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5 Mindset Hacks To Create Opportunities As An Entrepreneur

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Back in the day when I was growing up to be a young adult, my parents told me how important it was to work hard and pursue opportunities. Fast-forward a couple of decades, here I was a grown-up adult in my mid-30s, drafting my resignation letter. I was all set to take a career break, spend time with family, and explore opportunities. It’s been slightly over 4 years since that incident. And oh, what an exploration it’s been.

I realized entrepreneurship was not about what we do, but how we think and how we act. And it all started when I didn’t see a paycheck credit in my bank. In this article, I want to share the five mindset hacks I seem to have learned as I look back at my journey thus far.

Creating Opportunities Is A Mindset

Six weeks into my career break, I decided to start a podcast. Having been addicted to listening to podcasts myself, I heard many entrepreneurs talk about the entrepreneurial mindset. And the idea of a mindset always flummoxed me.

But like they say, the experience is not about listening to or reading something. It comes when you do it. It didn’t take too long for me to get my first brush with the entrepreneurial mindset. Right when I didn’t see a paycheck credit, my first lesson on entrepreneurial mindset began. And that brings me to the numero uno mindset hack.

1. Seek Being Uncomfortable

I use the phrase “being uncomfortable” very consciously. It’s not the discomfort, but the experience of being uncomfortable that I experienced for the first time. And I soon realized it was just the beginning. I noticed that the best things happened after a prolonged period of being uncomfortable. Like Arnold Schwarzenegger famously put it: “No pain, no gain.” 

But it was not about being in pain, but about doing things that you think are uncomfortable, recognizing the discomfort, and using it to push you higher. Ever since it’s these moments of prolonged discomfort that helped me learn and do things I never believed I could. Be it, cold-calling strangers, interviewing people, selling my services and products, the list goes on. For a self-proclaimed introvert, all of this was outright discomfort.

“Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them.” – Ann Landers

2. Never Say No

It might sound like I am contradicting what Steve Jobs once famously said during an Apple event many years ago. But here is the thing: when you do things in public, people are watching you. When I was putting out episode after episode of my then-new podcast, people were listening. They were looking to engage more.

It is things like this that sent opportunities my way.

Can you do a workshop?

Would you like to come and speak at our company?

Can you help us create a website?

Can you help me launch this podcast?

There were all sorts of opportunities I received in my inbox. For someone that’s been in a state of discomfort from not having received a paycheck, the answer was clear. I said yes and thus began my journey of never saying no to an opportunity that came my way.

Here is the thing about opportunities: they never come dressed in a certain way, or sound like someone you recognize. I soon realized that I was better off saying yes and explore what existed behind these doors, then say no and leave it to shut forever.

Be it my podcast or business, most of the best listeners, customers, partners, and opportunities happened because of word-of-mouth. And it all started with me never saying no.

3. Don’t Look For a Playbook

There is no playbook to entrepreneurship, and that’s what makes it more interesting. It’s about doing and not reading. I remember searching the internet to know how to respond to someone inviting me to do a workshop I never intended to do. When I didn’t find an answer, I decided to answer it my way by saying yes. But that didn’t end there.

More questions came in.

How much would I charge for a 2-day workshop? Can you travel?

Again I searched the internet, only to see too many perspectives and advice. So I decided to do it my way. 

To me, people and connections have always been more precious than just money. So while I charged them a tiny sum, I focused on delivering a good experience and let people do the talking. Word of mouth is much more potent than money.

4. Meet More People

Starting a podcast has been the best thing to happen to me because it put me in touch with people I never knew before. And it’s because I interviewed these people and helped them put their ideas in perspective, that I got opportunities to find me.

Podcasting, in specific, has a magical experience built into it. By hearing your voice with that of experts, influencers, and others you interview, listeners perceive you to be an expert too. All of a sudden you are unknowingly starting to build a perception.

Meeting more people and putting your ideas and conversations out in the public domain can not only just build perceptions, but also helps evolve the way we think.

