During the last couple of years, we have seen many founders reassessing what they want out of their careers. Some have left their jobs while many others have decided to take the plunge in launching a startup. From January through September 2021, for example, Americans filed more than four million applications to start new businesses, according to census data compiled by the Economic Innovation Group (EIG).
You may be among the many who want to tap into your entrepreneurial spirit, break into a totally new industry, make your idea or vision into a reality and work for yourself. The best recommendation when you’re going out on your own is to do so with a fresh perspective — employing a beginner’s mindset — so that you’re not bogged down by preconceptions and old habits and thus are receptive to creativity to take center stage.
Beginners view things from a different angle
After years of working in the same industry, unfortunately, founders become complacent or stuck. They are in a comfort zone, accustomed to the success they have achieved. They are used to doing things a certain way and are not as open as they should be to changing things up, whether it’s utilizing new technology to streamline operations, expanding their client base with new offerings, or updating an existing product or service to meet changing consumer demands.
As a newbie, you have an advantage coming into a new industry or niche market. You are working with a blank canvas where you can create the kind of company you want — that will solve the unique problems that you identified, and address or even create the market that you envisioned.
Beginners are disruptors
With a beginner’s mindset, you can look at what’s being done in an industry — and what isn’t being done. This fresh perspective can serve you well in disrupting the status quo, providing you with a real leg up in growing your startup.
There are many other examples of beginners entering a market or an industry and disrupting it. The insurance industry for instance, which has traditionally been slow to change, has seen meaningful disruption over the last several years with the growth of InsurTech (technology-led companies in the insurance space), which deliver protection in innovative ways and are able to squeeze savings and efficiency that traditional businesses are not able to.
Those who left positions at traditional insurers and those new to the industry have developed online platforms designed to provide products and services to fit the needs and wants of today’s consumers. For example, InsurTech platforms offer customers the ability to buy short-term coverage for specific items and events and utilize AI to speed up the delivery of products and/or reduce the time claims are paid.
The advertising industry is another example in which those new to the industry are more readily focusing on technology — such as machine learning to deliver ads more precisely and gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. This is an industry where innovation is directly rewarded because any improvement in ad delivery translates into profit for the entire ad ecosystem. I have seen a number of founders that had success with a beginner’s mindset in AdTech in recent years because they were not constrained by the rules of “business as usual,” and were able to build better models and delivery mechanisms others did not think about before.
What you don’t know will motivate you to learn more
In creating a new startup, you may bring a set of skills and expertise that will help make it a success. But your wheelhouse or sweet spot is typically in one area — it may be in finance, engineering or operations. And, of course, like any entrepreneur, there’s your passion and obsession to solve a problem to deliver something great.
Your passion is what drives you to learn as much as you can about the business and the industry itself. This includes getting as much information on customer demographics, industry trends, competitors, sales and marketing strategies, pricing structures and other factors. A beginner’s mindset also allows you to dive in with an open mind and learn how the machine that is your new industry works on a granular level, rather than just taking things as status quo.
Allowing yourself to be open also lets you know it’s okay to fail. Failure brings with it many life lessons and actually helps fuel success. As a child we fear very little, we go for it, letting our curious minds take over. If we fall and stumble, we readily get up again, eager for a new day. Use this approach when starting a business. It will free you to learn, be creative and find fresh, innovative ways to grow as an entrepreneur, and set the stage for your startup to take off.