‘Entrepreneur’ is one of the biggest buzzwords floating around these days.
17 Sep, 2017FORBES.COM
‘Entrepreneur’ is one of the biggest buzzwords floating around these days. While there are definitely perks to being an entrepreneur, it doesn’t mean that venturing out on your own is the best path for everyone, or that you need to wait to leave your organization to start exercising an entrepreneurial mindset.
Entrepreneurship is about having total personal accountability, coming up with creative solutions and owning a project from start to finish. It involves constant innovation, a questioning of the status quo, the ability to bust through obstacles and to maintain a relentless growth mindset.
Thinking like an entrepreneur will help you to distinguish yourself at your company and to figure out whether you actually need to launch your own business to accomplish your goals. If entrepreneurship is the right path for you, starting to practice early will help you gain the skills you need to be successful.
Exercising your entrepreneurship muscle while you’re still an employee will help you to decide if entrepreneurship or intrapreneurship best suits your working style, and help you stand out from the crowd. Many habits of successful entrepreneurs can easily be replicated within a larger organization. It just takes some extra mindfulness and creativity - here’s where to start:
Disrupt the process.
Without effort, working within any company, large or small, can feel monotonous. We all know what it feels like to go through the motions and fit in neatly with the system. Large companies especially rely on set processes and formulas that have worked for years. While streamlining processes contributes positively to company growth through easy replication, it can often be the enemy of innovation.
You can counter this trend by looking for inspiration and knowledge in adjacent fields, making an effort to find inspiration in the arts, cooking, or anything that you are passionate about. As a team leader, this is a huge opportunity for you to bolster your own ability to innovate and to cultivate a more creative team that comes up with more new solutions, faster.
When I was Managing Director at a large agency, I would bring in authors and startup founders so that my team could learn about cutting-edge technology and learn operations from them, and develop mental flexibility by thinking about something other than advertising. Ultimately, whenever I brought the outside in, I found my teams thought more broadly and were able to come up with better, more innovative solutions.
Be your own brand.
One thing entrepreneurs do really well is think of their business brand and their personal brand as separate and distinct entities, and they invest time in both. You need to create your own distinctive name and reputation as a thought leader, which may or may not be linked to the company you work for. This not only grants you greater visibility that can help your career, but it helps you to avoid feeling like you’re lost and identity-less within your company.
Start by getting clear on what’s important to you. What do you value? How do you want to feel? How do you want to act? Start actively embodying your values as much as possible and take a stand for the things that matter to you. Express your interests and the things you care about to your coworkers and company leaders, and be clear with your company that these things are important to you. The more consistent you are in how you present yourself, how you act and the things you fight for, the stronger your personal brand will become.
If you want to be an entrepreneur, you have to embrace that things might not always turn out the way you planned. Don’t be afraid to run with your intuition, take risks, and try new things - even if they go completely against the grain and even if you fail repeatedly. For example, for the campaign of a high-end car company, I decided to bring in tastemakers from non-auto industries, such as fashion and food, to learn about their experience of driving from a different perspective. This was a departure from the traditional tack of approaching car industry go-tos such as racers and car collectors. There was a lot of uncertainty around the new approach at the time, but it ultimately helped to cement the client in a luxury buyer’s market.
Sometimes you’ll pitch ideas that will get shot down - that’s OK. Occasionally you’ll need to run with an idea before you can prove its value. It will take time to get comfortable taking risks and you will find that they start to bear fruit as the innovative value of your work is recognized.
Related: You can now find jobs on BEAM
Regardless of whether you are certain you want to launch your own business, you know you want to stay part of an established company, or you’re somewhere in between, everyone struggles with the central question: ‘Is this the right place for me?’
This question usually revolves around three things: the desire to do, or find out, what you’re meant to be doing; having enough individual agency at work; and the ability to express yourself fully.
Bringing entrepreneurial skills into your current role helps to address these three needs. The risks I took while working within major agencies served me greatly when I started my own business. While not everyone needs to launch a business of their own, the notion that the perfect job will appear if you move around enough is far from the truth. Yes, you need to be mindful of who you work for, but you can also affect a lot of change by conscientiously injecting more innovation and disruption into everything that you do. Start there.
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