Why are some entrepreneurs successful, while others aren’t?

The main difference between successful and struggling entrepreneurs with the same amount of capital, intelligence and talent is that the first has a growth mindset while the second has a fixed mindset.

Of course, there are several other factors that play a role in reaching your full potential, but a growth mindset is one of the fundamental elements that contribute to your success.

In today´s blog post, I will define a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. I will also share a personal story that illustrates the difference between a fixed and a growth mindset, and at the end of this article, I will show the 7 interconnected elements that make up a growth mindset.


  • What is a fixed mindset and what is a growth mindset?
  • Personal Story
  • The 7 interconnected elements for creating a growth mindset
  • Summary

What is a fixed mindset and what is a growth mindset?

According to Stanford social psychology professor Carol Dweck[1], who specializes in mindset psychology, a fixed mindset is when people believe their basic qualities, intelligence, talents, and abilities are fixed traits. They believe that they have a certain amount of these traits and can´t change that.

People with a fixed mindset measure their self-worth by how many talents they have and what is easy for them to handle. Dweck summarizes this as follows: “These people think things like ‘Better do not make any mistakes, what will others think of me?’ Failures deeply unsettle them because the image of their personality begins to falter: ‘Don’t I have this talent?’ Since they don’t have a strategy to grow with challenges, they try to avoid them.”

But people with a growth mindset believe that even basic talents and abilities can be developed over time through effort, experience, and mentorship. Initial talents, aptitudes, interests or temperaments can be changed and grown through application and experience. These are the people who really go for it in life. They’re not worried about how smart they are, how they’ll look, what a mistake will mean. They challenge themselves constantly to grow and assume that they can always develop and learn everything. They tend to think, “Hey, this is a great opportunity, I can learn something new. I feel good when I try something difficult.”

And if something does go wrong, people with a growth mindset wonder what they could do better next time. People with this inner conviction love challenges and see failures as steps on their way to success.

Personal Story

When I was in grade school in Germany, one day my teacher asked me to come to his office. After the usual pleasantries, he said that he thought that I had the intelligence and talent to go to high school and college (vs entering the German system of vocational apprenticeship) but that I would need to be more diligent in my schoolwork in order to be selected. The selection process was rigorous and at this time, nobody talked about developing your intelligence through effort and mentorship. So I experienced firsthand a fixed mindset mentality at school, as it was all about whether you were intelligent and talented or not.  

However, I was lucky: my father challenged the belief that my talents and abilities were fixed and helped me to develop them instead. His attitude was that I could learn anything I put my mind to and he modeled this mindset for me. Most importantly, I learned from my mistakes and sought to do better next time. This empowering mindset led me on a journey of self-discovery and the development of most of my talents and skills.

The 7 interconnected elements for creating a growth mindset

⇒ Element 1: Be open to learn, improve, and grow

Successful entrepreneurs with a growth mindset:

  • Are willing to learn, improve constantly, and give their best.
  • Surround themselves with talented people.
  • Believe in human potential and personal development.
  • Are willing to look at their own mistakes and not blame others.
  • Ask what skills they and their employees will need in order to be successful.

⇒ Element 2: Be motivated by setbacks

If you have a growth mindset, it doesn´t mean you won’t encounter failure and setbacks. The difference between entrepreneurs who have a fixed mindset and those who embrace a growth mindset is that the latter perceive a setback as a wake-up call and feedback as to how they can do better next time. Setbacks are motivating for them and don´t bring them down.

⇒ Element 3: Take calculated risks

Entrepreneurs with a growth mindset take calculated risks and the right action. They take charge and go beyond their comfort zone.

⇒ Element 4: Be willing to go from good to great

What distinguishes a company with great results from one with good results?

There are several factors that play a role in achieving great results but the main key is the LEADER of the company. And if the leader can keep their ego under control, then he/she is destined to lead the company to greatness. For example, when Steve Jobs took the lead at Apple, the company thrived and achieved astonishing results.

Great leaders ask themselves important questions, such as:

  • How can I lead the company more effectively?
  • How can the company create a “blue ocean”[2](new market) with new products?
  • How can the company be more profitable and also find an optimal balance between economic necessity, societal needs, and the environment?
  • How can the company create and make better products that are reusable and environmentally friendly?
  • How can we serve our customers better?

Great leaders are willing to confront the most challenging questions and create the necessary changes to lead the company to greatness and success.

  • They look failures in the face, even their own.
  • They maintaining faith that they will succeed.

⇒ Element 5: Have a big vision

If you enter the world of growth mindset entrepreneurs, you will see a world that expands and is filled with energy and possibilities. Growth mindset entrepreneurs embrace a culture of growth and teamwork. For example, Elon Musk has very big visions and has turned several of these into reality. For more inspiration, I recommend reading his interesting biography.[3]

⇒ Element 6: Be self-confident

True self-confidence means that one has the courage to be open to change and new ideas regardless of their origin. This doesn´t come from titles or an expensive car but is reflected in your mindset and willingness to grow.

⇒ Element 7: Embrace self-transformation

An entrepreneur who embraces self-transformation will lead the company to sustainable growth and success. He/ she will be a true leader.

Ponder the following questions:

  • Does your company embrace a fixed or a growth mindset?
  • How could you profit from the feedback from your employees and customers?
  • Are there ways you can create more learning experiences for yourself?


  • What is a fixed mindset and what is a growth mindset?
  • The 7 elements for creating a growth mindset
    • Element 1: Be open to learn, improve, and grow
    • Element 2: Be motivated by setbacks
    • Element 3: Take calculated risks
    • Element 4: Be willing to go from good to great
    • Element 5: Have a big vision
    • Element 6: Be self-confident
    • Element 7: Embrace self-transformation

Supporting you

Are you interested in establishing a growth mindset culture in your company?

If so, contact me for a complimentary 30-minute consultation https://nextlevelcoach.as.me/schedule.php

Coming up next month…

In my next blog post, I’ll shed more light on how to handle setbacks positively (element #2) so you can be successful again.

Stay tuned!

[1] Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. (2006), The New Psychology of Success, P.11ff.

[2] W. Chan Kim and Renèe Mauborgne – Blue Ocean Strategy, How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant – That is a great read!

[3] Anna C. Redding “Elon Musk: A Mission to Save the World”

Hashtags: #Mindset #GrowthMindset #FixedMindset #Entrepreneur  #Success #Potential #CarolDweck #PersonalStory #EntrepreneuralGrowthMindset #UncontestedMarkets #BlueOceanStrategy #ElonMusk #ChanKim #RenèeMauborgne #AnnaRedding

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