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What does it mean to have a growth mindset in business and beyond?

Professional woman gleefully raising both hands while sitting in front of her couch with a laptop in her lap

At a glance

  • A growth mindset is the belief that one can learn and grow throughout a lifetime.
  • A fixed mindset refers to the belief that a person’s ability to learn and improve cannot extend beyond a certain point.
  • The advantages of a growth mindset include greater fulfillment in experiences and becoming a lifelong learner.
  • You can start to develop a growth mindset by reframing your shortcomings in terms of needs and opportunities, taking risks, exercising your curiosity muscle and learning from mistakes.
  • A growth mindset can be a valuable asset in virtually every career, including business and entrepreneurship, which often depend on continued innovation. Learn more about how University of Phoenix can prepare you for a business career!


Having a growth mindset is a quality that appears in job postings across the internet. It has become a buzzword in company mission statements — but one that is rarely defined and often misunderstood.

Having a growth mindset can be beneficial for those currently working as business professionals and those earning a degree, but what is a growth mindset? How can adopting a growth mindset change your life, habits and career, especially in business? Let’s find out!


What does a growth mindset look like?

A growth mindset refers to the belief that who you are — your talents, habits and potential — can be developed and improved over time.

The idea of a growth mindset was introduced by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck after decades of research. According to Dweck, people with a growth mindset view themselves as dynamic individuals who have the capacity to learn from their mistakes, identify opportunities and grow accordingly. A growth mindset is not necessarily focused on the end goal but, rather, on the benefits and possibilities of the journey.

In the workplace, professionals with a growth mindset see mistakes not as limiting factors to their success but as the chance to grow their knowledge, seek out greater learning opportunities and further develop their skills.

Growth mindset vs. fixed mindset

What is the opposite of a growth mindset? A fixed mindset. This outlook is rooted in the belief that your talents or skills can be taken only so far. After a certain point, you can no longer develop or expand them.

This mindset leads to a host of limiting beliefs that can stifle creativity and restrict learning and professional growth.

Let’s say an entrepreneur launches an ineffective marketing campaign for her small business. If she has a growth mindset, she’ll look at the setback as an opportunity to reevaluate her marketing strategy, consult with other experts or possibly improve her marketing skills with a course or certificate.

Should she have a fixed mindset, on the other hand, the failed campaign might be seen as proof of her failure and inadequacy, causing her to either outsource marketing completely or perhaps rethink the entrepreneurial enterprise entirely.


Benefits of a growth mindset for business and entrepreneurship

A growth mindset is one of the most beneficial qualities you can cultivate as a business professional, entrepreneur, leader or business student.

An entrepreneur interested in starting a business with a fixed mindset, for instance, may look at the required skills and embark on self-talk patterns like, “I’ve never been good at math,” or, “I’m terrible at organizing.” A fixed mindset makes people not only less likely to see which steps they can take to improve their weaknesses but also that such steps even exist.

As a student, a growth mindset is important for your academic success and for opening up to new opportunities after graduation. A student with a growth mindset will be less likely to hold themselves back from their goals. When they’re learning a new skill that’s difficult, time-consuming or disheartening, they keep pressing on toward understanding and self-improvement. They understand that learning new skills, while difficult in the present moment, can be refined and made easier over time with consistent effort.

As a leader in the business sector, having a growth mindset is important for both your success and the success of your employees. By fostering a growth mindset in your work environment, you can continuously improve your management skills while also inspiring those around you to improve their skills. (And possibly cultivate a growth mindset along the way!) 

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How to develop a growth mindset in 5 steps

Anyone can change a fixed mindset. It’s not easy, but with hard work and strategic changes, you can develop a growth mindset to lead you toward your goals. Here are five steps to take:

1.   Acknowledge shortcomings

It’s all right to admit when you’re not great at something. It’s not all right to assume that a given weakness or failing is permanent. Instead, pinpoint the skills or attitudes that need improvement, and explore ways to remediate them.


2.   Take risks

One of the scarier parts of developing a growth mindset is beginning to take risks. By definition, risk-taking is intimidating, but it’s especially so if you have a fixed mindset and believe that skills and talents are limited. With that outlook, the potential reward is diminished by the potential cost of the risk.

In that case, start small. Try learning a new skill at which you have yet to excel. By taking a class or even earning a degree, you can develop skills — even those you have struggled with previously — while changing your internal dialogue to one of practice and opportunity (e.g., “I need to improve my finance skills, and I can do that by studying in this class,” rather than, “I can’t do finance and won’t even try to learn more about it.”).

3.   Learn from mistakes and failures

If you have a fixed mindset, there’s a higher chance you have avoided taking certain actions because of past mistakes and failures. However, a growth mindset leads to different responses after a failure. Instead of letting failure stop you or hold you back, you will be more inclined to learn from your mistakes.

For example, if you received a bad review for a specific project in the past, you may have avoided similar projects ever since. As you develop your growth mindset, you should return to those projects, apply what you learned from your mistakes and build your skills to help you reach your goals instead of remaining stuck where you are.

4.   Focus on long-term success

If you have been living with a fixed mindset, then your view of what’s possible for your future might be limited. One way to know if you’re beginning to develop a growth mindset is to start envisioning a more creative and long-term outlook for your life.

This can mean expanding your horizons and education by earning a degree, starting your own business or setting your sights on higher-level, leadership-based roles within your current company. If your fixed mindset has been limiting your opportunities, now is the time to start imagining what could be possible if you allowed yourself to grow and change over time.

5. Don’t give up, try again

If you have lived most of your life with a fixed mindset, it will not go away overnight. There will be days when you do better with your growth mindset — when you take risks, learn new things and are creative with your long-term goals.

However, there will also be days when you limit your opportunities and adopt a fixed mindset about your ability to learn new skills. As you develop a growth mindset and see the benefits it can bring to your life as a student or business professional, you will experience setbacks. All that matters is that you keep trying, growing and developing to create the future you want.

Learning, as a skill, can give you or your business a competitive edge over those who may be less open to change. According to a McKinsey research paper, anyone can adopt a curious mindset that leads to a continuous learning journey. With intentional curiosity and learning, a growth mindset should result. It’s all about shifting your mindset!

Business degrees at University of Phoenix

Having a growth mindset in business can lead to innovative ideas and necessary changes for the betterment of a company. University of Phoenix offers several online business degrees that prepare students with skills for a variety of career paths.

Here are several online business programs at University of Phoenix to consider:

Associate of Arts with a concentration in Business Fundamentals From management to accounting, the skills learned in this program are essential for anyone looking to advance their business education. 

Bachelor of Science in Business Knowledge of the ins and outs of running a business can spell the difference between success and failure in a competitive business world. 

Bachelor of Science in Communication It’s one thing to have a great idea, it’s another to properly communicate that idea to a large audience. Develop skills to be a media relations specialist, a copywriter and more in this degree program.

Master of Business Administration Advance your business skills beyond the fundamentals and prepare for higher leadership roles. This degree program can prepare graduates for careers as business managers, operations directors and more.

Master of Management Take your understanding of business organization and management to an advanced level. This degree program is perfect for those with experience in the workforce who are looking to take on greater leadership roles. 

Doctor of Business Administration Expand your understanding of organizations, work environments and industry. This program invites participants to delve into cutting-edge research in the field of business and develop skills for solving complex organizational problems.


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