It seems like entrepreneurs are a special breed of people. Where do they get their energy? Their time-management skills? Their focus?
Is it the freedom their job gives them?
No! Entrepreneurship is mindset, not a job description — and one every leader can and should adopt.
That’s what Dragon Army CEO Jeff Hilimire’s book, The 5-Day Turnaround, is all about: improving leadership by thinking like an entrepreneur.
In the latest FlipMyFunnel, Jeff shares some of his secrets for adopting an entrepreneurial mindset and why they matter — whether you’re an entrepreneur or not.
Here’s what we’re unpacking today:
- Entrepreneurship as a mindset
- Why your fallback plan is holding you back
- How you can avoid a dysfunctional team
This post is based on a podcast with Jeff Hilimire. If you’d like to listen to the full episode, you can check it out here and below.
Entrepreneurship is a mindset
Your superpower decides your purpose
Jeff: I like to think of purpose as: “What’s your superpower? What are you awesome at?”
Hopefully, that’s also something you’re super passionate about and can match to the change you want to see in the world. For me, my purpose is to have an out-sized positive impact on the world because my superpower is to grow things, right? As entrepreneurs, we grow companies.
I run Dragon Army, which is one of the fastest growing digital agencies in the Southeast, and we have the purpose to inspire happiness. So, I try to make sure whatever we do at Dragon Army, it’s doing good in the world.
Your purpose guides everything else you do
We don’t really regret anything because you learn from your mistakes, right? But when I’m asked, I say that the thing I do regret not having found my purpose before I was 35 years old because I think it’s really shaped and directed everything.
I’ve accomplished so much more because it’s so much clearer to me what accomplishment is.
As a young person, I never had a real job. I’ve always been an entrepreneur and my clients were usually big brands.
I would constantly hear from their employees, “Gosh, I wish I was like you and I could move more quickly. We have so many meetings here and so much bureaucracy and if I had my own company like you, I could do whatever I wanted.”
At first I thought that made sense. I do have a lot more freedom. But then I started to realize it’s more of a mindset.
Every once in a while, you’ll meet someone who is not an entrepreneur, but they almost act like one. They’ll say, “I understand that that’s a rule, but I’m going to figure out a way around it,” which is what entrepreneurs have to do to stay alive.
Your plan B is holding you back
The do or die approach of entrepreneurs
Jeff: I started my first company with my college roommates. We won this big account with a company that was going to pay us $65,000 to build their website. The biggest website deal we had done up until that point was $250.
So, we thought we were rich. We quit our jobs, hired someone else on and moved into an office in the back of a fitness center. And, after 2 months, the company that signed with us went out of business. We never got a dime from them.
At the time, I thought it was the worst possible thing to ever happen.
Of course, now I look back and feel like it was the first time we ever had to make our business work. We had no plan B at that point.
The first principle in the book is the “do or die” mindset entrepreneurs inherently have: there is no plan B. Until it’s over, you are trying everything to make it work — and I think most people don’t look at their jobs that way.
Forget the side-hustle
That’s why I am really against the side-hustle. You think that you’re going to start your next company side-hustling?
You know how hard it is to get a company a company going. The odds are incredibly against you, even if you give your full self!
So, who are you to think you can half-ass it on the side whenever you don’t have a dinner date and get a business going? That’s crazy.
Avoiding a dysfunctional team
On dialogue and dysfunction:
Jeff: Building a trusting team starts with open dialogue, honest conversations and vulnerability. A trusting team needs to get to know each other, break down walls and be honest from the get-go.
I coached a well-established nonprofit’s leadership team. I wanted to take them through the dysfunctions of a team and through workshops to break down walls.
At the very beginning, the executive director said “We don’t really need to do this part, our leadership team has been together for 15 years.”
Within 9 months, one of them quit and the remaining 5 couldn’t believe how much more effective they were as a team.
They had no idea there was dysfunction in the middle of their team. And the woman who left, she didn’t realize she wasn’t fitting; yet, there was all this angst.
Once you start opening those lines of communication and talking things out, you spend a lot of time together -— which I think is important. There are lots of tips and tricks, but it all starts with open dialogue and being honest with people.