Most likely you have heard that every person is an island. There are very specific things that shape who you are, and the way you conduct and define yourself. Many of them are inherited. Many others are a product of your environment. I think everybody would agree to that much. Who you are today is a function of who you wanted to become at some point in the past, impacted and modified by the journey you’ve been in up to now, and the experiences you have gone through since the last time you pictured who you wanted to become. You may have changed who you wanted to become along the way, most probably than otherwise. It’s all very dynamic.
Your mindset, as an entrepreneur, determines the type of goal you set. It could be general or specific. Your goal might be: “I will deliver value for my customers, while providing exceptional customer service in the process of delivering that value”. If you are in a highly competitive industry, with a product that has low barriers to entry, this may be the only way to differentiate yourself and win. You will know if you are winning when your business grows, and you claim a commanding share of the market among all the competitors. You might say “this is oversimplified”, because this particular goal would apply to somebody who already has figured out the industry they will be operating it, their value proposition, the way they will be delivering it, how it would make money – but you still haven’t. You may be right, although I could argue that if you are of the mindset described in the goal above, you don’t need to know any of these things yet, you may still be discerning where, in the vast ocean of opportunity, you will be taking the dive.
Now think of a very general goal: “As an entrepreneur, I will make the world a better place”. You don’t need to know where you will take the dive, and have this goal at the same time. Even if you discover your entrepreneurial purpose, you may have a hard time and eventually become disillusioned, because the world is too big, it’s hard to know if the world is better because everyone measures these things differently, plus even if your business does well, you will never be able to figure out if your impact to the world is positive or negative – and there will be opposite opinions on this all the time.
I think, to start, a worthwhile approach or directive would be: “I will try to be a better entrepreneur today than I was yesterday”. This is simple enough, and you would expect the tiny piece of the world you live in, and can affect, would become better; and you would be able to perceive if it did rather easily. We tend to know when things are better for us. This goal is general enough that it would force you to run down through in your mind, often, even perhaps daily, all the traits that we teach our program participants identify a good entrepreneur. Being relentless, optimistic, an independent thinker, thick-skinned, resourceful, accountable, confident and self-disciplined are some qualities you may want to measure and make trend positively, for you. Having good judgement (measured by your hits and misses over time), respect towards others, courage, integrity and honesty, you could also design a mental time & space dashboard, where you could plot your signals to stay on track. If you understand and apply this, you may become a better entrepreneur today than you were yesterday.