Want Entrepreneurial Success? It’s All in Your Mind


“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal, nothing can help the man with the wrong attitude.” -Jefferson



It’s often said that the primary reason startups fail is a lack of funding.  Ultimately, whether startup failure is attributed to funding challenges, market conditions, too much competition or the economy, the underlying cause can almost always be found in the same place — the entrepreneur’s mind.

World Class Athletes and the Military

Some experts contend that psychology is 80 percent of the reason a person fails or succeeds.  World-class athletes, the military and Fortune 500 companies all recognize the critical role psychology plays in a successful outcome.

Many sports coaches place as much importance on ensuring that their athletes develop a winning mindset through the consistent practice of regular psychological exercises as they do on the physical training.  Some Olympians have recently referred to the primacy of their mental training and psychology as being the most important factor in their success.

And throughout the world, the military ensures that their personnel undergo intensive psychological training to prepare them for the extreme challenges they may face.  The United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point, N.Y., created the Performance Enhancement Program, which integrates elements of applied psychology into a systematic approach.  These elements include goal setting, attention control, stress management and visualization.

Psychology and Entrepreneur Performance

Parallels are often drawn between the psychological stresses entrepreneurs face and those faced by world-class athletes and military personnel.  The late Anita Roddick, Founder of the Body Shop once said, “Nobody talks of entrepreneurship as survival, but that’s exactly what it is.”

Many entrepreneurs invest their savings and a huge part of their life trying to make their dream of startup success a reality.  They often do so while holding down at least one day job, often neglecting family, friends and their health in the process.  The stakes are high and the challenges and stresses are very real.

When working with clients to help them develop an execution mindset, I consistently see the same psychological causes preventing successful execution.  These include:

1. An inability to retain the laser focus needed to achieve goals because of the demands and distractions of daily life (family, holding down several jobs, bills etc.).

2. A fear of failure, which prevents necessary actions and the ability to take risks.

3. An inability to consistently take the steps necessary to achieve long-term goals.  Entrepreneurs often have clarity on the long-term goal, but struggle to maintain consistency and momentum when things go wrong and the timeline slips.

4. Burnout.

Develop Those Mental Muscles

Having a goal and high levels of optimism in the beginning isn’t everything.  If it was that simple, the military and athletes would not invest time and money in developing winning mindsets.

Your ability to withstand the challenges and stresses associated with launching a startup and achieving your goal faster and more effectively will be significantly enhanced if you devote time to developing your mental muscles and a winning psychology.  A failure to do so may well mean that your dream of startup success continues to exist only in your mind.

Reprinted by permission.

About the author: Martin Soorjoo

Founder of The Pitch Clinic, Martin Soorjoo is a pitch strategist. He coaches entrepreneurs world-wide, helping them launch and raise funding. Prior to founding The Pitch Clinic, Martin spent 15 years as a former award winning attorney. He has worked with start-ups and investors, including senior investment bankers, venture capitalists and angel investors. During this period Martin raised several million dollars, including negotiating one deal worth $75 Million. This experience has equipped him with unique insights into the challenges start-ups face and how investors make decisions. He is a Certified Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and an expert in body language.

Martin is the author of ‘Here’s the Pitch‘.

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