How Firms Can Turn Staff into Employers

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Entrepreneurship has become quite a buzzword across the globe, with a hallowed ring to it. By simple definition it is a process of creating incremental wealth.

Its building blocks come in different colours and shapes, but the common goal is to create or increase value of a product or service to meet customer needs and society welfare.

Entrepreneurs are individuals who assume the risk and responsibility of carrying this goal to fruition.

To do this, they must be willing to take calculated risks. Besides building a solid business plan to serve as the roadmap for project effecting, they have to put together a team with the right talents, and mobilise and deploy resources in a strategic and efficient manner. Recognising opportunities where others see none is the second name of an entrepreneur worth their salt.

The name ‘entrepreneur’ is most often associated with business founders. The truth, however, is that not all entrepreneurs are self-employed. There is a set of managers and staff who come up with innovative ideas and proceed to implement them into marketable and bankable products within an established company. This group is the so-called internal entrepreneurs (intrapreneurs).

Therefore, you can be an entrepreneur both within and outside an organisation. Innovation is a function of entrepreneurship – a vehicle for creating value added resources and minting wealth.

Given that enterprises would benefit a lot more when employees adopt an entrepreneurial mindset, how can this culture be cultivated to take root?

For clarity, I will divide the approach into three sections – upstream, midstream and downstream.

The upstream section involves company policies and could be seen as the foundation. Organisations should have policies that embody entrepreneurship. They should provide an environment that allows creativity and innovation to flourish among staff. This applies to both public and private corporations.

Additionally, enterprises should not simply encourage their staff to be on the prowl for any wildcat ideas, a quest that could yield unrealistic ideas. Instead, the board of directors and management team should do the heavy lifting of identifying strategic areas in line with their business model and vision for which ideas should be explored. This will give the whole exercise a sense of direction and make it structured. It basically boils down to spotting and creating opportunities and then delegating to the workforce the task of finding the best ideas and implementation strategies around the identified areas.

Farther down is the midstream section where staff has to be equipped with the right tools and knowledge to be capable of embracing and implementing innovative ideas. To draw out optimal performance from employees, they must have efficient equipment, wide exposure and the right set of training beyond their professional credentials.

Organisations looking to nurture a collective spirit of entrepreneurship among their staff should provide these resources to reap the fruits of creativity and innovation.

Further, with the topic of business sustainability and resilience taking centre stage amid climate change, social inequalities and pandemics, the workforce has to be kept abreast with environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors, in addition to business dynamics.

To increase their ability to withstand future systemic shocks including pandemics, businesses are encouraged to double down on their ESG commitments. And the workforce is expected to play a crucial role in this drive. Making the right environmental decision could lead to sustainable development, better investment outcomes and increased wellbeing of stakeholders 

Lastly, the downstream is where the products of innovation become evident. And this should be accompanied with a staff reward scheme. Workers always get an extra internal push to produce epic results when they know their efforts would be recognised and rewarded. Such rewards should be different from annual bonus tied to company targets. Employee stock ownership plan (Esop) could also foster innovation among staff, knowing they’re among owners of the company they work for through shares.

In addition to being creative and innovative, entrepreneurs share a long list of characteristics. Here is how to spot them in the workforce. Entrepreneurs are both thinkers and doers, generating forward-looking ideas and offering ways of implementing them.

They are flexible. They see change as a norm, adapt and proceed to exploit opportunities brought along by those changes.

These individuals are future-oriented, good time managers and self-confident. They can see ahead of others, plan and exploit new opportunities.

More importantly, they know that if they are going to be in business for long (sustainability), then they have to be guided by a set of ethical behaviour, including being trustworthy and accountable to avoid legal run-ins.

This article was originally published by the Business Daily

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