10 Ways to Act Like an Entrepreneur, No Matter Your Job Title

The millennial workforce is entering a rapidly shifting job market, one deficient in corporate jobs that offer the traditional security of a predictable career. Our college education isn’t quite offering us the stability we thought it would, and instead we’re finding that we have to be more skilled, more connected, and more driven than ever before. We are a passionate demographic that must learn to turn our passion toward work – in other words, we must increasingly approach our professional lives like entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs, in the purest sense, are those who identify a need – any need – and fill it. They don’t let obstacles stop them in their tracks, they build ways around. They thrive in challenging environments and dream of ways to make things better. Entrepreneurs are usually comfortable with risk and confident in their abilities. They are creative and innovative, because they have to be to succeed. The best entrepreneurs are comfortable with the idea of failure – they know that sometimes it’s the only way to learn and grow.

At Atlanta Tech Village, I’m around hundreds of entrepreneurs every day. As the Program Director for Atlanta Ventures, I speak with startup founders every week who are looking for funding and advice. I’ve learned a lot about this rare breed of professional – from how they structure their day, to their productivity-increasing habits, to how they lead and relate to their peers. Young professionals of all types would be wise to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset. Whatever your ambitions may be, cultivating entrepreneurial characteristics will lead to professional and personal growth, and make you the kind of employee top companies are looking for.

Here are 10 things you can do to start acting like an entrepreneur, no matter your job title:

1. Wrap your head around the big picture – Entrepreneurs are dreamers and visionaries. They picture a world that is better because their company exists. No matter your role, keep the overall goal of your company in mind and ask yourself how you’re helping to accomplish that goal. Understanding the purpose of your work will help you develop a greater passion for what you do, even in the mundane day-to-day.

2. Treat each of your tasks like your company depends on it – You were hired because your company needed you. This is true whether you’re the VP or the receptionist. Everything you do has a ripple effect and makes an impact, no matter how small. If you treat every task like it matters, your work will become more meaningful and you will be entrusted with greater tasks and project.

3. Look for opportunities to innovate – Every single company has to adapt to the changing culture, trends, and technology in our world. Some companies are slower than others, but that only means that there is more opportunity for you to encourage thinking outside the box. Start by looking at what’s on your plate – what new methods, ideas or products can you introduce to help accomplish the company’s objectives more thoroughly?

4. Don’t be afraid of problems – To an entrepreneur, every problem is an opportunity. Don’t let problems scare you. Get excited about the chance to find a solution that will have a great impact. It’s way more difficult to be innovative when there is not an apparent pain point. Use each problem you encounter as a way to lead, innovate, and make a greater impact.

5. Make sure you’re cultivating your own creativity – Chances are, you are more creative than you think you are. Don’t believe the lie that you have to be an artist to be creative. Creative thinking is something that can be cultivated and you need to make time to do just that. Make time for pursuing creative projects you enjoy – whether it’s writing, coding, making music, cooking, or photography. Don’t have a creative outlet? Try to find one.

6. Be curious – Ask questions whenever possible. Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo and ask questions about how to make things better. Spend time researching and learning from great thinkers in your field. Be curious about what made them successful. Never just accept something because it’s what you’re told. Embrace curiosity and questions rather than becoming stagnant in “the way things are.”

7. Seek out support from like-minded peers – There is a lot that can be self-taught but the knowledge and support that you can gain through a community of peers is invaluable. If you really want to take your career to the next level, you have to engage with like-minded people. Successful entrepreneurs are skilled networkers and are constantly seeking peer support.

8. Set high standards for your own productivity – Entrepreneurs hold themselves to really high standards and you should too. Keep track of how you’re spending time to help come up with ways to be more effective. Structure your day so you conquer your most difficult tasks first. Find a good system for organizing your projects and their due dates. Make sure you’re focusing on the most important items on your plate and not just getting lost in busy work.

9. Find new ways to incorporate discipline in your life – Whether it’s  making time for exercise, meditation, or continued learning on a topic of interest, find excuses to become more disciplined. Challenge yourself to get up earlier, give up distractions, and become more mindful. Increased discipline in your personal life will greatly impact your professional life as well.

10. Build relationships with people you admire – Don’t be afraid to ask for advice from people you look up to. Engage with influencers on social media. Go to networking events where you might meet leaders in your industry. Ask them to meet you for coffee. Be politely persistent. A little gumption (tempered by respect) can go a long way.