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Top 15 elements of successful entrepreneur mindset

Updated: Jun 10, 2023

The mindset is what makes the mind work much better. You may have a great mind as good as Elon Musk and Steve Jobs, but you need to acquire the mindset of theirs. The mindset is not something any books teach. In fact, the mindset can only be taught in practice. Successful business people are not smarter, but they have different brain circuit.

Think of your knowledge and skill as software - the mindset is the operating system.

Here are the top fifteen elements of entrepreneur mindset. Get them by practicing selling, somehow and some where. Every great entrepreneur got their mindset early, independent of schools.

Warning: The entrepreneur mindset or business mindset is what schools do not teach and books can not cover. The business mindset is what schools do not teach and can not teach. Noticed many great entrepreneurs did not finish school?

Ready?! here are the top lists of 15 entrepreneur mindset.

  1. Most business dies.

  2. #1 in any business niche gets money.

  3. To sell, go to market. Let customers find you.

  4. Every plan needs adjustment.

  5. Every great idea needs to be validated.

  6. Good things don't sell. Every great products needs you to sell effortlessly.

  7. Quality equals price. Quality equals time. Time equals money. Therefore quality equals money.

  8. Don't try to provide a solution. Provide benefits.

  9. Schools only teach ignorance. Or at best common knowledge.

  10. Social media is only a funnel - it is not where you sell things.

  11. in 2021, build big funnels and thin margin.

  12. Website sells nothing. It is just an empty store no where near people.

  13. Business is a life style choice.

  14. Everyone has two roles: consumer buyer and seller.

  15. Business is just a game.

Is it hard to believe?

Now let me explain some of the points to the best of my ability. Again, great entrepreneurs "get it". If you don't "get it", then you need to practice and learn in practice.

To those who can not agree, skip to here please and give me a chance to speak with some analogies people can understand.

Let's talk about the details of the mindsets.

Most business dies.

The vast majority of ideas, projects and products do not rise to the level of a sustainable business. They become a hobby or a hang up business that never grows. If you want to build one, it is not enough just to have a good idea.

Most entrepreneurial efforts born out of "I am smart" or "I want to solve problems" becomes miserably unfit for the people and market, or there are not enough customers to support your startup organization financially.

Not only do small startups face death, big companies also face death threat. All big companies were a startup. Business world has two governing concepts: season change (innovation) and competition. The entire business world lives off the consumers, called "end consumers" for a reason. (Each person in society is both a producer, and a consumer. Business people are also a seller).

Business is only predictable in its unpredictability. It is a live game.
Risk is unpredictable and never told. Hence it is called risks.

We rarely hears about businesses that don't make it. But they are the vast majority. You never see the zero view channels on Youtube - because they are not visible. Healthy entrepreneurs are paranoid and humble. They know their success is a reward for their pursuit - called luck, not chance.

Most smart thinkers never start. They debates the pros and cons of ideas. Some who start get some revenues, but not large profit. Some get profits but never growth. There are many levels of success and failures - and it takes 3-5 years to find out.

Business builders GET IT. They lived through it and knew the mindsets in their bones.

Newbies have no scar but are full of over-exuberance

If you are first time starting, whether you are a doctor, lawyer, professor, or a high school student, you are the same.

You will assume many things:

  1. you assume business world is full of money;

  2. you assume people will buy what they need;

  3. you assume people will magically find your store or your products;

  4. you assume the business world is good, fair, and full of great guys like St. Jobs, St. Gates, and St. Musk. You believe all the stories you read.

On your journey you will learn three things at least:

  1. Most things don't sell, most people don't buy.

  2. We see people buy everyday, but the seller have done extraordinary work behind the scene;

  3. When people do consider you, they will also consider the expensive leader product and the cheap fake products that looks very nice.

#1 in any business niche gets money

Ever wonder why only the Gold medalist in Olympic events gets to earn sponsorship money? this is like everything else. Your number one pizza shop in town makes a ton of money. The number two? not much. Every niche has a winner. Be that winner.

In business number one gets money
Business mindset: number one of niche gets money

There is plenty of money, but there is no easy buck. You see many people get money but it is still hard for everyone. It is like there are many fish in the ocean, but there is no easy catch. Every catch requires capital scaling, experience, and team. And yet as consumers get can buy a fish from a super market for sometimes 2 dollars or less.

There are millions of corporate companies in the world - everyone WAS a startup. And yet the success rate of everyone is 1 in a million for each.

Most entrepreneurs fail because they failed too few times. Every entrepreneur is epic, and every company is epic, even if you don't know it.

