Changing Your Mindset from Employee to Entrepreneur

More and more people are realizing they’re not cut out for the corporate jungle.  Office politics, pathetic raises, and the constant threat of layoffs cause significant stress among today’s workforce.

The corporate world sucks people in when they’re young with delusions of grandeur.  Then it uses them up like a natural resource and spits them out when they’re no longer useful.

Who wants to waste their most productive years working to make someone else rich?  You bust your butt knowing the best you can get is a lousy three percent raise.  You move up the corporate ladder thinking more money will buy you freedom but it only ties another iron chain to your legs.  Eventually you’re deemed too old or too expensive and you’re pushed aside for someone younger and cheaper.Mindset word

If you’re lucky you’ll at least get a severance package to help you stay afloat while you search for a new job.  Of course, now you’re considered “old” and you’ll have to compete against younger people who are seen as more energetic and relevant.

Not exactly the career track you had planned is it?

Take Control of Your Destiny

Life is too short to spend it slaving away in a job that you hate and trying scrape by only to find at retirement that you don’t have the savings needed to live the kind of lifestyle you always dreamed would be your reward.

But some people just can’t see the world outside their cubicle walls.

My friend John absolutely hates his job.  He’s overworked and constantly stressed out to the point where he’s starting to experience stress-related health problems.  I’m not exaggerating when I say his job is slowly killing him.

John is constantly complaining about his boss, his coworkers, and pretty much everything related to his job.  He works extra hours all the time just to keep up, but he’s still constantly criticized for not doing enough.  He’s stuck in a situation where he just can’t win no matter what he does.

We met for lunch recently and I could see how much the stress was weighing on him.  I could see him squeezing his fist tightly as he told me all about the crap he has to endure day in and day out.

I said to him, “John I’m your friend and I can’t stand seeing you like this.  We all have bad days but you’re miserable all the time and that’s no way to live.  For the sake of your health and your marriage you need to make a change.”

John’s a smart guy and he has good skills, and he said he would try and make time to update his resume and start looking for a new job.  But when I suggested thinking outside the box a little and starting up a small business of his own his eyes glazed over.

I guess he’s heard me talk about entrepreneurship too many times and he just can’t imagine himself as a business owner.   For better or worse, John’s employee mindset is locked firmly in place and he can’t even imagine anything different.

Opening Your Mind to New Possibilities

When I was growing up my dad was always looking for some kind of side hustle outside of his day job.  He dutifully went to work to support his family but he was always looking for something better.  He bought goods from a wholesaler and sold them at local flea markets.  He started a mail order jewelry wholesaling business.  When his employer laid him off after 35 years of service he took his severance and started a small gift shop.

None of my dad’s business ideas made it big but he did pass along the entrepreneurial mindset to me.  I shifted my mindset from employee to entrepreneur a long time ago, and if you’re looking to do the same here are a few things to consider.

Self-imposed Barriers

Many people struggle when they try to change their mindset from employee to entrepreneur or business owner.  They struggle with self-doubt and build barriers by telling themselves “no one would like my business idea” or “I could never make enough money doing that”.  They assume they would fail and so they give up without ever giving it a go.

You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take. – Wayne Gretzky

Starting a business can be stressful and there’s no guarantee of success.  But if you never take any action then failure is guaranteed.

Embrace Your Fear

Everyone thinks about quitting their job so they can start their own business and live life on their own terms.  For most people it’s just a daydream that helps them escape the monotony of their job.  Only a few actually take steps to make their dream become a reality.

Why is that?


Being an employee is easy.  You show up every morning, work until your shift ends, and then go home.  You’re just one small cog in the machine.

But as a business owner you have many more responsibilities.  The ultimate success or failure of the business lies directly on you.  For some that can a sobering thought, but for me it’s exhilarating.  I’d rather place my fate in my own hands than in the hands of some bean-counter in an executive office.

Fear can be a powerful motivator.  Fear is what makes me want to be my own boss.  I fear that my salary won’t keep up with inflation or that I’ll get laid off and won’t be able to pay my mortgage.  I fear handing over my future and my family’s wellbeing to some faceless company.  I fear not having control.

