How to Develop Entrepreneurial Spirit

If we crack the answer to this question, who knows where it can take us? The potential is huge. It opens up multiple possibilities, stimulating new entrepreneurs and revitalising those with their journey already underway, allowing them to become the entrepreneur they aspire to be.  

Ian Workman, MD of SME Business Banking at Barclays Bank posed this question during his recent talk on The Biz Live with Jamie Breese and Sarah Brooks. While the session did not pursue this query to a conclusion, as a performance coach who works with leading business founders, it got me thinking … 

How then do we create and – equally importantly maintain – an entrepreneurial spirit? There are two key psychological forces at play.  

Firstly, the intention of the entrepreneur to see their vision become a commercial reality is the driving force that powers them forward. Using a motoring metaphor, this is like pressing the accelerator pedal. It sets off a hidden chain of events that ignites the fuel to power the car toward its destination.  

However, to unleash the potential, business owners need to release the handbrake - the psychological constructs that hold the entrepreneurial spirit back. Read on to find out how as an entrepreneur, you can maximise this driving force and avoid the psychological handbrakes. 

Powering the Entrepreneurial Spirit  

Of course, most people want to express themselves and their ideas. But significantly, successful entrepreneurs have a drive that is beyond the norm - to the extent that they are often prepared to take huge personal risks to achieve their goals. This determination stems from their burning desire to see their vision solve a problem for others and keeps their eyes fixed on the destination ahead. The desire to achieve pushes entrepreneurs, not only to take action, but also to expand their capabilities and those of their team, so they have what it takes to reach their goals. 

The intensity of this drive can be increased by two psychological factors - deepening our sense of purpose and gaining clarity of vision.  

By mastering these psychological elements, we can not only systematically ignite the initial spark but act to fuel the burning desire to keep powering forward when others run out of gas. 

Psychological handbrakes on the entrepreneurial mindset  

Why do some people become leading entrepreneurs while others fail to take risks? For all of us, there are psychological elements that can hold us back. If you endeavour to drive your car with the handbrake on, there’s a high chance of stalling. If you have enough power to move forward despite the handbrake, fuel consumption will be through the roof. If you hit a wet patch or corner quickly, you risk going into a spin. Ultimately, you’ll have the stress of an unpredictable ride.  

Similarly, there are psychological constructs – or handbrakes - which prevent us from gaining clarity of vision and from moving forward in our businesses. These emotions can confuse and weaken our sense of purpose, leaving us lacking in direction or without the courage and confidence to overcome big or unexpected challenges.  

For example, anxiety can cause us to fixate on what we don't want (rather than what we do want). This results in negative outcomes, including a lack of clarity, mental blocks, procrastination, inaction or a focus on non-strategic tasks that fail to move us towards our goals.   

Self-doubt can lead entrepreneurs to question their concept and capability to take it to market. They do not believe that investing the time, money, headspace and heart would result in their idea becoming a reality. It’s hard to find motivation for something you don’t feel will be successful, and that’s a sure-fire way to stall the entrepreneurial action needed for success.  

Together self-doubt, anxiety and similar constructs act like the handbrake, impeding our vision and taking the oomph out of our desire to achieve. Both result from being overly focused on negative possibilities, rather than solutions.  

What’s the answer for the entrepreneurial mindset? 

So how do we develop an entrepreneurial mindset? I propose the answer lies in fuelling the burning desire and releasing the psychological handbrakes. 

With that, our entrepreneur has the psychological freedom to get motoring and develop the skills and resources needed to make their venture a success.     

Notable entrepreneurs from Thomas Edison to James Dyson suffered multiple setbacks (which some may misguidedly call failures) and were told pursuing their vision would be a commercial disaster. Whilst there were substantial challenges, they managed to maintain forward momentum long enough to make their ideas a reality. 

At a very simple level, one strategy for entrepreneurial success is to actively focus on positive possibilities. What needs to happen to help these come to fruition?

Do you agree with my take on creating and developing an entrepreneurial spirit? Let me know in the comments below.  

If you’re interested in finding out how to maximise your entrepreneurial spirit, watch a short video that reveals my performance framework for entrepreneurs. Sign up for access here.