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Hacking the Entrepreneur Mindset in Startups and Small Business

Struggling to find balance, clarity, and business success? It might be all in your head. In this session, branding expert and CEO coach Justin Foster covers topics around entrepreneurship and the entrepreneur mindset, branding, and startup psychology. He also outlines how to start a business confidently with evergreen techniques designed for every type of business and industry. 

Justin is co-founder of Root + River and has become a celebrated speaker, writer, and mentor. He spent two decades of his career speaking to high-level executives across industries, encouraging them to break out of the data-ruled confines of their self-made realities. Justin currently works showing business owners and startups how to best embrace the unknown in business and offers brand and message coaching to companies who are ready to step into their next authentic reality. 

In this video, Justin uncovers many of the hidden insecurities that you can find across business types (from enterprises to startups) and shows entrepreneurs how to hack their mindset to overcome these obstacles. With these tips, business owners are finally able to find true work-life balance, clarity, and a mindset that can withstand whatever the journey of business holds next.

Enjoy the full video, or read on for the key takeaways of this session. 

If you’re looking for help with branding, messaging/positioning, or even founder coaching, Justin is amazing! Be sure to check out Justin’s GrowthMatch profile


High-level Takeaways 

  • A successful business strategy requires a fundamental understanding that nothing is ever static. 
  • Life is a constant state of change, which is similar to how all startup stages feel — much like a controlled state of chaos building momentum towards a goal. 
  • However, even after you hit the goal (which can be a launch, phase completion, etc.) you aren’t really ever done. 
  • This uncertainty can undermine business growth and progression, leading to decisions made in “fear” such as fear of failure.  
  • To overcome this obstacle, business owners need to break free from the cycle of perceived “danger” or fear of failure and embrace radical acceptance. 
  • This, combined with other psychological devices and tools below, can help you to step into your next level of business success. 

A successful entrepreneur’s guide to business launch  

Something as seemingly “simple” as your psychological state can affect how you start your own business. The processes that you put in place, the culture that you intentionally (and unintentionally) develop, and the public-facing perception of your business rely on the entrepreneurial mindset and subsequent business strategy. 

Shifting business culture to be in alignment with your new intrinsic and guiding values requires you to hold an honest self-view, and begin dismantling fear and other distractions from the top down in your organization. 

Justin offered four guiding principles to offer new strategies for small business owner success: 


1. Remaining aware of organizational inefficiencies and their causes 

Being aware of risks such as over mechanization of operations and marketing, “guru worship,” and overuse of data to drive business strategy can help you to uncover new inefficiencies and risks to your business’ success.  

  • These types of pitfalls indicate internalized insecurity in the business model and can enhance your startup risk and susceptibility to failure. 
  • Before addressing the risks, you have to accept that everything is “out to get you” when you’re a startup or in-between launch phases. You don’t have to live in fear, though. 
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment with and build systems to address pitfalls or to create efficiency in your organization. 
  • Build systems with an end goal of success in mind, but don’t try to remove the mystery of business success altogether. 
  • When system creators try to avoid mystery or risk in their models, businesses can suffer from over-mechanization or lack of differentiation. 
  • Agility is key for refinement, mobility, and relevancy in whatever market that you serve 
  • Implement agile concepts in your systems, operations, and mindset as a business owner. 

2. Business marketing strategies in 2022 and beyond 

The world of marketing is changing in 2022. You’re probably familiar with the spammy (nearly predatory) LinkedIn messages and exhausting rounds of A/B split testing, mechanized messaging, or overuse of automation that marketers will tell you is essential for business success in 2022. This isn’t the case, though. You can make your brand messaging far more powerful if you implement these proven marketing strategies and embrace a more fluid entrepreneurial mindset: 

  • Never market in an identity crisis. When you’re a startup business, it can be tempting to dive right in and spend the budget. 
  • Rather than trying to mimic most innovative companies or competitors, work on defining yourself — and, subsequently, your business. 
  • Letting the world react to your true self/purpose/influence on the field rather than creating something that you think they’ll want is the key to successful business marketing. 
  • This requires certain levels of provocative and evocative messaging, which can pay off if driven by an authentic source. 
  • Avoid over-mechanizing the marketing process, as this can lead to fatigue for your team, yourself, and your prospective clients. 
  • People want novelty, authenticity, and your unique offer. Make your marketing work for you and study your demographic. Allow this data to inform your next marketing moves. 

3. Acceptance in the entrepreneur mindset 

Operating out of a place of radical self-acceptance will have positive effects on your business strategy. 

  • Business owners are (and always will be) out of control. Events happen to and around your business. 
  • Choosing to react to reality while accepting the events that have occurred continuously puts you in a flexible entrepreneurial mindset and place of peace 
  • It also helps you to avoid over-controlling behavior that adversely affects business culture and startup success 
  • To begin doing this, understand that what is coming next is always revealed. It’s never decided. We choose what to make of our business reality. 
  • Self-acceptance can remove you from constant fight-or-flight mode and help you to achieve work-life balance as a startup business 
  • Finding balance may require intentional dissociation 
  • If you begin to step into a panic state in business, run through the acceptance process and focus on the next correct step. If you don’t know what that looks like, embrace the uncertainty and take time to pour into yourself and your family. 
  • Return to your process with clear intentions and commit to receiving whatever comes next in your business — believing in your own abilities to remain agile and move forward to your next stage of business. 

4. Your internal tools for business success 

You have what it takes to succeed in business already. You just have to allow yourself the freedom to access it freely, and not from a place of panic or control. 

  • When dealing with business difficulties, come from a place of leadership. 
  • Leadership requires radical acceptance and is defined by your ability to walk into the unknown. 
  • Once you’re in your place of uncertainty, rely on your management skills to navigate the unknown and minimize risk or adverse results. 
  • Encourage your employees to do the same, and offer the freedom of failure. You will be able to react and accept your business’ next phase of evolution regardless. 
  • When you do this, you will begin to see a new type of innovation and ingenuity take place from the core of your business, which will be public-facing in your operational and marketing efforts. 
  • Understand the difference between intuition and instinct, and leverage both as part of your entrepreneurial mindset 
  • Intuition will be softer but will be that nudging suggestion that influences the nuance of your more complex decisions. Instinct is louder and is more clear in those defining decisions. 
  • You want messaging, operations, and a brand perception that will provoke people to take action. You can’t do that by blending in with your competitors or the greatest innovators. 
  • Hold intentional space for creative flow and mindset shifts, even under time constraints. 
  • Use strategic stopping as a way to keep your mind in alignment with your next set of goals, and to shift into an entrepreneurial mindset for your highest level of business success. 

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On behalf of the team and community at GrowthMatch, we want to send Justin a huge THANK YOU for sharing his knowledge with us. If you want to work with Justin, you can visit his profile here