5 Practical Ways to Move from a Survival Mindset to a Growth Mindset as a Childcare Business Owner

March 21, 2022

What’s a key difference between an Early Childhood Education business that thrives and one that flounders? It turns out, your mindset can make or break the ultimate success of your business. In this article, we will take a look at a survival mindset and why it spells trouble for your childcare business. We will also define a growth mindset and offer practical ways to move from survival thinking to growth thinking as a business owner. Read on to find out more.

Survival Mindset Versus Growth Mindset

Are you operating your Early Childhood Education company with a survival mindset? According to Carol Dweck, renowned psychology professor at Stanford University, there is a marked difference between a survival mindset (also known as a fixed mindset) and a growth mindset.

Survival (Fixed) Mindset – “In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort.”

See if you recognize any of these indicators of a survival mindset in how you approach your childcare business:

  • Constantly comparing yourself/your business to other business owners/businesses in your market and coming away from the comparison with nothing gained except negative thinking
  • Viewing challenges as threats to the way things are now, the way you have always done them, and the way you always planned to do them
  • Believing you are limited in your talents, intelligence, leadership abilities, business savvy, or any other important traits of a successful childcare business owner; failing to understand how these traits are cultivated and developed through time and experience
  • Unwillingness to fail or to see failure as an opportunity to learn
  • Overly critical and micro-managing of employees, creating a work culture in which it is difficult for individuals to express their ideas, reach their full potential, and feel satisfied in their work

The survival mindset is detrimental to any business owner because it puts them in a constant state of defense, worry, panic, and limited-thinking that prevents them from freeing themselves and their employees to take risks, fail, learn from mistakes, and work toward a better business model.

On the other hand, business owners who learn to adapt a growth mindset find that where they are with their business today does not have to define where they will be in the future; they can change and grow toward their goals as an entrepreneur.

Growth Mindset – “In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.”

Here are some indicators of a growth mindset in business:

  • Adaptability; willingness to re-evaluate how things are done and improve upon them
  • Viewing challenges as opportunities instead of threats to your business and pivoting your approach accordingly
  • Believing your talents, intelligence, leadership abilities, business savvy, or any other important traits of a successful childcare business owner are simply a starting point; strengths can be celebrated and capitalized upon, and weaknesses can be addressed and developed through time and experience
  • Cultivating a niche for your own childcare company instead of falling into the comparison trap that hinders meaningful and lasting change
  • Providing a safe, healthy, encouraging work culture for employees with a willingness to listen to ideas, try things another way, and let employees shine in the areas of expertise for which they were hired

Do you recognize yourself in some of the traits of a survival mindset, growth mindset, or both? Let’s take a look at some practical ways you can begin to shift your thinking from a survival mindset to a growth mindset.

5 Ways to Shift from a Survival Mindset to a Growth Mindset

Define Your Purpose

Why did you start your childcare business in the first place? If you have lost sight of your purpose as a business owner, it can be easy to become bogged down by the everyday overwhelm of operating your business. Take some time to redefine what success looks like to you. Is it creating meaningful relationships with families and providing great care for their little ones? Is it having the ability to work more flexible hours, earn more money, and reach your full potential in a way you couldn’t in a traditional corporate job? Is it increasing your company’s profits to the point of expanding to another location, hiring another employee, or launching another program?

Only you know what matters most to you as an Early Childhood Education entrepreneur. Your purpose should drive forward your business decisions as much today as it did in the beginning. Survival mindset leads to burnout, and burnout is a hallmark of business owners who have lost sight of their purpose. Instead, getting clear on your  “why” frees you up to grow.

Think Beyond Money

Do you think of growth only in terms of money? Successful business owners know that while increasing profitability is a significant part of growing a thriving company, it’s not everything. Individuals stuck in a survival mindset are prone to putting too much emphasis on increasing profit. They fail to see that long-term success depends on many factors, like providing great customer service, offering a product or service of value, building a stand-out childcare team, finding your niche in the market, creating a succession plan, and more.

To move toward a growth mindset, begin to see the potential in every aspect of your business, from your team to your student turnover rate. Some of these changes will directly influence your bottom line, while others will serve to build a foundation for stability and growth in non-monetary ways. Yes, money matters. But don’t lose sight of everything else that does too.

Reframe Challenges

When your childcare company faces obstacles, do you see them as a threat or an opportunity? Someone with a survival mindset constantly plays defense, waiting for the next disaster or mishap to befall the business – the next employee to resign out of the blue or the next unexpected business expense to arise. Instead of taking proactive measures to cushion herself against these inevitable challenges, the survival-minded business owner frets and fears the next blow that could have been prevented or eased with better planning.

Challenges will always be there. To move toward a growth mindset, begin to recognize potential hardships before they happen and find ways to safeguard against them. View poor decisions from the past as valuable lessons in making better decisions in the future. Challenges have the potential to help you become a more adaptable, skilled, and effective business owner and team leader. Use them to your advantage.

Be Accountable

Who or what is responsible for the success of your business? Is it your circumstances? The economy? Your employees? Your customers? At the end of the day, a growth-minded entrepreneur recognizes that he or she is fully accountable for the success or failure of the business.

It sounds like a lot of pressure, and it is. But empowerment results when you realize that you are the captain of your own ship, as the saying goes. Other factors are at play, but you decide how to cultivate your resources, react to your circumstances, and make changes. The survival mindset is similar to a victim mentality. Someone or something else is always responsible for the success or failure of the business. What a helpless position to be in! You can adopt a growth mindset by taking full responsibility for the choices that have led you to where you are now with your company and the ones that will lead you onward.

Make Efficient Decisions

Are your business decisions paralyzed by fear, or do you move forward with confidence? When you have a survival mindset, every decision you make on behalf of your business can feel like agony. Sometimes, instead of moving forward, business owners become “stuck,” unable to make a decision. This can happen when you’re focused on perfection, rather than progress. Sure, you want to make wise, educated decisions for your childcare company, but you aren’t sure exactly how those decisions are going to turn out.

To move toward a growth mindset, commit to proceeding with confidence once you have chosen a course of action. Take small steps in a new direction. Not every decision has to be viewed as a monumental one. When you see your business decisions as a catalyst for growth, you will feel empowered and emboldened to chart a new course.


Making the shift from a survival mindset to a growth mindset doesn’t happen overnight. The first and most important thing you can do to begin making changes is to recognize thought patterns that aren’t serving you and your business. When they occur, see if you can find ways to reframe your thoughts from survival thinking to growth thinking. We believe in your potential!

Honest Buck Accounting is passionate about helping childcare business owners grow their businesses and create a strong financial foundation that leads to lasting success. Schedule a call with us to learn more about our accounting services.


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