The digital world requires agility and flexibility to co-create, which can be found in the entrepreneurial mindset. How can your business maintain that outlook?
The new digital world requires agility, flexibility, and the ability to co-create. All of these aspects can be found within the entrepreneurial mindset – but that’s not a phrase you typically hear around the office. So, how can a corporation maintain an entrepreneurial mindset? After all, entrepreneurs are typically thought of as solo business owners who take ownership of their work and strive to create products that will have a meaningful impact on the world. Yet, that is exactly how businesses should approach their digital strategies today in order to survive and thrive in a fast-paced and ever-changing world. Explore what it means to be an entrepreneur in the digital world and why this mindset is crucial in order to further collaboration, ownership of one’s work, and, most of all, creativity and innovation.
Acting like an Entrepreneur
How does entrepreneurial thinking differ from corporate thinking? It turns out, there are a few ways to enact entrepreneurial thinking at your own business. Try the following ways…
1) Think like an entrepreneur from the very beginning
According to Engineering Management Institute, one of the attributes most associated with entrepreneurship is a bit of uncertainty. Harness that uncertainty and turn it into something positive. Creating with an entrepreneurial mindset allows you to slow down, think about what you’re doing and why. It will help you know where you want your project or venture to lead you and why you’re going after it. Thinking this way will help you to know the risks you’re willing to take to do well. If you know the answers to these questions, you’re ready to begin your journey. If not, pause and figure out where you’re headed in your business goals and objectives.
2) Having an entrepreneurial mindset will encourage creativity
Critical thinking is crucial to a successful business. Being willing to find creative solutions, even if it might mean more work for your business, is a better strategy in the long run.
3) Focus on the customer at all times
According to Forbes, corporate thinkers often become preoccupied with doing their jobs and following rules, with no consideration for the customer. Rather than realizing that customers are the source of all business payback, corporate thinkers don’t push the boundaries that can keep customers returning.
4) Commit to the company’s success
More than 60 percent of employees at large corporations are not committed to their business. Conversely, entrepreneurial thinkers act as if they own the company personally as they see themselves as self-employed. As a result, they continue to seek ways to be more valuable.
5) Constantly search for ways to increase sales and profitability
Rather than being a better producer of products and services, entrepreneurial thinkers see their business mission as enriching the lives of customers. Further, entrepreneurs seek new technology and change, which leads to new sales.
6) Maintain a meaningful competitive advantage
Where corporate thinking is more focused on creating more products in more markets, entrepreneurial thinking is concerned with dominating a segment of a competitive market, an attitude that will ultimately lead to more business.
7) Continually reevaluate the business model
In corporate structures, the business model is a given rather than a way to fine-tune the business. Conversely, when it comes to entrepreneurial thinking, entrepreneurs are continually reviewing their model to optimize value, reach new customers, reallocate costs, improve marketing and sales, and provide better service.
Entrepreneurship allows you to take charge and ownership of your projects. Empower your employees to feel not like cogs in a machine, but like they’re actually contributing to your business. Doing so will make your employees feel like their actions have real impact – and that their input is invaluable. After all, everyone likes to feel as though they’re working toward a shared purpose rather than simply completing a task because they were told to do so. But, like anything, implenting such a motivation is easier said than done. Here are some tips to get your employees to take ownership over their work.
Do you want employees to feel responsible for the result of their work? Hold them accountable. Workers should not only take initiative to begin their tasks, but recognize that their actions affect other team members’ abilities to accomplish their goals. Acknowledge employees’ follow-through – including when they let others know they’re falling behind. Reward that kind of communication with encouragement and offer a helping hand. Your employees will feel even more empowered to get the job done.
Know what trust is versus what trust isn’t. For instance, micromanaging isn’t trust; it’s an indication that a leader doesn’t trust his or her employees to accomplish the tasks they’re assigned. Unfortunately, low trust leads to low productivity. If your employees do not trust each other, they spend energy and time following up on and managing details they shouldn’t need to. Conversely, if employees don’t feel trusted, they’re less likely to take initiative as they anticipate criticism for their approach.
These concepts are all tied together – ownership and accountability build trust. Trust, in turn, encourages employees to take ownership. Trust also reinforces accountability, in which employees don’t want to let their team down, so they do their jobs to the best of their ability.
Collaboration, another facet of entrepreneurial thinking, leads to shared ideas and shared ideas lead to innovation. And when you’re in digital business, innovation is likely what you’re striving toward. After you’ve gotten employees to take ownership of their work, the next step is to harness the collaborative aspect of the entrepreneurial spirit. According to Forbes, there are 12 habits of highly collaborative organizations. Does your organization do the following?
1. Lead by example
Similar to employees, leaders at your organization should use and support collaborative tools and strategies. These types of approaches are powerful instruments to encourage desired behaviors and facilitate change.
2. Individual benefit vs. corporate benefit
It is human nature to put oneself first. So, when communicating collaboration to your employees, make sure you emphasize how collaboration will make their jobs and lives easier.
