Army of Entrepreneurs

Create an Engaged and Empowered Workforce for Exceptional Business Growth

 Army of Entrepreneurs

Author: Jennifer Prosek
Pub Date: February 2011
Print Edition: $18.95
Print ISBN: 9780814436967
Page Count: 224
Format: Paper or Softback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814416747

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Thinking Entrepreneurially - Even in a Big Company

Strategies for Cultivating an Entrepreneurial Mindset in Any Corporate Culture

An entrepreneur and the CEO of an international public relations and financial communications firm, Jennifer Prosek attributes much of the success of her company to developing, motivating, and deploying her employees to think like entrepreneurs—a mindset that’s vital for companies of all sizes. “Not only can big companies embrace entrepreneurial thinking; in today’s economy, they must,” Prosek notes. “Many managers of big firms realize the value of entrepreneurial thinking. What’s missing, from their perspective, is a way to create that mentality within the walls of a large operation.”

In her new book, ARMY OF ENTREPRENEURS (AMACOM 2011), Prosek shows leaders and managers of any company—even the biggest and most traditional ones—how to foster entrepreneurial thinking in their ranks. For starters, she recommends:

Hire right. Clock-punching drone behavior won’t work for any company hoping to foster entrepreneurial thinking. Big firms, like small and hungry ones, must seek out self-starters. How do you screen for an entrepreneurial mindset? Among the strategies that work for big companies are conducting team interviews and crafting interviews with a lot of behavioral questions, encouraging candidates to reveal how they would react in certain situations.

Create internal support and reward systems. After joining a big company, people bursting with new ideas too often find themselves bumping up against the command-and-control system that has been in place for ages. To keep creative thinkers, develop a system where they’ll be happy and rewarded for their efforts. Positively receive new ideas. Treat them seriously, with a formal review process. Provide incentives, whether in the form of financial bonuses, perks, or formal recognition, to keep their ideas flowing.

Incorporate entrepreneurial skills into your training program. While ushering in an era of new thinking, it’s important not to leave your “old” employees behind. Most people can and will learn to function entrepreneurially when they’re trained to do so. Don’t just ask your employees to think creatively and independently. Teach them how to do it. Remember to teach your managers as well as general staffers, even if it requires investing in outside coaching.

Communicate like an entrepreneur. Big companies often lapse into an information-hoarding mode, distributing news on a strict “need to know” basis and often leaving employees operating in the dark. This dampens innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. Big companies can work against this by making a commitment to communicating in the free and open way small entrepreneurial firms do, across all of their divisions and employee levels on a regular basis.

Give it time, but not forever. Recognize that injecting entrepreneurialism into a large firm is not an overnight process. Be prepared for resistance. Then, set a firm time frame for implementing new processes. Link the changes to short-term goals so they can be viewed as critical, “must do now” projects. Otherwise, your plans may be pushed to the back burner.

Adapted from ARMY OF ENTREPRENEURS: Create an Engaged and Empowered Workforce for Exceptional Business Growth by Jennifer Prosek (AMACOM 2011).

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