Business is grabbed from someone else.

Business is rare - like a rich Gold mine is rare. Once people find a business, they all converge on it. There is no such courtesy such as "don't steal Johnny's ideas". People in business don't steal ideas. They steal business. People don't copy you, but they defeat you.

Business is a game, or a war. Because founders know "Good business" is rare.

Microsoft grabbed business from IBM and many others. Apple grabbed business from Xerox Parc. Amazon grabbed business from many book sellers. Walmart grabbed business from many local grocery stores.

Example 1: Let's say you are a great local chef and you start a fusion restaurant. Well, how do people find your restaurant? by driving on the road and "discovering" you, or by typing "restaurant" or "fusion restaurant" on google. In the first case, no one will come to your place immediately. In the second place, Google already assigned three organic search winners and Google can not just put you to number one spot immediately, even though these are not as good fusion restaurant than you.

Example 2: Let's say you have a brilliant idea of tutoring kids on math. You build some website, but no one visis the website - why? because Google did not show them the website when they type "Math Tutor". Unfortunately no one types "Innovative math teachers" for the Google search. If you are truly great, it just takes time to prove and unseat all the non-great players.

Success is what you choose to become, not what you choose to be.

You don't just "be" successful - you become successful. You become THE success, and take the current first place down. It takes work, courage, and work.

Good business is rare, and good business builders are rare. Good everything is rare, on your way to become good you will have plenty of competition.

There is nothing others have not thought about.

There is no opening to chance upon. No stone untouched. The more time you spend in business, the more you agree with this statement. Unfortunately, this is one valuable thing that no one can or dare to teach or preach. The best idea is to BEAT existing players.

To sell, go to the market

Don't just "find the customer". Don't believe the customers would care enough do so pages of google search to find you either. To sell, go to the market and sell to the people coming into your store.

Why the market? because people only go to the market to shop, compare, and buy.

Entrepreneur mindset: to sell go to market.
Don't wait for customers. Go to the market and then wait.
Every plan needs adjustment.

Many people want to conceive a great business plan, write a pitch deck, bring to investors and wow them! that never happens. Investors know that every plan needs fine tuning and adjustment to work. They want to see what you have done the fine tuning. They don't want to pay for your "learning curve".

There are many reasons why a startup new business will fail. Entrepreneurship success is surviving 2000 mistakes. The successful ones survived all 2000, and the failed ones survived only 1990.

Best plans don't necessarily work in business. Business success and risks are beyond modeling and design. It is real world competition and real life benefits giving.
Every idea needs validation.

You are smart? great. You have a wonderful one of a kind once in a century kind of idea? great. Prove it. Validate it with your money and time. The investors and customers can all wait.

Investors only invested in validated idea. The validation is the founder's job.

Good things don't sell. Every great products needs you to sell.

I get it. Selling is low. Selling is dirty humble kind of work. Selling is like begging. But you have to do it, especially for good things you believe in. Your great products won't be cared about, understood or purchased, unless you go do the hustle.

Good things still need selling. People don't understand good things, and people don't even look for good things.

Nothing will be sold without you personally selling.

No products can sell itself. No one will sell it for you. If you try to bring a product to find a customer, everyone will shy away. Good things needs greater selling.

No matter how smart you are, you are not the savior and the problem is not as big as you imagined. People can wait - for you to be humble enough to sell.

Quality is expensive to achieve.

Let me prove it for you mathematically. Quality is built with time. Time is money, no one can work for you for free. Hence, quality is built with money. We see great Apple products that sell for a high price, that is because Steve Job's company has spent a lot of money.

Quality is money.
Quality is not just skill. Quality is time.

Here is an equation linking price and time to quality and value.

Quality = time.

Time = money.

Quality = money.

Quality = pricing power.

Steve jobs spent time and money to build quality.
Business mindset: quality and pricing power is time.

Steve Jobs at a news conference "Apple does not ship junk". Apple knows it is not the cool factor that matters, but the quality, and further more, the consistency of high quality.

<<A side note: What is a price?

Price is a power. It does not reflect your cost or simple efforts. Good businessman provide win-win. Namely, the customers win, and you win by charging a favorable price. It is hard.

A bottle of coca-cola can be 4 dollars at a stadium, or sixty cents at a super market. It shows price is what your customers in the market are willing to pay.

Price is set by your competitor. And price is set by your customer (whatever they are willing to pay is the price).

All products are priced differently from one place to another. You can buy same thing on USA shelf for 30 when you buy one, and get it for 2 from a source factory if you are willing to by 10,000 at a time. However, people will have a psychological price when they compare to other things they buy and other competitors of yours.


