The Four Entrepreneur Mindsets in “Skier” Terms

Saturday Oct. 6th, 2012

Are you a Double Diamond Entrepreneur, or do you find yourself spending more time on the bunny slopes? Chances are, you are most likely playing on the blues and from time to time dabbling on the black trails. There is nothing wrong with this; in fact, the majority of people out there are in the beginner to intermediate category. You are asking, how does this relate to entrepreneurship? Let me answer.

Entrepreneurs are each unique in our own way with different important skill sets. However, we all share a similar mindset and the ability to run a business. There are four main levels of entrepreneurial mindsets. The mindset determines our willingness to solve problems, take risks, and ultimately run a profitable venture. In this article I will relate the four mindsets to the age-old color levels of ski trails. Green reflects a beginner mindset, while a Double Diamond entrepreneur has mastered the processes of running a successful business. We should all strive to focus on our customers by solving their problems, learning from others, and following proven tactics that work. This will eventually train us to become Double Diamond Entrepreneurs.

Green Run Entrepreneur Mindset

Definition: Focuses on self and not working with others while blaming external factors for problems, and tries to perfect product prior to testing the market. Has not mastered solving problems for clients and doesn’t understand the importance of knowing how to sell.

The ability to solve problems is an essential skill for all entrepreneurs. To start a business, one must find a problem in an industry and offer a product or service that fixes the issue. Green Run Entrepreneurs have a tough time solving problems and running a profitable business because they have a mindset that focuses on themselves and not the customer. They tend to create products far in advance to even thinking about how to sell or market the widget, whereas marketing and selling should actually be planned prior to creating the product. Why work months out in the garage to create the perfect product when you don’t even have a clue if anyone will want to buy it? To create a profitable business, focus on what the customer really wants.

Instead of asking for feedback, they continue to tell themselves they have the best product out there and believe they will sell the product through a combination of word of mouth and luck. When success doesn’t occur, Green Run Entrepreneurs blame it on others. They often believe external factors—beyond their control—are the cause of their business failure. They think, ‘If only my business idea got on Oprah, or if only Shark Tank invested in my idea…’   But the ultimate success or failure of the business rides on their shoulders. Green Run Entrepreneurs fail to ask questions and follow business systems that have proven to be successful. For instance, certain tactics do work and instead of inventing a new road every time, we should look into the past for answers on what has worked and not worked. Once green slopers realize the importance of focusing on their customers and learning from others, they can be classified as a more advanced entrepreneur ready for new terrain.

Blue Run Entrepreneur Mindset

Definition: More advanced overall and willing to be open to others, still not getting much traction growing the business, product sales and marketing need work.

Blue Run Entrepreneurs have mastered a few basic entrepreneurial skills, but still don’t quite get the game. They are a little better at finding problems that need attention, but haven’t mastered the art of creating a solution and then marketing and selling it. These individuals are still too focused on themselves, and rely on chance to build their business.

Blue Run Entrepreneurs struggle with the moguls and often get tripped up by thinking they must be an expert in their field before they can achieve success in their business. They are trying to perfect their creation 100% before taking it to market—and getting feedback from customers. The entrepreneur should be taking it to market or trying to sell and market it before the product is even created. That way they’ll find out its potential and can adapt to customer needs quickly. You don’t have to be an expert, but you must be willing to ask questions, learn from your customers, and surround yourself with others who know the market better than yourself.

Black Run Entrepreneur Mindset

Definition: Designated for forward thinking, looking for a challenge filled with moguls and trees. Focused on learning from the customer, marketing/sales, and the art of getting paid. Listens to feedback and adjusts to a changing market.

Black Run Entrepreneurs are more experienced in the game of business and have mastered the moguls. They like a good challenge and are willing to take some risks. What sets these entrepreneurs apart is their ability to solve problems effectively, their understanding of marketing and sales, and knowing the importance of networking and partnering with other businesses in order to grow rapidly. Instead of promoting themselves, they look to partnering with other companies to help expose their brand to a wider audience.

Experienced entrepreneurs know their business revolves around pleasing their clients and finding solutions to problems. They are constantly asking for feedback, asking questions, improving skills, and learning.

Double Diamond Entrepreneur Mindset

Definition: Mastered the skill sets of finding solutions to problems. Listens to feedback, introduces products to the market and then perfects them.

Double diamond entrepreneurs have mastered the craft of taking a product or service to market. Finding problems and creating solutions can be done with ease, and they have the process down to the T. They are focused on creating customer lists, generating leads, and bringing in paying customers.

Experienced entrepreneurs know that you don’t have to be an expert to start a business if you’ve mastered the art of marketing and selling. They value the ability to sell and are always learning and asking questions. Their mindset and marketing skills allow their business to flourish.

Like skiers, they are always polishing their skills, taking risks, and learning how to persuade their buddies to leap off that next cliff. Skiers surround themselves with better skiers so they improve and challenge themselves. Entrepreneurs surround themselves with smart friends, mentors, and motivated people who will support and push them to the next level.

How to become a Double Diamond Entrepreneur

While it takes time and experience to become a Double Diamond Entrepreneur, we can all get there. The Double Diamond Entrepreneur status can be attained by hanging around the right crowd, continuing to learn, and engraining the mindset in your brain.

Learn the importance of selling and marketing your business. Writing good copy, mastering persuasion, and getting paid for your creations are all skills that can be learned by reading, observing, and then practicing what you’ve learned. One of my favorite quotes about the importance of selling was said by Thomas J Watson, “Nothing Happens Until Someone Sells Something.”

Take feedback from customers and use it to improve your business. Feedback may be tough to deal with, but it will eventually guide you to creating the perfect product or service for your business. So go out there and challenge yourself—become a Double Diamond Entrepreneur.

Pete Sveen is a blogger with ThinkEntrepreneurship.com, and owner of E-commerce store SignsoftheMountains.com