreneur or aspire to be one, I recommend applying for the ZinnStarter program to receive funding from a pool of $20,000 and dedicated mentorship.