The Entrepreneur Mind: Summary, Review & Criticism

entrepreneur mind book cover

The Entrepreneur Mind is a book for entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs.
Kevin Johnson, the author, shares one hundred crucial mindsets with which entrepreneurs view the world.
The readers can learn about the entrepreneurs’ mindsets and, with some work, adopt the same.

Bullet Summary

  • Get a sense of urgency: don’t delay or postpone, all must happen today
  • Build systems that don’t need key people (or yourself for that matter)
  • Decouple feelings from the right actions
  • Build an environment where criticism flows openly

The Entrepreneur Mind – Summary

About The Author: Kevin Johnson studied computer science and started out his career as a software programmer for IBM.
He showed early signs of entrepreneurship by successfully launching and selling one of the first content management systems. And he eventually went fully back into entrepreneurship in 2000, when he founded and grew his current company Johnson Media.


1. Think big: If you think small you will not maximize your potential. And as Tony Robbins says, that’s your biggest failure. Better to come short of lofty goals than to leave untapped potential on the table. Also, read The Magic of Thinking Big.

2. Create new markets: Creating new markets means no competition. Companies operating without competition in monopolistic markets enjoy all the profits. Also read Zero to One, where Google is such an example.

3. Work on your business, not in your business: Hire employees to take care of operations so you can focus on growth. Read The E-myth Revisited.

4. All risk isn’t risky: While we all know that entrepreneurs take risks, they are also able to calculate that risk and make informed choices that try to minimize those risks.

5. Don’t waste time: Get a sense of urgency

6. Systems-dependent, not people-dependent: Automate processes, you can’t bet all your fortune on a few people who might leave.

7. Ask for help: Don’t be afraid of looking less powerful.

8. Business first, family second: One of the rules that might be hard to digest for many.

9. Do what’s most important first: Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize.

10. Hire a good lawyer: get the book for the details

11. The business plan is overrated: Do the background checks first like competition and customers first. I was surprised to read Johnson saying you also develop a prototype before a business plan.

12. Require criticism and disagreement in your company: Be aware of yes man. This is a great point, also read Principles: Life and Work for more on this concept.

13. Fire your worst customers: Some customers waste too much of your time and can even make you lose money. Don’t serve them.

14. Make money while doing nothing: Again, focus on processes that don’t require you.

15. Outsourcing makes sense: Noncore functions can suck up too much of your time. Outsource them.

16. Move on fast from bad business: Tenacity and grit are the soul and parcels of an entrepreneur, but you have to be able to recognize when an idea is dead.

17. A bad economy is a great opportunity: Start when nobody else does and you’ll be ready to reap the benefits when the economy turns.

18. Adopt technology early: Being an early adopter will allow you to see connections and possible new mass uses. Also, read Crossing the Chasm

19. Ignorance can be bliss: Newcomers often come with a mindset that is not hampered by the old ways of doing things.

20. Adapt to change quickly: Check the book for more

21. Technology is an opportunity, not a threat: Check the book for more

22. Always follow up: Fear of rejection can get in the way. Don’t allow that to happen

23. Have laserlike focus: Focus on making a few great products. Too big a lineup can spread your resources thin (which is also one of the 48 Laws of Power)

24. Nonprofit really means profit: Nonprofit organizations have money to spend

25. Explore new adventures for inspiration: Go on an adventure, it will open you up mentally and make you come up with new ideas and solutions

26. Failure doesn’t kill you; it makes you stronger: Read the book for more

27. Seek partnerships for the right reasons: Don’t make partnerships for PR: good partnerships show up in your cash flow (increase revenues or reduce costs)

28. Be a master at leveraging resources: Not everyone will always pay with cash. Learn to get creative with all possible resources. Read Disrupt You! for more.

29. It’s not ideal, it’s execution: Focus on speed

30. Find an enemy: An enemy can rally the troops and motivate employees. Read The 48 Laws of Power

31. Don’t underestimate your competition: Companies with different products and business models also can be competition

32. Ask for what you want: You’ll be amazed at how much people are willing to give

33. No competition = no market: If there’s no competition, ask yourself why, there’s probably a good reason (albeit not necessarily)

34. Put out fires quickly: Respond quickly to customer issues

35. Have an exit strategy: It will help you put things in perspective for decision-making and recognize exit chances along the way


36. School is not necessarily education: This is not school bashing, but entrepreneurs keep learning after school

37. You’re in no rush for MBA: An MBA while you’re building a business is a distraction


38. Spend time with smarter people: You will learn the most

39. Office space is not a priority, a good team is: You can keep working from wherever you are

40. What you wear isn’t what you’re worth: 

41. You don’t always have to be the smartest one in the room: The best entrepreneur are humble and are more interested in bringing in smart people than being the smartest ones

42. Talent trumps seniority: Don’t get hung up on ranks, it’s solutions and execution that matter

43. You are odd, and it’s okay: Dyslexia, ADD, and Asperger have all higher incidence among entrepreneurs

44. People don’t only work for money: Check Drive by Daniel Pink for more on motivation

45. You have a sidekick: 2+2 is more than 4

46. Don’t let people abuse your flexibility: You might have flexible hours, but work is still your priority

47. Don’t manage people, manage expectations: Set deadlines instead of micromanaging

48. Get the right mentor: Read Mastery for more

49. Choose your spouse wisely: Spouses can be your boon or can be your ruin (read Men on Strike and The Millionaire Mind)

