Oct 182011

Entrepreneurs - How To Take Initiative

Entrepreneurs – How To Take Initiative

In order to start a business and run it well, you must learn to take initiative.  In order to do so, you must develop the mentality of making things happen, rather than just letting things happen.  This comes naturally to some, but to others it can be tough to develop an “initiator mindset”.  In any case though, it’s useful to have a few tricks and ideas in your pocket for when procrastination and passive behavior seem too tempting.  Here are some thoughts.

1.)   Figure out what you want!  This seems obvious, but many people are averse to really thinking through what it is that they’re trying to accomplish.

2.)   Make sure it’s not just material stuff.  For most people I know, particularly successful entrepreneurs who’ve made a lot of money, they didn’t get there by making material things their objectives.  Rather, they “wanted to change the world”.

3.)   It’s key to tap your emotions.  Just as when you are trying to persuade another person or a group of people, it’s tough to do it on logic alone, you need to create an emotional link in persuading yourself as well.

4.)   Use ethos, pathos, logos in your internal conversations.  Per the previous point, it’s key to tap emotion when you are persuading yourself to set goals and take initiative.  There’s no reason you shouldn’t approach this through the tried and true method of ethos, pathos, and logos.  You’d use it to try to convince others, why not yourself?

5.)   Make sure you have credibility with yourself.  In order to use ethos, pathos and logos with yourself effectively, you’ll have to get past that first hurdle:  ethos.  Do you have credibility with yourself?  When you are talking yourself into taking initiative, do you believe what you’re saying?  Are you a credible source, even in your own mind?

6.)   Learn to believe blindly in yourself.  With success come belief and the all-important self-confidence.  What do you do before you’ve had successes, or at least successes that cause you to believe in yourself as an entrepreneur?  Lean on other successes.  If you don’t have any, believe blindly in yourself!  If you’re not going to believe in yourself, no one else will either, usually.  Where does that leave you?  Belief, particularly as an entrepreneur who must take initiative and often chart new territory, must start with you.

7.)   Set goals that excite you.  It’s very hard to take initiative on a consistent basis when you are engaged in a business that you don’t like.  Sure, you can do it for a while, if you keep your big goals in mind and draw upon them for energy and initiative, but it’s tough to maintain.  Get involved in businesses and other activities that really get you fired up.  You will then find it a lot easier to be proactive and to stay engaged!

8.)   Learn to tap your willpower.  I have written elsewhere and I strongly believe that being able to tap your will to succeed, in entrepreneurship or elsewhere, is the most important predictor of your success.  Setting short-term goals can help you access your willpower.  Such goals allow you to block out all other distractions and focus on the task at hand.  Such focus greatly increases the likelihood that you will succeed.

9.)   Do not fear failure.  Often times, I see people reluctant to take initiative because they are afraid of failing.  They know that once they take that first step, that if they don’t “succeed,” it will be perceived as a negative, by them and others around them.  You must learn to overcome the fear of failure and the best way to do so is to change your definition of “failure”.  As Thomas Edison said, “I didn’t fail.  I just found 10,000 ways that don’t work”.  You must be willing to put yourself out there, make some mistakes, and take some criticism.  If you cannot make this adjustment, entrepreneurship most likely is not for you.

10.)  Realize it’s a journey, not a destination.  Success in entrepreneurship and most other endeavors, in my opinion, is a journey, not a destination.  Once you learn to take initiative as a matter of habit, it will be tough to stop.  Trust me on this one!  Look around, how many successful people do you know who stop taking initiative, even after they “retire”.  For me, the answer is: none!  Once taking initiative and making things happen becomes habit in your entrepreneurial ventures and other areas of your life, you cannot simply turn off that switch.  It becomes part of who you are.

Don’t wait to start taking initiative.  Decide what you want.  Set specific goals and start making them happen today.  Don’t expect success in entrepreneurship or your other endeavors just to come to you.  Usually, it won’t; you have to go out and make it happen.  Learn to make taking initiative a part of who you are.  If you do so, I guarantee you that, at a minimum, you will make more progress toward your goals than in the days when procrastination may have been ruling the roost.

I look forward to your thoughts and questions.  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin



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  • Knikkolette

    Hey Paul! As always you have a plethora of great ideas and advice. I would add just one more item to this list and that would be to have someone as your cheerleader/sounding board, etc…

    There will be days when you aren’t so sure of yourself, find it difficult to keep trudging along, or might need a second opinion. Having a mentor, joining a business networking group, or something similar can work wonders to keep you going through these tough times.

    I know you have been instrumental on more than one occasion for me! 🙂

  • Thanks, Knikkolette. That’s a good point. It is very helpful to have people you can bounce your ideas off of. It helps us to make sure we’re not going crazy! As you point out, it also helps us to keep moving forward, when without such interaction, we may not be too sure which direction to take. Along those lines, it could also help us with taking initiative and keeping up positive momentum. Paul

  • Those points were so brilliant that they could be dubbed ” The 10 Commandments Of Entrepreneurship “. Excellent post. A must read for any entrepreneur.

  • Armand Polanski

    Hey There Paul!

    I saw your from Adrienne Smith’s Tweet, she is such a sweet friend.

    I especially like number 9.

    I went into business before and failed but I never had regrets, I understood that in business we shall experience a lot of setbacks and downfalls but it shouldn’t stop us. This is the time I learned to channel all those failures to triumphs because of the wonderful lessons that I have learned but most people are scared of failing, they cringe even if they just hear the word and that’s a reason why most are scared to be an entrepreneur or a reason for there business not to grow.

    Thank you very much for the helpful post.

    Armand Polanski

  • Thanks, Armand! I appreciate your sharing a bit about your experiences. Yes, number 9 is a very important one. The traditional definition of failure, which is binary, does not work well for entrepreneurs. If looked at strictly, it would discourage risk taking and kill entrepreneurship altogether! Paul

  • Thanks, Quintius! That’s high praise. I went back and read the post after seeing your comment and I realized that it does read more like “10 Rules For Entrepreneurs” than a post about taking initiative. I guess that works! Much appreciated. Paul

  • What can I say after what Quintius Monte Walker said? Thank you for some great advice!

  • Thanks, Maria. Much appreciated!

  • As far as your 6th point. The worst thing you can do, is to depend your self esteem and confident on circumstances. Success is a circumstance. If you depend your faith in yourself on that. You will lose by that. I say believe in yourself regardless. But who am I to have an opinion anyway.

  • Thanks, John. I agree — believe in yourself, regardless of what happens.

  • If you don´t believe in yourself, nobody will.

  • Agreed, Maria!