Don't provide a solution. Provide benefits.

Some people naively think that people will buy a solution. That is wrong. People will buy a solution if they can not solve the problem themselves (since they know themselves the best). People want the lowest dirt cheap price and the promised benefits that won't fail. We all see great business providing solutions, but we don't realize they provide solutions at extremely high trustworthiness (quality) and low price (through industrial scaling). People only buy benefits.

Benefit = solution with a promise.

Schools teach ignorance.

This point is the hardest for me to make. As I was a university professor for many decades.

Why do I say that? Isn't graduates or PhD degree holders of Harvard and Caltech smart and knowledgable? how dare you say that schools teach ignorance?

Schools teach common knowledge printed in books, but they imply to the parents and students that they are the pinnacle of knowledge and produces mankinds' best. That is a lie. Schools don't teach market deep knowledge, about detailed knowledge. Schools can not simulate life's risks, greed, competition, risks, profit motive, and risk aversion - all these are critical elements of business.

School curriculum hides all these real elements. By that I mean they teach ignorance and breed danger.

Most college graduates are no longer hungry for knowledge. They think they have been to the very top. For that, they are ignorant.

There are three things that well schooled folks should consider:

  1. The schools teach what is needed to get a good job.

  2. Much of knowledge is deep knowledge (say, organic egg retail in Farmer City, MI) and experiential knowledge (knowledge you only discover when you are there).

  3. Millions of books can only cover broad knowledge.

When schools openly imply they are the pinnacle of knowledge, they are lying. They want you to think it is because they want you to pay top tuition dollars. School knowledge is beginning. Hence graduation is called commencement. Commencement of real learning.

When schools do not openly remind its graduates that there is much learning ahead, it is breeding ignorance - and vein pride.

Many people who do not understand these three keep asking "Should I quit school to open a business?", "Which engineering major should I take to startup?", and "Do I need to go to MBA to start a business".

Our great engineering schools teach you on aspect of building something but does not teach you how to sell. Our great MBA school teaches you how to manage a business, but not how to start one.

Schools don't help building business. Skipping schools don't matter either.

The great soldiers and athletes might be trained in schools, but they experience so much more outside. Same for entrepreneurs, innovators, and business people.

Patton and Eisenhower during war.
Mindset: school learning is broad knowledge. Go deep.

Schools don't teach business building. Business schools teach business administration. Technical schools teach a bit of product building skills. However, to build a business requires many skills and knowledge. In comparison, schools and scholars really just know book basics.

Great entrepreneurs some times skip school. Elon Musk was admitted to Stanford graduate school but he stayed only for three days. However, Musk was a good student. He majored in Physics and Business in undergraduate and has already started companies before going to college.

In fact, skipping school is not necessary. However, going to school does not help with business. It is like some people learn driving without going to a driving school.

Schools teach skills for surviving and living in the social establishment zone, the comfort zone. Business is to leave that zone and learn to survive on your own.

Business mindset: Schools teach nothing.
Business mindset: school knowledge is starter

Business is like a game, or a war. School graduates have a long way to go and much to learn from experience on the battle field to become effective leaders. Same for entrepreneurship.

If business is the long distance driving, then school is the driving school. Learning how to be an A student in the driving school is only the start of a long journey.

Schools teach you what is in the books. Entrepreneurship teaches what's not in book.
You can not make money on social media.

Many people would argue other wise. Here is what I mean. Social media is only a funnel. People don't come to social medial to buy things - they come to social medial to relax. If you spend all your efforts on social media and expect it to create an income that you can live on, you will be very disappointed after a couple of years.

You can not make money on social media, though sometimes you can EARN a few bucks.

The social media is the light. The website and product is the business end (the teeth). If you only have the light, or only have the teeth, nothing works.

Big funnel, thin margin

What works for business in 2021 and beyond is big funnel and thin margin. You use big funnel on social network to collect 1-3% of conversion customers and show them a bargain they cannot refuse NOW.

Profit margin is thin for all successful business. The rich ones just have a lot of customers.

A website is just a building

A website, whether it is built with word press, Shopify or other platforms, is just an url http address. No one comes to this automatically. A website itself is like a cottage in the wild - it may be nice but no one comes to see it, no one checks out what's in it, and no one buys what you put in there.

Don't just build a website - hook it with traffic funnels and products.

Your website has to be hitched to a market and you can funnel people in. That is why people always spend top dollars to put restaurants on restaurant row! because there are foot traffic streaming by.

Entrepreneur is a life style choice.