50. Fire unproductive people: also read “how to be an effective leader


51. You don’t need money to make money: To make lots of money quickly money is helpful, but entrepreneurship is about workarounds and doing something with nothing

52. Pay taxes quarterly: If you only do it at the end of the year, you might not have enough left

53. A check in hand means nothing: Don’t assume you’ve been paid until the money is in the bank, always double-check dubious checks

54. Avoid negative cash flow: Some companies can get in trouble with negative cash flow even when they’re profitable. Make sure that doesn’t happen to you

55. Borrow money before you need it: You won’t get a loan when you need it, so get one when you still don’t

56. Prepayment is king: Build trust so you can get paid. Otherwise, make sure your payment timelines are clear and respected

57. Professional accountant is money well spent: Good accountants will save you money and time

58. Manage debt well: Most businesses fail because of under-capitalization. Do get the money you need

59. There’s a downside to having investors: External money can sometimes exacerbate your problems

60. Focus on building revenue: If you go for external investors, show some revenue and sales first, it will make everything easier

61. The biggest investment is yours: Show your own investment before asking for any

62. Use different banks to minimize risk: Keep business and personal accounts separated at different banks or they’ll affect each other (credit scores and asking payments from personal account)

63. Know your PAYDEX score: Check the book for more

Marketing and Sales 

This section is a lot about sales and people’s skills.

64. You’re in sales: Start selling early, you need to make sure people want it

65. Your customer is your boss: Always refer to what the market wants

66. You have sales before you have a business: The best way to start a business is when people are willing to pay even before you have a product

67. You aren’t always the best person to close a deal: Hire the best people to make the sale, and that’s not necessarily you

68. Networking isn’t all about you: Ask how you can help

69. Don’t waste time on people who can’t say yes: Ask who’s the final decision maker and don’t waste time

70. There’s no such thing as a cold call: Research before calling

71. Tell everyone about your business: Shyness, fear, or politeness will make you miss out on opportunities

72. Ask the right questions: Open-ended questions

73. Receive the maximum value: Don’t change prices to accommodate customers

74. Don’t patronize customers: Entrepreneurs believe they need to “act big” to impress people because that’s what CEOs do. Terrible mindset.

75. Build your network creatively: The right environment is not necessarily the standard networking environments

76. Don’t hold grudges: A no today can be a yes tomorrow, don’t alienate people


77. Act in spite of how you feel: Don’t let emotions get in the way (also read Emotional Unavailability)

78. Push beyond your fear: Let your goals guide you.

79. Be a maverick: Most entrepreneurs have a rebellious streak.

80. Make your dreams come true: Read the book for more

81. Make difficult sacrifices: Entrepreneurship requires sacrifices

82. You have unbelievable endurance: Endurance is possibly the most important trait for entrepreneurs. Also, read Grit by Duckworth

83. Be prepared to lose it all: Most businesses fail, don’t be surprised

Also, read:


84. Being successful is not the goal: The feeling of success is fleeting, entrepreneurs should be motivated by the creation process. Also, read Start With WHY.

85. You are excited for Monday: You can get to start a fresh new week and the world is ready to move along. My Note: when I first read it I was disappointed, there are no Mondays and Weekends for me.

86. You’re disappointed For Friday: They’re less productive, you gotta pay people and you won’t be able to restart 100% until Monday My Note: I didn’t like the sense of powerlessness. There’s plenty you can do during weekends.

87. A 9-to-5 is worse than death: The biggest fear for entrepreneurs is that of having to go to a “normal” job. I can attest to that.

88. Your parents demand a real job: Don’t get angry about it, be compassionate

89. You get resentment: People sometimes won’t understand or will be jealous

90. It’s not about being your own boss: Those who want to go the entrepreneur road not to have a boss often lack the discipline that entrepreneurship requires. And entrepreneurship also requires vision

91. Entrepreneurship is in your blood: The author recommends you research your family history for some more motivation. But I disagree with this one.

92. You know your worth: You might have to say no to seemingly good money if you don’t believe it meets your worth or your company’s worth

93. You can’t keep a job: The author says entrepreneurs are not good at staying at a job. They either quit or get fired. I couldn’t agree more with this.

94. You cry when things don’t go your way: Steve Jobs did, so you can do it too

95. It’s never too late: Media focus on young upstarts, but older people start more companies than teens and 20-something

96. You feel unequaled joy when your idea becomes reality.

97. Following your passion is bogus: Not all passions can be monetized. But I disagree here, finding fulfillment and joy in what you do is key

98. You have the right motivation: Read the book for more

99. You love your life: Controlling your destiny makes you happy. And I couldn’t agree more.

100. You’re an entrepreneur forever: Once you get a taste of it, you can never go back

entrepreneur mind book cover

Real-Life Applications

A lot of concepts in The Entrepreneur Mind were really good and aha moments for me. Such as:

  • Fire your worst customers
  • Borrow money before you need it
  • Tell everyone about your business (my tendency is to keep it under wrap)
  • You can’t keep a job (I found this ringing so true for me)


The Entrepreneur Mind is an easy and wisdom-rich read that you will go through at light speed.

While some concepts are more obvious and won’t add as much value, they can still serve as great refreshers.
And you will likely find many gold nuggets to help you propel forward.

Also, I particularly appreciated the psychology behind some points, such as that many entrepreneurs can’t stay happy in their jobs and end up either fired or quitting.

Read the best books on entrepreneurship or get the book on Amazon

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