So You Want to Start a Business? Nail Your Mindset First.

Big things are happening for my venture fund, K8 Ventures.

With the portfolio companies achieving or approaching their respective growth milestones, K8’s vision of incubation, acceleration, and monetization is being proven out. The past few years’ focus and effort is coming together and honestly, it feels amazing. In the the pre-dawn light of achieving one’s goals, it would be easy to discount, or perhaps, simply not remember the long nights and longer days when things felt really difficult. I founded K8 in 2016, and as with most enterprising moments, the excitement of creation and ambition was fuel for action. I was brimming with excitement for my vision.

Armed with adrenaline-fueled optimism and laser-like purpose, I thought I was prepared mentally for the inevitable twists and turns between K8’s genesis and its ultimate goals. My team and I dead reckoned and course corrected on a daily basis, navigating our way through pyrrhic victories and difficult losses while collecting hard earned learnings like trophies.

It’s not, after all, in the easy times when we evolve and grow. .

The startup world is fast paced and competitive, and I knew that to succeed, I would have to push through the hard times with a positive attitude. So, I invested in myself and my business, making conscious changes to my mindset; these simple (not easy) changes to my thinking are what brought me the success and joy I have now. I believe more strongly than ever, that the entrepreneur needs to have the right mindset before she even starts her company. That mindset, is the wellspring from which all of one's energy is sourced. It directs all of one's actions, thoughts, and feelings. While there are about a million ways to go about realigning your mindset, and you might have to try out a few methods to figure out what works best for you, these are some points I come back to whenever I feel like I’m losing sight of my vision.

  1. Recognize your intention. Why do you want to start your business? What motivates you? Do you want to save the world? Make money? It doesn’t matter what your intention is, but it is important that you can identify it. It is your north star for decision making. Every choice you make to build your company should tie into supporting your intention. If you ever feel lost or uncertain in the entrepreneurial process, look to your guiding intention for inspiration, assurance and course correction.

  2. Trust yourself. Coming up with an awesome business idea is one thing, growing it from there, well, that’s a bit harder. The startup world is challenging enough without adding the most fearsome competitor to your mix of adversaries: you. You have to silence your self doubt and build fearlessly; otherwise your enterprise is doomed from the start. Discipline, perseverance, skill, and a little bit of luck all help to build trust in yourself.

  3. Recognize your support system. It would be profoundly arrogant and inaccurate for me to say that I’ve achieved success on my own. It’s easy as an entrepreneur to be so invested in your projects that you look at them and say, “I did all of this.” The truth is, there are well over 40 people that were and are part of K8’s current achievement. I might have had the vision and been the coordinator, but others’ belief, consideration and actions on my behalf all have directly contributed to my plan. This has to be a cornerstone of your mindset because when ego takes over, it hampers your ability to see the need for change and the possibilities to collaborate with others.

  4. Expect to be in it for the long haul. If you go into the startup process expecting immediate results, you will be disappointed. Or, I suppose, lucky as hell (which isn’t bad). You also have to be prepared to change your strategies. I like to remind myself that no plan survives contact with reality. Circumstances change, and it’s your job as a creator to have an adaptable mindset that allows you to problem solve and re-calibrate without losing your vision or intention.

  5. Get that everyone has an opinion. When I started my business, people seemed to love informing me that, “Every nine out of 10 entrepreneurs failed.” What I heard was one person in 10 succeeded. That’s the same statistic of kids in school who got A’s. Well guess what? I was typically the one in 10 of those kids. Isn’t striving to be that one in 10, at the heart of competition? Isn’t betting on oneself to be the best—pouring sweat, focus, and energy in order to realize a vision—galvanizing? Now, people loving my business was another thing altogether. It was an early lesson that, uh, not everyone was going to like my ideas. I’ve pitched to investors who cut me off with 30 minutes left in the presentation to tell me they didn’t care and didn’t want to hear more. That hurt, but those dialogues were useful. I listened, took what was valuable for growth, and shut out the rest.

  6. Manage your highs and lows. In the entrepreneurial world, one day it’s sunshine and unicorns, the next it’s darkness and doom. You have to be prepared for the lows and make sure that you can see the beacon light of your vision through the storm.Use your mindset to chart a path to that vision. Put your problems into a larger context and take the humor in every setback, rejection, or failure. I promise there is always something you can laugh at. If you can remember this and hold onto the feelings you had with every triumph, new client, or investor and sale, then your positive mindset will remain intact—and so will your business.

Starting a business requires many practical components: an idea, funding, execution, knowledge of the market, a support system, and a basic understanding of how to run a company. However, in addition to these things, starting a business also requires the right mindset. If your emotions are not aligned and your vision is not clear, the building blocks won’t stack just right. As an entrepreneur, you are more than your company’s builder, you are its spirit.

And the spirit you create is shaped by the directional force that enables you to make your vision a reality--- your mindset.

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