Ready to Build Your Startup? You’ll Need the Right Mindset for Success

Startups take leaps of faith, persistence, an open mind and self-confidence. The right mindset will take you a long way.

Written by Elaine Pofeldt / June 2, 2022

Quick Bites

  • Startup life is exciting and petrifying. The right mindset will carry you through the tough times.
  • We talked to entrepreneurs who have been there and done that. Join us to learn more about their journeys, and lessons you can use.

Even before Shannon Claire’s marriage unraveled, she knew she needed to boost her income. She had three kids, after all. The 38-year-old from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, was working at a daycare at the time, and started shooting photos on the side. Her first gig was a wedding.

She waited tables on the side to earn money for the equipment she needed and meanwhile built her reputation as a photographer. In 2017, she finally parted ways with her ex-husband, moved in with a friend and decided to go all-in with her side hustle. Within months, she was more than able to support herself and her kids on her photography alone. She moved into her own place and dedicated herself to what she loved.

“I had faith it was going to work,” she recalls. She did everything she needed to do—picking up extra work, depending on the kindness of friends and facing challenges head-on—to make her new career a success.

That faith—that mindset—was key to Claire’s success.

Getting your startup to succeed isn’t just about the capital or the contacts, though they obviously help. There will be obstacles of all kinds. You have to have the right mindset to stick with it through the good and bad times to get to your goals. For Claire, embracing the attitude that she would find a way to make the business work, no matter what came her way, was critical.

Inside this article

  1. Mindset #1: Keep the faith
  2. Mindset #2: Push ahead
  3. Mindset #3: Experiment
  4. Mindset #4: Persevere

Mindset #1: Keep the faith

Keep the faith. You will fail, and you will probably fail often. There will be obstacles of all kinds and you may have to do things like pick up extra work on your journey. Take these obstacles as opportunities to learn and grow.

Today, success for Claire looks a little different: “Now, success to me looks like the time freedom to be there for my children when they need me and to live life on my terms,” she says.

“I’m not ruled by working a certain number of hours, with someone else telling me what I can and can’t do. It’s also being able to finally save for retirement, have six months of ‘paychecks’ saved in the bank, seeing my business sales double from this time last year, working with clients from all over the world, and to continue getting repeated referrals.”

That can-do mindset will give you a strong foundation, and we’ve gathered more from entrepreneurs who have been there and done that. Here are some other attitudes that can help you put your business on strong footing.

Mindset #2: Push ahead

Be willing to push ahead even if you don’t feel ready. Pretty much no one feels 100% prepared to start a side hustle or take it full-time. (This is also true for big decisions like having a baby. There is no “right time,” and you will never be prepared.) What separates entrepreneurs who succeed from those who don’t get anywhere is being willing to make a leap before you’ve dotted every “i” and crossed every “t.” Trust yourself that you’ll figure things out as you go along.

Nicole McCullum started Captivate Designs, a New York-based digital marketing business, as a side hustle in 2017. She was still working in a full-time job as a conciliator at the American Arbitration Association, negotiating settlements for no-fault medical claims. She really wanted to quit on account of her boss—they did not get along—but had to balance the two for a while until she couldn’t take it anymore. She quit, despite recognizing that the timing wasn’t ideal.

“Even though I wasn’t quite ready, I had the business coming in,” she says. McCullum never looked back and is 100% dedicated to her small-business branding and web design company.

Mindset #3: Experiment

Experimenting is part of the journey. You may not find the perfect side business on the first try. Being willing to explore different options until there’s a fit will increase the odds you’ll eventually find a side gig with the potential to become a full-time career.

Micala Quinn, 32, was working as a high school English teacher when her eldest child was born. She wanted to spend more time with her baby.

“I didn’t want to have a job anymore, but I needed to have an income,” Quinn recalls.

Quinn, based in the Kansas City, Kansas, area, started searching for a side hustle that would allow her to bring home at least $1,000 a month—the amount she cleared from her salary after paying for daycare. She tried making and selling hair bows, then cakes and cookies, but the returns weren’t worth it.

Then she heard about working as a virtual assistant—a type of remote administrative professional. In 2016, she signed up for a job board and “applied for anything and everything that could be a good fit for me.”

She was rejected, and a lot.

“It was challenging to wake up early before going to work and hear nos, but I reminded myself, ‘I’m doing this for a reason,’” she says. “My mindset was ‘Whatever it takes, I’m going to figure this out.’”

Mindset #4: Don’t take rejection personally

Don’t take rejection personally. It may take a while to get your first project or customer, but that doesn’t mean you never will.

It took Quinn eight months to get her first project. She did email inbox management, scheduled client calls and created social media graphics. More virtual assistant work came in and she was able to quit teaching the following year.

Other moms started reaching out to her with questions about how to do what she was doing. Quinn started a Facebook group to help out, which led to the creation of an online course on how to launch a freelance business.

Today, she brings in revenue in the mid six figures, mainly from her online course, which costs nearly $1,500.

It wasn’t easy or quick for Claire, McCullum or Quinn to build their own businesses. But armed with mindsets of persistence and self-confidence even amid failure, these women proved it can be done.

About the Author

Elaine Pofeldt

Elaine Pofeldt

Elaine Pofeldt is a freelance business writer whose work has appeared in FORTUNE, Money, CNBC, Inc., Forbes, Crain’s New York Business, and many other business publications. She has contributed to the Economist Intelligence Unit. She is also a ghostwriter/collaborative editor.

Full bio

Related Content