How to Build a Company of Entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurs like making things happen.
They build up something from nothing and make innovative products and services in response to their customers' needs. In the process, they put people to work and generate value for owners and shareholders.
It's hard not to wonder what value you could create with a company of entrepreneurs. Here, then, are seven ways to put your workers on track and see what exciting things they come up with.
1. Organize for growth
Want your workers to think like entrepreneurs? Then ditch the rigid hierarchy and replace it with a structure that lets employees make decisions quickly--and as close to customers as possible. Position your company for growth by pushing decision making down as far as you can, then get out of the way.
2. Make everyone a salesperson
Instead of building a company where some people do the work and some people sell the work, build a company where everyone sells. From the receptionist who fields customer phone calls to the executive team quoted in the press, everyone should play a key part in this process.
3. Let them make decisions
To get your employees to act like entrepreneurs, you've got to treat them like entrepreneurs. Give them the authority to make decisions that have an impact on their work, then hold them accountable for what happens next.
4. Experiment constantly
There isn't a product, system, or procedure that can't be improved, so encourage your employees to seek out and implement changes that will have a positive impact on your company.
5. Give them freedom to act
Micromanagement is out. Freedom is in. Help your employees set reasonable goals and let them figure out how to reach them. You'll be surprised by all the ideas that crop up.
6. Encourage feedback
Whether an employee-led initiative goes right or goes wrong, devote some time afterward to reviewing the results, then develop a road map based on those lessons.
7. Provide ownership opportunities
If workers don't have any equity or ownership stake in the company, it's unlikely they'll think like owners. Instead of hoping your employees feel as strongly as you do, try granting stock based on their performance or create a profit-sharing pool to rewards employees for their hard work.
When your employees are encouraged act like entrepreneurs, they will be more engaged in their jobs and far more effective. You've got nothing to lose and everything to gain.
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While Peter Economy has spent the better part of two decades of his life slugging it out mano a mano in the management trenches, he is also the best-selling author of Managing for Dummies, The Management Bible, Leading Through Uncertainty, and more than 75 other books, with total sales in excess of two million copies. He has also served as associate editor for Leader to Leader for more than 10 years, where he has worked on projects with the likes of Jim Collins, Frances Hesselbein, Marshall Goldsmith, and many other top management and leadership thinkers. Sign up here to always stay up to date with Peter's latest Inc.com columns, and visit him anytime at petereconomy.com.