When running a business, it’s not enough to just have a pioneering entrepreneurial mindset. A business model to match it is necessary, as is a culture that facilitates success from the top down. Besides building camaraderie, this sort of culture enables employees to think outside the box, develop innovative ideas to push the company forward and enables personal growth. Instilling this sense of entrepreneurship throughout your company is a fourfold process:
The first step toward establishing the culture is hiring the right people. Look for the following when identifying entrepreneurial-minded people: curiosity, an ownership mentality and the ability to take risks. In Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman claims there are two ways of thinking. The first is fast, instinctive and emotional. The second is slower, more logical and rational. While speed to market can be critical, people inclined toward making thoughtful, evidence-based decisions are smart risk takers. RECRUIT
INCENTIVIZE In an ad agency, the best ideas from a suggestion box were announced in monthly company meetings. Fifty dollars went to the employee behind the winning idea and the idea is implemented. Schemes with a wide variety of rewards and recognition encourage innovation. At Google, developers are not only rewarded financially, but they’re also given a round of applause from peers when their ideas are presented. Push employees to think through the whole cycle of a suggestion — from the initial idea to its end product — and you’ll be on the right track.
TRAIN Hiring the right people and incentivizing them isn’t enough: You have to train them, too. This means bringing people together and asking, “How can we be better?” Once viable ideas are in place, help your employees understand how to identify those that work. The Design Council’s Double Diamond model is a proven process for bringing ideas to fruition. Allow employees to ask the right questions and encourage a creative process for mining their best thinking. They’ll help build an entrepreneurial culture and improve your business.
EMPOWER Permit your employees to try and fail. This isn’t easy, as most owners believe they don’t have much margin for failure. But an even greater risk is not innovating at all. Recognizing good ideation allows you to empower employees to experiment, making them more likely to take risks and recognize opportunities.