Always put strategy before technology. Before you decide to enact a new collaboration platform, make sure employees understand why they’re using that technology.
4. Empower employees
As we said earlier, micromanagers often get in their own way more often than not. Learn to get out of your own way and trust employees to do their job.
5. Listen to employees
Make employees feel a part of the decision making process from day one. Listen to their needs, their ideas, and their suggestions, then integrate their feedback into your technology and strategy.
6. Integrate into the flow of work
Collaboration should fold naturally into the workday rather than feeling like an additional step. For instance, rather than having employees use multiple log-in sites, usernames and passwords, create a “front-door” to the enterprise that can be accessed through your collaboration platform.
7. Focus on offering a supportive environment
Reward teamwork just as often as you reward individual performance. One example involves making a percentage of the employee’s bonus tied to how well they collaborate with fellow co-workers. Don’t forget that having a supportive environment also means having education and training resources available for employees to access whenever they need.
8. Be careful what you measure
Not all things need to be measured. Focus on the metrics that are most important to your organization and that are tied back to a business case. Some metrics you might find yourself focusing on might include engagement or comments received.
Collaborative initiatives should be corporate initiatives. And if you choose to go this route, be persistent in your endeavors. Remember, your organization has a better chance of succeeding if you make collaborative work THE option.
10. Adapt and evolve
Collaboration is a never-ending evolution as new strategies and tools for the workplace continue to emerge. Similarly, your organization needs to be able to adapt and evolve as aspects change. In order to innovate and anticipate change, keep an eye on what’s happening in the industry and inside of your organization.
11. Remember that employee collaboration benefits the consumer
When helping customers, through collaboration, employees are able to provide a better experience and superior support by being able to more easily access information, internal experts, and resources.
12. Make the world a better place
Collaboration provides a multitude of benefits: it allows employees to feel more connected to their co-workers and job, makes their jobs easier, allows for more work freedom, and generally, makes them happier people. This can also lead to less stress at home. Clearly, collaboration and the entrepreneurial mindset has benefits for all.
One of the most crucial aspects of the entrepreneurial mindset? Your ability to be creative. After all, you’ll often find that most of the answers you’re looking for when looking to take your business to new heights lie in your ability to create.
In fact, a study by Adobe and Forrester Consulting found that 82 percent of companies believe there is a strong connection between creativity and business results. The report goes on to observe that companies that actively foster creative thinking outperform their rivals in market share, revenue growth, and competitive leadership.
Clearly, creativity matters. According to an article on Business News Daily, several business leaders, when interviewed, indicated that creativity is essential in each aspect of business. It can be the key differentiator in the success of a company’s internal strategies and individual departments. Further, when encouraging creativity within your organization, take a cross-departmental approach. Don’t just tell your employees to “be creative.” Instead, start with your company’s leadership. A safe, non-judgmental atmosphere should be promoted where new approaches are respected and failure is not a punishable offense. Further, accept outside opinions from other departments and take them seriously. In fact, it can be valuable to gather insight from employees who are not close to a project as they may be able to come up with ideas no one else has thought of yet. The results can be surprising – to you and your clients. Welcome instances of unconventional thinking and you’ll see creativity flourish.
One of the best ways to encourage creative thinking is to understand and respond to your team’s needs. To promote creativity amongst diverse employees, try the following:
· Offer private workspaces
According to Hacking Creativity, an ongoing study by Red Bull’s High Performance Group and Vibrant Data, 60 percent of respondents to their surveys say they prefer to work in private environments. Yet, private environments does not necessarily equal solo work, as 30 percent of respondents also said they are highly collaborative in private spaces.
· Set parameters
“Thinking” outside the box might give workers too much leeway and no basis upon which to start. More than half of respondents said they were more successful in their creative ventures when given rules to work within.
· Give your team time outdoors
Don’t limit your employees to your office space; employees tend to be more creative when given time to connect with nature. 64 percent of respondents said spending time outdoors is part of their creative process.
· Allow for adaptability
Sometimes, the best way to see where your project will lead, approach it without a strategy. The majority of respondents indicated that they are open to potential opportunities that may change their direction and that, when faced with an obstacle, they are quick to redo their approach.
Adopt Entrepreneurial Thinking at Your Organization
When it comes to progress, thinking like an entrepreneur is likely to be the best way to harness creativity, collaboration, and ownership at your organization. The different between an entrepreneur and an employee really comes down to the way that person approaches their work. With the entrepreneur mindset at the helm, your organization is ready to reach its full potential and ultimately, capture more digital business.
At Stefanini, we take agility, flexibility, and co-creation seriously – that’s why you will find these attitudes at the core of our business. It’s also why we assure our clients that we can partner with them and set them on the path toward innovation thanks to our entrepreneurial mindset. Thinking like an entrepreneur allows us to be flexible, push our business ventures to new heights and most importantly, prioritize our customers and their needs. Adopt an entrepreneurial approach at your own company and watch your business subtly change in a way that will reap great rewards.