Think Like an Entrepreneur, Deliver Like a Professional

By Martin Willoughby

In a world that constantly evolves and challenges us to redefine success, thinking like an entrepreneur has never been more vital. Entrepreneurs are not just individuals who start businesses; they are people who embody a mindset of resilience, creativity, and an unyielding pursuit of excellence.

Throughout my life, I have dedicated significant time to studying successful entrepreneurs, uncovering the distinct traits that set them apart. They are accessible to anyone willing to adopt this entrepreneurial mindset.

This article delves into these key characteristics, offering insights into how we can integrate them into our own lives to foster success and fulfillment while also delivering like a professional. So how do you think like an entrepreneur?

Find Your Sweet Spot. I encourage and challenge people to find their “sweet spot” in life. This is also sometimes referred to as your “unique ability” or your area of “genius.” I believe we all have a sweet spot where our passions and skills intersect to create value for others. Don’t be alarmed if you don’t know your passion. I frequently get questions about that. There are many great tools and resources to help you unlock your true passion. Don’t force it – it is a journey. When you operate in your sweet spot, your work becomes more like play, and we usually achieve our greatest success in life. To clarify, this does not necessarily mean that you try and turn your hobbies into your work. Many activities are better left to being a hobby than turning into your vocation. If you have not adopted a mindset to work in your sweet spot, I encourage you to start down that path. Life is short – don’t waste it!

Think Creatively. Much is being written these days about the need to think creatively in our work. Jobs that are simply redundant and repetitious are on the way out. They can be easily outsourced. You may not consider yourself creative, but I promise it is in there. You are still the same person that probably loved to grab some crayons years ago and color away! Unfortunately, our industrial age school structure does not really promote creativity. In fact, it really tends to promote conformity and following the rules. Employers today need employees who can think creatively to solve tomorrow’s problems. Become invaluable in whatever you do by tapping into that creative spirit. If you are feeling challenged in this regard, I would recommend Michael Gelb’s classic book “How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci.”

Focus on Results. Entrepreneurs understand that the bottom line is that you have to add value and create results. They don’t confuse activity with productivity. It is very easy today to be busy. In fact, most people can sit at their desk and volley emails all day and seem quite busy. The question is what value are you really bringing? Are you actually getting things done? Entrepreneurs don’t get lost in the trees so much that they forget the forest. They keep the big picture in perspective. If you find yourself feeling like you are on an email fueled treadmill in your work, it is probably time to step back and consider what are the real results that need to be achieved.

Ask the Big Questions. This one is a real game changer. Entrepreneurs ask powerful questions that lead to possibility thinking. They ask questions like – Why are we doing this? What if we created a new product, service, etc.? What could we do to make this better? They ask these probing questions of themselves and others. They seek clarity and understanding. Entrepreneurs aren’t just “order takers.” They seek to understand the real needs of their customers and employees. I would encourage you to start today to consider some of these deeper questions and learn to become someone who routinely asks the big questions.

Deliver Like a Professional. As I conduct workshops on these topics and interview successful leaders, there are some key recurring themes that have come out regarding professionalism. Below I have described some of the key attributes of “delivering like a professional.”

Others First. Real professionals put the needs of others first. They are humble and elevate those around them. They invest themselves in their co-workers and clients. They don’t let the opportunity for personal gain impact their decisions. Real professionals take a selfless approach to their work and make sure that they truly understand and deliver on the needs of those around them.

Deep Expertise. Real professionals are lifelong learners. They develop deep and lasting expertise in their fields. Regardless of your job, there are always ways to learn to do it better. Professionals seek out knowledge and absorb it like a sponge. They are “go to” people when you want the job done right. Consider what you could do to become the “expert” in your workplace to bring real value to your organization.

Unquestioned Integrity. Integrity is a word used a lot in the marketplace, but I think often overlooked in practical application. People of integrity are able to develop trust in their organizations. They are people who do what they say they are going to do. You know that they are not going to cut corners or skirt the truth. These are people who have a core set of values that they live by. Regardless of the mistakes you may have made in the past, you can begin today being someone of unquestioned integrity.

Quality Work. Real professionals understand that every project they work on can either leave a mark of excellence or mediocrity. They strive to do the very best job they can. They want to leave a legacy of quality and excellence in whatever they do. Your work product is a reflection of who you are – make it great!

Conclusion. By challenging ourselves to think like an entrepreneur and deliver like a professional, we can transcend the ordinary and transform not only our lives but also the communities and industries we touch. Together, we can create a legacy of excellence and innovation.


Martin Willoughby is chief executive officer at Command Alkon. He is also an accomplished public speaker and author, frequently sharing on the topics of leadership and entrepreneurship. His books include “Unlock the Growth Potential of Your Organization” (High Impact Publishing 2015), “Intentional Faith” (Main Street Press 2014), and “Zoom Entrepreneur” (Barringer Publishing 2011).

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