Principle 2: Hustle & Play

Entrepreneur Mindset

How do I look after myself on this journey?

Why is this principle important?

Building a startup will challenge you personally and emotionally. You’ll learn more in a year of entrepreneurship than most people do in 5 years in normal jobs. It is important to look after yourself well on this journey, surround yourself with good people, and take care of your body and mind.

What should you focus on at this stage?
  • Get a better understanding of what people mean by the entrepreneurial roller coaster.
  • Find ways to create a surplus of time, money or energy to free you up.
  • Understand how your mind is capable of undermining your startup efforts.
  • Develop new mindsets and behaviours that will best serve you.
Core Concepts

Set yourself up for success

You are creating value out of thin air. The odds are stacked against you. All your competitors and comparable organisations have more resources, more reputation and more experience than you. What do you have? You have your size and your attitude. You are able to change direction quicker than them. Be brave, be cheeky, be opportunistic – hustle.

Create your own gravity
In the early days you’ll chase every lead. There’s a certain amount of momentum in startups that comes straight from the founder’s sheer bloody-mindedness and determination. You’ll do things manually that will seem like madness in future. You will have conversations that seem like they led nowhere. However, if you maintain an open mindset you’ll learn something from everyone and you can never predict who will come back around in future.

Prioritise ruthlessly
Keep the main thing the main thing. In the early days you’ll be so pleased to receive emails that you’ll reply to junk-mail. At any given stage only 1-2 things on your massive to-do list will really make the difference between success and failure in the long-term. Your challenge is to figure out which things matter and just focus on them.

Build a business, not a job
You don’t want to wake up one day and realise you have created a job for yourself (a job you can’t escape). Enjoy yourself. It is very very easy to fall into your old ways of working. Only difference is that your new job sees you sitting at your kitchen table in your pyjamas staring at a brand new Macbook Pro. Give yourself a break. Work from wherever you want. Take random days off just because you can. Work all night and then sleep till lunchtime.

Manage the challenges

Reframe the obstacles
Growth mindset is a term coined by Carol Dweck to describe how successful people approach challenges as learning opportunities, rather than discouragements. Fixed mindset is when you behave as if you have a pre-determined amount of ability and you see obstacles as demotivating and frustrating. As an entrepreneur your job is to find your way through the challenges between you and a successful venture. To do this, you will need to reframe obstacles not as things that are in your way but milestones on your way.

Focus on the next task
From where you’re sitting the thought of ever reaching the point that you’re aiming at (whatever you have defined ‘success’ as) can be very daunting. How many thousands of emails before you have achieved your goals? The best thing to do when you’re taken over by ‘Oh my god this is madness, we’ll never be able to pull this off’ is to focus on the next thing on your focused to-do list. Be strict with yourself. Then just bash through the tasks.

Avoid comparisons
When you’re building a startup it is easy to compare yourself to everyone else – your fellow Startup Tribers, the unicorn billion-dollar entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and every startup in between. What’s more, you’ll be comparing your inside story (warts and all) with other peoples’ outside stories (PR, bragging, and marketing). This is the perfect combination for feeling inadequate. Keep your definitions of success your own.

Protect yourself
There will be no shortage of people lining up to tell you why your idea isn’t going to work and that you’re mad for leaving your job. Unfortunately some of these people will be very close to you – and they will give you this advice sincerely because they care about you being OK. There’s no easy way to protect yourself – smile and shrug, thank people for their concern, and move on.

When you’re starting a business (or making any big life change for that matter) you really need to surround yourself with glass-half-full people. You need all the buoyancy you can get. As for those that doubt, tell them that you’re really excited about your plans and that you’d appreciate their support.

Balance humility with determination

As an entrepreneur you need to be confident and determined enough to believe you can invent something out of nothing – but without departing from the realm of what’s possible altogether! This is a fine balance – especially around the large amounts of advice you will receive – and the solution is to practice self-awareness.

Look after your health

Such obvious advice but as it so hard to stay disciplined on this front it bears repeating. This means getting enough sleep, not handicapping yourself with hangovers, exercising, eating well, and taking time out to recover. Short-term gains from working unsustainably hard are always wiped out by the long-term cost – no matter how urgent the work seemed at the time.

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