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How to Be A More Successful Entrepreneur by Following the Principles of Stoicism

Poppy Higgins
Poppy Higgins
Stoicism for entrepreneurs

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How to Be A More Successful Entrepreneur by Following the Principles of Stoicism

How to Be A More Successful Entrepreneur by Following the Principles of Stoicism

To be a successful entrepreneur, having the right mindset is essential. Stoicism is an ancient philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium in Athens in the early 3rd century BC. This ancient practice is as valuable today as from Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, the last of the rulers known as the Five Good Emperors. It’s a philosophy especially popular today among tech entrepreneurs; it’s a mindset that serves to solve a multitude of modern complexities. In this blog, we’ll explore Stoic teachings and foundations, Stoic exercises you can do to build a mindset that will help you succeed as an entrepreneur, and share some of our favourite stoic quotes. 

9 Stoic beliefs in relation to entrepreneurship

  1. If you want a smooth flow of life, live according to nature.
  2. Happiness isn’t found in things, but in Virtue alone – It’s all about what we value and the choices we make.
  3. We don’t control external events, we only control our thoughts, opinions, decisions and duties.
  4. We’ve each been given all the inner resources we need to thrive.
  5. We must eliminate toxic emotions – Why hope, fear, and anger are always the worst strategies.
  6. We are and must remain a unified self – We can’t complain or blame anyone else.
  7. No (wo)man is an island: The Stoic golden rule.
  8. Our personal development is bound up in cooperation with others.
  9. Persist and resist: It’s all about progress, not perfection.

How Stoicism can help you be a more successful entrepreneur

It takes the right mindset and the right attitude to succeed as an entrepreneur. The traits of a successful person can be learned, taught, and even instilled. Not all of us are born knowing these life skills, and some people never will. Stoicism’s attitude to life is one of being happy with what you’ve got and not wasting time thinking about ‘what ifs’. The key to happiness and long-term success is not worrying about the things that you cannot control and embracing life’s inevitable challenges and hardships. 

There’s a reason stoicism is so popular among tech entrepreneurs because it teaches us resilience in the face of adversity and where to spend our energy to keep moving the needle forward.
Reading the principles of Stoicism can make a world of difference to your psyche. Stoicism helps you to recognise your inner strength and guides you towards achieving your true potential. The fundamental principles are broken down into three simple steps:

  1. Identify and understand your own personal Virtue;
  2. Find a way to live your life according to your true self;
  3. Act according to your principles.

These same fundamental principles should relate to your startup as a founder.

The Daily Stoic on desk

Try these Stoic exercises for a successful mindset

1. The Dichotomy Of Control 

“The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control. Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself to the choices that are my own . . .” Epictetus

This is an essential Stoic practice: differentiating between what you can and cannot control. As a founder, understanding what is in your control and what is not will save your energy, directing it where most needed, giving you a distinct advantage. 

2. Train Perceptions

“Choose not to be harmed and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed and you haven’t been.” — Marcus Aurelius

Use the Stoic exercise of “turning the obstacle upside down” when faced with problems. This exercise trains you to become more resilient, which is the main trait you need as a founder. 

3. Take the view from above

Marcus Aurelius would often practice the exercise: “taking the view from above” or “Plato’s view.” When you are day-to-day getting things done in your business, make sure to take the time when necessary to step back and take a holistic view. This helps you prioritise what will “move the needle” that day and make sure you are staying true to your core mission.  
The Stoics call this exercise “sympatheia”: a mutual interdependence with the whole of humanity. Edgar Mitchell, an astronaut who experienced a view of earth from space said: “In outer space, you develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it.” A driving force for entrepreneurs to have a purpose beyond themselves. Take a step back from your own concerns and remind yourself of your duty to others. 


For those who live in the real world, there is one branch of philosophy created just for us: Stoicism. Practicing the Stoic exercises outlined above will make you more resilient, happier, more virtuous, and more wise–and as a result, a better entrepreneur. 

Favourite Stoic quotes

“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realise this, and you will find strength.” — Marcus Aurelius

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” — Epictetus

“A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials.” — Seneca

“Don’t be overheard complaining… Not even to yourself.” — Marcus Aurelius

“It isn’t events themselves that disturb people, but only their judgements about them.” — Epictetus

“Be tolerant with others and strict with yourself.” — Marcus Aurelius

“Ambition means tying your well-being to what other people say or do…Sanity means tying it to your own actions.” — Marcus Aurelius

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