“God bless entrepreneurs! They built our nation and will continue to keep us strong!”
AOL founder Steve Case has not lost confidence in American entrepreneurialism and its ability to access capital and then succeed. Other panelists at Tuesday’s “Fueling American Entrepreneurship” session at the Milken Institute Global Conference were more reserved, but if there were a one-sentence theme, it might have been, “How can we get to where we need to be?”
And where do entrepreneurs need to be? As Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., said, “What America has to be for entrepreneurs is what Canada is for hockey. … If you’re born in Canada and you’re a gifted hockey player, you will be found.” Similarly, he said, talented entrepreneurs with smart ideas in the U.S. must be able to be found and financed.
Financing has been an uncertain proposition for years now, panelists said, but entrepreneurs and small businesses can have particular trouble finding capital, whether as loans, venture capital or seed and angel funding. (read more…)
Whether you’re in the fashion, food or financial industry, innovation is imperative. It’s the fresh thinking that keeps your business relevant. It’s creativity packed with a competitive edge. And it’s the superpower on which you can build success. But, like any superhero, innovation has its enemies — and to beat them, you have to know them. Here’s what you are up against:
- Initiative overload: It’s easy for organizations to bite off more than they can chew — especially if they don’t realize exactly what type of dish innovation is. When attempting innovation for the first time, they simply treat it as another initiative to manage. But innovation is a direct response to the strategy of an organization; if a company has no strategy, it has no basis for saying “no” to anything in the enterprise. Innovation is then easily shoved aside. Instead, innovation should be an ongoing operational focus.
- Business as usual: Business as usual is all about protecting and maintaining the status quo to minimize change and maximize efficiency.
Managers and team leaders should know better than anyone the value of change agents within an organization. They are the “entrepreneurs” within your company, they are the drivers of organic growth, and they make great leaders. Because of this coveted capability, if they aren’t given room to build and grow within a company, it’s easy for them to take their talents elsewhere.
Because there isn’t one title for these “corporate entrepreneurs,” they’re found embedded within many teams (thank goodness). Once you spot them, here’s a brief how-to guide to help keep them inspired and ensure they stay:
Seven ways to keep your change agents happy
- Don’t confuse change agents with their siblings — the “Change Management Guru” or the “Big Ideas Person.” Change agents know this isn’t your mom’s change management, where solutions are predetermined and change management mollifies the troublemakers. Instead, today’s change agents build solutions socially by sincerely listening to and collaborating with the “Big Ideas Person.” While some may blow this person off or see them as inefficient, the change agent recognizes that promoting these ideas stretches the team’s thinking and helps create a winning solution.
The same week Yahoo rescinded teleworking policies for its employees, Best Buy did the same. Many pointed to the fact that Yahoo’s working-mom CEO got flack when Best Buy’s working-dad CEO didn’t as an unfair occurrence caused by gender inequity.
While I suspect that, unfortunately, Marissa Mayer was a better criticism target because she’s a woman/mom, I also think Yahoo was a better target than Best Buy for branding reasons. Yahoo builds exactly the kind of products designed to help work-at-home employees. On its face, then, Yahoo’s rejection of such practices for its own employees looks like a brand misalignment. I mentioned this in a previous article, and it generated a conversation on Twitter that I thought deserved more than 140 characters.
Lest you think that I am supporting an end to work-at-home policies, I’m not. I want to show you that, to the extent that such policy changes are made intentionally and communicated in ways that help reinforce the brand promise to employees and customers, even unpopular decisions can reinforce a brand’s market position. (read more…)
SmartBrief welcomed association partners to its office Wednesday to join in an interactive workshop on encouraging entrepreneurship in organizations. The session was led by Babson College President Len Schlesinger and entrepreneurial-studies professor Heidi Neck.
After explaining Babson’s research-based six steps leaders can take to encourage entrepreneurship in organizations, Neck and Schlesinger led attendees in a brainstorming session to come up with ideas for practical actions organizations can take to complete those six steps. Each table of attendees came up with some good suggestions, but everyone expressed doubt that the suggestions would work in their organizations because they run counter to the organizations’ cultures.
Culture is a big problem in getting people to act like entrepreneurs within a large organization, said Schlesinger and Neck, who explained that there are at least three pervasive beliefs in large organizations that make it hard for entrepreneurship to blossom and thrive.
- Employees who act as entrepreneurs within organizations stand out but get fired when they fail.