When we think of entrepreneurs, we typically think of someone who starts their own business and gets to be their own boss.
Lucky them right?
The truth is even if you work at an existing company there are ways you can work within your role to be entrepreneurial.
In this blog post, we will talk about what it means to be entrepreneurial at work, why it is important to your career and what steps you can take today to become entrepreneurial at work.
So let’s get started.
What does it mean to be entrepreneurial at work?
Being entrepreneurial at work means being able to solve problems and come up with new ideas that can help you advance at work while benefiting your company. Being entrepreneurial can be as simple as making your business’ day-to-day operations more efficient, or as involved as completely re-imagining a product.
For example, taking the lead in a team meeting and making an effort to increase your product’s/ services’ efficiency are both great ways to create an opportunity for you to advance at work while helping your business improve, which is what being entrepreneurial is all about.
If you work at a company, you probably have a role like “Software Developer” or “Business Analyst” or “Project Manager”. If you want to be entrepreneurial at your role, you should be able to go beyond your role’s responsibilities, understand your business fully and think into the realistic future.
It shows your colleagues and especially your managers that you aren’t just passively doing what is asked of you but that instead, you are creative, determined and ultimately invested in the success of the business.
For example, here are some questions that you could ask yourself.
- How could your business improve in both small and large ways?
- Which processes are inefficient and don’t add value to your team?
- How can your role expand to help your business?
- How could the industry you are in change?
All of these can affect how you come up with ideas and present them.
This will increase your value as an employee and establish your position as someone they can come to when they need a solution to a problem. This will also help you advance within your role at work, or even into a higher-level position.
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel
You don’t need to create the world’s best idea or something completely new to be entrepreneurial at work. You can be just as effective by identifying gaps and fixing them by applying existing ideas.
Don’t struggle to reinvent the wheel.
Find things that work well already at your business and replicate them in other areas of your company. But at the same time think about what you can learn from the things that work to create solutions for issues that aren’t working.
Say your meetings with your business’ legal team works better than your meetings with the sales team. Think about why that is. Are these meetings shorter than others? Earlier in the day? Do you have someone taking notes or maybe an agenda? See if what’s working well is something you can apply to meetings with other teams.
You don’t have to create the world’s best idea ever to be entrepreneurial at work. Start with a small manageable issue you can use your skills to improve.
For instance, maybe there is a more efficient way for your business to order shipping supplies or your products could be displayed in a way that is more welcoming to customers visiting your store for the first time.
It can help to find something that you are particularly passionate about. For example, if you love organizing things, then by rearranging your in-store display you could be entrepreneurial while at the same time be doing your job.
Be ready to work hard
Being entrepreneurial often means taking on roles and responsibilities that you might not be used to, so be willing to learn new skills.
You might never have had to take complete ownership of an idea and its outcome, or maybe you don’t have any experience managing a team.
Don’t shy away from challenges just because they will require learning a new skill.
Instead, take advantage of this opportunity to learn new skills and gain experience, since both of these can help you keep an open mind as you come up with an execute entrepreneurial ideas in the future.
Another key aspect of being entrepreneurial at work is being able to collaborate.
If you can’t work with others, you are going to have a very hard time executing your great ideas no matter how skillful you are. There is a very good chance whatever Idea you have requires the skills of others on your team to execute. Your new ad campaign idea, for instance, will likely need a writer and designer at the very least. Getting more people in on your Idea increases its chances of success since they can help you sell it to people who need to sign off on it
Keep an open mind when your coworkers offer you feedback and be sure to listen to their entrepreneurial ideas too. After all, you aren’t the only one with great ideas.
Being entrepreneurial doesn’t always mean you are the leader. It about bringing an entrepreneurial mindset to projects that come your way. Consider how are your skills and experience can help make coworker’s lives and their ideas a reality.
Marketing is everything. You need to sell your idea…can you?
While you might not need to give a sales pitch to investors the way a traditional entrepreneur might, it’s likely that you will need to ask someone for a budget or permission. Think about how to pitch your ideas to decision-makers at work in order for them to give you the go-ahead.
When pitching and selling your ideas and helping others pitch and sell theirs, think about how you can make your ideas easy to understand and persuasive.
Know clearly what problem you are solving and what your solution is. What makes your solution different from what your business is already doing? How will it improve your business?
Be ready to get into the specifics. What exactly will you be doing, who else is involved, what exactly will they be doing, and what do you imagine will be the end result?
When thinking about new ideas for your business, always keep in mind how you will execute your plan.
Implementation is the skill they need
Whether your ideas are big or small, following through on them is what will show coworkers and superiors that you are reliable and have ideas worth listening to. It’s ok if, in the end, an Idea you have fails – the key is that you saw it through.
Make sure you are taking care of your regular job functions with the same effort that you put towards your entrepreneurial ideas. After all your boss won’t be likely to listen to your big or new ideas if you can’t do your basic tasks well.
When your ideas fail or don’t work out that’s ok but it’s important that you handle things the right way.
Start by doing a postmortem. what went wrong and why? What can you learn from this experience both individually and as a team so that you can improve on it in the future?
It is likely that there’s not just one reason why your project failed and it is important not to make excuses or blame it all on an individual. At the same time recognize your own role in the failure, and what you yourself can do to improve.
Get started today, right now!
Now that you understand what it means to be entrepreneurial at work, let’s see what steps you can take to get started.
Find a problem in your company that you are uniquely capable of solving to a high standard. Remember, when being entrepreneurial, it’s a smart idea to start small, so think about the smallest and most easily manageable issues you personally could improve at work and then create a document that explains your solution. Use the checklist below.
- The problem
- My solution
- Skills I can use for this project
- Team members involved
- Skills team members can use for this project
- What makes my solution unique
- The ideal outcome
Once you have each of these figured out, you will be ready to confidently pitch your idea first to co-workers so you can get feedback and then to the decision-makers at work to get approval for your project.
Let me know in the comments section if you’re going to become entrepreneurial at work!