Founder and CEO of O2E Brands, including home-service companies such as 1-800-GOT-JUNK?
I’m the first to admit that founders are a bit of a different breed. We’re hyper-determined, we have tunnel-vision focus and we’re always looking ahead. But the founder’s mentality isn’t exclusive to people who start businesses. It applies to anyone with the passion, grit and perseverance to succeed at whatever they put their minds to.
I’m proud to say that our company has grown around creating a culture of founders. Everyone in our organization – from franchise partners to employees at corporate headquarters – treats our business as if they’d started it themselves. They have the entrepreneurial spirit, and that’s why, together, we’re continuing to win after 30 years in business.
You don’t have to own a business (or even want to own a business) to benefit from having an entrepreneurial spirit. Whether you’re just starting out, climbing the corporate ladder or working toward personal growth, here’s how having a founder’s mentality can lead to success.
1. Founders get their hands dirty
Before becoming chief executive of General Motors, Mary Barra was a marketing intern in the company’s Pontiac Motor Division. Doug McMillon went from loading trucks at a Walmart distribution centre to running the entire company. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos began his career flipping Big Macs and cleaning up ketchup spills.
The most successful people aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty. In the customer service world, you can’t fully understand your customer unless you’ve served them on the front lines. Success favours those who are hands-on and are willing to put in the grunt work to get ahead.
2. Take ownership
It’s the same in any business: the strongest employees are the ones who treat the business as if it’s their own. They take initiative, action and responsibility, and they act as leaders, working to find ways to help the business get ahead. Our top performers consistently go above and beyond their day-to-day roles, trying to better understand all facets of the business and how everything works together to affect the customer experience. They have a founder’s mindset, and that means the company’s success is their own personal success, too.
If you want to succeed – in your career, life or relationships – you have to take an active role in your own future. Success will pass you by if you sit quietly on the sidelines.
3. Founders know success rides on their shoulders
Every founder knows the entrepreneurial journey can be lonely, especially in the beginning. I remember when I started out, I had no idea what I was doing, and it was up to me to figure it out on the fly. Every time I failed, that was mine alone to bear. But owning every win made it all worth it.
I’m not trying to discourage you. In fact, if you have a founder’s mentality, this should motivate you to try harder. As our chief operating officer Erik Church says: We all have to drive our own careers. And to do that, be your own engine by taking a proactive approach to where you’re going and how you’re going to get there.
You can’t take a back seat in your own life. You need to have the courage to think big, own your failures and keep fighting for your own success. That’s what will get you recognized as a leader.
4. Founders have laser focus
A founder needs three things before starting a business: an idea, a vision and a set of values. The same applies to achieving our personal goals. But to actually succeed in our goals, we need one more thing: the ability to stay hyper-focused.
Founders are notoriously obsessive about their businesses. They have a crystal-clear vision of what the future looks like, and they won’t give up until it becomes reality. We call our vision our Painted Picture: a snapshot of exactly where the business will be in the next five years. We use it as our North Star to guide all of our decisions and to keep our team rowing together.
You can use this strategy to accomplish any goal you set your mind to. Whether you’re training for a marathon or gunning for your next promotion, visualizing your success with laser-like focus can increase your odds of actually succeeding.
Anyone can cultivate a founder’s mentality to take control of their own future. You just have to get real with yourself about what you want and hold steadfast to your vision – even when it feels as if you’ll never get there. It won’t be easy and it definitely won’t happen overnight. But having the heart of a founder means believing in yourself, being willing to fail and never giving up.
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