That fear is what drives me to get up early on weekends and stay up late at night writing and building a business.  Sure, it would be easier to sleep in or sit on the couch watching TV all day.  That’s fine for most people…but not for an entrepreneur.

Are You Ready to Commit?

As I mentioned above, an employee only has to worry about his individual responsibilities.  He can do his job and go home at the end of the day without really thinking about the overall strategy of the company.

But an entrepreneur has to think about the big picture while also taking care of a thousand little details.  Business owners often work many more hours than an employee does…though they may feel more rewarded because there is a greater correlation between their work and their compensation.

If you’re planning to follow the path of entrepreneurship you need to be prepared to work long and hard towards your goals.  There will be times in the beginning where you’ll be tempted to give up because progress isn’t coming as quickly as you’d like.  You’ll wonder if it’s worth all the effort.

When that happens your commitment will really be put to the test.  Will you have what it takes to keep chugging along until you reach you goals?

Over to You

Entrepreneurship is not for everyone.  It takes a lot more work and discipline than most people are willing to put in.  But if you’re willing to put in the time now it can change your life forever.

Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.   -Unknown

Do you have the entrepreneurial mindset?  What are you doing now so you can live the life you want later?

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Mike is a freelance writer and blogger who specializes in finance and parenting topics. He is a dedicated husband and father of three who is obsessed with creating multiple streams of income and building wealth so he can achieve true financial freedom for his family. Like what you're reading? Subscribe to our free RSS feed and follow us on Twitter.

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  1. says

    Love this, Mike!!! We are working diligently to pay off our debt so my husband can do what he wants to do instead of being stuck working for “the man”. He has no idea what it is that he wants to do, but I’ll bet you his mind will be flooded with ideas once he knows he has a choice in the matter. :-)

    • says

      That’s great Laurie! Paying down your debt is an important step…if he quit his day job while you still have a lot of debt to pay down it would be much riskier and the pressure to succeed would be that much greater.

  2. Kevin H says

    Over the past couple years I’ve been (slowly) building plumbing side gig. I tell you, there were so many times I was on the razors edge of giving up. Some would say I started before I was ready, I say they were right. I absolutely had no clue how to run a business so I’ve been learning everything as I go. Talk about stressful. Fortunately I feel things are finally starting to come together. The bits I’ve learned here and there are joining and things are beginning to make sense.

    I did what most people didn’t, start. I do what many avoid, continued learning. Would I call my business a success? Not yet, but I see success getting closer every day.

  3. says

    It’s tough to make that leap and you’re right, it’s all about mindset. Bargaineering was making a lot of money, way more than my day job, when I left to pursue it full-time. I was scared of the uncertainty – easy come, easy go, right?

    Then I started thinking about whether I wanted to control my destiny or have someone else control it. My boss was my boss because he showed up 10 years before I did. He has a big say in where I went, how I was compensated, and the system handcuffed him in a way that didn’t let him reward stars. That’s not to say I was a star, per se, but if I were, I wasn’t going to get my due.

    So I looked at it from another perspective – if I want to get what I’m worth, I need to go out and get it.

    • says

      Thanks Jim, I appreciate hearing your perspective. Interesting that you still had reservations even though your online income had already surpassed the salary you earned from your day job.

  4. says

    I definitely have an entrepreneurial mindset. My problem is that sometimes I have too many ideas going on at once. As long as I can focus on one thing at a time I tend to do pretty well. I am only in my third week of self employment but at this point I don’t think I’d ever want to work for anyone else again.

    • says

      Hey Alexa! I fall into the same trap sometimes too…so many ideas and not enough time/resources to do them all. Focus is still something I need to master.

      PS – I’m glad your self-employment experience is going well so far!

  5. says

    Am not there yet as an entreprenuer or even in developing my entreprenueral mind but slowly and surely am getting there :)
    What I like most about being your own boss is having control of your destiny, the fact that effort exerted is almost directly correlated with the gains and that its fun, you run the show, you don’t have a thousand rules and company policy constricting you. You can do whatever it takes to move your business to the next level.
    Am not afraid of a little bit more work if I know the benefits are going towards my business, and I do commit to work towards being a business owner!

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