Want to keep learning?

This content is taken from the Coventry University's online course, Perspectives on Entrepreneurship. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 5 seconds Researcher and Professor Carol Dweck uses the term mindset to describe the way people think about ability and talent. Dweck delineates between two different mindsets that exist on a continuum. The first is a fixed mindset which suggests that your abilities are innate and unchangeable. The second is a growth mindset which views it as something you can improve through practice. In a fixed mindset you view failure as permanent but with a growth mindset you see failure as a chance to learn and even pivot. Those with a fixed mindset are more likely to view critical feedback as a personal attack whilst those with a growth mindset will see it as a chance to improve where they can develop new systems.

Skip to 0 minutes and 52 seconds With a fixed mindset you are more likely to choose easier tasks and put in minimal effort. After all if talent is fixed why bother improving? Why even try? But with the growth mindset you are more likely to embrace challenging tasks and work hard to improve. Those with a fixed mindset are likely to give up when they face an obstacle. Meanwhile those with the growth mindset will view obstacles as a chance to experiment and solve problems. In a fixed mindset the focus is on measurable accomplishments but with a growth mindset the focus is more on a journey of continual improvement.

Skip to 1 minute and 32 seconds With a fixed mindset you are less likely to take creative risks but with a growth mindset creative risks are simply a way to innovate and improve. Ultimately, your mindset influences everything from creative risk taking to how you view feedback to whether or not you finish difficult tasks and in the end it is one of the greatest factors in determining whether or not you grow improve in your abilities.

The two minds

In the previous step, you would have considered what you think constitutes an entrepreneurial mindset.

One of the authoritative views on mindset, Carol Dweck (2006), acknowledges that a mindset can be fixed- or growth-oriented. As the term implies, an individual with a fixed mindset assumes that their talents and abilities are set and cannot change. In contrast, an individual with a growth mindset believes they can learn and develop their skills and abilities. You may have identified some fixed and growth mindset characteristics from your GET2 test in Week 1. Watch the video for more examples of the differences between the two mindsets.

This diagram breaks down what a fixed and growth mindset looks like. For a fixed mindset, this includes the following traits: avoids challenges, gives up easily, sees effort as pointless, ignores negative feedback, and feels threatened by others success. Fixed mindset frames intelligence as being static, and individuals can plateau early and not reach their full potential. In contrast, a growth mindset includes the following traits: embraces challenges, always persistent, appreciates effort, learns from criticism, and finds inspiration from others. A growth mindset frames intelligence as something that can be developed, and therefore individuals can reach higher levels of achievement.Diagram: fixed and growth mindset (Click to expand)

Relating this to entrepreneurship, an entrepreneurial mindset is the inclination to discover, evaluate, and exploit opportunities (Bosman and Fernhaber 2018).

McGrath and MacMillan (2000) suggest that you know you have fully embraced the entrepreneurial mindset when you start to utilise the entrepreneurial way of thinking so frequently that it has become a habit. This entrepreneurial way of thinking involves seeking out new opportunities and requires practise to become a habit.

Your task

Find out whether you have a fixed or growth mindset by taking the Mindset Quiz – download either a Word or PDF version of the quiz in the ‘Downloads’ section at the bottom of this step.

Video provided by John Spencer, Professor of Education


Bosman, L., and S. Fernhaber. (2018). Teaching the Entrepreneurial Mindset to Engineers. Switzerland: Springer International Publishing

Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York: Random House Publishing Group.

McGrath, R. and MacMillan, I. (2000). The Entrepreneurial Mindset. Harvard Business School Press

Share this video:

This video is from the free online course:

Perspectives on Entrepreneurship

Coventry University