Creating an Entrepreneur!
Is it possible….YES it is!
Entrepreneurs can be seen as the rocket fuel of new ideas, they create new businesses and form new industries and in common with such dangerous fuels entrepreneurs can occasionally end with an explosion, yet despite the occasional explosion we have to accept that entrepreneurs have driven commerce and commercial ideas forward for millennia.
Why are entrepreneurs and sound corporate management generally seen as oxymoronic? A commonly held corporate view is that entrepreneurs are too highly individual, unpredictable, difficult personalities and when it comes to team work and the subtleties of the office culture…..well perhaps it’s best not to go there!
Is this a fair view in today’s market or a historical carry over? Well perhaps it is time to re-assess, as entrepreneurs are changing and today’s business schools and universities are turning out business and law graduates with specific qualifications in entrepreneurship.
Having a brilliant, yet well rounded entrepreneur within a company could provide a much needed boost for most organisations. Imagine; a manager who embraces autonomy, who can not only see the problems but looks beyond to the solutions and the potential opportunities which can flow from the solutions.
A new generation of innovative and creative executives who can transform ideas into profitable ventures. They strike the perfect balance – they look, act and think like entrepreneurs, but they work for the corporation. As any manager knows, such entrepreneurial team members are a rarity; however, this need not be the case.
Why not change your management culture to enable your future leaders to become more creative and entrepreneurial by developing a focused culture where innovation and creative thinking is encouraged, supported and of course rewarded.
One of the main problems facing many organisations is that they have lost sight of the importance of fostering creative thinking and innovation. They have become afraid of change and in doing so they are placing their business at risk and allowing their competition a valuable advantage.
Innovation should be seen as your ultimate corporate advantage and innovation springs from the minds of motivated and engaged employees, yes your entrepreneurs!
In the sixth century Sun Zu said “you may survive though defence but you can only win by attacking” and more recently Peter Drucker said “Business has only two functions — marketing and innovation.” Of course the most efficient and lasting method of attacking your competition is through marketing and innovation.
So what can your business do to be more competitive, to as Sun Zu recommends, “go on the attack?”
A decision to attack can filter down from the board through the CEO or an entrepreneurial culture within the organisation of creative thinking and visionary innovation can develop the strategy and sell it up the ladder.
Either route is possible but the latter will always deliver a better result.
A successful organisations culture inevitably stems from good leadership. This doesn’t mean that the board or the CEO have great ideas, they may have, but more importantly they create the environment in which managers are given the freedom and confidence to experiment and innovate. A management team encouraged to think and innovate will be motivated and will form a strong and positive corporate culture.
So how can we turn this into reality and create an entrepreneurial environment in your organisation? Here are my 7 steps to creating an entrepreneur:
Create the environment. Ensure that management feel free and secure in scoping new ideas, in testing the established methods, in questioning and innovating at all levels and across all ideas. Allow for failures, if one out of ten ideas succeeds that’s probably a good trend line, eventually one of these ideas will boom!
Thoroughly research and understand your customer and market needs and how well those needs are being met, look at how your organisation and products are perceived and then turn the table and examine your competitors. Equalling the value of competitive offerings is not going to “cut the mustard” if you want to win you must always ensure that you are leading the field in Marketing and Innovation and following through on customer service. Encourage your team to be bold, be different and be the best.
Assume responsibility for your organisations cultural change and encourage and empower people to bring forward and implement their ideas and innovations.
Support, learn from and work through the failures. If you get two or three successful new ideas and one absolute winner out of every ten pursued you are ahead of the trend line.
Constantly strive to improve, to innovate and to lead, implement a strategy of marginal gains (The Power of Marginal Gains http://wp.me/p401Wv-di ) you will be surprised by the strength of results.
Never underestimate your competitors, look at today’s automotive brands compared with those of 30 years ago. The industry initially laughed at Japan’s underpowered, small cars with floral carpets and upholstery but few would laugh today. Again Marketing & Innovation win!
Your staff are outstandingly flexible and reliable assets to be deployed in the building of your business. Never see them as a cost, create an atmosphere of respect, treat employees as the rare and valuable resource they are and you will both reap the rewards of an exciting and vibrant corporate culture.
Some of the best ideas and simplest innovations are from businesses that already have had such a drive or survived times of stress. Don’t always look to reinvent the wheel, occasionally take the world’s best wheel and simply improve it. Sometimes copying is the best route forward, look at how the Japanese destroyed the UK motorcycle industry in the 1960’s and 70’s, they initially copied the UK machines and then introduced innovative and more advanced products.
In the end, innovation is an state of mind. Train your key people to think and see differently, to search every day for the new, the better, form, function, value and service. This is where Steve Jobs was masterful in transforming not only an industry which he had helped create but in transforming the culture of a major global enterprise.
The value of leadership and empowering your management is enormous and in truth no one has a choice in the matter. Everyone must adapt, change and innovate and we can all with training, help and enthusiasm become entrepreneurs.
Empowering employees to be innovative and creative, and encouraging a ‘can do’ attitude can reap rewards for everyone – whether monetary or reward based – and companies that do this are more likely to survive the recession.
A recent show on the ABC called Redesign My Brain, hosted by Todd Samson, shows just how adaptable to new ideas, concepts and skills our brains are.
It has been said so many times but the answer is to constantly look beyond the horizon and use 360 degree vision and thinking.
By, Neil Steggall
The Barking Mad Blog
Business Advice with Bite