5. Be Patient and Always Keep Connecting The Dots

This is the last mindset hack, but arguably the most important one too. Let me explain why I say so. I was so close to calling it quits when I first didn’t see a paycheck credit. And ever since, I’ve had countless moments when I asked myself “Is this all worth it?”

But every single time a thought like this came to haunt me, I spent time connecting the dots. Would I have got an invitation to do a workshop from a stranger? Would I have climbed stages as a speaker? If I had not decided to start a podcast, would I have earned the credit of being a Top 100 podcast producer?

It’s these thoughts that made me look back and connect the dots. Because everything we do is a sum-total of the decisions we’ve made along the way. Yes, I made a lot of crazy decisions too. I even made some expensive mistakes. But in the larger scheme of everything that’s happened, I count them as lessons learned and not look at them as mistakes.

“Entrepreneurs are simply those who understand that there is little difference between obstacle and opportunity and are able to turn both to their advantage.” – Victor Kiam

Time to Open the Door to Opportunities

These mindset hacks are based on my little experience. I’m very sure you will have yours to experience and share in the years to come. It finally comes down to how much you want to do something.

In my case, podcasting is something I saw myself doing all day without complaining. I was also lucky to have come across something I’m so passionate about quite early during my career break. So I urge you to give yourself space and time to pick your one thing.

But when you find that one thing that you think is worth putting your heart and soul into, give it your best. These five mindsets and a dash of faith are all you need!

Karthik Vijayakumar is a Managing Partner at Design Your Thinking Labs where he helps businesses and brands use podcasts and transmedia storytelling to drive business results. He’s also the Founder of FreeYourVoice.Live, where he offers free and paid training, courses, workshops on podcasting, storytelling, and marketing. Karthik is also the host of a Top 100 Entrepreneurship podcast. His courses, workshops, and masterclasses have been taken by over 1000 entrepreneurs and marketers across 5 continents.

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Are you completely new to networking?

Then this article is a great place to start. Networking isn’t hard on paper…you go along to online and in-person meetings, make new connections and build relationships, and those relationships lead to more work so you can grow your business! The challenge is that in reality, it isn’t quite so straightforward, as our emotions get involved and make things much tougher.

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Here’s a few tips to help you embrace every business networking opportunity you get, so you can grow your business and achieve your goals.

Rock up with confidence

If you want to keep those nerves at bay and ooze confidence at networking get-togethers, you’ll need to downplay it rather than seeing it as a big occasion. Try not to put pressure on yourself and see it as a casual meet-up with a bunch of people with similar goals to you. To help you relax in the run-up to the event, be sure to set achievable goals and expectations before you go.

Keep your chin up and your goals in mind – positivity is key. One easy goal for your first networking meeting is very simply to speak to one other person and see where the conversation goes. Introduce yourself and your business, but take the time to listen to their story, too. It’ll only take a few minutes and will be over before you know it, so it’s nothing to fear. You may even enjoy it and want to speak to a few more people, too!

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Where to go networking

If you’ve never been networking before, it might not be very easy to find a group – but only because there’s so much choice and you don’t know where to start your search! Groups come in different sizes and styles, so it’s important to find one that suits you and your business. Informal, formal, big, small… the choice is yours.

For your first meeting, start small to ease yourself in – a big group could prove too daunting, and stop you from feeling comfortable enough to get involved. After all, you want to make a strong first impression!

If you’re wondering which group to opt for in the long-term, give a few a go! Get a feel for them, speak to as many people as you can, and see which one suits! You’ll know when a group feels right for you, and you can see where those all-important relationships are most likely to be built. If a group doesn’t feel like the right for you, give a different one a go.

Get more leads and referrals

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Once you’ve made relationships with people who you trust, and they’ve had a positive experience working with you, you can even ask for referrals! But don’t rush this, as you don’t want to inadvertently push people away or try and force the relationship along too quickly.

When you do get an opportunity to work with someone you’ve met at a networking group, go above and beyond to offer more value than they’re expecting, as then, they’ll be much more likely recommend you and introduce you to more of their contacts!

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