Growth mindset is an idea that’s gained a lot of buzz in the past few years. You may have heard the term championed by successful entrepreneurs and superstar academics. You also may have heard about it from a long-estranged high-school friend getting in touch with an exciting opportunity in the world of makeup sales or protein drinks. 

While the words get thrown around a lot…what do people actually mean when they refer to growth mindset? And how exactly can a growth mindset help you and your small business?

In this article, we’re going to cut through the jargon to define the term. We’re also going to talk about how growth mindset can positively impact your business, just like it’s done for ours. 

Okay, so what exactly is a Growth Mindset?  

A growth mindset is when a person believes that skills and attributes are dictated by the amount of effort they put in. That doesn’t mean that we’re all born with the same talent or abilities. But it does mean the outcomes we want are directly impacted by our willingness to work, adapt, and overcome. 

To put it simply: Belief leads to action. And action leads to growth.

The alternative to a growth mindset is a fixed mindset. With a fixed mindset a person believes that their intelligence, character, and creative abilities are limited. They can’t be changed in any meaningful way. We have what we have and should live with it.

There is power in believing that you can improve.

Where does the Growth Mindset idea come from? 

Because the term growth mindset has become so common, it is easy to brush off as a fad in pop-psychology, destined to go the way of adult coloring books or the Atkins diet. But the ideas behind growth mindset are rooted in years of study from Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck. 

In this viral speech, Dweck outlines the growth mindset by referring to an early experiment.

Ten-year-olds were given tasks that were a little bit too difficult for them. In response, some kids said things like “I love a challenge” or “I was hoping this would be informative” while other children viewed the tasks as an attack on their intelligence.  

That perspective was important: were the tasks something they could solve by asking for help, learning new information, and trying a different process? Or was the ten-year-old a failure because they couldn’t immediately master a challenge slightly outside their skill level?   

The answer is obvious. Anyone who labels the kid a failure is a jerk. And the growth mindset perspective — the power of believing you can improve — leaves an opportunity for the students to, you know, actually learn. 

Dweck refines and expands these ideas in her TED Talk, pointing to a case study teaching the growth mindset in classrooms. The school saw huge jumps in student learning, academic gains, and narrowing the achievement gap. 

The talk also points towards a bigger question: if we understand the value of a growth mindset in children, why aren’t we applying that same kind of thinking to how we interact with our peers or — better yet — how we interact with ourselves? 

Practical Applications of Growth Mindset for your small business

When we’re giving praise, taking criticism, or planning for the future, having a growth mindset helps us think about the steps we need to take to achieve our goals. It allows us to take control of situations rather than assuming they’re a byproduct of talent, economic factors, or fate. Here are three comparisons between fixed mindset and growth mindset for small businesses.

Fixed Mindset: This is the way our business has always operated, it will never change.

Growth Mindset: Is our business working as effectively as it could? Is there anything we can do to make things better?

A lot of people were skeptical when we started Northone. They said that banking moves at a glacial pace and users would stick with familiar institutions. But we believed people wanted a digital bank experience that was on par with the apps they use in their day-to-day lives. 

A July 2020 survey stated that 6% of US adults with a checking account now consider a digital bank to be their primary bank. That number is a 67% increase from January 2020. Northone has been able to grow because we believe that better banking — a 24/7 digital experience helping small businesses — is the future.

Fixed Mindset: A problem in your business is a sign that you’re about to fail.

Growth Mindset: A problem in your business is an opportunity to serve customers better.
With any small business, things will inevitably go wrong. What differentiates a business from being successful or unsuccessful is how they react to those problems.  If a customer is telling you that something isn’t working, there is a good chance that other customers are having a similar experience. By acknowledging and addressing their needs you’re getting valuable feedback on how you can improve your business. It’s a similar situation if you’re not seeing your company grow at the pace you’d like. What roadblocks are keeping you from where you’d like to go? And what are the actions you can take to move forward?

Fixed Mindset: The goals I have for the business are too big. I’ll never be able to get there.

Growth Mindset: I’ve got goals for my business. What are the steps I can take today to get closer to those goals?

An inactive person who wants to run a marathon shouldn’t start by attempting the whole race. They need to train, practice, and grow their fitness over time.  It’s a similar situation when thinking about business. It’s important to be ambitious with your dreams, but the way to achieve those dreams is taking small steps outside of your comfort zone and continually working to improve. 

Growth mindset isn’t magic. While the actions associated with the term can seem intuitive, they take work to implement in your own life. At Northone we’ve gained a lot of value from continually considering new ways to solve problems and trying not to get too fixed in any ideas. There is power that comes from believing you can improve

For more information on our banking and how Northone can help your small business follow us on twitter: @NorthOneBanking