From Teacher to Entrepreneur: The 3 Mindset Shifts You Need
Written by James Liu on Feb. 4th 2019
Photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash

When I first started coaching online teachers, I focused a lot on helping restructure their business model and build the foundation of their online business. When it came to how to run their business, it often took more time and effort than I expected to make progress. There seemed to be barriers preventing them from thinking as a business owner and entrepreneur. 

After a while, I realized that I was starting with the wrong type of engineering. Instead of restructuring their business, I should have begun with helping them rewire their brain and shift their mindset to be more like an entrepreneur.   

Transitioning from teacher to entrepreneur isn’t just getting another normal job, or deciding not to teach English online anymore but still working as a freelancer somewhere else. You are starting a job unlike any other profession—entrepreneurship.  

You’re undertaking the transformation from ship crew member, who only needs to follow orders, to the captain who controls the ship and steers at will. This significant shift of role and responsibilities requires a new mindset to ensure the success of your business.  

So, how do you progress from feeling confined to your current teaching situation to confidently running your own teaching business? After a lot of conversation with my clients to understand how they think, I determined the three most important mindset shifts for people looking to transition from teaching to entrepreneurship.  

You’re Not Conquering Mt. Everest 

A common misconception is that business is a game for a small number of people, where only very few can succeed. 

When we think about successful entrepreneurs, we imagine people like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg, and Elon Musk, along with the exciting (but improbable) stories from the books and films about them. Next to these legends, we fully convince ourselves that it will be extremely difficult to succeed like them in business. This keeps us from moving forward. 

Yes, it is impossible for everyone to earn a fortune like them (but you already know that being a billionaire is not the goal for most teachers). Instead of a multimillion-dollar empire, a profitable and sustainable small online teaching business is actually the goal teacher-entrepreneurs dream of. Instead of feeling intimidated by entrepreneurship and taking the wait-and-see approach, you need to shift your mindset: 
Focus on your own definition of success, and work steadily to accomplish it—remember, it’s not Mt. Everest you need to conquer.

Don’t let the idea of the billionaire entrepreneur keep you from making your small teaching business dreams a reality. That’s like telling yourself you can’t climb the mountain next to you, because you’re focused on the height of Mt. Everest. Who cares that Everest is 9,000 meters tall and accessible to only a few? Your mountain has an incredible view and, at only 1,000 meters, is totally within reach!

There is a long list of success factors for these billionaires: their intelligence, profound ideas, luck, hard work, etc. However, in order to have a successful teaching business with a six-figure annual revenue, you only need two things: focus and action. Once you’re clear about this, all you need to do is move forward, taking action and focusing on your thousand-meter peak, step by step. One day, you’ll find yourself at the top, enjoying a view just as picturesque. You simply need to shift your perspective and get to work. 

Comfort Zones and Fear  

Everyone has their comfort zone.

Outside the comfort zone are the things you fear. As a teacher, you operate within your comfort zone, completing tasks you’ve been doing for years and have repeated over and over. You are confident in what you do and take action. Now, you’ve started your own business. In addition to teaching, you also run this business. There are tasks outside your comfort zone and you become fearful. Even worse—you lose your confidence and stop taking action.  

Here is the mindset shift: 

Fear is actually the tool you can use to expand your comfort zone, leading to more tasks you’re comfortable doing and fewer you’re afraid to do. 

Whenever you do something for the first time, you step outside your comfort zone and likely experience fear. If you can embrace this fear and take action on intimidating tasks for the first time, second time, then a third time, you will literally feel your comfort zone expand to include tasks you used to be afraid to take on. 

Any time you push past your comfort zone, you not only grow yourself and are able to handle bigger challenges, but you also experience the growth momentum and confidence that comes from accomplishing projects that used to scare you. 

Work ON, Not Just IN 

When you teach, you work to deliver results as well as keep your teaching business running. As an entrepreneur starting your own business, you now have two types of work to consider—that’s the third mindset shift: 

Work on the business as well as in the business.  

When you work in your business, you are working to keep the business running and sustainable. When you work on it, you are working to grow your business. 
For example:

         IN-work includes lesson planning, teaching, grading, communicating with students, and admin tasks. 
         ON-work is marketing, sales, establishing systems, and hiring staff as well as undertaking training programs.

It’s crucial to be clear about these two types of work so you can know how to best utilize your time and resources at different stages in your business. For instance, at the beginning, you need to focus on IN-work to ensure the quality of your work and get familiar with all the tasks required to sustain your business. As you progress, your focus should shift to ON-work, so you can grow your business to meet your goals.  

Shifting your mindset is the key to success when it comes to transitioning from a teacher to an entrepreneur, and it just takes practice. Make it a daily exercise to develop those muscles and adapt your mind to the entrepreneurial world.  

Watch the video here to learn more about how to start and grow your profitable, sustainable, and scalable business TODAY.

James Liu

James Liu helps online teachers start and grow profitable and scalable online businesses. He is an expert at helping online teachers develop business skills and premium services that allow them to get students on demand and at a higher rate. 
If you're interested in growing your online teaching business, then definitely reach out and request a free strategy session today.
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