Entrepreneurship is not limited to when you're starting a new company. It's a set of tenets you can use to guide you through challenging business decisions. It's rooted in simple concepts such as problem-solving, determining evidence-based solutions and recognition of value, and you can use these precepts to analyze almost any type of action within your role.
At my company Amerisleep, we coach our team members to think like entrepreneurs. We provide a strategic framework to help with decision-making so that ideas are always accompanied by viable solutions. This keeps employees engaged and empowers them to develop their leadership skills too. Rather than simply suggesting new concepts, our staff researches the necessary inputs for a project before proposing it.
To help you and your employees incorporate entrepreneurial thinking into their everyday processes, see our four recommendations below.
Tackle problems without a predetermined answer in mind.
One fundamental misunderstanding many casual observers have about entrepreneurship is they believe it is always based around creating and implementing a novel idea. In these instances, people assume founders jump straight to a creative solution. However, most innovative companies start with a problem then they develop a product or service to address customers' biggest pain points.
While ideas are a dime a dozen, the most viable ones reveal themselves based on information you discover as you investigate a problem. Since this information isn't known prior to researching, there is no reliable way to go in with an answer already in-hand. The most successful leaders arrive at solutions by listening to people who are affected by a problem, analyzing the nature of the issue itself and finally by developing plans that address the key difficulties consumers face.
Prototype your most promising proposals.
Before you invest heavily in any new proposal, test it on a smaller scale. This will help you reach an important milestone that could generate further business momentum while minimizing your overall risk.
Once you have the data to create a potential solution to a problem, then you can prototype it on a limited basis to see its real-world impacts. Afterwards, you can examine the deliverables produced and measure the results to decide whether or not to continue investing in the project or to shelve it indefinitely.
Test the effects of a decision and change one variable at a time.
Entrepreneurial success is the result of thousands of different variables, each of which can impact the company in countless ways. A single business decision may not contain quite that much uncertainty, but each choice is driven by its own set of variables, and a modification to any one can have wide-ranging effects.
In order to avoid losing track of how changes affect outcomes, test them like entrepreneurs do, which is to say, troubleshoot like you're dealing with technology. Change one aspect of the solution, reintroduce it, and observe the measurable effects. That way you know for certain what alterations are responsible for which changes, and as long as you keep vigorous records you can undo any adjustments that produce suboptimal results.
Don't become personally attached to your ideas.
Many accomplished entrepreneurs have introduced ideas that ultimately failed. Some of them have done it dozens of times.
Like these innovators, you can't let failure define you. If others raise legitimate concerns and your proposal is discarded, it's not a reflection of your worth. Follow the evidence and move on to something else. Also, remember that after each unsuccessful experiment, you move one step closer towards finding a more viable solution.