Business is a life style choice. It is opposite to another style based on job, promotion, employment and skills. Business is a conscious choice to abandon the comfort zone living. Unfortunately many people realize that too late.

Every seed of a redwood tree takes year to grow to full.
To make dreams happen, stop dreaming.
To make dreams happen, stop dreaming.

Business is not about avoiding mistakes. Entrepreneurship is about making all mistakes and learn. (

Everyone has dual roles: consumer buyer and seller.

Business is a realm parallel to our role as job holder and consumer. As entrepreneurs you become a humber seller and job provider. Ideas and innovations are found inside business.

We all buy things from sellers, but being a seller is not an experience many people had.

Business is a game.

Business is just business. Business is irrational. It is a game, an experience, and a competitive monopoly act. It is an alpha competition outside of published rules and books. People don't buy things good for them, and people are easily fooled. People want dirt cheap price and care nothing about the seller's cost.

Some people think business has social responsibilities, ethics boundaries, and hard rules. That is not true.

Further reading

Here are some additional mindset elements.

Business success is your full responsibility. If you want to do it, no one will help. Being a seller, no on sympathizes with you. No one understand you or even try. No one will give you some money to try things.

Business is built and grown. You don't conceive one. You don't "open a company" or "open a business". Incubators and accelerators don't work because good business is slow work.

No consumers needs or want to buy anything - yet business competes to win their attention and favor.

No one cares about your business before you succeed, except when it is to steal one or surpass. In business, the only thing steady is competition and learning.

Business is hit and miss, high and low. It is a statistics show. To win, just hit a lot. Luck will be on your side once. You have to hit, and not worrying about missing.

Business is hit and miss
Gangnam business is hit and miss. 17 years of silence, one hit, and then 17 years of silence.

"Some times your big efforts on what should work gets no response. Sometimes a little bit of more efforts gets you there."

"To succeed once, you need to try many".

Business has large unpredictability. Things that SHOULD work sometimes did not, and things that did not look to have a chance actually succeed. You need to put up many efforts and have a win statistically.

Success has no one-on-one relation with your efforts, but if you try enough success will come to you eventually.
Success is kind of a reward - for risk taking and for persistence. There is no why.
To turn a great idea to a success, you just need to try a few times and experiment. It will just take a few years. Anyone can do it, except for people in a rush.
Even if you have succeed, you may still have to wait a few years for the award ceremony to happen.

But is is hard to believe ... I know.

I know it is hard to believe. Especially for well schooled smart people. How do you become successful entrepreneur? a second time entrepreneur is successful - he has failed once already.

First time entrepreneurs think these: "will I be rich soon?" "I want to keep as much as stocks as possible", "how do I be an owner and manager at the same time", etc. They want to be original - they don't want to copy anyone's ideas and wants to solve new problems for people..

Second time entrepreneurs think about these two things: (1) how to survivel and (2) how to beat the number one. They copy business and do it better.

No one teach this at school and discuss that in books. But think about some scenarios:

  1. No babies know how to walk initially. We learn how to walk by stumbling. The "failures" are critical.

  2. There are tons of fish in the ocean, but very few people can just go to the sea and catch a single fish "immediately". Startup business is like this. There is tons of business, but every single one takes work. Then you see big trawler fishing boats like Amazon passing by, full of gallons of fish. It is still hard.

  3. Schools to 'business building" is like driving school to a long road trip. Some people can learn how to drive without going to driving school. Don't spend four years in the driving school and be fully confident you can take the wilderness course.

The world is full of grown trees ... but to grow any tree by yourself would take lot of time. That is the mindset.

So, a mind is only working when it is open. Please try to keep an open mind.


Thanks for watching. I know newbies would not care or believe everything I said. But this is the "truth" someone wanted to have. The truth is uglier than you think but it will make you free to really do great things. What I discussed is rarely seen in media, but it is the fact that successful entrepreneurs like Musk and Jobs and your local Pizza restaurant owners all know.

The truth shall make your entrepreneurial spirit fly.
Entrepreneur mindset: what schools don't teach.

A final thought and a bonus mindset:

Success is easy. It is just six year of focused work.

Good luck. Business is a great mindset to have, even if you don't do business.

Philosophically, the business mindset is knowing the truth about this world (everyone hides from you) and still upbeat and wants to fight and change it.

Everyone was going to be an entrepreneur, and everyone is able to be one. However, the world is full of hidden information and myth, hence the risk and mystery. Most people never find the path entrance. Once you know the hidden things by bumping into them (called failure or experience), you know you are there living a full life.

Schools don't make you learn. It just educates. Learning is your own responsibility.


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