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3 Mental Shifts for Engineers Going into Business

3 Mental Shifts for Engineers Going into Business

Mental ShiftI don’t know about you but I’ve never believed the notion that successful people are born as geniuses.

While it’s true you are probably not going to see Bill Gates or Stephen Hawking offer a step-by-step guide to their success I’ve found that there are always some underlying mindsets that they share.

As I’ve learnt more and more about what drives success in anything I’ve found that success is as more about the internal mindsets than it is the external ‘how-to’ steps to take.

This is because once you have the psychology of success down: it becomes possible to take action and execute an effective plan.

When it comes down to talking about the psychology of success, most business people aren’t afraid to share their ideas.

Entrepreneurs talk about this stuff often: mindset, productivity and building valuable relationships. Not surprisingly you’ll find these topics scattered everywhere amongst business and entrepreneurial media.

BUT, what if you are scientific minded, a practical thinker and you’re a fan of data and research?

Then it’s easy to dismiss this seemingly soft science stuff. It’s much more interesting to delve deep into research and development. To spend your time working on what matters…

Creating Engineering Solutions!

I’m not here to say that you should dismiss time spent in the Lab.

Of course not, that is the work that really matters.

But I am here to share the best nuggets of entrepreneurial teachings so that you can get back to that important stuff, and the work you enjoy the most.

So in this post, I break down 3 mental shifts that most scientific minded entrepreneurs need to make to succeed in business and share with you the BEST tips so that you don’t have to wade through the thousands of books on being an effective entrepreneur and business person.

3 Mental Shifts for Engineers and Scientists Going in Business


What follows are 3 concepts of the more intangible aspects of entrepreneurship: How to think, how to do and how to relate. The three sections cover the psychology of entrepreneurs, the basics of productivity and how to be persuasive. So let’s dig into it.

How to think: the Entrepreneurial Mindset


You are now your own boss. But are you ready?

If you are new to entrepreneurship let me tell you something quick; in order to be a effective employer you must change the way that you think about work. Why? Because you are no longer accountable to some higher authority. You are entirely responsible for your own work and the work you designate to others. You must understand that now you are the one at the top, which means you are the one who bears the risk (and rewards!) of business.

Knowing this, you can see that as a leader in business your accountability is now mostly to yourself. You may have overwhelming pressures from your customers, employees and others. At the end of the day, it all comes back to your own goals and the vision for what you want to achieve.

These are pressures of choice.

You were the one who decided to do more than simply take orders from a boss, you choose to increase your potential for success. So when you come from this mind-set you see how becoming an entrepreneur and an employer is very different to working for someone else.

Self Responsibility

You must have a high sense of self responsibility. It’s up to you to take responsibility not just for your own efforts but also for those who YOU have hired to work for you. Successful entrepreneurs take responsibility for their entire business. They learn from failures, they don’t complain about them and then they take action to keep moving towards their goal.

You have TWO options when a employee fails to perform. Option 1 is to take no responsibility and blame the employee for all their short comings. Option two is to take responsibility for the failure attributing it to poor decision making on your behalf and a lack of leadership. The latter may seem like an unnecessary attempt to take responsibility. However, if you as a leader in business you’ll benefit to take on the responsibility not just for your own work but also for the work of those who work with you. In the short term this will hurt as you will take some shame and blame, but in the long term you will gain by learning from these failures. You can decide to learn how to delegate better, inspire employee commitment and to lead more effectively. This mindset of extreme self-responsibility will allow you to become the best business leader you can be as you have focused on the factors within your control.

Now, this may be obvious for you, but for others this is difficult. We live in a culture of blame and shame where there is so much external pressure for our efforts to render results.  But this is why many entrepreneurs fail. They forget that no one owes them anything and that they are not entitled to anything, except how they decide to use their time and where they focus their efforts. No leader is entitled to perfect followers or employee’s. It’s up to you to find the best people for the job, make sure they have the tools required for the tasks and then you have to inspire the motivation  for them to act and be creative. There is no entrepreneurial formula that says that if you do this and you will get this. Many business educators will promise this, because they know that anything information that might eliminate the uncertainty and stresses of business is something that sells really well!

To succeed in business you have to understand that the only thing you can control is the decisions you make and the amount of effort you put in. Having this mindset is the ultimate key to being proactive and realising that initial results don’t define your success as much as your ability to master the process of business.

How do things: The Art of Productivity


Entrepreneurs are responsible for the effectiveness of their work which means you can’t just work more hours and expect a linear relationship between your effort and results. You must also work smart and learn to leverage your time to be more effective with your efforts.

More Hours worked (necessarily) ≠ more work completed.

Knowing yourself.

