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How having an entrepreneurial mindset can help make you better at your career

woman business planning at desk

At a glance

  • Having an entrepreneurial mindset starts with finding solutions rather than focusing on problems.
  • Use entrepreneurship as a way to enhance your knowledge and be prepared for new opportunities. Your experience with your side business can complement formal education should you decide to go back to school.
  • Learn more about developing an entrepreneurial mindset and related skills with a business degree at University of Phoenix!

Let me ask you a question. Are you by chance among the nearly half of American workers with a side hustle?

If so, your reasons for pursuing a side hustle may be varied and your own, but the benefits of those new skills you’re acquiring are myriad. And you can leverage them to your advantage. Maybe they help get you noticed at work, or maybe they’re the first step toward a career change. Or they just help you be better at your job. Whatever the case, new skills are a good idea.

Even if you’re not a part-time entrepreneur, you can cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset, and steer your career in an entirely new direction. Here’s how.

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What is an entrepreneurial mindset?

“It means looking for solutions, not problems.”

That’s how the writers on Shopify’s blog describe an entrepreneurial mindset, and they should know. After all, Shopify is a pretty big deal when it comes to helping people fulfill their dreams as business owners. The company has almost 11% of the e-commerce store market cornered. 

According to Shopify’s blog, an entrepreneurial mindset is also “an attitude that prioritizes long-term planning, enabling you to push through any obstacles and challenges that come with starting a business.” 

Ultimately, this mindset boils down to “having an open mind, using critical thinking and being resilient when times get tough.”

So, why should you learn to think like an entrepreneur? Because mastering this mindset can help you acquire skills to succeed in the workplace of the future.

“More employers are starting to embrace skills-based hiring practices,” says McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm. This means your experience and the skills you acquire are going to matter much more. McKinsey & Company also cites an interesting statistic from the World Economic Forum, which predicts that “50% of all employees will need to reskill by 2025 to respond to advances in technology.”

If that’s true, it’s up to you to gain the necessary skill set – and mindset – to progress in your chosen career field. Developing an entrepreneurial mindset is a great way to fast-track that.

Intrapreneurship: Same idea, different name

Imagine using your entrepreneurial mindset to tackle some of the biggest problems facing your current company. That, in essence, is intrapreneurship.

Intrapreneurs are often called upon to leverage their creativity through ideas or projects at their company. Organizations large and small rely on new concepts from their employees and creative teams to get an edge on the competition.

Let’s consider a well-known online retailer.

Personally, my family is a big fan of this retailer, which offers special discounts and free, fast shipping with a membership. Well, the idea for that membership came as a result of intrapreneurship. An internal team led by a vice president formed the foundational concept — and an engineer’s “digital suggestion box” recommendation provided the annual membership idea.

Today, 33% of Americans subscribe to this membership — and the company makes about $19 billion off the subscriptions alone, according to Sideways6, an idea management platform.

Don’t be afraid to share ways to make your employer better at what they do. Look for ways to boost your resumé during — and after — working hours. Not sure how? Read on.

Embrace upskilling

Upskilling is essentially investing in education or training to enhance your skill set. (Think degree programs, certifications, certificates and professional development courses.) This is a popular concept these days, especially in the wake of an uncertain economic climate. But it also changed my life personally.

Early in my career, I read a book that changed my outlook on business, money and my career. I fell in love with the concept of becoming an entrepreneur.

I quickly learned the principles of working for myself and building something others wanted, and I focused my entrepreneurial endeavors on my greatest skill: writing. It’s something I’ve always had a knack for.

But how was I going to get my writing out there? This was around 2007 when web writing was increasingly popular. Platforms like WordPress and SquareSpace quickly became the go-to outlets to launch individual websites, and I was there for it.

Everything comes with a learning curve though. Web design became one of those things I learned by doing — very much “on-the-job” training. I’d run into a problem, research how to solve it and continue on. It mirrored my approach to building a social media presence.

Nearly a decade later, I had two websites that together brought in enough money to help redo my family’s basement and install a backyard patio. We used them to pay off debt and add to our family’s savings.

As for my career, all of that hard work and experience culminated in me getting a full-time job in content marketing and public affairs. The seed of entrepreneurship blossomed into a remarkable upskilling effort that led to a major career change.

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Entrepreneurship complements formal education

Having an entrepreneurial mindset made me a better student. When I went back to school to get my MBA, my experience as a business owner was a significant advantage.

Not only did I have unique knowledge from the businesses I’d started, but I could make connections in the course material that were not always readily apparent. Furthermore, I had plenty of examples to cite during class discussions and written assignments.

My business also helped pay for school in two ways. First, the obvious one. I used part of my business earnings to pay for my graduate classes. Second, I secured a position as a graduate assistant in the school’s entrepreneurship center. The school paid for a certain number of my MBA classes, and I received a stipend, which I used to pay for others.

One more thing about the entrepreneurship graduate assistant position. I had an excellent chance to connect with undergraduate entrepreneurs. I interviewed and coached them on their ideas and helped judge pitch competitions. I also used my copywriting skills to help the director with the entrepreneurship center’s homepage and pitch skills competition page. 

Moving forward

We all have unique skills and personalities that we bring to the table. If you can’t find a certain opportunity you want in the marketplace, create it. Find something people need in your community and offer it.

You can ultimately use these experiences to change your career trajectory. What wasn’t possible for you yesterday or today may be attainable if you put in the time to acquire different skills. It may just be time to make upskilling part of your vocabulary and use an entrepreneurial mindset to fuel your career growth.


David Domzalski is an entrepreneur, copywriter, and storyteller. He’s an effective communicator with a passion for helping people better their lives financially. His writing has been featured on multiple outlets including AOL, FanSided, Forbes, GOBankingRates, MSN, Nasdaq and Yahoo. He lives in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, with his wife and two children. Connect with David on his website, and check out his Copywriting Storyteller newsletter.


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