Want Entrepreneurial Success? It’s all in Your Mind

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal, nothing can help the man with the wrong attitude.”


It’s often said that the primary reason startups fail is a lack of funding. Ultimately, whether startup failure is attributed to funding challenges, market conditions, too much competition or the economy, the underlying cause can almost always be found in the same place – the entrepreneurs mind.

World Class Athletes and the Military

Some experts contend that psychology is 80% of the reason why a person fails or succeeds. The critical role psychology plays in a successful outcome is recognized by world class athletes, military and Fortune 500 companies.

Many sports coaches will place as much importance on ensuring their athletes develop a winning mindset through the consistent practice of regular psychological exercises as they do on the physical training. Some Olympians have recently referred to the primacy of their mental training and psychology as being the most important factor in their success.

And throughout the world, the military ensure their personnel undergo intensive psychological training in order to prepare them for the extreme challenges they may face. In the US, The United States Military Academy (USMA) created the Performance Enhancement Program which integrates 5 elements of applied psychology into a systematic approach. These elements include goal setting, attention control, stress management and visualization.

Psychology and Entrepreneur Performance

Parallels are often drawn between the psychological stresses entrepreneurs face and those faced by world class athletes and military personnel. The late Anita Roddick, Founder of the Body Shop once said

“Nobody talks of entrepreneurship as survival, but that’s exactly what it is.”

Many entrepreneurs invest their savings and a huge part of their life trying to make their dream of startup success a reality. They often do while holding down at least one day job, often neglecting family, friends and their health. The stakes are high, the challenges and stresses very real.

When working with clients to help them  develop an execution mindset , I consistently see the same psychological causes preventing successful execution. These include:

1.An inability to retain a laser focus on achieving goals because of the demands and distractions of daily life e.g. family, holding down several jobs, bills etc.

2. A fear of failure that prevents necessary actions and risks being taken.

3. An inability to consistently take the steps necessary to achieve long term goals. Entrepreneurs are often have clarity on the long term goal, but struggle to maintain consistency and momentum when things go wrong and the timeline slips.

4. Burnout

Develop those Mental Muscles

It isn’t sufficient to have a goal and high levels of optimism in the beginning. If it was that simple, the military and world class athletes and their coaches would not invest the time and money on developing winning mindsets.

Your ability to withstand the challenges and stresses associated with launching a startup and achieve your goal faster and more effectively, will be significantly enhanced if you devote time to developing your mental muscles and a winning psychology. A failure to do so, may well mean that your dream of startup success continues to exist only in your mind.

Martin is the founder of the The Pitch Clinic and author of ‘Here’s the Pitch‘ available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all leading booksellers

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About Martin Soorjoo

Martin Soorjoo is the founder of San Francisco based Pitch Clinic. Over the past 25 years he has advised, coached and worked with Senior Executives, Investment Bankers, Venture Capitalists, Angels, Startup Founders, Attorneys, Judges, Politicians and other high achievers. Martin works with his clients to increase their Performance, Productivity and Presence. He also helps them create and deliver high impact presentations, whether they are delivering an important keynote address, raising venture capital or seeking a senior position in a company or public body. A former award winning attorney, Martin is the creator of 3XP Performance Coaching and and author of 'Here's the Pitch - How to Pitch Your Business to Anyone, Get Funded and Win Clients' published by Wiley. During his career at the Bar, Martin was consistently rated by the world’s leading legal directories as a ‘leader in his field’. He is a Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and expert in body language and performance psychology.