So to be an effective entrepreneur you must work out a system for productivity that works for you. To know yourself better is the best way to know what time of day is the best to do different types of work. You may be best at creative work in the morning, maybe it’s at night. The key is to know what works for you and to use your time to best leverage your own strengths.

Resistance is your friend.

My general rule is that the work which you have the most resistance to do right now, is probably the work that is most important. You may be resisting learning how to sell or market your solution, or maybe going out and testing your product with customers. You may want to spend more time making your product work more better, but this is not always the most productive activity to be working on. In fact, this may even be unproductive IF customers don’t want your solution. Making your technology perform better is pointless if there is no demand for the solution itself.

Productive Procrastination

One quick example of productive procrastination is excessively checking emails and other messages:


This is one of the biggest time traps for entrepreneurs. Spending time and effort on doing things that don’t matter. In business there is always something to do. The work is endless and your time and effort are still vastly limited. You may want to work 12hr days 7 days a week but you’ll still find more work to do. So the solution then is to focus on work that matters and not to delude yourself that by simply doing some sort of work you are making progress. Spending time doting the i’s and crossing the t’s is not only pointless, it is actually counterproductive! This is because you are sacrificing your valuable time and effort doing things that no-one, especially your customers care about.

Your Customers Should be at the Core of Your Plan

It’s not as simple as just facing your fears though and doing work you hate. It’s also about having a vision, planning how to achieve that vision and then productivity is the art of executing that plan. What’s most important when prioritising your time though is to have your customers be the defining factor when deciding what is important to be working on right now. To prioritise you must ask yourself – Is what I’m working on going to create value for my customers either now or in the future? If it’s not, then it may not be very important and you should not make it a priority.

How to Relate: Power of Relationships and Connections


Business is about people.

Entrepreneurs recognise that business is not that complex. When you boil it down business is just people creating stuff for PEOPLE and exchanging the stuff for VALUE. Money is just a language in which we can put a value on the stuff we are exchanging. At it’s core the exchange process of business is a communication and exchange between people. People are required to have needs which the people can serve and the process is called a business. So it is very important that engineers and scientists know the basics of how to relate to people like an effective entrepreneur.


To communicate effectively it all starts with empathy. This is the basis for creating powerful and valuable relationships  because practicing empathetic communication is having the ability to listen and understand. Truly understanding a person and their drives is the key to finding out how you can truly help them. If you are able to cultivate empathy you have grasped the bulk of what marketing is all about: understanding customer needs and creating value for those needs.

You win and I win!

Influence is a key aspect of entrepreneurship. As a entrepreneur you have taken on a leadership role which means that you must work with others to achieve your goals. As it turns out people respond much better to inspiration rather than demands and instruction. So the key to being an effective influencer and leader is inspire others first before you ask for anything in return. Effective entrepreneurs negotiate and communicate in terms of win-win and focus on helping others as well as helping themselves. You must draw people in by inspiring them and by tying their goals to your own and the goals of the business so that you can cooperate and so that you can inspire them to help you.

Leveraging connections

If you wish to succeed at any endeavour, then who you surround yourself with is extremely important. Who do you have in your corner that will support you when you need it and provide motivation and encouragement when you need it.

You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with – Jim Rohn

As an engineer in business it maybe wise to begin to surround yourself with other successful and like minded people. Recently I was given some amazing advice from Tai Lopez (Do your self a favour and check out his blog!) who said that you should surround yourself with a peer group which is built of 1/3 of people who are your existing friends and achieving at a lower level than you, then find 1/3 of peers who at your level of success and then strive to find 1/3 of your peer group who are achieving what you would like to achieve in 20 years time.

I found this to be some really great advice because you need to surround yourself with success to bring up your own level of what is possible, but also it can be very easy to loose contact with older friends as you move on to larger and better things. So this way you get to be surrounded by a mixed group that will support you.

Do You Need To Make a Shift?


If you haven’t been THINKING, DOING or RELATING like an entrepreneur: thats ok.

It’s never to late to start, because what is important is that you recognise that how you think, do and relate as an employee is different to how you do as an entrepreneur.

How you approach your work is vastly different as an employer than it is as an employee. The basis of leadership in business is to have a high sense of self-responsibility and most importantly doing the right things. To do the right thing is always harder than most people think. In order to do what is right you must know the end goal, have a plan to get to the end goal and then to execute that plan. As a leader you must do what is the right thing as much as possible and you’ll find that if you do, you’ll inspire others around you by default. Do what is right as much as possible and monitor the results you are getting is the basis for the mindset of being an effective entrepreneur.

By now you probably realise what you need to work on to be more entrepreneurial and to reach that new level of success!

Thanks again for your support, and if you enjoyed this article, please help me out by sharing it for me!

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