Many people think that what is holding them back from leaving the Corporate world and a “steady” paycheck is the fact that they don’t have the money, they are too old, or it’s not the right time. What is really holding them back is their MINDSET. In this article, I’m going to discuss ways you can switch from an employee to an entrepreneurial mindset, so you can find the courage to leave your cubicle and go after what you really want.

As Suzanne Mulvehill describes in her wonderful book, Employee to Entrepreneur, “preparing the mind, body and spirit for entrepreneurship is like preparing the mind, body and spirit for the Olympics.” I agree! Right now, I’m going to talk about the mind. Transitioning from employee to entrepreneur is a huge mindshift, especially if you are used to the predictability of having a regular paycheck and going to the same office every day. If what you REALLY want is to be your own boss, here are some ways that you can transform your mindset and set yourself up for success:

Let fear become your fuel

In one of my previous blogs, I talk about how to use fear to start a business. People who are successful, experience success not because they have an absence of fear, but because they learn how to manage it. Fear of failure is very common. Rather than thinking “What if I fail?”, try reframing the question to “What if I don’t try?” What are you potentially giving up by not trying? One of my favorite stories is the one that Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx, tells about her experience growing up. At the dinner table every night, her dad wouldn’t ask, “What did you learn in school today?”, instead he asked, “What did you fail at today?” – THAT’S MINDSET. If you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying. And if you aren’t trying, you aren’t succeeding. It’s that simple. So, acknowledge fear and then set it aside so you can focus on your dream and what you can control.

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable

In the Corporate world, we’re rewarded for drawing inside the lines, getting along with everybody (or pretending to) and essentially not “rocking the boat”. If you’ve been in the same job for a while with the same company, chances are that you’re feeling very comfortable. You are probably seen as the expert in your field and can fulfill your job requirements with your eyes shut. On the other hand, when you are your own boss, life can be unpredictable. In order to be a successful business owner, you will need to embrace discomfort. It will be critical for you to acknowledge that it’s impossible to be the expert at everything. As an entrepreneur, you need to get used to saying, “I don’t know” and finding people who are smarter than you are to help you supplement those areas in which you may be lacking. Be prepared to get comfortable with taking risks, trying new things, and sometimes going against the advice of the people close to you in order to trust your instincts.

Connect to your heart

If you’ve been working for a while in a career that isn’t especially fulfilling, and you’ve been rationalizing your corporate existence, chances are you have been operating from your “head” rather than your “heart”. You are probably so used to rationalizing your current lifestyle that you don’t even realize you’re doing it—you just feel like you’re trying to “make the best of things”. To be a successful entrepreneur, you need to make a conscious effort to start shifting your thinking from “head” to “heart”. What this means is, start getting reconnected to the things that you really enjoy doing and are good at. What are your hobbies? What were you good at as a child? What do people compliment you on? These are all questions that can lead you to the heart connection that will help you find passion and meaning again. In a great book called, Heart, Smarts, Guts and Luck the authors in their research found that without heart, few businesses become truly successful. In fact, they say that, “pure brain-based IQ is probably the least essential quality for business success.”

Know yourself

To be a successful business owner, you need to understand who you are. That includes your strengths, weaknesses, skills, and abilities. It is critical that you be brutally honest with yourself because otherwise the business will suffer. You need to check your ego at the door (along with fear) and really make an effort to know what you don’t know so you can build a great team of people around you to fill in the gaps. Knowing yourself will also influence decisions like where you work, what hours you set and what type of business you decide to create. In addition, know what inspires and motivates you, because that is what will help you sustain the ups and downs of running your own show. Also, know your limits—running a business can potentially be a 24/7 proposition if you don’t set some ground rules for yourself in order to maintain balance in your life. Get comfortable with saying NO when you have to. Finally, trust your instincts. Your intuition is a powerful thing and the more you use it, the better it gets. Even Oprah says,” Learning to trust your instincts, using your intuitive sense of what’s best for you, is paramount for any lasting success. I’ve trusted the still, small voice of intuition my entire life. And the only time I’ve made mistakes is when I didn’t listen.”

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  • Caroline Castrillon

    Founder/Career and Life Coach

    Corporate Escape Artist

    Caroline Castrillon is the founder of Corporate Escape Artist and a career and life coach whose mission is to help people go from soul-sucking job to career fulfillment. Caroline made the leap to entrepreneurship after a successful 25-year corporate career and has never looked back. Prior to Corporate Escape Artist, she worked in leadership positions for small tech firms and for large Fortune 500 companies including Dell and Sony. She has an MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management and is a Certified Professional Coach (CPC) and Energy Leadership Index Master Practitioner (ELI-MP). In addition to Thrive Global, she also contributes to Forbes and has been featured in publications including the New York Times, Entrepreneur, Inc. and Success Magazine.